Determining if you are Eligible for an Annulment
Not every marriage is a valid marriage. A marriage can be deemed to be invalid if it somehow violates New Jersey’s matrimonial laws. When this is the case for a couple, they have the option of having their marriage annulled. An annulment is not the same as a divorce. When a couple divorces, they take legal measures to exit a valid marriage contract. When a couple has an annulment, they legally acknowledge that their marriage was never a valid contract to begin with.
What Makes a Marriage Invalid in New Jersey?
Bigamy. If an individual is already married, he or she can not enter another marriage until this first marriage ends through divorce or death.
Incestuous marriage. If the couple are biologically related in any way, their marriage is not valid under New Jersey law.
Fraud. If either partner misrepresented him or herself prior to the couple’s marriage, the defrauded partner may seek an annulment.
Age. If either partner was under the age of eighteen and married without parental consent, or under the age of sixteen regardless of parental consent when the couple was married, the marriage is invalid.
Consent. If either party was forced or coerced into entering the marriage, the marriage may be subject to an annulment. Likewise, if either party could not consent to the marriage because of his or her lack of the mental capacity to do so, either because of drug use, mental illness, or a cognitive disability, the marriage may be deemed to be invalid.
Lack of asset to the marriage. For a marriage to be valid, both parties must be present and give their consent to the marriage when the ceremony is performed.
Impotency. If one spouse can prove that his or her spouse meets the following criteria, he or she may have grounds for an annulment:
The partner is permanently, incurable impotent;
He or she was aware of this fact before entering the marriage;
He or she concealed this fact from his or her spouse; entering the marriage under the guise that the could could and would produce children.
The Annulment Process
If you feel your marriage is not valid, you need to file for an annulment with the Superior Court of the county where you reside. This file is known as a “Complaint for Annulment.” In it, you must detail your reason for seeking an annulment and information about yourself, your marriage, and your spouse.
Another individual must give your spouse a copy of this form. This is known as serving him or her with the petition. This individual must fill out an Affadavit of Service and file it with the court.
If your spouse agrees to the annulment, there is no need for a hearing. The judge will nullify your marriage and you can both exit the relationship easily. If you spouse objects, you will need to attend a hearing with a judge. During this hearing, the court will determine whether you have grounds for an annulment and if so, the judge will end your marriage through a Judgment of Nullity. The judge may also make determinations about your child’s custody and support if you have a child. For your property, each partner takes the property that he or she owns and any joint property is divided equally among the couple.
To learn more about annulments in New Jersey, contact The Law Office of Eric B. Hannum Esq., LLC. at 732-370-9596 to schedule your free legal consultation with our firm. We proudly serve clients in Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, and Burlington counties.