Can You Get An Annulment Instead of a Traditional Divorce?

By Jon D. Alexander, Esq.

Legal termination of marriage, in California, happens in one of three ways.

(1) Legal Separation; (2) Marital Dissolution; or (3) Nullity.

Is nullity an appropriate remedy for you? Maybe, but this option is only appropriate where the validity of the marriage is not clear. The difference between martial dissolution and annulmnet is that the remedies rely on conflicting assumptions.

A nullity is pursued because the petitioner (one who files the action) believes that no valid marriage ever existed and their seeking to prove this theory. A marital dissolution, rather, merely terminates an otherwise valid marriage.

In effect, a nullity seeks to prove a the theory that the marriage was never valid from inception. The court is tasked with reaching a decision and the petitioner has the burden of proof.

Is your marriage a valid one or is there some doubt? Were all of your formalization procedures (like obtaining the license, solemnization, and authentication) performed correctly? If not, these could be potential grounds for nullity. However, a marriage may be void or voidable for other reasons including incest, bigamy, inducement by fraud or force, or where one or both parties were minors at the time of the marriage.

Even if a nullity is an option keep in mind that there are some disadvantages of a nullity proceeding, including but not limited to the following. Proving grounds for a judgment of nullity are likely to be more difficult and costly to prove. The party seeking a judgment of nullity may also have to overcome statutes of limitations hurdles. Fault play no role in a marriage dissolution proceeding. In a nullity proceeding, however, issues of innocence or fault are very important for questions of support and an attorney fees and costs award, as well as determining marital (quasi-marital) property rights.

Parties to an invalid marriage do not have community property rights. But property acquired during the void or voidable marriage, which would have been community property but for the impediment to a valid marriage, may be deemed quasi-marital property and divided in a nullity proceeding as if it were community property. This only happens where ?putative spouse? status is established (this spouse has a good faith belief that the marriage is valid).

While these disadvantages are real and perhaps of overriding concern, there are many benefits of a nullity as well. If you are interested in learning of the benefits, please visit my site linked below. And please fill out a case questionnaire or join my mailing list for more free reports like this one. Thank you. Visit my site today!

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