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California Annulment and Prohibited Marriage Laws

States have their own laws regarding civil annulments and the various types of marriages that are prohibited. In part, laws in California related to prohibited marriages govern the grounds for civil annulments. Other laws govern time limits for obtaining such an annulment and the various scenarios in which a marriage would not be recognized by the state. In a civil annulment, a court rules on whether a marriage was ever valid in the first place.

Civil Annulments in California

Each state may have different laws related to civil annulments. Below are some general highlights of these various laws, found in the California Family Code.

Grounds for Annulment

Under § 2210 of the California Family Code, a marriage qualifies for a civil annulment under the following circumstances:

  • Party did not have capability to consent
  • Party had another living spouse
  • Party was of unsound mind, unless party freely cohabitated with spouse after coming to reason
  • Consent obtained by force or fraud, unless party freely cohabitated with spouse afterwards
  • Party was physically incapable of entering marriage

Time Limits for Obtaining Annulment

  • Age of consent: Underage party within four years of reaching age of consent or by parent before party has reached age of consent
  • Fraud: Within four years of discovery of fraud by injured party
  • Husband/wife living: Either party during life or by former spouse
  • Unsound mind: Any time before death
  • Consent by force: Within four years of marriage by injured party
  • Physical incapability: Within four years of marriage by injured party

Legitimacy of Children

Under common law, the children of marriages that are legally invalid or marriages that have been civilly annulled are considered legitimate.

Prohibited Marriages

  • Under § 2200, incestuous marriages are prohibited. Incestuous marriages are typically defined as marriages between closely related family members. There are exceptions for certain types of cousins, beginning with first cousins and extending to types of cousins that correspond to more distant degrees of familial relation.
  • Under § 2201, bigamous and polygamous marriages are prohibited. Bigamy is defined as marrying someone while already being legally married to someone else. Polygamy is defined as marrying additional people while already being married to more than one person.
  • Under § 2210, marriages between parties that are under age are prohibited, if the consent of a parent or guardian has not been properly obtained.
  • Under the same law, marriages entered into by force, with a person who is incapable of consent, or on fraudulent grounds are prohibited.

Civil Annulments and Prohibited Marriages: Related Resources

The decision to end a marriage is never an easy one, especially if you are concerned about the legality of your marriage to begin with. To find more general information about this topic, you can visit FindLaw's sections on civil annulmentsdivorce, and California family law. If you would like legal assistance with your case, you can consult with an experienced California divorce attorney.

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