Instead of getting a divorce, should you get an annulment? Find out if you have grounds to annul your marriage under current annulment rules in New Jersey and take a look at what the best options are for your future.
Should I get an annulment?
You may have a reason for wanting an annulment rather than a more traditional divorce. Perhaps you found out your spouse was already married when you tied the knot. Or, you found out after the wedding that your spouse has a debilitating heroin addiction. Or, you may simply be interested in having a court say your marriage never existed.
It is important to know that simply wanting an annulment because you found out your spouse was cheating on you and you want to erase your marriage from the history books is probably not a sufficient enough reason for getting an annulment. And, it is also important to point out that being able to get a religious annulment from your church is not an automatic legal annulment or even a legal divorce, here in New Jersey.
Both a divorce and an annulment will end your marriage. But, an annulment, granted by the family court here in the Garden State states that you marriage never actually existed. Annulments are a bit harder to obtain from the court, and in order for your marriage to be annulled, you must prove to the court that you have the right grounds, or reasons to be annulled. Grounds for annulment in New Jersey are:
Fraud: Did your husband tell you in no uncertain terms that he wanted children and is now saying something different? Or, did your wife lead you to believe that the child she is carrying is yours and that is the reason you got married? These types of untruths are considered by the court to be fraud and fraud is grounds for an annulment in New Jersey. The misrepresentation of facts, however, does have to be related to the marriage or your decision to get married.
Nonage: Were both or either of you not old enough to get married in the first place? In New Jersey you have to be eighteen to get married without parental consent. Minors are not seen as able to make major decisions such as marriage or entering into other types of contracts. So, if you or your spouse was not “of age” at the time of your marriage, there could be an annulment.
Incest: If the two of you are related by blood and got married, you may be eligible to have your marriage annulled by the court on the grounds of incest.
Impotence: If your spouse knew that he was impotent at the time of your marriage but hid that from you, you could have your marriage annulled. For women, this means hiding the fact that you cannot bear children from your spouse. This can occur when a spouse either cannot or will not consummate the marriage by engaging in sexual intercourse. So, if your spouse cannot or will not engage in sexual relations or hid the fact that there is a medical condition that makes sex or procreation impossible, you may be eligible for an annulment.
Incapacity: This ground is similar to one or both of the couple being underage at the time of marriage. For incapacity to work as a basis for annulment, one or both of the couple has to be incapacitated at the time of the nuptials. For example, your husband drank a large amount of alcohol prior to your ceremony and did not have the awareness to understand what he was doing. Or, if your spouse was somehow mentally unfit to enter into the union or not able to comprehend the marriage procedure, you could have a basis for an annulment.
Bigamy: If either of you was already married at the time you married each other, your current marriage is invalid. Being married to someone else and then getting married to another person is called bigamy and is a ground for getting your marriage annuled in New Jersey.
Duress: If you were threatened or forced to get married under duress, you may be able to get your marriage annulled. Did your spouse threaten to harm someone if you didn’t marry him or her? Were you in fear that you or someone you love would be harmed if you did not go through with the marriage? If you were under any type of threat or coercion at the time of your marriage, it may not be a valid marriage and could be annulled.
If your situation does not fit any of the outlined criteria above, you probably are not a candidate for an annulment in New Jersey. But, you most certainly could still file for a divorce if your marriage is not working out.
If you need further information about annulment or divorce, please contact us to schedule your confidential consultation with one of our qualified and experienced divorce and family law attorneys. Call today! 888-888-0919.