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An annulment of marriage may be granted on the basis of fraud only in an extreme case where the particular fraud goes to the very essence of the marriage relation.
The husband, prior to the marriage, misrepresented his financial status and fraudulently induced the wife to invest in a business venture with him, with the intent to gain control of her assets. The trial court, pursuant to Fam. Code, § 2210, subd. (d), granted an annulment to the wife. The husband appealed.
Was the husband’s fraud an adequate basis for granting an annulment?
The court concluded that the fraud established in this case, as a matter of law, was not of the type that constituted an adequate basis for granting an annulment. The husband's fraud did not go to the very essence of the marriage relation. The wife did not contend that there was any evidence that the husband lied to her about his marital history, or that he concealed an intention not to have sexual relations with her, not to live with her after the marriage, or not to discontinue an intimate relationship with a third party. On the contrary, the parties began living together even before their marriage and continued to do so for well over two years thereafter, and the wife cited to no evidence in the record that she ever expressed any dissatisfaction with the intimate aspects of their relationship. The wife cited no authority either in California or elsewhere, for the proposition that annulment could be granted based on fraud or misrepresentation of a purely financial nature.