Filing for an annulment rather than a divorce can be a complicated process. An annulment has the expressed goal of deeming the marriage invalid, and thus, wiping it from the record as if it never existed. A divorce, on the other hand, is when two parties agree to end a marriage through the process of divorce. While divorces can happen at anytime, and there is no limitations on when one can file for divorce, in the state of California, annulments do have deadlines. How long you can be married and still annul a marriage in California depends entirely on the reasons that are being used for an annulment.
Minors Who Marry
If one or both of the parties in the marriage are under the age of 18, they can file for an annulment with this as a reason. If the minor is still under 18 at the time of the annulment request a parent or legal guardian can file the request. After the individual turns 18 he or she has 4 years from their 18th birthday to file for an annulment. From the age of 22 onward, a divorce petition must be filed, instead.
Bigamy is the act of getting married while another, legal marriage still exists. In the case of bigamy, the second marriage is considered null and void, but the process of annulment must still be carried out. For an annulment on the grounds of bigamy both parties must be alive at the time of the proceedings. There is no time limit on when one can file for an annulment due to bigamy. The current spouse, or the pre-existing spouse can file.
Fraud is the most commonly used reason for an annulment request. Fraud, in this case, can be defined as one partner deceiving the other into the marriage. Fraud can be considered one partner telling the other that they’d like to have children when they do not. Fraud can also be defined as the withholding of important information that would have caused the marriage to never happen. The party who has been the victim of fraud must file for the annulment, and it must be within four years of discovering the fraud. Fraud, in certain circumstances, can be difficult to prove.
Force, in terms of an annulment, is the act of forcing one party to commit and consent to the marriage. This can happen when one party feels obligated to another, or when a minor enters into a partnership with an older individual. When force is being used as the reason for divorce, the one forced into the marriage must be the individual to file. An annulment because of force, must be filed within four years of entering into the marriage.
An annulment of a marriage may be granted on the grounds of physical incapacity. That means, one party is no longer able to live up to their marital duties, or never was. For example, impotence can be considered a physical incapacity, however, the party asking for the divorce must prove that she was unaware of the physical disability at the time of the marriage. One can file for an annulment on these grounds as long as the marriage is no more than 4 years old.
Under this reason, one party must prove that the other party is of unsound mind, or a conservator must prove that the individual was not of sound mind to consent to the marriage. This type of annulment can take place at any time during the marriage, as long as both parties are still living.