New Jersey residents seeking to end their marriage can pursue two different paths depending on their situation. The two options available to end the marriage are divorce and annulment. Annulment is relatively rare. Divorce is far more commonplace, and when the spouses decide on a no-fault divorce, they do not need any proof to explain why they are splitting.
How do divorce and annulment differ?
While both put an end to the marriage, an annulment does so in the understanding that the marriage was never legal, so in effect, it did not exist. Once an annulment is granted, the two people involved basically return to the personal and financial status they had before the marriage. An annulment does not consider property division or alimony. However, any children born to the union are still considered legitimate. For an annulment to be granted, one of a variety of legal conditions must be met. These conditions include:
- Having entered the marriage under false pretenses, such as the spouse having a hidden child or serious illness
- Having entered into an incestuous marriage
- Having unknowingly married someone who was already married
- Having married under the impairment of drugs, alcohol or mental disability
- Having married while under the legal age
- Having unknowingly married someone who is struggling with drug abuse or with a criminal history
Divorce, which can be fault or no-fault, also ends a marriage permanently but acknowledges that the marriage was legal. A divorce will result in a division of property process and might also lead to one spouse receiving alimony. If the spouses both agree to the divorce, then there is no proof required to proceed.
Deciding between the two options
The conditions for annulments, which often come immediately or soon after the marriage, can be difficult to prove, therefore they are uncommon. Divorce, however, requires no proof and can happen soon after the marriage or years later.