Most couples end their marriage in New Jersey by filing for divorce, known as the dissolution of marriage. However, state law provides for an annulment in some situations.
An annulment is the legal process of voiding a marriage so that it never legally occurred. In this blog, we’ll discuss whether your marriage qualifies for an annulment in New Jersey.
When Does a Marriage Qualify for an Annulment in New Jersey?
There are several grounds for an annulment. If you do not meet one of these grounds, you must petition the court for a dissolution of marriage. You may qualify for an annulment in New Jersey if any of the following circumstances apply:
Entering a marriage is a legal commitment. Therefore, both individuals must have the mental capacity to understand what they’re doing.
Incapacity is often used when one or both of the individuals were intoxicated at the time of the marriage. However, incapacity also applies if a person has a mental impairment that prevents them from understanding the consequences of entering a marital union.
Getting married because a person misrepresented material facts could be grounds for an annulment.
Examples of fraud that could lead to an annulment include:
- Lying about your religious beliefs to get someone to marry you.
- A person lies to you about their immigration status to get you to marry them for a green card.
- You lie to your partner about your desire or lack of desire to have children.
- A woman fails to tell a man she is pregnant by another man before they marry.
Generally, fraud includes any material fact that would affect a person’s decision to marry someone. Each case is judged by the individual facts and circumstances.
A person must be 18 years old to legally consent to a marriage in New Jersey. The marriage could be annulled if the minor didn’t have a parent’s consent to marry. However, if a person ratifies the marriage after they turn 18, they would need to seek a divorce instead of an annulment.
A marriage is not valid if a person is forced, threatened, or coerced to marry. If you were forced to marry someone, you may qualify for an annulment.
Polygamy or Bigamy
You cannot have more than one spouse at a time. Therefore, if your spouse is legally married to another person when you marry them, you can petition for an annulment. However, you do not qualify for an annulment under this ground if you knew about your spouse’s marriage.
New Jersey law does not permit marriage between blood relatives. Therefore, the marriage can be annulled because it was unlawful.
You must tell the person you intend to marry that you cannot have children if that information is known to you. If you do not disclose the information, your spouse may have grounds for an annulment.
Why Would Someone Want an Annulment Instead of a Divorce in New Jersey?
Annulments are rarely used to end marriages. They are used primarily for short-term marriages that should never have occurred, although there is no time limit for an annulment.
An annulment voids the marriage. Therefore, it is as if the marriage never occurred. You can legally state that you have never been married if your marriage is annulled.
People choose an annulment for many reasons. They may have religious beliefs against divorce. An annulment could be less time-consuming and costly than a divorce in some cases. The reasons vary and are as personal as the reasons for getting married.
What Can I Do If My Marriage Does Not Qualify for Annulment in New Jersey?
If your marriage doesn’t qualify for an annulment, you must petition the court for a dissolution of marriage. New Jersey has several grounds for divorce, including adultery, separation, and incarceration. You can also petition for a no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.
Even if your marriage qualifies for an annulment, there could be reasons for filing a divorce case instead of requesting an annulment. Since an annulment voids a marriage, it could impact your rights for spousal support and property division.
If you petition for an annulment, you must prove the grounds for an annulment. However, you can file for a divorce based on irreconcilable differences, which does not require proving fault.
An experienced Monmouth County family lawyer can help you decide whether an annulment or a divorce gives you the best outcome for ending your marriage.
Contact an Experienced Monmouth County Family Attorney at The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill, LLC for Legal Advice
To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm in Red Bank. NJ at (732) 747-1882 or contact us online today.
You can also visit our law firm at 157 Broad St #111, Red Bank, NJ 07701.