There is often confusion about the difference between getting a divorce and getting an annulment in New Jersey. An annulment, like a divorce, is a way of ending a marriage. However, an annulment is quite different than a divorce in several ways.
There are two types of annulments: religious annulments, which can only be granted by a church, and which have no legal impact on the marriage, and civil annulments, which are processed through the courts in a way similar to divorce, and which are legally binding.
Annulment retroactively invalidates the marriage, making it null and void, as though it never occurred. Also, unlike a divorce, which in New Jersey is âno-faultâ and can be granted if either party desires it, without any need to explain the causes, annulments are only granted in New Jersey for very specific circumstances.
The reasons a court may grant an annulment in New Jersey are as follows:
- Either party was already married to someone else at the time of the marriage
- The married parties are too closely related for the marriage to be legal
- The marriage could not be consummated because of incurable physical impotence, which one party did not know about at the time of the marriage
- If either party was mentally impaired or too intoxicated to realize that they were getting married, or was induced to marry through fraud (as, for instance, when one party marries another only to obtain a green card) or under duress
- If either party was under 18 at the time of the marriage and the marriage was not consummated after either party turned 18
While a judge may determine custody and child support obligations, and even, on rare occasions, alimony payments, there is no equitable distribution of assets in cases of annulment. Since the marriage is retroactively considered never to have happened, both parties take with them what they brought into the marriage. This is based on what titles or deeds are in each individual’s name. If any property is held under both names, the court may divide it equally. Most annulments take place a short time after the marriage, when who owns what is relatively clear-cut, but if the marriage is one of longer duration the division of assets can be quite complicated, as the court needs to trace the ownership of each piece of property.
If you are seeking an annulment or a divorce, or have other family or matrimonial concerns that require legal assistance, call us at 856-227-7888 or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a free consultation.
The above is not specific legal advice nor does it create a lawyer-client relationship. Do not rely upon it without consulting an attorney to see how the information presented fits your unique circumstances.