Understanding the Difference Between Annulment and Divorce


If you get an annulment, does that mean you don't need a divorce? This is an interesting question that sometimes comes up as people are seeking information regarding Pasadena matrimonial law.

When you get an annulment, you are having your marriage declared "null and void" in the eyes of the law. This means that it is as if your marriage never happened. Thus, you do not need a divorce if you have your marriage annulled.

There are very strict criteria you must meet to be eligible for an annulment. Your marriage must be incestuous, bigamous, involve an underage person, obtained under fraudulent pretenses, or involve someone who was physically incapable of consummating the marriage, or was of "unsound mind" and thus not able to legally consent to be married. The length of time you were married is irrelevant.

If you are a California resident, you can file for annulment in the county where you live. California does not have a residency length requirement for annulment of a marriage.

If you can't provide proof of one of the legally acceptable reasons for an annulment, you will need to file for divorce. If you file for annulment and the judge does not grant your request, you need to start a new case to file for divorce unless you have checked both the annulment (nullity) box AND the dissolution (divorce) box on your forms.

The Catholic church has its own rules regarding the annulment of a marriage. It is important to recognize that these rules are entirely separate from a legal annulment. If you want to have your marriage legally annulled, the only way to do so is to go through the court system.

If you are not sure whether or not your marriage qualifies for an annulment, it is best to contact an experienced Pasadena matrimonial lawyer. He or she can help you decide what is the best way to proceed with your case.