While annulments of marriage are relatively rare today, the procedure is available to those who can show legal grounds. The legal theory of an annulment is that the marriage was not valid to begin with, meaning that, under the law, the marriage never existed. It is important to note that a civil annulment, which is a legal nullification of the marriage, is different than an annulment which is granted by a church or clergy (which has no legal effect on your marital status). In the state of New Jersey, the legal grounds for an annulment include:
- One or both spouses were intoxicated at the time of the marriage.
- There has been violence or physical abuse in the marriage.
- One or both spouses had a mental condition at the time of the marriage which prevented them from fully comprehending the marriage.
- One spouse engaged in fraud or lies to induce the other to marry, including:
- Lying about the desire or lack of desire to have children;
- One spouse is an illegal immigrant who marries solely to stay in the U.S., but does not tell his or her spouse this is the reason for the marriage;
- Misrepresenting the ability to have children;
- Lying about an addiction to drugs or alcohol;
- Misrepresenting religious beliefs, when those beliefs were a basis for the marriage, or
- Failure by a woman to tell her intended spouse she was pregnant by another man at the time of the marriage.
- One or both spouses were under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage, and since turning 18 there have been no sexual relations.
- The marriage was the result of severe threats or duress, i.e. the threat of serious violence caused the marriage.
- The marriage is not legal due to a familial relationship between the spouses (incest).
- One spouse was married to someone else at the time (the non-married spouse must have been unaware of the other’s existing marriage at the time of the new marriage).
- There is incurable impotence of a spouse at the time of the marriage, or one spouse refuses to consummate the marriage.
Annulments generally occur in a marriage of short duration, therefore there are few if any, marital assets and/or debts. Since the annulment treats the marriage as though it never existed, there is rarely a division of marital assets. However, under New Jersey law, the courts may award custody born of an annulled marriage, and may even award alimony payments.
Requirements for a New Jersey Annulment
Should you decide you have grounds for a New Jersey annulment, the following requirements must be met:
- At least one spouse must be a New Jersey resident.
- A “Complaint for Annulment” will be required.
- The Complaint for Annulment will include information about all aspects of your marriage as well as your grounds for annulment.
- The spouse filing the Complaint must have the other served with the petition.
- If the spouse served is in agreement with the annulment, there will be no hearing, rather the judge will enter a decree of annulment.
- If the spouse served does not agree with the annulment, a hearing will be held in which both spouses will be required to testify and present evidence.
- If the judge agrees to the annulment, you will receive a Judgment of Nullity.
If your marriage is annulled by the judge, it is immediately considered void—as though you were never married—although if there were children, the children will still be considered legitimate unless it can be proven that another man is the father. Regarding distribution of property, generally speaking, those assets titled in either spouse’s name remain theirs, and property held jointly is equally divided.
Why Annulment Rather Than Divorce?
Many might wonder why a marriage would be annulled, as opposed to a divorce. While both an annulment and a divorce end a marriage, the annulment effectively reverses the marriage, making it as though it never existed. One might choose an annulment rather than a divorce for social, financial or religious reasons. An annulled marriage might not carry the same social stigma as a divorce, and, financially speaking, courts are much less likely to award alimony in an annulled marriage than in a divorce. Probably the most prevalent reason people seek an annulment rather than a divorce is religious beliefs. While some religions definitely frown on divorce, they may be more accepting of an annulment.
New Jersey Annulment Attorneys
At the Williams Law Group, our attorneys are experienced annulment attorneys who know all the reasons a marriage may be deemed void in the state of New Jersey. Our attorneys will help you attain a marriage annulment in the quickest, most efficient manner. If you require assistance for a New Jersey marriage annulment, contact the Williams Law Group today—our highly experienced attorneys can help you understand the outcome of a New Jersey annulment so you are totally prepared. The skilled attorneys at the Williams Law Group will help determine whether you are eligible for an annulment, then will help you navigate the process with the least amount of pain and disruption to your life, effectively restoring your future. Call (908) 810-1083 today to speak to a knowledgeable attorney at the Williams Law Group.
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