The requirements for obtaining a civil annulment in each State are different. However, it is a legal process in each State that affirms for a variety of reasons, the marriage was not legal from its onset. Some States are reluctant to grant annulments if couples have children. Even if there is an annulment, it does not have the effect of making children born to those unions illegitimate.
Those who seek to obtain an annulment should look first at the requirements in their State’s laws Family codes, or the State’s Revised Statutes under Family support, or similar headings. It is important he or she understands the rules before they pursue legal help, so they don’t wound up paying for services they do not need. Often, it is possible to glean enough information from the State laws to file the petition without using legal help.
For example, California requires two conditions be met under which one may obtain a civil annulment: to declare a marriage voido or ab initio, which is a legal nullity from the beginning, and a voidable marriage. Nunc pro tunc is then and now. Either proceeding will result in a declaration that the contested marriage never existed.
A civil annulment can only be granted by a judge and, generally, the annulment must be filed within two years from the date of marriage. Even though State statutes may differ, the reasons under which an annulment may be obtained are basically the same in all States. Some States have more provisions, but most all have some, or all, the following causes for filing:
Failure to reveal a prior marriage and divorce
Being under the age of consent
Biological relationship between the spouses
Inability to consummate marriage because of drugs or alcohol
Annulment laws are more narrowly defined than divorce laws and to that end, make acquiring a civil annulment much more difficult, as they require a preponderance of evidence for the possibility of a favorable ruling.
California’s guidelines and the process and the conditions under which one may obtain a civil annulment are located in the State Of California Law, Family Code Section 2210-2212. The procedural provisions are located in Sections 2250-2255.
The links below provide an outline of the basic elements under which a civil annulment may be obtained in all States, and provide another information source regarding marriages and dissolutions.