Annulment Process in California: What It Is and When It’s Appropriate

Get the help you need!

You’ve heard the term “annulment” before, maybe in conversations, television shows, or movies. But what does it mean, specifically when it comes to the annulment process in California? How does it relate to you and your current circumstances? 

In this blog, annulment attorneys from Seabrook Law Office demystify the annulment process in California, help you understand its legal intricacies, and how it could potentially be an option in your situation. 

If you have questions or would like to discuss your situation, call us at 408-560-4487 to schedule a consultation. 

The Annulment Process in California

To begin with, it’s essential to understand what an annulment is. Unlike a divorce, where a legally valid marriage ends, an annulment declares a marriage void or voidable. 

This means that the marriage is either seen as never having been legally valid (void) or can be declared invalid by the court (voidable).

Void vs. Voidable Marriages

In California law, a void marriage is one that was never legally valid to begin with. This could be due to a pre-existing marriage (bigamy) or close familial ties between the spouses (incest). 

On the other hand, a voidable marriage is legally valid but can be annulled if one of the spouses proves certain conditions existed at the time of the marriage. 

These conditions could include one spouse being of unsound mind, physical incapacity to consummate the marriage, or the marriage being entered into under fraud or force.

The Process of Getting an Annulment

To proceed with the annulment process in California, the aggrieved spouse must first file a petition for nullity with the court. This involves filling out and submitting a set of additional forms along with the same form used to start a divorce or legal separation. There is a filing fee associated with this process. A court date is then set for a hearing.

Expert testimony may be needed to support claims of conditions such as mental incapacity or incurable physical incapacity. If the court determines that the marriage is indeed void or voidable, an annulment is granted, and the marriage is considered to have never legally existed.

Understanding the Grounds for Annulment in California

The grounds for annulment are specific under California law. They are not based on factors such as irreconcilable differences or broken-down relationships, which are common in divorces. Instead, they focus on the circumstances and conditions at the time of the marriage. Here are some of them:

Mental Incapacity

For a marriage to be valid, both parties must have the mental capacity to understand the obligations that come with it. If one party was of an unsound mind at the time of the marriage, the other party can request an annulment. 

Mental incapacity could be due to severe mental illness, cognitive impairment, or intoxication at the time of the marriage.

Fraudulent Conditions

Marriages can be annulled if one party was deceived about a significant matter that directly pertains to the marriage relationship. This could include lying about the desire to have children, concealing a felony conviction, or hiding an incurable physical incapacity. 

It’s important to note that the deceived spouse must stop living with the other spouse after discovering the fraud to file for annulment.

Physical Incapacity

Incurable physical incapacity, often referring to the inability to consummate the marriage, can be grounds for annulment. The incapacity should be ongoing since the start of the marriage and without any reasonable hope of reversal.

The Implications of Annulment on Spousal Support and Child Custody

When a marriage is annulled, it can have significant implications on areas like spousal support and child custody.

Spousal Support

Since an annulled marriage is considered to have never existed, generally, there will not be any spousal support (alimony) awarded after an annulment. However, there may be exceptions if an individual relied heavily on the other’s income during the marriage.

Child Custody and Support

Even though an annulled marriage is deemed never to have existed, any children born during the marriage are considered legal. This means child custody and support issues will still need to be resolved as in any other separation.

Understanding these nuances and conditions is crucial in deciding whether to get an annulment or proceed forward with a divorce. The complexity of the annulment process in California often means it’s beneficial to seek the advice of a knowledgeable divorce attorney.

The Role of a Divorce Attorney in an Annulment Case

Going through an annulment can be a complex and emotionally draining process. The intricate details of California law, coupled with the burden of proof, often make it advisable to seek legal help.

Understanding the Legal Landscape

An experienced divorce attorney can provide valuable insights into the annulment process, helping you understand your legal rights and obligations. 

They are well-versed in California family law and can give you an accurate view of the annulment landscape, including potential challenges and the likelihood of a successful annulment based on your unique circumstances.

Guiding Through the Paperwork

The annulment process involves several legal documents and court procedures, which can be overwhelming for a layperson. A divorce attorney can help navigate this paperwork, ensuring all documents are filled out correctly and submitted within the stipulated time limit.

The Difference Between Religious and Legal Annulments

It’s crucial to differentiate between a religious annulment and a legal annulment. While both processes declare a marriage null, they do not have the same implications.

Religious Annulments

A religious annulment is granted by a religious institution and declares a marriage void under religious law. However, a religious annulment does not change the legal status of a marriage.

Legal Annulments

On the other hand, a legal annulment is granted by a court and alters the legal status of a marriage. It declares a marriage void or voidable under state law. 

Even if a religious institution grants an annulment, a legal annulment is still necessary for the marriage to be considered void under California law.

Final Thoughts

The annulment process in California is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every situation is unique. Keep in mind that an annulment is not a shortcut or an easy way out of a marriage. The process can be complex, emotionally challenging, and may involve substantial legal proceedings. 

There are strict criteria to meet and substantial evidence to present to prove that your marriage was invalid from the start.

When navigating through such legal complexities, guidance from a knowledgeable divorce attorney can prove to be invaluable. They can provide clarity on the nuances of the law, help you with the legal paperwork, and advocate for your best interests.

Seabrook Law Office: Your Partner in the Annulment Process

Understanding the complexities of the annulment process can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our team at Seabrook Law Office is here to help guide you every step of the way. 

If you’re considering an annulment and need assistance navigating California law, we’re ready to offer personalized legal advice and support.

No need to search online for a “family law office near me.” Contact us at 408-560-4487 or fill out our confidential online form to schedule your consultation with one of our compassionate and experienced annulment attorneys. For your convenience, we have locations in San Jose and Fremont. 

Connect with Seabrook Law Offices on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.

Copyright © 2023. Seabrook Law Offices. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Seabrook Law Offices
6840 Via Del Oro, Ste. 265
San Jose CA 95119

Seabrook Law Offices
2201 Walnut Ave Suite 190 
Fremont, CA 94538
(510) 800-8288

Signup for new blog notifications!

* Required Fields
We respect your privacy. The information you provide will be used to answer your question or to schedule an appointment if requested.

Contact Us

Please type your message below and we will get back to you asap.
About Us
* Required Fields
We respect your privacy. The information you provide will be used to answer your question or to schedule an appointment if requested.

Our Practice Areas

Family Law Attorney in San Jose, CA 95119 - Family Law In San Jose

Family Law

Family Law is among the most challenging areas of practice. Along with…

Mediation - Divorce & Family Lawyer - San Jose, CA


Ending a marriage is never an easy process, and it’s even more …

Personal Injury Attorneys in San Jose, CA 95119 | Personal Injury FAQs

Child Support

You want to make sure that your kids enjoy the same standard of living

Divorce Lawyer in San Jose, CA 95119 – Attorney For Divorce in CA

High Asset Divorce

A divorce is possibly the most stressful thing you can go through in life.
Skip to content