If you reasonably believed you were married and for some reason that marriage is later found to be invalid, you may still be afforded the rights of a married couple in a divorce case.
Pursuant to Family Code Section 2251
- (a) If a determination is made that a marriage is void or voidable and the court finds that either party or both parties believed in good faith that the marriage was valid, the court shall:
(1) Declare the party or parties to have the status of a putative spouse.
(2) If the division of property is in issue, divide, in accordance with Division 7 (commencing with Section 2500), that property acquired during the union which would have been community property or quasi-community property if the union had not been void or voidable.
This property is known as “quasi-marital property”.
(b) If the court expressly reserves jurisdiction, it may make the property division at a time after the judgment.
Recent, Supreme Court case law, has found that if a person had a subjective good-faith belief in their marriage they can be found a putative spouse. The trial court must “consider the totality of the circumstances, including the efforts made to create a valid marriage, the alleged putative spouse’s personal background and experience, and all the circumstances surrounding the marriage,” including the putative spouse’s reaction to objective facts suggesting the marriage was invalid.
If you believed you were married, but for some reason the marriage was never valid, you need to contact an attorney to understand your rights. Other remedies may include the filing of a Marvin Action in civil court.