When you seek to end your New Jersey marriage, you have two options: divorce and annulment. Both require a legal proceeding, but the result of that proceeding is entirely different.

FindLaw explains that if you obtain an annulment, the judge will legally erase your marriage so that, in effect, you were never married in the first place. Conversely, in a divorce, the judge simply ends your marriage, not invalidates it.

Annulment grounds

Unlike for a no-fault divorce, you must state grounds in your Complaint for Annulment. In New Jersey, the following serve as annulment grounds:

  • That you, your spouse or both of you were underage at the time of the marriage
  • That one or both of you had an undissolved marriage at the time you married each other
  • That your marriage is and was one of incest
  • That one or both of you failed to validly consent to your marriage because of a lack of capacity resulting from alcohol, drugs, duress or fraud

In terms of incest, New Jersey prohibits marriages between ancestors and descendants, brothers and sisters, uncles and nieces, and aunts and nephews, the latter three categories whether the two parties are related by whole or half blood.

Status of children

Even though the judge invalidates your marriage when you get an annulment, your children nevertheless will remain legitimate in the eyes of the law. The judge likely will also make determinations about child custody and support.

Consent of spouse

You can get an annulment without a court hearing if your spouse consents to the annulment. If (s)he does not consent to it, both of you will need to appear in court and testify as to your respective positions.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.