Somerville Family Attorney Advises on Annulments
New Jersey divorce lawyer with more than 25 years of experience
If you believe your marriage was unlawful or that you were the victim of fraud or coercion, you might want to see if an annulment is possible. At Katherine K. Wagner, Attorney At Law in Somerville, you can get the information you need about annulment in New Jersey. Not to be confused with annulments granted by religious authorities, you can start the civil legal process by filing a Complaint for Annulment with the court and serving it on the person who is currently your spouse. New Jersey only grants civil annulments in certain situations and Ms. Wagner can review your circumstances to determine if this is a potential legal option for you.
How annulment differs from divorce
While divorce terminates a legal marriage, civil annulment is a proceeding that declares no legal marriage ever existed. Still, certain issues must be addressed just as they would be in a marriage dissolution action. If the couple getting their marriage annulled has children together, their status and parentage does not change. For example, when biological parents are not married, legal steps must be taken to establish the father as the legal parent. This does not need to be done retroactively in the case of an annulled marriage. The father remains on the birth certificate and has child custody rights and child support obligations just as he would had the marriage been valid.
In financial matters, annulment differs more sharply from divorce and separation. As the marriage is no longer legally recognized, there is no more marital property, so assets and debts belong solely to the individual who accumulated them. Everything is considered separate property, so there is no equitable distribution. Many annulments occur shortly after the parties have been married, which lessens the likelihood that alimony will be awarded, though it is possible. With more than two decades as a New Jersey family law attorney, Ms. Wagner can outline if an annulment is possible and how yours might proceed.
Legal grounds for annulment in New Jersey
Some people believe that annulment is an option when a married couple chooses to break up shortly after their wedding or when they don’t have children. This isn’t the case. Even the shortest marriages must be ended by a divorce if their union was legally valid. Conversely, you could annul a marriage that was intact for several years. Specific grounds for annulment include:
- One party was still married at the time of the wedding
- One or both parties was not of legal age at the time of the marriage
- One party misrepresented themselves in order to get the other to marry them
- A party lacked the requisite mental capacity to consent to marriage
- The parties are too closely related to marry legally
- One party used threats to get the other to marry them
Should both parties agree that the marriage was invalid, the court can issue a Judgment of Nullity without further testimony. However, a hearing is necessary if your partner opposes the civil annulment.
Contact a knowledgeable New Jersey attorney to discuss a possible annulment
Katherine K. Wagner, Attorney At Law in Somerville assists New Jersey clients who are considering an annulment or require some other type of family law representation. For a consultation with a qualified attorney, please call 908-526-0099 or contact the firm online.