When a couple decides to end their marriage in California, they have two options: annulment or divorce. What’s the difference between the two, and which is right for you? Keep reading to find out.
What is legal annulment in California?
A legal annulment is a court order that declares that a marriage was never valid in the first place. Annulments are rare and usually only granted under specific circumstances, such as:
- If one spouse was underage at the time of marriage
- If one spouse forced the other into the marriage
- If one spouse misrepresented themselves (for example, lied about their age or criminal history)
- If the couple never consummated the marriage (that is, they never had sex)
Divorce in California
A divorce is a court order that ends a valid marriage. To get a divorce in California, one spouse must file a petition with the court and serve it to the other spouse. The other spouse then has the opportunity to respond to the petition. Once both spouses have filed all of the necessary paperwork, a judge will review it and decide whether or not to grant the divorce.
Acceptable grounds for divorce in California include:
- Irreconcilable differences have caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage
- One spouse has been convicted of a felony and has been incarcerated for at least one year
- Incurable insanity
- Physical abuse or cruelty has occurred during the marriage
- The spouses have been living apart for at least six months, and there is no hope of reconciling
Should you divorce or annul your marriage
Divorce/annulment can happen for many reasons, but sometimes the court can dismiss some legal grounds for separation. For example, if you claim that your partner deceived you into agreeing to the marriage, you should request annulment within four years of discovering the fraud. And if divorcing, under Section 2339(a) of the California Family Code, you must wait at least six months.
No matter the reason for the end of your marriage, it is vital to make sure that you take care of yourself and your family. Annulments and divorces can be complicated, so prepare yourself well.