What Is An Annulment Of A Marriage?

By Gerald A. Maggio, Esq.

Orange County divorce mediation attorneys; California Divorce MediatorsAnnulment and divorce both mean the end of a marriage but an annulment suggests that the marriage never took place. Some people do not like the sound of the word ‘divorce’ (it carries a kind of a social or religious stigma for them). Instead, they prefer to annul their marriage. In certain churches, remarriage after an annulment is a lot easier than after a divorce.

Most annulled marriages are of a very short duration. The couple may have been married for a couple of weeks or months or even less. But sometimes long term marriages are also annulled. Annulment is of two types – civil annulment and religious annulment.

Religious annulment – Annulments granted by the church are called religious annulments. Under the Roman Catholic Church, religious annulments can be sought after a civil divorce. It allows either person from the ended marriage to remarry within the church. The church will recognize such a remarriage.

Civil annulment – Annulments granted by the state government are called civil annulments. It comes after a court proceeding. The grounds on which civil annulment can be sought differ from state to state. But at least some of the following reasons have to be true.

  • Unconsummated marriage – If the couple fails to consummate the marriage. May be one spouse is unable of sexual intercourse and the other one was not aware of this.
  • Fraud or perversion – If pieces of information valuable to the marriage are kept hidden by your spouse such as the inability to conceive or some terrible criminal record.
  • Forceful marriage – If either person has been forced into this marriage.
  • Underage – If either of the spouses was or is underage at the time of the marriage.
  • Bigamy – If either spouse was still legally married to another person at the time when this marriage took place.
  • Incest – If the spouses are related by blood. In the eyes of law and religion, it is illegal to marry a very close blood relation.
  • Mentally unstable – If either or both the people in a marriage were of unsound mind at the time of the wedding. They may have been under the heavy influence of drugs or alcohol.

To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation