How is an Annulment Different from Divorce?


Sometimes, couples seeking a divorce in Pasadena decide an annulment is the more appropriate course of action. An annulment is different from a divorce because it declares that the marriage was never legally recognized. While a divorce states that a couple is no longer married, an annulment is a retroactive statement effectively denying a valid marriage ever took place.

The court can grant an annulment if it is discovered that there is a blood relationship between the couple, proof that one or more of the spouses is mentally impaired, or that threats were used to convince the couple to marry. Annulments can also be granted if one of the parties is found to have not been eligible to marry, such as in the event a previous divorce was not finalized when the second wedding took place, or if one of the spouses was under the legal age at the time the wedding took place. An annulment can also be granted if there is an inability or refusal to consummate the marriage sexually by either party. Fraud may be a reason for an annulment, but this varies according to the exact nature of the deception.

Another way in which annulments are different from divorce cases is that you must formally prove your specific reason for requesting an annulment. California does not consider "irreconcilable differences" an acceptable explanation.

Depending upon the reason for the annulment, there are rules as to which spouse can request the filing. A four year statute of limitations applies in some cases as well.

Annulments are typically used when the marriage is of a very short duration. Therefore, the couple is unlikely to have children or joint assets that must be divided. If the couple does have children, however, the judge will request that paternity be legally established before the annulment is granted. If the couple has assets, community property laws do not apply unless "putative" spouse status is proven.

Catholics can go through a church process to have their marriage annulled. However, a church annulment is not legally recognized on its own. The couple must have a civil annulment as well. Contacting a qualified Pasadena matrimonial law attorney will help you resolve the matter as soon as possible.