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Understanding The Premise For Voidable Marriages

There are marriages that don’t end by the normal irreconcilable differences approach which accounts for most the divorces in the United States and California. Other marriages not included in normal dissolution proceedings are “voidable marriages.”

There are certain criteria the court looks at in order to grant a voidable marriage.

  1. Incest: When two parties who are related by blood the courts will annul the marriage. These relationships normally include, Parents and children, ancestors, siblings and uncles and aunts.
  2. Bigamy: When a party is currently married to another person, the courts will annul the marriage.
  3. Marriage when person was under the age of 18: The courts will grant an annulment if one of the parties was a minority age. If after the person turns 18 during the marriage they can continue to be married if they cohabitate as husband and wife.
  4. Unsound mind: this occurs “when …(a party) is incapable of understanding the nature of the marriage contract and the duties and responsibilities it creates.” Therefore the argument must be that the party was not able to comprehend that they were being married at the time.
  5. Fraud: A marriage entered into by fraud can be annulled. The party must have entered the marriage based on a reliance on the other party that “relate to a matter of substance and directly affect the purpose of the party deceived in entering the marriage.” A party cannot later on after learning of the fraud live with the other party and claim fraud later on. A party has four years after discovery to file an action for nullity after learning of the misrepresentation.
  6. Force: A Party can claim annul a marriage if they were forced into the marriage. The court must look into whether the consent to enter into the marriage was coerced. The parties exercise of free will must have been overcome by the other party.
  7. Physical incapacity: A party that enters into a marriage and suffers an incurable physical disability. If a person cannot perform normal copulation with the other party. The other party or injured party can state a claim for a an nullity.

The effects of all the grounds listed above give the party a way out of the marriage. Rather that having to go through all the statutory normal dissolution requirements and waiting times until they can remarry. An annulled marriage relates back to the date the party’s never were married thus potential spousal support orders that were in place can be terminated as if they never happened.