Like a divorce, an annulment is a court proceeding that ends a marriage. However, unlike a divorce, an annulment treats a marriage as though it never happened. Some people want an annulment in order to avoid what they consider the stigma of divorce. Other people prefer an annulment for religious reasons; it may be easier to get a religious annulment if you already have a civil annulment, and getting a divorce will preclude either a religious annulment or remarriage in the church. Most annulments take place after a very short marriage - a few weeks or months. An annulment is more likely to be granted when there are no children and assets or debts to divide.
Learn more about The Basics of Annulment in New Jersey.
The specific requirements differ from state to state, but there are four grounds that are most common.
Learn more about the Divorce Process in New Jersey.
An annulment may extinguish a person’s rights to property acquired during the marriage. The logic is that if the marriage is declared void, it’s as though the marriage never existed and therefore there are no marital assets to distribute.
A marriage can be annulled when the parties lacked the capacity to consent to the marriage when it was solemnized—for example, when they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A well-publicized example of this was Britney Spears’ annulment of her marriage on the basis that she was drunk when she impulsively got married in Las Vegas. A marriage also may be annulled if a party was under the age for marriage established by law. Most states require that both spouses be at least 18 years old to marry. Immigration is another context that can sometimes give rise to annulment request. A spouse who believes the marriage took place only for immigration purposes may seek an annulment based on fraud, in an effort to get the non-resident spouse deported.