When a marriage does not work out, a couple can dissolve the marriage by way of divorce. When a marriage has been invalid from the beginning, a couple can nullify the marriage with an annulment. There are very specific conditions that must be met in order for a couple to be granted an annulment.
These conditions are:
- Bigamy - one partner was legally married to another party at the time of marriage;
- Coercion - one partner can prove he or she was forced into the marriage;
- Prohibited relationship or consanguinity - marital partners are related by blood in such a way that the law does not allow them to marry;
- Mental illness or mental incapacity -one partner is not capable of understanding the terms of the marriage or lucid enough to comprehend the marital obligations;
- Inability to consummate the marriage - one partner is incapable of having sexual relations;
- Fraud - one partner represented themselves falsely; or
- Age limit - one partner is too young to marry according to California law.
Either partner can initiate an annulment as long as he or she can prove one of the above conditions. Unlike in the case of divorce, an annulment has a deadline. The deadline differs depending on the reason for the annulment. For example, if the annulment is sought on the grounds one partner was under the age of 18, then that partner has four years within which to seek an annulment.
Even if the marriage is successfully annulled, if the marriage produced children or there is property to divide, there must be a legal agreement regarding the other issues of the marriage.
If you believe you qualify for an annulment of your marriage, speak to a matrimonial law attorney in the San Diego area who can advise you regarding your right to end your marriage.