Thursday, April 17, 2008

I was only married for one month...

Dear Famularo & Associates-
I live in California, but I married my wife in Las Vegas a month ago and I have found out that she is already cheating on me. We only knew each other only six weeks before we got married. On a whim, after a whole day of drinking, we got married. I have regretted the marriage ever since and want out. I heard that I can get my marriage annulled because we were together for less than six months? Is this true? Can I get my marriage annulled or do I have to file for divorce? Also, even though I was married in Vegas, can I file here?
--R.C.

Dear R.C-
First of all, since you and your wife are both residents of California, you must file here even if you were married outside of this state.

Many people believe there is a time limit on how long a couple can be married before they will no longer qualify for an annulment. This is a myth. There are a number of reasons that a couple will qualify for an annulment, some of them require you to file within a "reasonable" amount of time; while other grounds for annulment have no time limitation. The law has no set timeframe that allows a couple to either file for an annulment or not, and simply being married for a short period of time is not sufficient grounds. Instead, the court will look at the specific set of facts surrounding your marriage before it makes a decision as to whether a couple qualifies for an annulment.

In your case, it sounds like you will qualify to have your marriage annulled due to "incapacity." Incapacity simply means that you were unable to make a reasoned decision to enter into the marriage because you were under the influence of a controlled substance when you made the decision to do so.

In order to obtain an annulment, even if both you and your spouse wants one, there must be a court trial. This requires one spouse to testify in court about the facts which qualifies you for an annulment. For this reason, an annulment is usually too expensive to be practical.

Since you and your spouse were only married for one month, perhaps the better solution is to file for a summary dissolution. A summary dissolution is a simplified uncontested divorce proceeding. Not everyone qualifies for this form of divorce as there are strict filing requirements: your marriage date must have been less than five years prior to the filing of the divorce; you cannot own any real estate; you must have no children together; you can only have minimal assets and debts together; and you both must cooperate in the filing of the paperwork.

Although there is a six month waiting period for a summary dissolution (just as in a regular divorce), the process is very simple, and it is designed for a non-attorney to be able to file without help. The only legal advantage to filing an annulment is that it can be completed in less than six months (there is no waiting period).

Although legally, an annulment means that the marriage never happened, the proceeding will still be part of the public record. Thus, even if you have your marriage annulled, the fact that you were married will not be secret, and anyone will be able to get a copy of your annulment paperwork from the court just as though you had filed for divorce. Since the process for a summary dissolution is so much cheaper and easier, you might want to consider filing a simplified divorce proceeding, instead.

--Famularo & Associates

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Married and seperated within 2 months...If i got married in Las Vegas,is the marriage legal in California if no paperwork was ever filed?? We were married for 2 months and has been seperated for almost six years now.