Annulment | California Courts | Self Help Guide (2023)

Annulment basics

You must give a reason why your marriage wasn't legal from the start

A judge can only annul a marriage for a specific legal reason. A few examples

  • One of the spouses is married to another person (bigamy)
  • You got married when you were under 18 and it wasn't legal to do so
  • Your spouse tricked youto get you to agree to marry them

A very short marriage is not a legal reason for an annulment. There are at least8 legal reasons a judge can annul a marriage.

Even if you and your spouse agree to the annulment, you will have to go in front of a judge to explain why your marriage was never legal to begin with.

Talk toyour court’s Self-Help Center staff to find out more about an annulment and your options. For example, you could

  • Agree to go forward with asking a judge to annul your marriage
  • Respond that you disagree that you qualify for an annulment
  • Ask for a divorce or legal separation instead

There are many options to consider. Getting an annulment instead of a divorce can have important effects on your rights. For advice on what’s best for your situation, talk to a lawyer.

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In an annulment, you may not be able to get spousal support or divide your property. Talk to a lawyer or get more information from your court's Self-Help Center.

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A judge can only divide your property or order spousal supportif one of youthought your marriage was legal

Unlike in a divorce or legal separation, in an annulment a judge can't always divide your property and debts or order spousal support.

A judge can only do this if they find that one of you is a putative spouse. A putative spouse is someone whoin good faith believed their marriage was legal.

If you can prove you are a putative spouse, you can ask the judge to divide your property and debts, and order spousal support. The person who isn't a putative spouse can't ask the judge to do either.

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In an annulment, if there's no putative spouse,a judge can't divide your property and debts or order spousal support. If you need either, talk to a lawyer who can offer advice on what's best for your situation.

You can get orders about the care and support of your children

If you have children together, you may need to establish that the other person is yourchild's legal parent (called establishing parentage).Then, the judge can make orders about child custody, visitation (parenting time),and support.

You don't need to meet the divorce residency requirement or have a waiting period

No 6-month residency requirement: You do not need to have lived in California for 6 months and 3 monthsin the county where you file to start the process. You just need to live in California when you file.

No 6-month waiting period: Unlike in a divorce, you do not need to wait 6 months after your spouse was served papersfor the case to be finished and go back to being single. When the court completes your final papers (your judgment), you are single.

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Deciding ifan annulment is right for your situation is hard.

This site only has basic information. Your court's Self-Help Center staff can explain more. For advice about what's best in your situation,talk to a lawyer.


What are the four reasons for which an annulment can be granted? ›

The following is a list of common grounds for annulment:
  • Bigamy. Either party was already married to another person at the time of the marriage.
  • Forced Consent. ...
  • Fraud. ...
  • Marriage Prohibited By Law. ...
  • Mental Illness. ...
  • Mental Incapacity. ...
  • Inability to Consummate Marriage. ...
  • Underage Marriage.

Are annulments ever denied? ›

However, sometimes annulments are denied, leaving you with little in the way of options. If your annulment is denied, you will have to go through the divorce process if you no longer want your marriage to be void. There are many reasons why your annulment may be denied.

What are the 10 impediments grounds for annulment? ›

The only way to obtain a civil annulment that legally dissolves your marriage is by proving one of the following grounds: fraud or misrepresentation, lack of consummation, incest, bigamy, lack of consent, unsound mind, or force.

What are the 6 grounds for annulment? ›

Based on the Family Code, the grounds for annulment are lack of parental consent, insanity/psychological incapacity; fraud, force, intimidation, or undue influence; impotence; and sexually transmissible diseases.

Why would an annulment be denied? ›

Reasons Your Annulment Request Could Be Denied

You or your spouse were already married to someone else. You or your spouse coerced or forced the other into the marriage. You or your spouse committed fraud when entering into the marriage.

What are the positives of annulment? ›

One of the main benefits of an annulment is that it can protect assets and property. If a marriage is annulled, it will be considered as never having taken place. Furthermore, the aim of the courts following an annulment is to ensure that the parties are placed in a position they were in prior to the wedding.

Does cheating count for annulment? ›

In most cases, the answer is usually no, finding out your spouse is cheating on you is usually not grounds for an annulment. But there can be some nuance to this if certain extenuating circumstances are present.

Is annulment harder than divorce? ›

No, an annulment is not necessarily easier than a divorce. In most cases, unless the marriage is voidable, it is likely easier to pursue a divorce rather than an annulment.

Can cheating be grounds for annulment? ›

Infidelity is one of the most common reasons for filing a case, but it is not considered a ground for annulment. Infidelity can only be an acceptable basis for legal separation or filing a case for concubinage or adultery. In fact, infidelity cannot be used as a sole deciding factor in granting custody over a child.

What is the best ground for annulment? ›

The grounds for annulment of marriage must have been existing at the time of marriage, and include lack of parental consent (FC, Article 45[1]), insanity (FC, Article 45[2]), fraud (FC, Article 45[3]), duress (FC, Article 45[4]), impotence (FC, Article 45[5]), and serious and incurable sexually transmissible disease ( ...

What percentage of annulments are denied? ›

Almost half of Catholic marriages end in divorce, the same rate as for other Americans. Of those who applied in 1992 in the United States, according to Vatican statistics, 83 percent received annulments and 2 percent were denied. Fifteen percent of the cases were abandoned by the applicants.

What is the most common reason for annulment? ›

An annulment is a court ruling that a marriage was never valid. The most common ground for annulment is fraud and misrepresentation. For example, one person may not have disclosed to the other a prior divorce, a criminal record, an infectious disease, or an inability to engage in sex or have children.

What is the first step for annulment? ›

Hire a lawyer

The annulment process involves filing the necessary papers with the proper courts, as well as several hearings. You will need a lawyer to accurately draft the legal forms and prepare the supporting documents, file them with the right body, and represent you in court hearing.

How many months is an annulment process? ›

How long does a civil annulment take? The entire process can take anywhere from six months to four years, depending on the court's calendar. After the initial consultation and contract signing between you and your chosen attorney, your petition will be prepared.

Why is annulment better than divorce? ›

Because an annulment basically acts as though the marriage never existed, there are fewer issues to deal with. The court may not deal with dividing property. Property division disputes may be intensive and long-lasting. In this sense, an annulment can more quickly dissolve a marriage with fewer issues to deal with.

Are annulments difficult? ›

Annulments are more difficult to obtain than divorces simply because there are limitations on the grounds for which they may be granted. You may petition for an annulment in California if you meet one of the following grounds: Blood Relation.

What are the disadvantages of annulment? ›

Disadvantages of an Annulment
  • Establishing the grounds for an annulment is more difficult than the grounds for divorce.
  • Issues or fault are highly probative in an annulment proceeding. ...
  • There is no per se community property.

On what circumstances a marriage is annulled? ›

If either party is unfit for marriage and the procreation of a child, then the marriage can be annulled. Neither party to a marriage should be subject to recurrent attacks of insanity. The bridegroom should be twenty-one years and the bride should be eighteen years of age.

How does an annulment affect taxes? ›

Taxes. The IRS has concluded that couples who have their marriage annulled do not have the right to file a joint tax return for the years they were married. The IRS follows the logic that since the marriage never existed the parties incorrectly filed joint returns.

What are actions for annulment? ›

An action for annulment is a legal procedure before the Court of Justice that guarantees the conformity of EU legislative acts, regulatory acts and individual acts with the superior rules of the EU legal order. An action can be brought within two months of the publication or notification of the contested measure.

Can annulled person marry again the same person? ›

The Law says that you have to wait for the issuance of the Decree of Annulment. Otherwise, your second married is also invalid. Q.

How do you prove cheating in court? ›

Proving adultery took place in your marriage is difficult but possible. Direct evidence (not hearsay) can come in the form of proof, such as eyewitness testimony or the guilty party admitting to the adultery (can be either the spouse or the paramour). There is also circumstantial evidence that can act as proof.

How long after getting married can you get an annulment? ›

An annulment is a way of ending a marriage, similar to a divorce. However, unlike a divorce where you must wait up to one year before you can apply, you can apply for an annulment at any time after the wedding.

Which is cheaper annulment or divorce? ›

Generally, the fees of getting a divorce are cheaper than an annulment which is why some people in other countries prefer it. In addition to that, the latter can be denied if a person's reason for getting them is not within the grounds of this law in the Philippines.

How do I prove adultery in my marriage? ›

8 Ways to Affair-Proof Your Marriage
  1. Start with the attitude of being certain that you will not stray. ...
  2. Establish clear boundaries with your partner. ...
  3. Talk openly about what you need from your partner. ...
  4. Talk openly about attractions to and from others. ...
  5. Talk openly about sex. ...
  6. Be positive and focus on the good.

Does adultery dissolve a marriage? ›

California is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. This means that neither party needs to establish specific grounds for divorce or show the other committed any kind of misconduct in order for the marriage to be dissolved.

What is considered adultery in a marriage? ›

Adultery is a form of extramarital sexual intercourse between a married person and a person who is not a party to the marriage. In a fault divorce, adultery is one of the grounds for divorce.

How long do you have to be separated before your marriage is annulled? ›

It is established by reference to one of five facts – adultery, unreasonable behaviour, two years desertion, two years separation with consent or five years separation.

Is mental illness a ground for annulment? ›

If one party to the marriage was suffering from mental illness or incapacity at the time of marriage, the marriage can be declared invalid. Mental illness or incapacity can be proven via expert testimony and psychological evidence that suggests mental illness existed at the time of marriage.

What happens after annulment? ›

It erases the effectiveness of marriage and that the union was never legally valid. It may grant both parties of marriage to enjoy the freedom they deserve. Anyone from a past marriage can remarry another person only after obtaining the Decree of Absolute Nullity or Decree of Annulment of Marriage.

What is annulment collusion? ›

Collusion in this specie of cases occur when the parties agree on the annulment/declaration of nullity and trifle with the legal process by resorting to fabricated facts and evidence in order to obtain a favorable decision.

How do I petition for annulment of marriage? ›


The petition must be verified and must allege, among others, the facts that constitute the ground relied upon (see grounds for annulment or grounds for declaration of nullity). The documents supporting the petition, including the marriage certificate, must be attached.

What are the grounds of voidable marriage? ›

The grounds for voidable marriage are:
  • In case the respondent is impotent.
  • In case of incapacity to give valid consent or forced consent of parties or mental illness or person unfit for procreation of a child.
  • Underaged marriage.
  • If the respondent was pregnant by some other person at the time of marriage.

What is psychological incapacity in annulment? ›

The Supreme Court noted that psychological incapacity refers to a personal condition that prevents a spouse to comply with fundamental marital obligations only in relation to a specific partner that may exist at the time of the marriage but may have revealed through behavior subsequent to the ceremonies.

What makes a marriage null and void? ›

A marriage can be annulled only when the law considers your marriage either void or voidable. Examples of void marriages—unions that aren't legal to begin with—are where there's bigamy or incest. An example of a voidable marriage is one that took place when the spouses were highly intoxicated.

On what basis can a marriage be annulled? ›

Grounds For Annulment

1) Either spouse was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage in question; 2) Either spouse was too young to be married, or too young without required court or parental consent.

How do I prove my marriage is forced for annulment? ›

You may apply for annulment of your forced marriage on one of the grounds specified in section 12 of the Hindu Marriage Act. If your wife is also ready for this, she may give her NOC(no-objection) before the Court and in this case, there will be no difficulty in the grant of annulment.

Why is annulment worse than divorce? ›

Legal Effect of an Annulment

Annulling a marriage is different from divorce in the sense that it completely voids the marriage. It makes it as if the marriage never occurred. In divorce, the parties do not dispute that they were legally married. Spouses become single again and are free to remarry.

How long does annulment of marriage take? ›

The Period for Annulment of Marriage

There is no prescribed time for annulment of marriage through the Family Court. Depending on the court's calendar, the entire process may take six months to four years. Annulment of marriage may take as much time as a divorce case, depending upon the facts of the case.

How can a marriage be null and void? ›

A marriage can be held null and void if the respondent was impotent at the time of marriage and at the time of the institution of the suit; or the parties are within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity (whether natural or legal) or affinity; or either party was a lunatic or idiot at the time of the marriage; or the ...

How long before a marriage can be annulled? ›

An annulment is a way of ending a marriage, similar to a divorce. However, unlike a divorce where you must wait up to one year before you can apply, you can apply for an annulment at any time after the wedding.

Is abuse a ground for annulment? ›

Marriage can only be annulled on limited grounds, such as insanity or contracting a sexually transmitted disease. Abuse and infidelity are not valid reasons.


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