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Do I qualify for an annulment instead of a divorce?

If one has seen a movie involving a marriage in Las Vegas, they probably have heard the word, annulment. If so, they may wonder if they qualify for one, instead of going through the divorce process because the movies often make annulments seem quick and easy.

Essentially, unlike a divorce, an annulment essentially states that a marriage is legally invalid. This means that, once approved by the court, the marriage or domestic partnership did not count (i.e., legally never happened) because the marriage was not legal. So, how does one qualify for an annulment?

First, a marriage or domestic partnership is never valid if it is incestuous or bigamous. Incestuous means the marriage or domestic partnership is to a close blood relative. Bigamous means that one of the spouses is already married or in a registered domestic partnership with another person.

Second, a marriage or domestic partnership can be declared invalid if it one of the spouses is too young, has an unsound mind, or was physically incapacitated. To be legally married, both parties must be at least 18. An unsound mind refers to one’s ability to understand the nature and obligations of a marriage or domestic partnership. Physical incapacity means that either spouse is unable to consummate the relationship and that incapacity is incurable.

Finally, a marriage or domestic partnership can be declared invalid if it was entered into by fraud or force. The fraud must be something vital to the marriage or domestic partnership that was the basis of why the other spouse entered into the legal relationship, like only marrying to get a green card or sterility.

California courts let potential litigants know that successfully getting an annulment is very difficult. Talking to a profession before initiating the process can help ensure a successful outcome, or at least getting a better idea about next steps.

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