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Annulments: Voiding a Marriage in New Jersey

Divorce is not the only way to end a marriage. In certain circumstances, annulments can be secured. However, they differ significantly from divorce in several key aspects.

Annulment is a term that most have heard of but in reality few understand. When it comes to divorce and family law in Morris County and Bergen County, as well as the rest of New Jersey, annulment can be a complicated process with very specific criteria. Different than the requirements for divorce, annulments will only be granted based on circumstances which cause a marriage to be illegitimate such as wrongdoing, illegal actions, or other very specific situations.  Differences between the legal rights of divorcing spouses and those who are seeking an annulment are significant. To further complicate the issue, many individuals may confuse religious annulments for formal legal annulments, which have completely separate considerations.

Our Morris County divorce and family law attorneys are experienced in helping individuals define and better understand annulments, reviewing the factors necessary to be granted an annulment in New Jersey, and discussing the differences between annulments, divorces, and religious annulments.

Our annulment attorneys in Chatham have found the easiest way to explain annulments is by comparing them to a standard divorce. Annulment and divorce are the two ways the law recognizes to terminate a marriage, however they are very different. In addition, some may wish to have a religious annulment the legal ramifications of which should be completely understood.

  • Annulments – when an annulment is granted to a couple, essentially the law is declaring that the marriage never took place. Both former spouses may legally state that they have never been married.
  • Divorce – a divorce is a dissolution of a legal and proper marriage. Divorce involves either a formal legal process or out of court mediation or arbitration. In some cases a combination of the two may be needed in order for it to be formally resolved.

What Is an Annulment in Morris County?

As previously mentioned, annulments require concrete evidence that the marriage was not valid in order to be presented in court. Consequently, annulments are more difficult to achieve than divorces, and will only be granted in specific circumstances. Our Morris County annulment and divorce attorneys work hard to prove that one of the following factors was true during your marriage:

  • spouse was already married at the time when your marriage (the second marriage) took place
  • relationship was incestuous outside of the degree of relation allowed by law
  • impotence, infertility, or other sexual issues which were hidden intentionally from a spouse before a marriage and/or was not rectified during a marriage
  • either party was not mentally competent to legally enter into a marriage due to disabilities, intoxication coercion, and more
  • one or both spouses was underage at the time of the marriage
  • reasons under the general equity jurisdiction of the New Jersey Superior Courts

Any or all of the above may be considered grounds for an annulment as per N.J.S.A. Section 2A34-1 causes for judgement of nullity.

Annulment and Divorce Attorneys Chatham NJ

Discuss the key differences between annulments and divorce (the first already mentioned in the last section, also, in an annulment, there is no “marital property” since the marriage never existed, meaning each party retains whatever property they brought to the marriage regardless of marital contributions. Also, chances are alimony will not be awarded for much the same reason.

Spouses who are granted an annulment are in a very different situation than those who are granted a divorce. In an annulment there is no marital property. As a result, the spouses are not responsible for, or entitled to, any of the considerations of a divorce such as alimony or marital property division. Thus both parties will leave the marriage with whatever property they had when the union was entered into.

It should be noted that co-parents may still want to draft enforceable child custody and/or child support agreements if necessary.

Is a Religious Annulment Legally Binding in New Jersey?

Some may wish to undergo a form of annulment that takes places in churches and other religious institutions. To many of our clients this is a very important process. However, we always remind them that this process is purely religious in nature, and is not considered valid from a legal perspective.In order to legally annul a marriage, a formal court process needs to be undertaken, and it is highly recommended that each party retain the counsel of an experienced annulment attorney in order to be sure the process is legally recognized and avoid possible future legal squabbles.

Contact Our Morristown Divorce and Annulment Lawyers Today

At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our experienced and skilled family law attorneys have helped countless clients across Chatham, Chester, Roxbury, Mendham, and the greater Morris County area to successfully and favorably resolve their New Jersey civil annulments.

If you have any questions about your potential civil annulment, the processes involved, and how to best protect your financial and parental future during your annulment, do not hesitate to schedule a free and confidential consultation with our firm today. Please contact us online, or through our Morristown office at 973-840-8970.