FAQs: Annulments in Corona
What is a nullity action in Corona?
A “nullity” action is synonymous with “annulment” and refers to a case that is filed in Riverside County where one party believes that the marriage should declared void. When the family court determines that a Corona marriage should be declared void, the effect is that the marriage never existed.
What does a void marriage mean? Is that different from a voidable marriage?
Certain marriages are void immediately when the marriage vows are exchanged. For example, when people of the same family marry each other (incest), or when one or both parties are already married to someone else (bigamy), the marriage is automatically void. In theory, parties should not really have to file to nullify their marriage due to the automatically void nature; however, it is advisable to obtain a judgment for annulment. A voidable marriage is a marriage that the court declares void after a hearing, but the marriage is not necessarily automatically void.
What are the types of voidable marriages?
The Riverside Family Court judge can declare a marriage void after a hearing when one party alleges that the marriage was entered into based on fraud, or where one or both parties were physically or mentally incapable of entering into a valid marriage, or where the marriage is procured by force. In order for the court to determine a marriage is void based on one of the “voidable” types of marriages, one party must file a petition seeking the annulment in the Riverside Family Court. As the case progresses, the parties must participate in a trial and the court must have enough relevant evidence to warrant a judgment of nullity. If the court does not receive the proper evidence, it will deny the Corona family law litigant’s petition for the annulment and the parties will still be married.
How do you file an annulment case?
To file for annulment, a family law party will file a Petition form, which is the same form used for dissolution of marriage and legal separation. Simply check the box for annulment and fill in the appropriate information to provide the court with enough information about why you are seeking the annulment and what legal basis would allow the court to grant the request. Click here for the form. Once you complete the form, it must be filed in the Riverside County Family Court at the Business Office. There is a filing fee (currently over $400) to file the petition. As soon as the case is filed you will receive a judge assigned to the case and you will receive a court date for a Family Resolution Conference.
Can I file for the annulment but also file for dissolution of marriage?
Yes, in fact, most litigants may want to consider “pleading in the alternative” for both annulment and divorce in case the judge denies the request to void the marriage with the annulment claim. Simply complete the information required for both dissolution and annulment on the Petition form (link above). When you plead in the alternative for both the annulment and divorce, you can pursue both at trial and state that you are seeking the annulment but if that is denied, you are requesting a divorce.
What are the timeframes for filing for annulment?
This is a very important question and the “statute of limitations” must strictly be followed. Here are the various timelines that must be followed (generally speaking):
- For marriages where one or both parties are minors: Within four years of reaching 18 years old.
- When nullity is sought based on fraud: Within four years of the date of discovery of the facts evidencing fraud.
- When nullity is sought based on force: Within four years of the date of marriage.
Following these timelines is extremely important because if not brought timely, the nullity request will be summarily rejected and you won’t even have a chance to try and obtain the annulment judgment.
What types of evidence do I need to get the nullity judgment?
If you are taking your annulment case to trial, the facts of the case determine what type of evidence you will need to provide the judge. Some cases are more complicated than others. For example, for cases where parties are underage when they married, it is quite easy to prove the age of the parties which can be done through a birth certificate or similar document. For other cases, such as claims of fraud, more substantial evidence will need to be proven. For example, if one party claims the other party married them in order to get a green card, or immigration status, you will need to show that the person actually had the intent to defraud the aggrieved spouse at the time of the marriage. Perhaps the defrauding party admitted to somebody that they wanted to marry just for immigration status. In all cases, the legal basis for the annulment is weighed by the preponderance of evidence standard, which means “more likely than not” or slightly over 50% probability. Evidence can be documentary, or testimony, or a combination of both.
What if the other party agrees to the annulment?
Just because parties agree to nullify their marriage, it does not mean that the court will grant their request. This is due to the public policy and history of the annulment statutes in California, which do not favor nullities, it is not easy to obtain a nullity judgment voiding a marriage. Typically we tell clients that they must have a very good factual case to warrant the filing of an annulment action or it will not be successful.
What is a “putative spouse” and is that important in annulment cases?
A putative spouse is a spouse that entered into a marriage with a good faith belief that the marriage was valid. For putative spouse status to be allowed, the court must find that the parties met the licensure and ceremony requirements when they married. Putative spouse status is an important legal concept to protect the “innocent” party when a marriage is invalid and voided. In these cases, the court is permitted to make custody orders, divide community property and order spousal support. The party that caused the marriage to be invalid party is generally not permitted to seek putative spouse status.
Is there a 6 month waiting period for annulments?
No, there is no six month waiting period like there is with dissolution of marriage cases. Once the nullity judgment is entered, that’s the end of the case and there are no future trigger dates.
Is there a residency requirement to obtain a nullity judgment in Corona, California?
No, the only requirement a party must show to seek the annulment is that one of the parties is domiciled in California at the time of the commencement of the action.
Annulments can be very complicated cases to litigate; we caution you to hire a qualified attorney to represent you for your Corona divorce or annulment matter, even if it is not our firm. The legal procedure to actually obtain a judgment voiding a marriage is difficult, and there are ancillary issues that are difficult to understand for the lay person. We will do our best to explain things in a straightforward way and guide you through the case if you choose to hire our firm to represent you. Please feel free to call our office for a free, private consultation.