Thereare many reasons a marriage may come to an end. Whatever the issuesor differences between the parties, more often than not, they willseek a divorce or legal separation. But in some cases, one or bothspouses may want to “annul” the marriage – essentially todeclare the union invalid, as if it never existed in the first place.It is important to understand the legal, financial, and practicalramifications associated with seeking an annulment versus seeking adivorce. If you are considering a divorce, separation, or annulment,you are strongly encouraged to discuss these very distinct optionswith an experienced family law attorney from the San Diego area.

California law setsforth legal grounds upon which courts may grantan annulment, including whether: 1) the party filing for theannulment was under 18 at the time of the marriage; 2) one party wasof “unsound mind” or lacked the ability to understand the effectof the marriage; 3) either party entered into the marriage due tofraud; 4) a party consented to the marriage by force; and 5) one ofthe parties was “physically incapacitated” (or incapable ofconsummating the relationship). In order to succeed in getting anannulment, you must prove to the court that at least one of thesecriteria applies to your marriage. Of course, each case is unique,and courts will review the particular circumstances of the situationto determine whether an annulment is appropriate.

In arecent California divorce case, the court reviewed the husband’srequest for an annulment based on his wife’s fraudulent concealmentof her religious conviction. Here, the parties were married in 2004,and the wife filed for divorce in 2012. The husband is a minister andhad expressed concern that a divorce would ruin his career. Once thecourt granted the wife’s request for dissolution, the husband movedto set aside the judgment and have the matter resubmitted for anannulment. According to the husband, the wife represented to him thatshe possessed “appreciable spiritual maturity and devotion.” Hebelieved she was committed to Christianity.