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At the end of a marriage, when can I get an annulment?

Californians are no stranger to divorce. Many marriages come undone for a variety of reasons and, in a vast number of cases, the sides are better off parting ways than dealing with the endless dispute and emotions that accompany a failing marriage. Some cases, however, go a bit further than a simple divorce being deemed sufficient and a person would like to have the marriage annulled. For those who would like to get an annulment, there are legal justifications that must be in place for it to move forward.

An annulment can be done if the marriage was not legally valid. A marriage will not be legally valid in the following instances: if it was incestuous or if it was bigamous. An incestuous marriage is when people are married simultaneous to being close blood relatives. A bigamous marriage is when one of the spouses was married to someone else at the time of the new marriage. There are other reasons why a marriage can be deemed invalid.

If the person who would like to have an annulment was not of legal age to get married - 18-years-old - then he or she can have the marriage annulled. For those who were previously married before without it being bigamous, it can be annulled - this will be the case if the former spouse of the person was absent for a minimum of five years without the knowledge as to whether he or she was alive or dead. In the event either party was of unsound mind at the time of the marriage and could not understand the marriage and the obligations that accompany it, it can be annulled.

In some instances, fraud occurs when a factor that was integral to the relationship was not disclosed and there was deception to the person who would like to have the marriage annulled. An example might be getting married just to be able to stay in the U.S. and get a marriage-based green card. A person who was married by force can get an annulment. Finally, if a person got married while one of the spouses was incapacitated and could not consummate the union due to an incurable issue, it is possible to get an annulment.

There are other issues with annulments such as its effects with children and property as well as the statute of limitations in certain cases. These will be discussed in a later post. For those who meet the criteria listed above and would like to have their marriage annulled, having legal advice from an attorney experienced in all areas of divorce can help.

Source: courts.ca.gov, "Annulment -- Legal Reasons For An Annulment," accessed on Dec. 11, 2017

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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