Torn Photo of married coupleIf your marriage is over, you can always file for divorce. But what about an annulment? What is an annulment and when is it an option?

What is an Annulment?

Technically, an annulment is a process that takes the parties back to before the marriage ostensibly took place—an annulment effectively cancels the marriage, legally concluding that there was no marriage. If the parties have any property, it goes first to the person who had legal title to the property. For jointly owned property, or for property which carries no title and which cannot be determined to be owned by one or the other, the property will be equally divided. If there are children, both parents retain parental rights.

When Can a Marriage be Annulled?

In New Jersey, there are a number of legitimate grounds for an annulment:

  • Age—If one or both of the parties were under the age of 18 at the time the marriage ceremony took place, either party can annul the marriage
  • Duress—If either one of the parties entered into the marriage as a result of a threat of physical violence, that party threatened may seek an annulment
  • Mental incapacity—If either lacks the ability to understand that he or she was married, or what marriage is, it can be annulled
  • Bigamy—If either one of the parties was already married at the time the ceremony took place, it is not legally binding
  • Impotence or infertility—If either party knew that he/she was impotent or infertile, and did not disclose that knowledge
  • , the other party may seek an annulment

  • Familial relationship of parties—If the parties are too closely related, as defined in New Jersey law, they cannot get married and any attempt to do so will be annulled
  • Fraud or misrepresentation—If one of the parties misrepresents or lies about a material element of the marriage—the desire to have children, status as an illegal immigrant, addiction, religious affiliation or belief, pregnancy—that can be the basis for an annulment

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