Hollywood makes getting an annulment in California look easy: Kim Kardashian
and Kris Humphries' after 72 days of marriage, Nicky Hilton and Todd
Meister after 2 months, Ali Landry and Mario Lopez after a few weeks,
just to name a few.
Set the illusion aside and the facts will tell you that getting an annulment
is no easy feat. Most courts apply the "Essentials of Marriage" when determining whether to grant an annulment; a set of guidelines
that are subject to interpretation by the courts. For instance, it is
assumed that when entering into a marriage that both parties will be able
to fulfill the basic duties of their marital contract. Grounds for annulment
would be actions such as bigamy, failure to have sexual relations or to
conceive children, impotence, infancy and mental incompetency just to
name a few. It does not cover is the character, chastity, prospective
financial worth or matters of similar nature of a person.
Therefore, being that the demand proof from the couple is extremely high,
the burden to prove that the marriage never existed due to some defect
in the "essentials" can be very difficult.
In recent years, the definition of "fraud" has come into light
as a possible "essential" as the courts have made a shift toward
applying more subjective rather than objective tests for fraud. Fraud
is an intentional deception made for personal gain and/or to damage another
individual. Under 'normal' circumstance, proving fraud is difficult.
Proving fraud in an annulment case is doubly difficult.
Recently, The Buncher Law Corporation's
Lauren Mullee successfully proved fraud in an
annulment case. This was a situation where we took over and succeeded where prior
counsel had failed. The case involved a marriage between a man, who had
a child from a prior relationship, and our client. Our client agreed to
marriage under the assumption that she and her fiancé would work
toward getting the child out of the foster care system and create a loving
two-parent home. Our client was compassionate, misled by her fiancé
who was more interested in her money and less so in creating a home for
Our legal team, led by Lauren's expert counsel, applied their experience
with civil fraud cases and family law and came up with a creative and
intelligent argument that made it easy for the courts to grant annulment,
thus giving our client back her life as well as a fresh start.
In my opinion, the courts should hold a tight grip over how it grants annulment.
Making a shift toward the more subjective test of fraud is a positive
one, keeping in mind that not all situations 'fit' into the prescribed
concepts of the "essentials of marriage."