What is the difference between an annulment and a nullity of marriage?
The State of California changed the legal term from "annulment" to "nullity of marriage" many years ago. However, despite the name change, many people and lawyers still call it "annulment." Outside of court, people and lawyers use the terms interchangeability. However, in court, you need to call it a "nullity of marriage."
What are the grounds for a Nullity of Marriage/Annulment
There are multiple grounds for an annulment in California. Marriages that are incestuous or bigamous are "slam dunk" for an annulment because they are "void" from the beginning and the judge must give you an annulment if you do your paperwork right. Other grounds for an annulment in California include the fact that one or both of the parties were too young to give their consent, consent to the marriage was obtained by force, consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud, either party was of unsound mind, or that one of the parties, at date of marriage, was "physically incapable of entering into the marriage state," The one that is most commonly used is "fraud." In this context, "fraud" can be when someone says something untruthful or conceals something material. Generally, the fraud "must go to the very essence of the marital relation, and is "generally granted only in cases where the fraud related in some way to the sexual or procreative aspects of marriage"
How to start an annulment/nullity of marriage.
To start the process to an annulment, you file Petition for a Nullity of Marriage and the clerk of the court also issues a summons. http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/forms/documents/fl100.pdf & http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/forms/fillable/fl110.pdf.
After you have file the petition & summons, you need to have filed copies "served" on the other party. "Served" generally means that someone, other than you, who is over 18 years of age actually gives the filed paperwork to the other side. In addition to serving the petition & summons, you should also serve on the other side your "disclosure." Here is a good link as to helping you with your disclosures: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/family/divorce/step3.htm
How Finish an annulment/nullity of marriage.
Once the other side has been "served" with the petition/summons they have 30 days to respond by filing something if court. If they do not respond, you can request that the court enter their default and seek a judgment of nullity of marriage. . Each county has slightly different rules as to what needs to done to get a default nullity of marriage. Some counties, such as Santa Clara, require that there be an actual court hearing in which the judge questions to the grounds for your annulment. Other counties, such as San Francisco, have you submit a declaration listing the facts/grounds for your nullity. Some counties, such as San Francisco, have a judgment checklist form that must be submitted along with your other default paperwork. Here is the link to the San Francisco judgment checklist form. http://www.sfsuperiorcourt.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=1643
If one side files a response to the petition for nullity, then there must be a trial on the nullity.
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