Responding to Annulment

If you have received a petition for an annulment from your spouse or domestic partner, talk to a lawyer. The law that applies to annulments is complicated and this website cannot give you enough information for you to handle your case without help. Click for help finding a lawyer.

Read the papers you have received. The Petition (Form FL-100) tells you what the petitioner, your spouse or domestic partner, is asking for.

The Summons (Family Law) (Form FL-110) gives you important information about your rights and the court process. It also contains some standard restraining orders limiting what you can do with your property, money, and other assets or debts, as well as moving out of state with your children from your marriage or domestic partnership. READ this form carefully!!

And make sure you read the Basics section on annulments to learn when someone can ask for an annulment and what getting an annulment can mean.

Fill Out Your Response

The forms to respond to an annulment case are the same as those used for a divorce or legal separation. Just make sure you check the boxes that apply to annulments (nullity).

It is very important that you check the correct boxes depending on what your position is in this case.

These instructions are very basic and do not deal with the specific situation in your case. Every case is different and that is especially true for annulments because the details and circumstances related to the reasons why you entered into the marriage or domestic partnership are key to asking a court to annul your marriage or domestic partnership.

If you want specific legal advice about how to fill out your Response, talk to a lawyer. In an annulment case where you and your spouse or domestic partner are likely to have disagreements, what you write on your Response can be very important and can affect the outcome of the case. Click for help finding a lawyer. Your court's family law facilitator or self-help center may also be able to help you.

NOTE: You only have 30 days to file your Response.

  • The days are counted from the date you were served with your spouse’s or partner’s Petition for annulment.
  • If your spouse or partner is willing to give you more than 30 days, make sure you get this in writing and have your spouse/partner sign the “extension.”

    1. Fill out your court forms
      Fill out a Response — Marriage/Domestic Partnership (Form FL-120). Remember, you are the respondent.

      If you have children with your spouse or domestic partner, also fill out:

      • Declaration Under Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) (Form FL-105/GC-120 | video instructions ). Remember, if you are responding to an annulment case filed by your spouse/partner and you have children together, the court will need to establish parentage/paternity of the children. Talk to a lawyer for help with this process. Click for help finding a lawyer.

    2. You can write a declaration explaining why you believe the court should or should not give you an annulment

      • You can use the Declaration (Form MC-030) and Attached Declaration (Form MC-031) to write your declaration. Keep in mind you are signing your declaration under penalty of perjury.
      • Read the declaration your spouse or domestic partner wrote very carefully. In it, your spouse or partner explains why he or she thinks the court should annul your marriage or domestic partnership.
      • In your declaration, you should clearly explain to the court what your position is. The law in this area is complicated. Talk to a lawyer for help doing this. Click for help finding a lawyer.

    3. Have your forms reviewed
      If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with annulments, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case. Even if they do not help with annulments, they probably help with child support and spousal/partner support issues, so you can at least ask questions about those issues.

      You can also hire your own lawyer to review your papers or to get legal advice, either with your entire case, or just the parts of it that you may need more help with (called “limited scope representation” or “unbundling”). Click for help finding a lawyer. Click to learn more about “limited scope representation.”

    4. Make at least 2 copies of all your forms
      One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your spouse or domestic partner. The original is for the court.

    5. File your forms with the court clerk within 30 days of being served with the Petition
      Turn in your forms to the court clerk. The clerk will keep the original and return the copies to you, stamped “Filed.” One copy is for you and the other is for the petitioner (your spouse or domestic partner).

      You will have to pay a filing fee. Find out how much your fee will be. Keep in mind you are filing your first papers, a response, often called a “first appearance.” If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver. Click for more information on fee waivers.

    6. Serve your papers on your spouse or domestic partner
      Serve a copy of the Response (Form FL-120), and any other papers you attached, on your spouse or domestic partner. You can have someone serve it by mail or in person.

      Find out more about “service of process.” You can have this form served on your spouse or domestic partner before the clerk stamps it — just make sure you do not serve the original.

    7. File your Proof of Service
      Have the server (person who served your papers) fill out a proof of service form. The server should fill out a Proof of Personal Service (Form FL-330) if he or she served your spouse or domestic partner in person. Or fill out a Proof of Service by Mail (Form FL-335) if he or she served the papers by mail.

      Then, file the Proof of Service with the clerk. (If you had your spouse or domestic partner served with an unstamped copy of the Response, you can file the original of the Response together with the Proof of Service.)

When 1 spouse or domestic partner asks for an annulment of your marriage or domestic partnership, both parties will have go to a court hearing and appear in front of a judge. Your spouse or domestic partner (the petitioner) will set up this court hearing, and he or she will send you a copy of the paperwork so that you will know when and where to go.

At the hearing, your spouse or partner will have to explain to the judge why an annulment is appropriate. You will have to explain your side and tell the judge what you would like the court to do.

Ask a lawyer how to prepare for this hearing. A lawyer can also help you figure out how to deal with other issues in your case, like support, property division, and custody and visitation of your children if you have any. Click for help finding a lawyer.

If the court denies your request for an annulment, you can file an “amended” petition changing your request from an annulment to a divorce or legal separation. You would then follow the instructions and steps required to get divorced or legally separated, including meeting the residency requirements (living for at least 6 months in the state and at least 3 months in the county where you would file your amended petition). Find out more about filing for divorce or legal separation.


© 2018 Judicial Council of California