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Legal Separation

The Annulment: When Will California Law Say a Marriage Never Existed?

When a judge grants an annulment in California, the parties are deemed to have never been married in the eyes of the law (although the wedding guests who witnessed the union may tend to disagree).  Compare this to a dissolution (divorce), where a valid marriage is terminated for reasons created post-marriage.  Under California law, the grounds for nullifying a marriage or domestic partnership are broader than commonly believed.  Even so, most marriages can’t be undone with an annulment, and despite the myths, an annulment is not an easy way out.  An annulment is a potential alternative to divorce only when there’s reason to question the validity of the marriage.  Immediate regret and disappointment are not legal bases for annulling a marriage.  Depending on the basis for the annulment, a judge may either declare the marriage to have been unlawful from the outset (a “void” marriage), or to have been valid until formally annulled by the court (a “voidable” marriage).  Continue Reading