Annulment is an alternative to divorce in which a court concludes that the marriage is legally invalid. In some cases, courts will grant annulment when the person seeking it has been entered into the marriage under false pretenses. California’s Fourth District Court of Appeals recently considered such a case, stemming from an internet dating experience gone wrong.
Husband and Wife met on an online dating site in May 2008. Husband was living in California at the time, while Wife was living in Russia with her nine-year-old daughter from a prior marriage. The couple communicated through a translation program because Wife spoke little English and Husband didn’t speak any Russian. Husband traveled to Russia to visit Wife in August 2008. The couple decided to marry soon thereafter.
The trouble started a few weeks before the wedding, according to the Court, when Husband noticed some gaps in his communications with Wife. Although she didn’t respond to emails and phone calls during this time, Husband observed that Wife continued to be active on the dating site. He questioned her motives, but Wife assured Husband that she was marrying him for “nothing other than love and devotion,” the Court explained. They married in June 2009 and Wife came to live in California nearly a year later. The relationship broke down almost immediately. Husband claimed that Wife wouldn’t have sex with him and was frivolous with the couple’s money. Wife argued that Husband’s practice of allowing cats in the bed put a damper on their sex life.