If you are thinking about getting an annulment, we can help. We know this will be a confusing time for you, and you are seeking information on next steps. Find out about: the grounds for getting an annulment; what happens about property, alimony and children (if applicable); and how to go about separating from your spouse.
Similar to a divorce, in New Jersey, an annulment ends a marriage. Unlike a divorce, however, an annulment actually reverses the marriage as if it never actually existed. In general, an individual may choose to seek an annulment instead of a divorce for one of the following reasons:
- Social – an annulled marriage does not carry with it the social stigma of divorce
- Financial – courts are less likely to award alimony in annulments
- Religious – Some religions frown upon divorce, but are more accepting of annulments
While many couples may seek an annulment, there are only a few circumstances in which it will actually be granted. In order to be eligible, there must have been some type of fraud or material misrepresentation to the “essentials of the marriage” relationship.
Grounds for a New Jersey annulment are:
If your spouse has another living spouse at the time of your marriage, it is considered bigamy. This ground requires you to be unaware of your spouse’s existing marriage at the time of your marriage. In addition, when you request an annulment, you must be able to prove that the marriage actually existed. Bigamy itself is a criminal offense.
If a threat of serious violence caused you to become married, then you may be eligible to file for an annulment on the grounds of duress.
For example, when a man threatens to kill his girlfriend’s brother unless she goes through with the marriage, duress may apply. In this case, the only reason the woman got married was to save her brother’s life; therefore, she may be eligible to file to annul the marriage.
No person under the age of 18 has the legal right to consent to be married. This marriage is subject to an annulment at any time.
If there was no informed consent at the time of the marriage, the couple can seek to have the marriage annulled. If a person lacks the mental capacity to understand that they are getting married, the marriage can be annulled. This often occurs when someone who is intoxicated goes to a chapel on a whim and participates in a quick marriage ceremony.
If your spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage and this fact was unknown to you or concealed by your spouse, you may be able to obtain an annulment based on the grounds of impotence. This often occurs in situations where a spouse is either unable to consummate the marriage by engaging in sexual relations or refuses to do so. A different variation would be when a woman conceals from her prospective husband, that she is unable to bear children.
If you are married to a blood relative, then you may be eligible to obtain a New Jersey annulment on the grounds of incest.
Any misrepresentation that affects the marriage can be considered fraud. The most common types of fraud cases occur when:
- One spouse lies about their desire or (lack of desire) to have children
- One spouse lies about their addiction to drugs or alcohol
- One spouse is an immigrant and uses the other spouse to stay in the country
- One spouse misrepresents their religious beliefs and that factor was an essential part of the spouse’s decision to get married
- A woman fails to advise her spouse at the time of their marriage that she is pregnant by another man
In most circumstances, annulments apply when there is a very short marriage and when few (if any) assets and debts have been accumulated. Since an annulment treats the marriage as though it never existed, no marital property division takes place; however, property division may still occur through general contract law. In New Jersey marriage annulment proceedings, the courts have the power to award custody of children born of that relationship and may also award alimony payments. If you have questions about annulments, try our New Jersey Annulments FAQs.
Is an annulment the right solution for your situation? Talk to us. Schedule an initial conversation, and let’s discuss your options.