Court Explains Void Marriage Under California Law

California law permits people to seek spousal support in divorce actions. Regardless of whether spousal support is sought in the context of a divorce action or legal separation action such support will only be granted if the Court finds there is a valid marriage between the requesting party and their purported spouse. This was demonstrated recently in a California case in which the Court denied a woman’s request for spousal support on the grounds that her marriage was void. If you have questions with regard to your right to spousal support, you should contact a San Diego spousal support lawyer to discuss your options.

History of Proceedings

It is reported that the husband married the first wife in 1987, after which he resided with her in California. In 2012, he married the second wife in Lebanon. He then attempted to terminate the Lebanese marriage. The second wife subsequently filed a request for order (RFO) in California, asking the Court to award her temporary spousal support, among other things. The husband objected to the RFO, arguing that they were not married but had entered into a temporary marriage contract which he later terminated.

Allegedly, the Judge presiding over the case ultimately found that there was a valid marriage between the husband and the second wife and continued with proceedings on the petition for spousal support. The husband then filed a petition to nullify the second marriage on the grounds that it was bigamous and therefore void pursuant to Family Code Section 2201(a). The case was eventually transferred to a second Judge who declared the marriage void and that the second wife was not a putative spouse. The second wife appealed.

Void Marriage Under California Law

On appeal, the second wife argued that the first Judge’s ruling that the marriage was valid precluded the second Judge’s determination that it was void, as, under California law, a Trial Judge cannot reconsider or overrule the interim ruling of another Trial Judge. The Court explained that there are narrow exceptions to the general rule, none of which applied in the subject case.

Contrary to the second wife’s assertions, however, the Court found that the second Judge’s ruling did not contradict the first Judge’s, as the first Judge never ruled on the issue of whether the marriage was void. Further, the second Judge expressly stated he agreed with the finding that the marriage was valid but noted that it did not prevent him from them determining it to be void. Thus, the Court affirmed the ruling.

Meet with an Experienced San Diego Family Law Attorney

The California Courts weigh numerous factors when assessing whether to grant a party’s request for spousal support, but they will not consider such requests if there is no valid marriage between the parties. If you or your spouse intend to seek support, it is wise to talk to an attorney about your rights. The experienced San Diego lawyers of Doppelt and Forney APLC can assess the facts of your case and help you to pursue a favorable result under the circumstances. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at 800-769-4748 to set up a free and confidential meeting.

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