An annulment (or nullity) is when a judge says in a court order that your marriage or registered domestic partnership is not legally valid. This means that something was legally wrong with the marriage from the beginning. If you get an annulment, it's as if your marriage never existed because it was never legal.

Grounds for annulment

You must give a reason why your marriage was not legal from the beginning.

A judge can only annul a marriage for a specific legal reason. Some examples

  • One spouse is married to another person (bigamy)
  • He married when he was under 18 and it was not legal to do so.
  • Your spouse tricked you into agreeing to marry him/her

A very brief marriage is not a legal reason for an annulment. There are at least8 legal reasons why a judge can annul a marriage.

Even if you and your spouse agree to the annulment, you'll have to appear before a judge to explain why your marriage was never legal to begin with.

Talk to your court's Help Centerstaff to learn more about an annulment and your options. For example, you might:

  • Agree to go ahead and ask a judge to annul your marriage
  • Respond that you disagree that you qualify for an annulment
  • Filing for divorce or legal separation instead of annulment

There are many options to consider. Getting an annulment instead of a divorce can have significant effects on your rights. For advice on what is best for your situation, talk to a lawyer.

In an annulment, you may not be able to get spousal support or divide your assets. Talk to a lawyer or learn more at your court's Help Center.

A judge can only divide your property or order spousal support if one of you thought your marriage was legal.

Unlike a divorce or legal separation, in an annulment a judge cannot always divide your assets or debts or order spousal support.

A judge can only do this if he finds that one of you is aputative spouse. A putative spouse is someone who in good faith believed their marriage was legal.

If you can prove that you are a putative spouse, you can ask the judge to divide your assets and debts, and order spousal support. The person who is not a putative spouse cannot ask the judge to do either.

In an annulment, if there is no putative spouse, a judge cannot divide your assets or debts or order spousal support. If you need it, talk to an attorney who can offer advice on what's best for your situation.

You can receive orders about the care and support of your children

If you have children together, you may need to establish that the other person is the legal father of your child (called establishing parentage or paternity). The judge may then make orders about child custody, visitation (parenting time), and support.

You do not need to meet the divorce residency requirement or have a waiting period

There is no 6-month residency requirement: You do not need to have lived in California for 6 months or 3 months in the county where you are applying to start the process. You only need to live in California when you apply.

No 6-month waiting period: Unlike a divorce, there is no need to wait 6 months after the legal delivery of documents is made to your spouse for the case to be finished and you are a single person again. When the court completes your final documents (your judgment), you are a single person.

Deciding whether an annulment is right for your situation is difficult.

This site has only basic information. The staff at your court's Help Centercan give you more explanations. For advice on what's best for your situation, talk to a lawyer.


¿Cuáles son los siguientes pasos?

Si no desea (o no califica para) una anulación, aún puede finalizar su matrimonio con un divorcio. También puede considerar una separación legal. Vaya a Divorcio en California para obtener información sobre ambos.


Si desea iniciar un proceso de anulación, puede pasar al siguiente paso.

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