Griner vs Johnson and Annulment or Voidable Marriage

Brittney Griner is a basketball player with the WNBA. She currently plays for the Phoenix (AZ) Mercury team. Glory Johnson is a basketball player with the WNBA is well. She plays for the Tulsa (OK) Shock team. The two women are a couple. They live in Arizona.

On April 23, 2015, Griner and Johnson were arrested for assault and domestic violence against each other. They were subsequently suspended from playing basketball for seven games by the WBNA.

On May 8, 2015, the ladies were married in an Arizona mountaintop ceremony. On June 4, 2015, Johnson announced to the media that she is pregnant with the couple’s first child. The next day, Griner filed in an Arizona court for an annulment of the couple’s May 8 nuptials.

An annulment is a voidable marriage. This means that one or both of the parties to the marriage requests that the marriage be erased as if it never took place at all. If neither party requests the marriage be erased, the marriage continues. This is different from a divorce, or (as it is known in California) a dissolution of marriage. In a divorce or dissolution of marriage, the marriage, in fact, existed, but is now ended.

A voidable marriage is different from a void marriage. In a void marriage, there is never a possibility for a valid marriage to begin with, so there is no reason to erase it. An example would be if one or both of the parties is already married on the date of the marriage. Since bigamy is illegal in this country, the second “marriage” is not valid; therefore, void.

In California some of the grounds for annulment (also known as Nullity of Marriage) are:

  • One or both of the parties was too young to give his/her consent to the marriage

  • Force by one party against the other

  • Unsound mind of one or both of the parties

  • Physical incapability of entering into the state of marriage of one or both of the parties, the incapacity continues and appears to be incurable; or

  • Consent by one party was obtained by the fraud of the other party.(Fraud is very difficult to prove, but is often granted by the courts in cases regarding sexual ability/procreation issues.)

In any case, in California, a request for Nullity of Marriage must be filed within the first four years of the marriage. Otherwise the only way to end the marriage is to petition the court for a dissolution of marriage.

As for Griner and Johnson, since they are not California residents, but residents of the state of Arizona, whether their marriage will be annulled is up to the laws of that state.

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