Should I file for an annulment or divorce?
Most people seeking to end their marriage in Passaic County, New Jersey choose to file a complaint for divorce. Occasionally, and based on the circumstances of their marriage, a person may want to consider seeking an annulment. Before doing so, one must consider that divorce and annulment have different legal ramifications. In a divorce, neither party contests the existence of a valid marriage. Rather, they seek to dissolve the marriage and resolve issues pertaining to custody, support, and division of property. In an action for nullity, a party contests the validity of the marriage itself and seeks to invalidate the marriage as though it never happened.
Continue reading to learn about annulments in New Jersey and call an experienced Totowa, Wayne, Paterson divorce lawyer at (973) 737-1637 with any questions or to help with your New Jersey family matter.
What is an Annulment?
An annulment is a legal procedure through which a marriage is deemed null and void. It is as though the parties where never married in the first place. Certain issues, such as alimony are not considered since the marriage was invalid. Annulment is granted only when the marriage was invalid and not legally permissible from its inception.
Grounds for an Annulment
As mentioned, an annulment is only granted when the marriage was invalid and not legally permissible from its inception. The grounds for an annulment are found in the New Jersey Statutes. Annulments only get granted in certain situations, including:
- Fraud: The marriage occurred through fraud or coercion.
- Bigamy: One spouse was legally married to someone else at the time of the marriage.
- Underage: One or both persons were underage and unable to consent legally at the time of the marriage.
- Impotence: One spouse is incurably impotent and did not disclose that to the other spouse.
- Incapacity: One party lacked mental capacity to consent to the marriage due to the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a mental disorder.
- Incest: The spouses are too closely related to qualify being married to each other.
A Time Limit for Annulments?
New Jersey does not have a time limit for seeking an annulment. Most annulments happen within one or two years of marriage, soon after the underlying invalidity is discovered. Keep in mind however, that although there is no time limit, depending on the facts of your case, it may be more difficult to obtain an annulment if you are married for several years. For example, a Court will not view favorably on an application for annulment based on fraud when the parties have been married for ten years and have had several children. Irrespective of whether there was fraud at the outset of the marriage or not, a Court may view the application for annulment as a mechanism to avoid support to the spouse.
What is a Divorce?
Divorce is a formal method of dissolving your marriage. In Passaic County, New Jersey, the process begins when one spouse files a complaint for divorce. At least one party must meet the state residency requirements.
A divorce resolves all the marriage issues, including the division of assets and debts, spousal support, custody, and child support.
Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce
In Passaic County, New Jersey, you can seek a no-fault divorce based on physical separation in separate households for eighteen (18) months or irreconcilable differences that have lasted at least six (6) months before filing for divorce.
A fault divorce states that one party is at fault for the end of the marriage. Grounds for this type of divorce include adultery, extreme physical or mental cruelty, abandonment, imprisonment, addiction, or institutionalization for mental illness for a period of two (2) years.
Waiting Periods for Divorce
Before you can file for divorce in New Jersey, either you or your spouse must have been a New Jersey resident for the last 12 consecutive months. The only exception to this waiting period is when your basis for divorce is adultery.
Annulment vs. Divorce
It is crucial to consult an attorney before moving forward with an annulment or divorce. Likewise, if your spouse serves you papers, seek legal advice regarding your options or seeking the best possible outcome.
Passaic County Divorce Attorney
Maria A. Giammona Law has been providing caring and compassionate representation for family law matters in Totowa, Wayne, Paterson and throughout Passaic County for over twenty years. With our guidance, you’ll be able to decide whether to seek an annulment or file for a divorce. We’ll patiently look at every aspect of your situation and help you determine the best strategy for your family. We invite you to call us at 973-737-1637 to schedule a free consultation.