Divorce / Legal Separation / Annulment
There are 3 main ways to end a marriage or registered domestic partnership in California: divorce, legal separation, and annulment.
An Annulment is a legal procedure which cancels a marriage between two partners. Annulling a marriage is as though it is completely erased - legally, it declares that the marriage never technically existed and was never valid.
The party initiating the annulment must prove that he or she has the grounds to do so and if it can be proven, the marriage will be considered null and void by the court. The following is a list of common grounds for annulment and a short explanation of each point:
A divorce, or legal dissolution of a marriage, is the ending of a valid marriage between two partners, returning both parties to single status with the ability to remarry.
A legal separation allows a couple to live separately but remain married. During a period of legal separation, neither spouse may remarry or enter a domestic partnership. The procedure for legal separation in California is very similar to that of divorce.
It is not necessary for both spouses or domestic partners to agree in participating in any of the above mentioned actions. Either spouse or partner can decide to end the marriage, and the other spouse/partner, even if he or she does not want to get a divorce, cannot stop the process by refusing to participate in the case. If a spouse or domestic partner does not participate in the divorce case, the other spouse/partner will still be able to get a “default” judgment and the divorce will go through.
The divorce process will take at least 6 months from the date the person filing for divorce officially serves his or her spouse or domestic partner with the divorce, legal separation or annulment paperwork. The case can take longer, BUT it cannot be faster than the 6 months. This is a mandatory waiting period required by California law and no couple can be divorced faster than 6 months. You will be able to get all your paperwork turned in to the court and your divorce judgment approved, but the divorce itself will not be final until at least 6 months after starting the case.
Bigamy - either party was already married to another person at the time of the
Forced Consent - one of the spouses was forced or threatened into marriage and only entered into it under duress
Fraud - one of the spouses agreed to the marriage based on the lies or misrepresentation of the other
Marriage Prohibited By Law - marriage between parties that based on their familial relationship is considered incestuous
Mental Illness - either spouse was mentally ill or emotionally disturbed at the time of the marriage
Mental Incapacity - either spouse was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the marriage and was unable to make informed consent
Inability to Consummate Marriage - either spouse was physically incapable of having sexual relations or impotent during the marriage
Underage Marriage - either spouse was too young to enter into marriage without parental consent or court approval