Divorce is the most common route to ending a marriage in California, but there are two other options that may be available to you: legal separation and annulment. Annulment is a legal finding by a California court that a marriage is invalid, the result of which is that it is like the marriage never happened. Legal separation, on the other hand, does not end a marriage, instead it defines the responsibilities and the rights of spouses who choose to live apart for whatever reason.
Legal Grounds for Annulment in California
Annulment is the legal process where the court deems that due to certain circumstances, the marriage is void or not legally valid. Once obtained, it is as if the marriage never occurred.
A judge may grant an annulment based on one of the following factors:
- Duress (force) or fraud was used to convince one party to marry
- One spouse suffered from a physical or mental incapacity at the time of the marriage
- The spouses were closely related (incest)
- One of the spouses was under 18 and lacked parental consent
- One of the spouses was still married to someone else (bigamy)
- One / both spouses were under the influence of drugs / alcohol at the time of the marriage
Is Your Marriage Eligible for Annulment in Santa Barbara?
The requirements for obtaining an annulment of a marriage in California are strict. To find out if you are eligible, contact the experienced Santa Barbara divorce attorneys at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP. Our consultations include an explanation of your rights and options, and, should you choose to hire us, assistance with preparing your petition accurately and effectively – otherwise the court may deny your request and you may be forced to proceed with divorce.
Legal Separation Rules for Santa Barbara Residents
The grounds for legal separation are the same as the grounds for divorce: either irreconcilable differences, which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage, or permanent legal incapacity to make decisions on the part of a spouse.
Likewise, the process for filing for a legal separation is the same as a marital dissolution, the only difference being that the spouse or spouses who file aren’t ready to divorce just yet. There are a number of reasons to pursue a separation in lieu of divorce, including the required six month “cooling off period” required by California law between the filing for divorce and the divorce judgment. Other reasons include financial considerations, insurance, children, and religious prohibition against divorce.
Celebrity Couples Have Mixed Results with Legal Separation
Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green
Megan Fox filed for divorce from Brian Austin Green in 2015, leading to a long period of legal separation, but the couple have since reconciled…
Scottie and Larsa Pippen
…Scottie and Larsa Pippen, however, have been unable to reconcile. After originally filing for divorce in 2015, they filed a second time in 2018.
Learn More About Divorce Alternatives
While these are the basics of annulment and legal separation, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney if you are considering ending your marriage. Remember, it’s not just vows and rings, you signed an actual legally binding contract when you were married, so it’s critical you understand the consequences and options you have if you wish to break that agreement. Contact Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Santa Barbara divorce lawyers.