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The marriage annulment process is not spelled out in New Jersey divorce law as much as it is based on case law (previous cases settled). It is a legal process in much the same way as a divorce is and if your annulment petition is successful, the court will declare that the marriage never existed (the marriage is declared a nullity). An annulment can carry with it less stigma than a divorce, and for those with religious concerns, civil annulments can pave the way for religious annulments or future marriages. There are four grounds accepted for annulments in this state.
- Fraud is the most common plea for annulment. An example of fraud would be that your spouse represented that they could have children, and you find out later that wasn’t true. Another example of fraud eligible for annulment would be if someone married you while still married to someone else
- Concealing a material fact would be grounds for annulment. An example would be if someone concealed an addiction to alcohol or drugs, a felonious criminal past or that they have children
- Inability to consummate the marriage is a ground for annulment
- A significant misunderstanding or deception would be a condition for a marital annulment. An example would be that your spouse indicated a desire for children but now says no way.
In order to file for an annulment in this state, either you or your spouse must be a resident of New Jersey at the time the annulment papers are filed. If your spouse is okay with an annulment, the court may enter a decree of annulment without holding a hearing. If your spouse does not agree to have your marriage annulled, you must cite grounds and provide proof at a hearing that your marriage qualifies for an annulment. Both spouses are required to testify. At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will decide if the annulment petition should be granted.
Decrees of annulment can include provisions for child support, child custody and alimony. The court cannot enter orders to divide marital property. Property that is titled in one person’s name usually is considered that person’s property. Jointly-held property is divided equally.
[New Jersey Statutes – Title 2 A – Chapters: 34-1, 20; 37:1-1 ]
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