'Til death us do part? No so much these days. Legal separations, divorces and annulments are commonplace, each with it's own set of rules and guidelines for ending the contract that once bound together a couple through sickness and through health. Like all states, California has a unique list of filing requirements and legal procedures that must be followed to the letter of the law if one-half of a couple wishes to dissolve the union. The process offers options. Hire a lawyer. File your own documents. Whichever road you choose to dissolve your marriage, use this guide to get started.
Things You'll Need
- Internet connection
Understand the difference between annulment and divorce. Petitioning the California court system for this type of marriage dissolution will require you to prove that your spouse has violated specific laws. Make sure your desire for annulment is predicated on real conditions---you may not use "irreconcilable differences" or other such grounds to get an annulment in California.
Qualify your grounds for obtaining a California annulment based on one of these: duress, mental incapacitation, lack of assent to marry, failure to consummate the marriage, underage spouse (younger than 18), bigamy, commission of fraud or consanguinity (marriage between close blood relations). Verify the legitimacy of your qualification by visiting the California court's websites to understand the limits of each category.
Hire an attorney to make certain you fit the qualifications required for a California annulment. Peruse area yellow pages, do an Internet search for marital law attorneys in your ZIP code, ask friends for legal referrals or contact the California Bar Association to get names and contact numbers for specialists. Call Legal Aid or community social agencies in your area for help locating a lawyer---particularly if you can't afford one.
Pursue your annulment without benefit of an attorney if you are convinced, after careful examination of resources in this article and others, that you qualify to file for an annulment under California law. Start the process on your own by following detailed instructions on the California self-help site where you will also be able to download all of the paperwork you need in PDF format to complete your dissolution of marriage.
Expect a summons to be issued as a result of your filing. Ask someone over the age of 18 to serve the summons, notifying your spouse of your intention to dissolve the union based on the court's assessment that you qualify under one or more categories recognized by the California court system. You may not serve the summons; this is one of the few things you are prohibited from doing.
Tips & Warnings
- Learn more about how to qualify for a state of California annulment by reading the full text of laws that define your rights as the claimant: Ca Fam 2200, 2201, 2210§ et seq.
- If you don't know where your spouse lives--or if they are in the military, jail or living out of state--legal experts encourage you to hire a lawyer to pursue your annulment.
- Photo Credit IMSI stock photography
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