In California, the court can grant an annulment if it determines that the marriage is void or voidable. A void marriage can never be legal; a voidable marriage is presumed legal and, then, can become void or rendered null by proof of certain circumstances.

Void marriages include incestuous unions. California’s consanguinity law forbids marriages between parents and children, ancestors and direct descendants, uncles and nieces, aunts and nephews, siblings, and half siblings.

Bigamous or polygamous marriages are outlawed in California. If one party is already married or in a registered domestic partnership, the party cannot enter into another marriage or domestic partnership unless:

  • and until the prior is dissolved.
  • The former spouse or partner is absent and not known to be living for a period of five years and presumed dead.

Other bases for the Court granting an annulment are:

Age. Marriage to a person under the age of majority, 18 years old, is void in California and becomes valid when that spouse reaches the age of majority and stays in the union.

If the spouse reaches 18, then files for an annulment, citing lack of capacity at the formation of the marriage, a Court can declare the marriage invalid.

Unsound mind. If one of parties was not able to understand the nature of the marriage, the court can grant an annulment.

Fraud. If either spouse made a fraudulent representation to the other to induce the other to enter the marriage, or withheld pertinent information (such as infertility or impotence) that, if known, would have dissuaded the unknowing spouse from marrying, the Court can declare the marriage void.

Should the spouse discover the fraud and remain in the marriage, the Court may decide that the false representation was not material to the union, and decline to annul the marriage.

Force. If one spouse forces or coerced the other into marriage, the marriage can be annulled.

Physical incapacity. If one of the spouses is “physically incapacitated,” or incapable of consummating the marriage, the marriage may be eligible for annulment.

To obtain an annulment, you must be able to prove to the Court the facts that support one of these scenarios. The length of the marriage or domestic partnership is not a basis for annulment and may be a factor for the Court to consider. This process can be very difficult. It is important to hire an experienced California divorce attorney to help you in your time of need.