Obtaining An Annulment In New Jersey
At Tournour Law, located in East Brunswick, we handle family law cases exclusively. Attorney Frank Tournour has been helping clients navigate divorce for more than 30 years. Clients contemplating divorce or a legal separation often ask about annulments. We help clients determine if an annulment is applicable to their situation and if it is something that is in their best interest to pursue.
What Is The Difference Between An Annulment And A Divorce?
An annulment is a legal declaration that states that a marriage never happened. Couples who seek an annulment can legally say they were never married. This is different than a divorce decree, which acknowledges that the marriage was valid and dissolves the marital contract. It is also different than a legal separation, which recognizes the validity of a marriage but does not actually terminate the marriage.
Grounds For Getting An Annulment
State laws on civil annulments vary from state to state. In the state of New Jersey, certain factors must exist for an annulment to be an option:
- Misrepresentation or fraud
- Concealment of major issues, such as children from prior relationships, an inability to have children or a debilitating addiction
- One or both parties were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the marriage ceremony
- One or both parties were underage at the time of the marriage
- One spouse was legally married to another person when the marriage took place (bigamy)
The purpose or goal of an annulment is to restore each party to their financial status at the time of the marriage. An annulment has advantages over a divorce or legal separation. For many couples, there could be financial advantages to getting an annulment instead of a divorce. For example, with an annulment, there is no option for spousal maintenance or alimony payments. An annulment will also allow for a simplified division of property. Generally, because an annulment dissolves the marriage and treats it as if it never happened, there cannot be any marital property to divide.
An annulment will also allow parties to reinstate benefits that existed prior to the marriage. For example, if a spouse received alimony from a previous marriage, it may be possible to reinstate those payments after an annulment. Federal benefits like Social Security can also end when a beneficiary remarries. If your marriage is annulled, it is possible to argue that you are still eligible to collect those benefits.
Although an annulment is a civil action, there are often religious considerations at stake as well. Some religions do not allow those who have been divorced to remarry. Because an annulment treats the marriage as though it never happened, parties of some religious faiths are free to remarry.
Annulments can be quite complex. An experienced family law attorney can help determine if you are eligible for an annulment and analyze your specific circumstances to help you determine if a divorce or an annulment is more advantageous for your case.