An annulment is a judicial dissolution or termination of a marriage. For some people, it carries less stigma than divorce. Others prefer to get an annulment because of religious reasons. Unlike divorce, an annulment treats the marriage as if it did not happen. Usually annulments are sought when a marriage has been short and there are no children or shared property. If you are considering this solution, the experienced Monmouth County annulment lawyers at Goldstein Law Group may be able to help. A family law attorney can play a critical role in protecting your interests during this complex process.The Process of Pursuing an Annulment
Annulments erase a person's rights to any property that was acquired during the marriage. In contrast, during a New Jersey divorce, spouses have rights to a fair, equitable distribution that must be considered by the court when ordering property division.
New Jersey provides limited grounds for obtaining an annulment. The available grounds include when:
- Either spouse was under age 18 at the time of marriage, and since turning 18, there have been no sexual relations;
- Because of a mental impairment or intoxication, one or both spouses was unable to comprehend that they were getting married;
- One of the spouses used fraud to induce the other to marry;
- One of the spouses only married because of severe threats;
- Either spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage;
- The spouses are too closely related, and so the marriage was illegal; and
- One spouse was already married at the time of the marriage.
If the parties lack the capacity to consent to the marriage at the time of the wedding, an annulment may be granted. Similarly, sometimes one spouse learns shortly after the wedding that the other spouse married for inheritance or immigration purposes, or other improper reasons. The spouse can potentially seek an annulment on the basis of fraud.
In order to obtain an annulment in this state, you or your spouse should be a New Jersey resident at filing time. You would file a "Complaint for Annulment," in which you would provide information about you and your spouse and the grounds for annulment. Your spouse would need to be served with the Complaint. If he or she agrees, the judge could enter an annulment decree without a hearing, but if he or she does not agree, the judge would hold a hearing with evidence and testimony.
If a judge grants your complaint, you would receive a judgment of nullity, which voids the marriage as if it did not happen. The judge cannot make any orders about property division during an annulment. Although it is rare for couples with children to get an annulment rather than a divorce, if you and your spouse had children together and then get an annulment, the judge could make decisions about child custody or child support during an annulment proceeding. Your children would continue to be considered legitimate after the annulment.Explore Your Options with an Annulment Lawyer in Monmouth County
If you want to get an annulment, or if your spouse has served you with a Complaint for Annulment, you should consult a lawyer to make sure that the proceeding will address any issues that may come up in the future. In some cases, there are advantages to divorce that you should consider. At Goldstein Law Group, our Monmouth County annulment attorneys also serve clients in Manalapan, Freehold, East Brunswick, and communities across Middlesex County. Contact us at 732-967-6777 or via our online form to arrange a free consultation with a knowledgeable divorce attorney.