Before you start
Consider getting help
Get help from the court. Learn more about the court’s Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center.
Hire a lawyer to help you with all or a part of your case.
If you're not sure if you qualify for an annulment, a lawyer or your court's Self-Help Center staff can explain other options. For example, you can ask for an annulment or, in the alternative, a divorce. This mean if the judge decides you don't qualify for an annulment, your case can go forward as a divorce.
How to start an annulment case
Figure out where you can file
You can file for an annulment in any county where you or your spouse live.
Find your court's address. You'll file in the court that accepts family law filings.
Fill out forms
Fill out these forms:
- Petition — Marriage/Domestic Partnership (form FL-100)
- Summons (Family Law) (form FL-110)
The Summons tells your spouse that you've started a court case and that they have 30 days to respond.Once you file the Summons and Petition, there are things you can’t do without written agreement from your spouse or a court order. They’re called Standard Family Law Restraining Orders.
For example, you can’t:
- Give away or hide money and property
- Change insurance beneficiaries
- Take your children (if you have them together) out of state or get them a new passport
Read page 2 of the Summons for a complete list. These same rules will apply to your spouse once they’re served.
If you and your spouse have children (under 18) together, you will also need to fill out:
- Declaration under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (form FL-105)
On the forms, you're called the petitioner because you're the one starting the case. Your spouse is called the respondent.
Find out if you have any local forms to complete
Some courts have additional local forms they require you to use.
Contact your court clerk’s office, check your court’s website, or talk to your Family Law Facilitator or Self-Help Center to ask if they have any local forms you need to use.
Make copies and file forms
Make 2 copies of each form. If you filled out the fee waiver form, you only need 1 copy of that form.
Take original and copies to the court clerk
The clerk will give you a case number and stamp the forms. The court will keep the original and return the copies to you. One is for you, the other for your spouse or domestic partner.
Pay the fee or get a fee waiver
You’ll need to pay a fee of $435-$450 to the clerk when you file your forms unless you get a fee waiver.
Serve your spouse and file proof you did
Serve your spouse
You can't serve papers yourself. Ask another adult – a server – to deliver the papers. Your server must hand your spouse:
Copies of forms you filed with the court (except any fee waiver forms)
Blank Response - Marriage/Domestic Partnership (form FL-120)
Blank response forms if you filed other papers
Your server should note the address where they gave your spouse the papers, along with the date and time. The server needs this information to fill out a Proof of Service of Summons (form FL-115)
You can get more information on how to serve and what to do if you can't find your spouse or they live in another country on how to serve divorce papers.
File Proof of Service
Make 1 copy of the Proof of Service. File the original and keep a copy for your records.
Wait 30 days for your spouse to respond
Your spouse has 30 days to file a response in court. If they don’t respond, you can move ahead without them. If they do file a response, what you do depends on how they responded.
No matter how your spouse responds
- You will need to get a court date to prove to a judge that there's a legal reason to annul your marriage.
- If you asked for the judge to order spousal support or divide your property, you will need to prove that you are a putative spouse.
- If you asked the judge to divide your property and debts, you will need to complete financial disclosures. This means sharing information about your income and what you own and owe with your spouse.
Find out from your court's Self-Help Center what next steps you need to take. You may need to ask for a court date so the judge can decide if there's a legal reason to annul your marriage.
You are done with start an annulment. Find out from your Self-Help Center how to get a court date so judge can decide if you can get an annulment.