A divorce and an annulment both end a marriage. The main difference between a divorce and an annulment is that an annulment legally erases the marriage, as if it never happened. A person may want get or an annulment for religious reasons or to completely erase an event that quickly became a terrible mistake.
In New Jersey, you must meet one of four requirements to get a legal annulment, which is formally called a judgment of nullity:
- Bigamy: Civil unions and domestic partnerships count, as well as legal marriages
- Incurable impotence, as long as you didn’t know about it before you got married and have not since agreed that it doesn’t matter to you
- Lack of capacity, which means you were intoxicated, have a mental condition that prevents you from giving consent, or were under duress
- Under 18, and you didn’t re-consent to the marriage upon reaching age 18
- Fraud or misrepresentation: If you can prove that your spouse lied or “neglected to tell you the truth” about something central to your marital happiness, then you may qualify for an annulment. Commonly cited examples include a lie regarding ability to have children or failing to mention still being married to someone else.
Because a legal annulment in New Jersey erases the marriage entirely, the family law judge does not have the power to order a division of joint property. However, you can still get whatever property settlement you need by negotiating a basic civil contract, like you would with a business partner or roommate.
You can read the entire New Jersey marriage annulment law here: N.J. Rev. Stat. 2A:34-1.
Contact Us for Answers to Questions About Annulment in New Jersey
At the Somerville family law firm of Lyons & Associates, we bring a high level of personalized service and attention to each of our clients, in every family law case we handle. To schedule an appointment to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a legal annulment compared to divorce, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.