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Bay Area Family Attorneys > San Francisco Annulment Attorney

San Francisco Annulment Attorney

Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage. In some cases, however, one or both parties may instead seek an annulment of the marriage. Although annulment is often associated with religious marriage rites, it is also a civil procedure used to declare that a valid marriage never existed as a matter of law.

It is a mistake to assume that annulment and divorce are basically the same thing. They are not. An experienced San Francisco annulment attorney can explain the differences to you and represent you if you are involved in such a proceeding. Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP is a dedicated California family law firm that has helped many clients determine if they qualify for an annulment, and if so whether it is the right course of action for them and their family.

When Can You Annul A Marriage in California?

A divorce assumes there was a legal marriage to begin with. An annulment, in contrast, means there was never a legal marriage from the outset. There are several reasons why a marriage may be invalid under California law, including:

  • one of the parties was under the age of 18 and did not have judicial permission to marry;
  • one party used fraud to trick the other party into marrying them;
  • one party used force against the other person to get them to marry;
  • one or both parties was of “unsound mind,” i.e., they lacked the mental capacity to understand they were getting married;
  • one party was unable to physically consummate the marriage;
  • one party was already married to someone else (i.e., bigamy); and
  • the parties are related by blood (i.e., incest).

As with a divorce, there is a legal process a person must follow when seeking annulment of their marriage. One thing to note is that there is often a deadline–known as the “statute of limitations”–to file an annulment in most cases, which is usually 4 years. For example, if you wish to seek an annulment because you were under 18 when the marriage occurred, you would have 4 years from the date of your 18th birthday to ask for an annulment. After that time, you will likely have to seek a divorce instead.

Another critical consideration with annulment is that since there was never a legal marriage, a California judge may not be able to order any spousal support (alimony) or a division of marital property as they would in a divorce. It is still possible for a court to make such orders, however, if one party can prove they were a “putative” spouse–that is, they genuinely believed their marriage was legal. And if the couple have common children, the court can still issue orders requiring custody and support, although one party may need to legally establish their parentage if the marriage is declared void.

Reach Out to Our San Francisco Annulment Attorney for Help

Annulling a marriage carries significant legal consequences for you and your family. So it is never something that should be entered into lightly or without the assistance of an experienced San Francisco annulment attorney. Call Cardwell Steigerwald Young LLP today at 415-259-5885 to schedule a consultation.

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