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When most couples decide their marriage is over, the usual route taken is divorce. However, when one spouse seeks to render the marriage as having never existed, they will ask the court for an annulment. In most cases, the annulment is mutually agreed upon by both parties. Yet in some cases, one spouse will object to the idea of an annulment and decide to contest the request. If this is done, the contesting spouse should work with an experienced attorney to ensure they have exhausted every possible legal option.
Grounds for Annulment
While there are limited options for seeking an annulment, there are grounds under which the court may grant the request. Among the most common are fraud, bigamy, insanity, and an inability for the couple to have sexual relations. However, if an annulment is sought, the spouse filing the request will be unable to seek any type of spousal support or distribution of property.
How to Contest an Annulment
In an annulment case, the person seeking to contest the annulment cannot do so by simply telling the court they want to remain married. Instead, they must prove that the grounds for requesting the annulment never happened. If the court decides to hear the case, it will not be settled based just on written materials or on the word of one spouse. Rather, the spouse seeking the annulment will have the burden of proof on them to show that the grounds they claim exist actually do so each day for the couple.
Filing for Divorce
In cases where one party is filing for annulment, it is important to remember that filing for divorce is still an option that can be done at any time. If a spouse is contesting an annulment, this does not legally prevent them from filing for divorce in order to end the marriage. However, by filing for divorce, the contesting spouse opens up the possibility of gaining spousal support or having the couple’s property distributed to their advantage.
Granting an Annulment
While a spouse may file for an annulment, the fact remains that the chances of it being granted are very low. Therefore, it may be to the benefit of the other spouse to contest the annulment as much as possible in order to either remain married or to force the other spouse into divorce proceedings. If there is a tremendous amount of money or property at stake, the contesting spouse’s attorney may advise them that it is to their benefit to stand their ground in order to end the marriage on financial terms that will be to their advantage. In cases such as these, a contesting spouse should never try to navigate the legal process alone. Instead, employing the services of an experienced divorce attorney can turn what could be a legally disastrous situation into one where the contesting spouse’s interests can be protected. Ultimately, if an annulment is to be contested, the ramifications of the ruling can have a dramatic impact on both parties.
This article is by Nima Haddadi, a dui lawyer in Los Angeles, who also handles civil cases like divorce, immigration, and personal injury.