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Annulments in California
In California an annulment happens infrequently when the court determines that a marriage is not valid. An annulment is judicial recognition that a valid marriage never existed, and it states that the couple was never married under the law.
Certain marriages are automatically annulled under California law. For example, marriages between close blood relative and bigamous marriages are never valid.
Others can be declared void or voidable for other reasons. In order to qualify for an annulment, a petitioner must establish that his or her marriage was never valid. Bigamy, incest, and fraud are among the grounds. A marriage in which either partner is under the age of consent is grounds for an annulment. Likewise, when either person was forced or defrauded into a marriage, the court may annul the marriage. A marriage in which either person is physically or mentally incapacitated is also grounds for an annulment. However, the petitioner for an annulment can request determination commonly associated with divorce or separation proceedings.
Each partner has the right to petition for spousal support and make determinations regarding child custody, support and visitation.
In California courts may annul a marriage if:
The California Family Code, 2210 et seq. describes annulments.
In California, an annulment is very rare because a couple seeking an annulment face time constraints. California does not require the couple to wait a specific amount of time before seeking an annulment; however, the state limits the amount of time after the start of a marriage for a person to seek an annulment. Time limitations vary depending on the grounds for the annulment.
Here are the time considerations in annulments:
A petitioner must show grounds for the annulment, and he or she must complete a petition for annulment of marriage, and file it in the California superior court and pay the filing fee (or file a request to waive court fees in the event of financial hardship. The court clerk provides a copy of the petition and a blank response-marriage form to serve on the other partner.
The petitioner must serve documents on the other party. In California, the petitioner can ask a friend over the age of 18 to hand the papers to the spouse, or pay a process server to do it, or arrange police service. The person who serves the document must sign a court form testifying that he or she served the papers and set out the details of service.
The paperwork includes disclosure forms setting out the petitioners financial information. In California, courts require two sets of disclosure forms - a preliminary disclosure early in the annulment case and a final set toward the end of the process. The petitioner may need to fill in other forms depending on the circumstances of the case, such the spouse's response and whether there are children involved.
Uncontested actions simplify the process.
The hearing in the case depends upon whether the spouse contests the action. At the hearing, the petitioner presents evidence and witnesses to establish the grounds for annulment.
The court then makes a decision based on the merits of the case.
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