San Diego Annulment Attorney
Are you considering filing for annulment in San Diego?
Unlike divorce, annulment renders a marriage void and it has certain benefits, particularly within certain religious communities that do not sanction divorce.
Annulment is a complicated process that is uncommon and may only be done for specific reasons.
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How a San Diego Family Law Attorney Can Help with an Annulment
An annulment may seem straightforward: if you have a legitimate reason for annulment, you can petition the court to have the marriage legally voided.
In practice, annulment is uncommon and comes with a host of possible challenges.
What if the other party contests the annulment? What happens to property acquired during the marriage? What about child support and custody? Has the statute of limits expired?
An annulment may be considered a complex legal issue that is best handled by an experienced San Diego family law attorney.
At San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC, our legal team has the experience and expertise you need to resolve your marriage as fairly and simply as possible. Attorney Puja A. Sachdev is a Certified Family Law Specialist who has received numerous honors. She has been named Attorney of the Month by San Diego Attorney Journal and one of the Top Lawyers in San Diego by San Diego Magazine for several years running.
When you choose San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC to represent you during your annulment, you can count on us to:
- Clearly explain the issues surrounding your annulment and offer legal guidance
- Build your case supporting your reason for annulment
- Prepare your petition and ensure it is complete, correct, and filed on your behalf
- Represent you during the hearing and argue your case
We understand what an important decision you are making. We will be by your side to offer the legal advice and support you need and protect your rights during the process. Contact San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC today to schedule a consultation with a San Diego annulment lawyer.
What Is an Annulment?
An annulment is a legal process to end a marriage by nullifying it or declaring it an invalid marriage. Unlike a divorce, an annulment legally erases a marriage and declares that it did not happen. However, there will still be legal records of both the marriage and annulment. Unlike divorce, an annulment is generally retroactive.
Valid Reasons for an Annulment in California
For a domestic partnership or marriage to be annulled in California, specific qualifications must be met to render the marriage illegal. The following are the most common valid reasons to seek an annulment in San Diego:
- Underage. One or both parties were under the legal age to marry and did not have parental consent.
- Bigamy. One party was already legally married or in a domestic partnership at the time of the marriage. There are exceptions if the spouse from the prior marriage was absent and not known to be living for a minimum of 5 years before the marriage.
- Duress. One party was forced to agree to the marriage.
- Mental incapacity. One party was not legally able to consent to marriage due to mental incapacity. This includes mental illness, cognitive impairment, and intoxication.
- Physical incapacity. One party concealed permanent sexual impotence or refused to consummate.
- Fraud. Important facts were concealed or misrepresented.
- Incest. The parties were closely related biologically. In California, a marriage can be annulled if the spouses were closer than first cousins.
To qualify for an annulment, any of these reasons must have existed at the time the parties married. However, if the situation became known later or the circumstance was eliminated and both parties continued to willingly live together, it’s possible that the situation is no longer grounds for an annulment.
What Is the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?
Annulment and divorce achieve the same thing: the marriage is legally ended. However, they vary in terms of the legal process and consequences. A divorce is a legal dissolution of the marriage but both parties acknowledge the marriage occurred. An annulment is a statement that the marriage never occurred, and the parties were never legally married.
There are two crucial differences between a divorce versus an annulment in California: property division and spousal or child support.
Typically, property acquired by either party becomes community property subject to division in divorce. When a marriage is voided, there is no community property. This can make property division and determining which debts and assets belong to each spouse complicated.
Annulment can also complicate support. If the parties share a child, a paternity test may be needed to compel visitation and child support because there is no legal assumption of paternity. Neither party can seek spousal support after an annulment.
These complications mean it’s crucial to carefully consider the consequences of choosing an annulment instead of a divorce in California.
Because property division and support issues can be complicated, and time is short, it’s recommended to consult with an experienced San Diego annulment lawyer for sound legal guidance. Your annulment attorney will help you resolve issues such as custody, child support, and division of property obtained during the relationship.
What Are the Advantages of Pursuing an Annulment?
Parties may pursue an annulment over a divorce for many reasons.
One of the primary drivers of annulment is spiritual belief. While many faiths frown on divorce, many do not consider an annulment to be an unsanctioned divorce. This can allow someone to remarry in the same faith or avoid violating their religious beliefs. Within some religions and denominations, such as the Catholic Church, additional steps may be taken within the church to annul the marriage outside of court.
There may be some other advantages to annulment over divorce. Because the marriage never legally happened, it can protect each party’s property. The court will attempt to restore each party’s ownership in property to what they had before the marriage.
Spousal support is never awarded in an annulment case. By having the marriage annulled, one party may even be entitled to benefits they lost through marriage. The best example is spousal support awarded from a previous marriage which can be restored once the subsequent marriage is annulled.
Annulment Process in San Diego
The legal process for getting an annulment in San Diego is very similar to the divorce process. It will require completing a petition which is filed and served on the spouse followed by a hearing and a judge’s decision.
Your San Diego annulment attorney will help you through the following legal steps:
Complete and File the Petition and Declarations
The first step is completing Form FL-100, the same form used to petition for divorce. The box “nullify” must be checked. You will also need to complete Declarations for Annulment with information about the marriage, the grounds on which you are petitioning for annulment, and any additional relevant information.
Your San Diego annulment lawyer will help you complete these forms and ensure there are no mistakes. Once complete, the forms will be filed with the county clerk who will review them once the filing fees are paid.
Serve Your Spouse
A copy of the petition must be served on your spouse formally or the court will not consider your petition. Your attorney will handle this step for you. After the petition is served, you must wait 30 days for the other party to respond to the court.
Make Your Case at a Hearing
Once the other party responds to the petition, a court hearing will take place. You will attend the hearing with your attorney to make your case before a judge. Your spouse can also attend and contest or agree to the annulment. Afterward, the judge will make a decision.
Statute of Limitations for Annulment in California
Unlike a divorce, which can be filed at any time after marriage, there is a time limit on when you can file for an annulment. This is called a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for an annulment in California depends on the grounds for annulment.
- Force: Annulment must be filed within 4 years of the marriage.
- Fraud: Annulment can be requested within 4 years of discovering the fraud.
- Underage: Annulment can be requested within 4 years once the underage spouse turns 18.
- Permanent physical incapacity: Annulment must be requested within 4 years of the marriage date.
- Unsound mind: Annulment can be filed at any time. The incapacitated party’s family or designated agent can file on their behalf.
- Bigamy: Annulment can be requested at any time as long as the married party is alive.
If the statute of limitations has passed, the only way to end the marriage is through a divorce or dissolution.
Contact a San Diego Annulment Attorney Today
Ending a marriage for any reason can be difficult and emotional. Annulment is also a complicated legal process. You do not have to go through it alone; a compassionate San Diego annulment attorney at San Diego Divorce Lawyers, APC is here to help.
We have spent more than a decade representing San Diego residents in complex family law issues like annulment, divorce, and child custody. We will help you every step of the way. Contact our law office today to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.