A dissolution of marriage or "dissolution of domestic partnership" ends your marriage or domestic partnership. Rather than referring to "divorce", California law refers to "dissolution of marriage." However, there is no fundamental difference between what is called "divorce" in another state and what is called "dissolution of marriage" in California. Both terms refer to the process by which a marriage (or domestic partnership) between parties is terminated and their respective legal rights and obligations regarding property, child custody, and child and spousal support are determined.
After a dissolution, you will be single, and you can marry or become a domestic partner again.
In a dissolution, you can seek orders like child support, spousal support, partner support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, division of property, and other orders.
A legal separation does not end a marriage or domestic partnership. You can't marry or enter into a partnership with someone else if you are legally separated (and not divorced). A legal separation is for couples that do not want to get divorced but want to live apart and decide on money, property, and parenting issues. Couples sometimes prefer separation for religious reasons.
In a legal separation case, you can seek orders like child support, spousal support, partner support, custody and visitation, domestic violence restraining orders, or any other orders you can get with a divorce case.
An annulment (or "nullity of marriage" or "nullity of domestic partnership") is when a court says your marriage or domestic partnership is NOT legally valid. A marriage or domestic partnership that is incestuous or bigamous is never valid. Other marriages and partnerships can be declared "void" because:
of force, fraud, or physical or mental incapacity;
one of the spouses or partners was too young to legally marry or enter into a domestic partnership; or
one of the spouses or partners was already married or in a registered domestic partnership.
Annulments are very rare. If you ask to have your marriage or domestic partnership annulled, you will have to go to a court hearing with a judge.
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