Annulment may seem like an old-fashioned approach to ending a marriage, but it remains a valid option if you meet the requirements set forth by the state of New Jersey in order to be granted an annulment. Just like a divorce, an annulment is a legal procedure that ends a marriage; however, it differs from divorce in that a marriage dissolved by annulment is treated as if the marriage never existed.
New Jersey allows for civil annulment — which differs from a religious annulment that can only be granted by a church — only under these conditions:
- If you or your spouse married when you were under the age of 18, and have not had sexual relations since you turned 18
- If you or your spouse were unable to consent to the marriage because of a mental condition or intoxication
- If you or your spouse were induced to marry because of fraud or lies
- If you or your spouse were induced to marry because of a threat
- If you or your spouse are too closely related to be married, making the marriage illegal
- If you or your spouse were already married to someone else (bigamy)
- If you or your spouse had incurable impotence at the time you married
How to obtain an annulment in New Jersey
To obtain an annulment in New Jersey, one spouse must be a resident of the state at the time a Complaint for Annulment is filed. The Complaint must specify the grounds as well as provide certain information about each spouse, children, jointly owned property, etc. The filing spouse must have the Complaint served (delivered) to the other spouse.
If both spouses agree to the annulment, a judge may be more likely to issue a Judgment of Nullity. If the spouses do not agree, the judge will hold a hearing and make a determination based on testimony and other evidence.
The effect of annulment
Once a marriage is annulled, it is as if the marriage never existed. If there are children from the marriage, they are still considered “legitimate” under the law and can be eligible for child support. A spouse from an annulment may also be eligible for alimony if it is appropriate. When it comes to the division of property, each spouse will leave the marriage with what they came into it with, depending on the title on the property. If the spouses held joint title to any property, it is divided equally.
It is important that you do not wait too long to retain an attorney when you are facing a family law issue. Delays can cost you valuable legal rights, and you want to make sure that you have the advice and support you need to make the best decisions for you and your family long after the divorce settlement is reached. Contact us today for your free consultation.