Couples in New Jersey seeking to end their marriage have two options: divorce and legal annulment. While both these options end the union, there are differences between them, including when couples are eligible for one or the other and the evidence that must be shown to support either petition.
Legal annulment does not simply end a quick marriage
Legal annulment erases a marriage as if it had never happened, though the information of the marriage remains on record. When the marriage is annulled, the two former spouses have no responsibility to each other anymore. While people often think of annulment as the solution to marriages of short duration that did not work, the process is not this simple. For a marriage to be eligible for legal annulment, it also needs to meet one of the following conditions:
- One or both spouses were minors who could not legally marry
- There were lies or tricks used to convince one or both spouses to marry
- One of the spouses kept secret major information such as a child, substance abuse or a criminal history
- The marriage is considered incestuous
- The marriage is considered bigamy, as one spouse was already married
Divorce is the more common end to a marriage
Dissolving a marriage through divorce is more common. In most states, spouses can go through a no-fault divorce by citing irreconcilable differences. Even in those cases, however, the spouses might still need to resolve conflicts resulting from the division of property, financial support and child custody. There is also, often, a time component, with some states requiring spouses who want a divorce to be married for one or two years or to have a mandatory separation period before they can file.
While there are differences between divorce and annulment, some things remain the same. For example, children born of the union will remain the responsibility of both parents, whether the marriage ended through divorce or legal annulment.