What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment in California?

man signing contract

When you decide it’s time to end your marriage in California, you may have heard of two different ways to do so – divorce and annulment. While many are familiar with the divorce process, not many know what an annulment entails. However, it’s important to understand all your options before ending your marriage, so the following blog explores what an annulment is and under what circumstances it is granted. Additionally, you’ll learn why it’s in your best interest to connect with a Los Angeles Divorce attorney to explore which options are best for you.

What Is an Annulment, and When Are These Granted?

An annulment, also referred to as a judgment of nullity is a legal process for a person or couple looking to end their marriage that declares the union void. Essentially, this means there was something about your marriage that rendered it non-legal from the very beginning,

It’s important to understand that these are not granted lightly, and there are only certain circumstances under which a judge will agree to annul a marriage. Generally, these occur in instances of incest, in which two family members marry, or bigamy, in which one spouse was still legally married to another person at the time of the union. However, they can also be granted in instances where the marriage contract is voidable, such as when one party was forced into the marriage, one spouse was under 18 at the time of the union, one spouse was not of sound mind, or one party believed their spouse to be dead before remarrying when their spouse is alive.

What Else Should I Know About These Matters?

Even if you and your spouse agree to annul your marriage, you must still appear before a judge and argue why the union was never void. Because these are rarely granted, the judge must hear the reasoning behind the decision.

Additionally, it’s important to understand how property division works in these instances. Generally, a judge can only order property division or alimony in instances where one spouse believes the marriage to be legitimate. Known as the putative spouse, they entered the marriage in good faith, so they are granted the financial interests they would have received if the marriage had been legitimate and legal.

How Do I Know if I Need a Divorce or Annulment?

Understanding which option is right for you if you wish to end your marriage is essential, as it can impact your financial standing for years. If you’re unsure which option you should choose, it’s in your best interest to connect with an experienced divorce attorney to discuss your circumstances.

At the Zitser Family Law Group, our dedicated legal team understands the complications you may face when you discover your marriage is invalid. That’s why our team is committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome for these unfortunate situations. Connect with us today to learn more.

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