If you're seeking an annulment, California courts require that you follow specific procedures. A court grants an annulment for marriages that are not legally valid. California's statutes set forth who may qualify for an annulment, meaning you must have appropriate legal grounds upon which to file. If you qualify, there are court-provided forms that you must fill out and serve to the respondent -- the person from whom you're seeking the annulment. Once your marriage is annulled, it's as though you were never married. In other words, the entire marriage is nullified, just as if it never occurred.
Download and print all annulment forms from the California Courts website. Many of these forms may be filled out online. California courts generally use standard annulment forms. However, some courts require local forms. You may file for annulment with the Superior Court in the county where you reside. Contact the clerk of the court to ask if you will need special forms.
Identify the grounds upon which you will file for annulment. In California, legal reasons for annulment include bigamy, incest, a prior existing marriage, lack of consent, under age of consent, unsound mind, physical force, physical incapacity and fraud. If any of these apply to your situation, you may file for an annulment. For example, if you were under the age of 18 when you got married, you have grounds for annulment; if your spouse induced you to marry him based on an assumption that was vital to the relationship, such as his ability to have children, you have grounds for annulment based on fraud.
Fill out form FL-100, which is a petition for annulment. On form FL-100, you'll need to check the appropriate box next to the grounds for your annulment. Form FL-100 also asks whether you're requesting physical and legal custody of any children.
Obtain form FL-110, which is a summons and fill it out. Form FL-110 explains what you can and cannot do with marital assets; it also explains what you may or may not do regarding relocating, particularly if there are children involved. You may also use this form if you do not have minor children.
Fill out form FL-105/GC-120. This form is a declaration under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. If you have children from the marriage you're seeking to get annulled, you're required to ask a California court to establish paternity.
Fill out declaration form MC-030 and MC-031. On these forms, you need to explain why you feel your marriage should be annulled and give the legal reasons for the annulment. You are under penalty of perjury when filling out these declarations and as such, you should be truthful about every detail; don't embellish.
File the forms with the clerk of court at the Superior Court in the county where you live. Make two copies of all forms before you file them with the court. You'll need a copy for yourself and a copy for your spouse; the original must be filed with the clerk of the court.
Have the papers personally served to your spouse if you are not on friendly terms or if he does not agree to accept court papers by mail. The forms must be served to your spouse, so as to inform him of your wish to obtain an annulment. You may not serve the papers yourself; rather, you must have a process server or another third-party adult serve the papers for you.
Serve your spouse by mail with a "Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt" if you and your spouse are on amicable terms and he agrees to accept the court papers by mail. If you'll be serving your spouse in this manner, you'll need to file the "Notice of Acknowledgment and Receipt" (Form FL-117) with the clerk of the court.
File your proof of service with the court. The person, or process server, serving your spouse must fill out a "Proof of Service of Summons" form (Form FL-115) and give it to you so you can file it with the clerk of the court.
Request a hearing before a judge. You should speak to the clerk of the court about requesting a hearing and what steps to take to prepare for your hearing. The clerk of the court may also be able to assist you in obtaining legal assistance.