So you’ve decided that your marriage can’t be saved and that you need to take legal action to end it. Should you file for divorce or seek an annulment? What’s the difference? Will you qualify for an annulment?
What is an Annulment?
An annulment, like a divorce, legally dissolves a marriage through a legal proceeding. With an annulment, though, the court issues an order stating that your marriage was never valid—essentially, it never happened. Accordingly, in the eyes of the law, you are not a divorced person, because the marriage never occurred. It’s important to understand, though, that there are two types of annulment—civil annulment, granted by a court of law; and religious annulment, issued by a church body or clergy person.
Do You Qualify for an Annulment?
There are very specific restrictions in New Jersey regarding who can obtain a “civil annulment.” An annulment may be issued under any of the following circumstances:
- One of the parties to the marriage was mentally incapacitated at the time of the marriage—under the influence of drugs or alcohol, mentally ill or in a similar state, such that he or she did not understand that a marriage was taking place.
- The marriage was entered into because of fraud, misrepresentation, intimidation, undue influence or coercion.
- The parties to the marriage are too closely related under New Jersey law.
- One of the parties was under 18 at the time of the marriage, and the parties have not had sexual relations since turning 18.
- One of the parties was legally married to someone else at the time of the wedding.
- One of the parties was incurably impotent at the time of the marriage
How Do You Get an Annulment?
You must file a “Complaint for Annulment,” providing the grounds upon which you are qualified to annul your marriage. Your spouse may consent to the annulment, in which case the court will typically just enter the order. If your spouse challenges the request, the court must conduct a hearing to determine whether an annulment should be granted.
Contact Our Office
To schedule a free, 30 minute telephone consultation to discuss your concerns, send us an e-mail or call our office at 201-343-0078. All calls and e-mails are returned within 24 hours. We’ll be at your side every step of the way.