An Annulment can be granted only upon a showing that the marriage is void, or voidable, under specific conditions set forth under California law. An annulment is a determination by the Court that the marriage is void and returns the parties to the status of a single person immediately.
A void marriage is invalid, for all purposes, whether determined to be so by the Court or not. In spite of this, it is often times advisable to seek a Court determination that a marriage is, in fact, void, so the issue is not later challenged or otherwise left unresolved.
A marriage can be deemed void on the basis of incest (marriage between a blood relative) or bigamy (a marriage entered into while either party is married to another person). An incestuous marriage is defined as a marriage “between parents and children, ancestors and descendants of every degree, and between siblings of the half as well as the whole blood, and between nieces or nephews” (Family Code §2200). A bigamous marriage is when a party marries, during the lifetime of their former spouse, unless “the former marriage has been dissolved or adjudged a nullity before the date of the subsequent marriage” (Family Code §2201).
A “voidable” marriage is legally valid for all purposes, until such time as a Court determines that the marriage is, in fact, void. A marriage may be deemed “voidable” on the grounds of minority (Family Code §2210(a)), bigamy (Family Code §2210(b)), unsound mind (Family Code §2210(c)), fraud (Family Code §2210(d), force (Family Code §2210(e), or physical incapacity (Family Code §2210(f).
The categories under which a marriage can be found to be voidable are strict and narrowly construed by the Court. There are often specific actions which must be taken and deadlines to seek an annulment which must be met to qualify for an annulment. If you feel you are in need of an annulment, you should contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your rights.
Generally, a party to a void or voidable marriage receives none of the rights which would have otherwise been afforded to them under the Family Code, including rights of support, property rights, and payment of attorney fees or other litigation costs. However, if the Court were to find that your marriage is void and grant your spouse’s request for an annulment, a party may be able to claim “putative spouse” status. A putative spouse is a party to a void or voidable marriage who believed in good faith that the marriage is valid (Family Code §2251). If the Court determines that a party is a putative spouse, that person can be awarded property, support, and other rights as if the parties had been legally married.
Issues related to annulments, void or voidable marriages, and putative spouse status can be complex. If you feel you are in need of an annulment, or if you spouse is seeking a determination that your marriage is void, you should contact an attorney immediately to discuss your rights. We offer a free one hour consultation to discuss your case with one of our experienced attorneys. Please call us at 408-294-4525 or send us an email through our Contact Page to schedule a time to meet with one of our attorneys.
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Del Ponte & Hirz | Attorneys at Law
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San Jose, CA
Phone: (408) 294-4525
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