Saturday, August 25, 2007

Do I Qualify For an Annulment?

Annument information and Divorce help provided by an experienced family law and divorce attorney serving the Temecula, Murrieta, and Hemet areas of Riverside County, California.

Dear Famularo & Associates:
I need to know if I qualify for an annulment. Here is the situation. My husband and I have been married for six months. Before we married, he was the most attentive, thoughtful man I had ever known. After we got married, he completely changed. I have since discovered that he is addicted to video games. All he does from the time he gets home from work until the time he goes to bed is play games. He completely ignores me. I would not have married him if I had known that he had this addiction. I want out! I do not want a divorce because I know that a divorce will ruin my credit. Please tell me if I qualify for an annulment and how long I have to file.
--Kay in Temecula

Dear Kay:
There are two types of annulments: those based upon void marriages, and those based upon voidable marriages.

An annulment based upon a void marriage would be, for instance, if your husband was already married when he married you. For those types of situations, there is no time frame to file for an annulment. Because the marriage was never valid to begin with, for this type of situation, the court will not ever look at how long the two of you were married. It will grant the annulment at any time based upon the fact that the marriage never existed.

You are inquiring about an annulment based upon a voidable marriage. This is the most common situation. This type of annulment would be as a result of one person being under the legal age when he or she was married, one or both people being under the influence at the time, or even one or both people being insane. In your situation, the person you married was not the person you fell in love with, and had you know the truth, you would never have married.

Your situation is an annulment based upon fraud, and is the most common type of annulment. The definition of this type of annulment is that your spouse represented something to you before you got married that went to the heart of your desire to marry him. It was not true. Had you known the truth you would not have gotten married. The time you have to file for this type of an annulment is within a reasonable time after discovering the truth. You do not qualify for an annulment, though.

In order to qualify for an annulment based upon fraud, the representation made by your husband must go to the heart of the marriage. This has been very narrowly construed to mean any misrepresentations about your spouse's actual love for you or anything that effects your ability to have children. For instance, you would qualify for an annulment based upon fraud if your husband told you he wanted to marry you because he loved you and you later found out that he was an illegal alien and actually married you to obtain a green card. Similarly, if your husband told you he wanted lots of children before the marriage, and you later found out he was impotent or sterile, you could get an annulment. If an annulment is granted, the marriage never existed. This means the court cannot make orders concerning the division of property, not make any orders for spousal support.

In your situation, your husband has an addiction. This does not necessarily mean that he did not love you when you married him. Only that you misjudged his character. The law says that a previously-undiscovered addiction does not qualify as a reason to get an annulment.

Although you do not qualify for an annulment, you can still obtain a divorce. You are wrong in believing that a divorce will effect your credit. It will not. I am sure you have heard many people say that their credit was ruined because they had experienced a divorce. It was not the divorce itself that ruins their credit, it is the financial hardship which often goes along with the process. So long as you take proper measures to protect your credit before you file for divorce, your credit should be unaffected.

On a final note, since you were married for less than five years. You may qualify for a simple divorce procedure called a summary dissolution. This is a type of divorce which is designed for people with little or no assets and who have been married for only a short time. The process is much simplier, involves less forms, does not require any court appearances, and can be done without the need for a divorce lawyer. You can obtain information about this simple divorce process and all the forms you need on-line through your local family law courthouse. If you do proceed with this type of uncontested divorce, make sure your spouse will cooperate, that he also wants a divorce and will sign the divorce paperwork, and that the two of you have an agreement as to division of property and spousal support.

--Famularo & Associates

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