A California married couple can also seek an annulment of a marriage under certain circumstances. For example, if it is determined that a marriage is incestuous or bigamous, the marriage is considered void under California’s Family Code and may be so declared upon petition of either party to the marriage. A marriage is not void, but is voidable under California law, where the petitioner was a minor at the time of the marriage, where there was fraud or coercion, or where one spouse or the other has a physical or mental condition rendering the marriage unviable. In a California annulment however, the marriage, itself, is in question – it’s validity and enforceability. An annulment is like an eraser at the end of a pencil. You are looking to undo what has been done.
Fraud or misrepresentation – Fraud or misrepresentation occurs when one of the spouses has lied about something. Misrepresentation of things like the ability to produce children, not being married to anyone else, marrying just to gain citizenship, and being old enough to consent to marriage, are all grounds for an annulment based on fraud or misrepresentation.
Concealment – If one of the spouses hid a major fact, the other may have grounds for an annulment. This could include a substance abuse problem, a felony conviction, children, impotency, or sexually transmitted diseases.
Misunderstanding – Usually, a misunderstanding that constitutes an annulment is based on the desire to have children. This misunderstanding must be substantial to the marriage to constitute grounds for an annulment.
Impotency or Incest – If one of the spouses is incurably impotent, the other spouse has grounds for an annulment, as long as that spouse was not aware of the impotency prior to the marriage. Two people who are too close in familial relation to marry also have grounds for an annulment. This could include whole or half siblings, first cousins, parents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, etc. If a person is married while mentally ill, insane or so mentally retarded that he or she could not knowingly and willingly consent to marriage, then the marriage may be annulled. Here, annulment would be granted on the theory that marriage is a consensual relationship, and most mentally ill, insane, or retarded people are considered incapable of giving legal consent. If temporary or periodic insanity is claimed, the affected person’s condition at the time of marriage governs whether or not his or her possessed the legal capacity to marry. A marriage will not be annulled if it was entered into during a “lucid” interval between episodes of temporary insanity.
Lack of consent – Both parties must have the mental capacity to consent and must consent voluntarily to the marriage. If a party was forced or threatened into the marriage, the marriage can be annulled. One lacks mental capacity to consent to the marriage if they were insane or intoxicated at the time of the marriage. If either spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage, or if it can be shown that there was such intoxication at the marriage ceremony that either spouse was incapable of knowing the nature of the marriage contract and its consequences, annulment will be granted.
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