San Diego Annulment Attorneys
Annulment is a frequently misunderstood legal concept. Misconceptions or religious beliefs can present different and often inaccurate views of what an annulment is or when the option is available. Annulments and divorces are similar in the sense that they restore one to being a single person. The difference between them is that divorce declares your marriage to be over while an annulment declares that your marriage was never valid to begin with and that it never happened. Annulments are only granted on very specific grounds and have nothing to do with the brevity of a marriage. Please contact the San Diego divorce lawyers at Mattis Law, A.P.C. today at (858) 736-9309 for more information regarding the annulment process.
There are many reasons why one may prefer an annulment over divorce. The grounds for annulment, however, are very specific. One of the following criteria must be met to be eligible for an annulment in California:
- The couple is related by blood.
- One spouse was already married at the time of the second marriage.
- The person requesting the annulment was not eighteen years old at the time of the marriage.
- Either spouse perpetrated a fraud to obtain the other party's consent to marriage.
- The male spouse is impotent.
- One or both spouses is of "unsound mind," or were of unsound mind at the time of the wedding (for example, extreme intoxication).
- One spouse forced the other to get married.
The person who is asking for the annulment must provide proof that one or more of the above reasons existed at the time of the marriage. If you do not meet any of these conditions then you will still be able to end the marriage, but you will have to do so through either a contested or uncontested divorce.
Our office has extensive experience in annulments. If you are eligible for annulment, we will take the steps to establish your case. We will explain whether you have a valid reason for an annulment during your initial consultation. If appropriate, we will make an articulate argument to the court for why your marriage should not be considered legal. These steps may include taking sworn witness statements, gathering photographic evidence, providing medical documents, or producing email and written correspondence records. Annulments are difficult to receive, and you need the help of an experienced annulment lawyer.
Much like divorce, annulments follow a standard set of steps and procedures as outlined by the court. In California, filing a claim for an annulment follows four steps:
- Fill out your court forms and write a declaration explaining why you are filing for an annulment. These forms can be found here. Depending on the local courts, you may be required to fill out additional forms. Once complete, make sure to have these forms reviewed with a family law attorney.
- File your forms with the county clerk. You will be required to pay a court fee or request a fee waiver. During this step, you may also request temporary orders for protection from domestic violence, child support and visitation, bill payments, or other motions. You will want to speak to an attorney first to review these specific forms and discuss the next steps to take in these scenarios.
- Serve your papers to your spouse or partner to inform them that you are filing for an annulment. The California courts will not approve an annulment unless this step is complete. Papers must be served by someone who is 18 or older and is NOT you. You may have a friend, relative, county sheriff, or process server deliver the forms. Once the forms have been served, you must wait 30 days for your spouse or partner to respond to the court.
- Request a court hearing to make your case before a judge. Your partner or spouse will also have the opportunity to attend the court hearing and contest the annulment. Following the hearing proceedings, the judge will make a decision regarding your annulment.
When filing for an annulment, it is important to know that issues such as child support and custody, establishing paternity, property division, or temporary protection from domestic violence should be handled by a San Diego family law attorney. Each case is different and will require expert counsel to ensure a smooth transition for you through the annulment process.
Invalid marriages are relatively rare. If you qualify for an annulment, however, there are benefits to applying for one rather than a divorce. After an annulment, you may claim single status, and do not have to categorize yourself as "divorced." Mattis Law, A.P.C., has handled numerous annulments in our years of being family law attorneys in San Diego. We have the experience and the knowledge to help you ascertain whether or not you have a case for annulment. Contact an attorney at our San Diego office online or by telephone at (858) 328-4400.