Fraud in Marriage?

If you are looking to end your marriage, the two options available to you in California are divorce and annulment. Annulment of a marriage is different from divorce, but the reasons people are eligible for an annulment is not widely understood. Divorce is the dissolution of a legally valid marriage while an annulment (also referred to as nullity of marriage) is a finding by the court that there was never a marriage in the first place. 

There are several different grounds for annulment, such as being of unsound mind when entering the marriage, not being of legal age when solemnizing the marriage, or fraud. While California does allow annulment on the grounds of fraud, fraud is nevertheless difficult to prove in court. A simple allegation of fraud based on hunch is not enough to satisfy the burden of proof required by the state.

Definition of Fraud

The California Civil Code defines fraud as “an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.” 

Most common question I get asked is about a visa holder marrying a citizen solely to gain residence in a specific country. If you believe this is the case with your spouse, then you must show this to be a material fact in court that back up your assertion.

If you suspect you are a victim of this type of situation, the most important thing to do is to document every detail you can recall in writing so it may be used in evidence later. The burden of proof for demonstrating that someone with a visa married a citizen solely for obtaining lawful permanent residence is on someone who makes the allegation. US citizen alleging such fraud can also report the matter to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If this is achieved, then you are eligible for an annulment. 

Statute of Limitations

To be eligible for an annulment, you must file the relevant papers within the time period laid out in accordance with the grounds you are attempting to nullify on. Upon discovering that your supposed marriage is the result of fraud, you have four years to bring that matter before a court to be considered for an annulment. On the other hand, divorce can be filed for anytime during a marriage.

Conclusion

If it is revealed that your marriage was simply a means for your partner to gain permanent residency in the United States, you are likely feeling hurt and used. Unfortunately, establishing fraud in your marriage is much easier said than done. If you fail to meet the burden of proof required for an annulment, your only option is to divorce, which will cost a substantial amount of money and time compared to the former option. In this delicate situation, you need the help of an experienced family law attorney who can help you arrive at the optimal outcome. Contact Madan today so he can help alleviate your situation as efficiently as possible.