Annulment is a process that many people have only seen on television, but it does apply to some real-life marriages and domestic partnerships. The annulment process is often misunderstood because religious practices and popular culture tend to create an inaccurate representation of how it is applied legally. There are civil annulments, which legally nullify a marriage or domestic partnership, and religious annulments. Those granted by a clergy member or church, however, do not apply in the eyes of the California family court.
Individuals often believe that an annulment and a divorce are essentially the same thing, but they are actually two different determinations regarding marital status. The main difference between the two is that a divorce grants an ending to an existing valid marriage, but an annulment is a legal declaration that the relationship the parties considered to be a domestic partnership or marriage was never legally valid at all. As far as the law is concerned, an annulled marriage or domestic partnership never actually existed.
If an individual wishes to qualify for an annulment in the state of California, there are various reasons a court may honor their request, including the following.
If an individual wishes to get a court order for an annulment, it is not that different from filing for a divorce. There are certain steps a person must take if they want to request an annulment or if they want to oppose it. The California court requires these steps to be followed in great detail, so it is always best to hire a knowledgeable annulment attorney to navigate the process.
There is a statute of limitations in California for filing a petition for annulment. This is a strict deadline the court requires individuals to abide by, and it varies depending on the reason for the annulment request. Consider the following examples.
The complex legal issues that surround these statutes of limitations, along with serious custodial implications and financial circumstances, typically require the assistance of a skilled lawyer to sort out.
Every situation is different. In some cases, the paternity of a couples’ children is called into question as a result of annulment. The fact that an annulled domestic partnership or marriage renders it completely invalid means that any children the couple produced were technically born to single parents. In cases where this becomes an issue, a judge may need to settle the paternity question and then rule on the custody arrangement, visitation, and child support. In many cases, though, paternity issues are easily resolved because the state makes legal assumptions or “presumptions of paternity.” This basically means that although the legal relationship is deemed invalid through the annulment, the former husband is considered to be the father of the children.
Couples who are granted an annulment for their marriage or domestic partnership are not awarded alimony from the court, nor is the court able to rule on the distribution of debts and assets. Since the marriage was determined to have never legally existed, there is no reason to consider their property or debts to be “marital estate.” For couples who have gotten their marriage or domestic partnership annulled, the division of their assets and debts is up to them. Similarly, neither party involved in an annulment may receive alimony, and neither is able to claim survivorship benefits from the other.
If you believe that having your marriage or domestic partnership annulled is the best course of action, it is crucial to discuss the matter with an experienced annulment lawyer. Paula Kleinman has been handling family law cases with compassion and integrity for more than two decades, and she has the knowledge to guide you through the process. Visit our website today to see how she can help you.
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