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If you believe you mistakenly entered a marriage by way of deceit or fraud, you may want the court that find that marriage was invalid. An annulment, also known as a nullity of marriage, is when the court determines that a couple was never legally married. If an annulment is granted, the legal effect is that the marriage did not exist.

There are various ways to undo a marriage by way of an annulment. For example, a marriage may be declared invalid if: either party was already legally married; if either party was of “unsound mind” and could not understand the nature and obligations of a marriage; if the marriage was a result of fraud or force; or if one of the parties is physically incapacitated and unable to “consummate” the marriage.

Because the effect of an annulment is that a marriage never existed, then certain California laws that arise when a couple is married will not apply. Typically, assets and debts that were accumulated during the marriage will not be subject to community property division. An exception exists for individuals who can prove they were a “putative spouse”- meaning that they had a good faith belief they were married. Also, parentage will need be to established for any children born during the marriage before a party can obtain custody and support rights.

It can be incredibly difficult to obtain an annulment and navigate the complex effect of an annulment in regards to children and property rights. Contact Law Office of Elisabeth Donovan to speak to an experienced attorney to learn if an annulment may be best for your situation.

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