Annulment Or Divorce? What Is The Difference And Which Should I Choose?

Law Offices of Stephanie L. Mahdavi A Professional Law Corporation Divorce

If you and your spouse have decided that your marriage has run its course and it is time to move on, you may have started considering your options. While divorce is the appropriate option in most cases, you may also have the option of annulment. As an annulment is basically a method for ending your marriage because it has never really been legal, there are some strict criteria that must be satisfied before this route becomes available to you. If you believe that your marriage, for whatever reason, is not legally valid under California law, you should speak to a Thousand Oaks divorce attorney immediately to discuss your circumstances and the best way to proceed.

What Is an Annulment?

In short, an annulment makes it as though your marriage never happened. If you are granted an annulment it means that, in the eyes of the law, your marriage actually did never happen. As you can probably imagine, this can be quite a difficult case to prove, meaning you need expert legal representation as soon as you start to consider annulment as a possibility. Under California law, the grounds for annulment are as follows and, before you can file for an annulment, you must be able to prove that at least one of these is applicable:

  • Incest
  • Bigamy
  • One or both spouses being underage at the time of the marriage
  • One or both spouses being of unsound mind
  • Fraud
  • Marriage which took place under force
  • Physical incapacity

There is also a statute of limitations applicable to filing for an annulment in Thousand Oaks or elsewhere in California. Unlike separation or divorce, which can be done no matter how long you have been married, you must file for annulment within four years of your wedding date. The exception to this applies where the annulment is sought on the grounds of mental capacity or bigamy, where there is no statute of limitations.

Regardless of which other grounds apply, if you have been married for more than four years, it is likely that you will need to go down the route of divorce instead.

If I Qualify for Annulment, Will It Be a Straightforward Process?

There are certain factors which can make the annulment process considerably more complex, such as children resulting from the marriage and the division of any jointly-owned property. As you are, in effect, stating that you were never married, there can be some issues with establishing paternity, and the division of shared property. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced Thousand Oaks divorce lawyer immediately to discuss the specifics of your split. Depending on your circumstances, another option, such as summary dissolution or divorce, maybe more appropriate.

To discuss the circumstances surrounding your potential separation, divorce, or annulment, and to find out how a dedicated Thousand Oaks divorce attorney could help you to identify and pursue the most appropriate option, call us today on 805-379-4550 to schedule an initial consultation.

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