There are a couple ways that someone can dissolve a marriage legally in the state of California, and that is through divorce or an annulment. While these two processes have similar results, divorce is termination a valid marriage while an annulment acts as if the marriage never existed. After an annulment is finalized, it’s like the couple had never been married to begin with. Annulments can be more difficult to obtain depending on the reason for it, and there are specific grounds for requesting one.
A marriage is only deemed valid if both parties are 18 or over. If one or more spouses were under 18 when the marriage was performed, the union can be annulled within four years once the minor spouse becomes of adult age.
A common example of fraud in a marriage is someone who entered a marriage so they can seek United States citizenship or a greencard. In some cases, the person of foreign origin had lied to the other spouse, and didn’t let them know the true reasons behind exchanging vows. If the motivations for a marriage were not because of love, then the spouse who was tricked can file for annulment due to fraud.
When one spouse has suffered from a mental disability or impairment that prevented them from understanding the weight of the marriage they were entering, one of both spouses can seek marriage annulment. For instance, if a spouse was suffering from a mental illness, an appointed representative or family member can file an annulment on their behalf. Another example of being of unsound mind is if one or both parties were highly intoxicated when they exchanged vows and didn’t comprehend what they were doing.
Each party must enter the marriage of their own free will. If one partner was reluctant to get married and the other had threatened or forced it to happen, then the forced spouse can file for annulment within four years after the marriage.
Marriages of an incestuous nature are always invalid. A union between blood relatives, such as parents and children, half siblings, uncles/aunts and nieces/nephews, and grandparents with grandchildren are automatically not viewed as valid by the state of California. If the close blood relation can be proven, then the chances of an annulment being approved are high.
Marriages can be annulled when one or both partners have a physical condition at an incurable level that hinders them from having a meaningful sexual relationship and/or children. For example, if one spouse got a vasectomy without telling their partner, and that partner wants to have children, then the affected spouse can file for marriage annulment since they weren’t informed that having children wasn’t possible.