A judgment of nullity of marriage should be considered only where the validity of the marriage is in doubt. This is because marital dissolution and nullity of a marriage are premised on opposing premises. A dissolution action relates to the termination of a valid marriage. Conversely, a nullity proceeding is maintained on the theory that, for reasons present at the time of the marriage, no valid marriage ever occurred. Whereas a dissolution action seeks to terminate marital status, a nullity action seeks to inquire whether such status ever existed. A marriage may be invalid, and thus subject to a nullity action, due to irregularities in the statutory formalization procedures (e.g., issues with licensing, solemnization, or authentication) or because of incest, bigamy, fraud in the inducement, party being a minor, etc. There may be certain advantages to dissolution proceedings over nullity actions.
This post is for informational purposes (see disclaimers). Credit is due to Rutter’s California Practice Guide- Family Law.