What is an annulment?

An annulment is different than divorce as a divorce is ending a marriage and annulment is nullifying a marriage, i.e. as if it never existed. While every case is fact specific, generally speaking, an annulment is requested because one or both of the parties claims that the marriage was either void or voidable from its inception.

For a marriage to be dissolved by way of annulment, the following circumstances must exist (one of them is enough)

  • Age: If one of the parties or both of the parties were under the age of eighteen (18) at the time of the marriage, it is possible to claim that the marriage was void as the legal age to marry in the State of New Jersey is eighteen (18).
  • Incapacity: This circumstance could be raised in connection with a marriage wherein one or both of the parties were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This could also be raised if one of the parties is not mentally capable of understanding that he/she is getting married. Upon proofs in this regard, it is possible for the marriage to dissolve by way of an annulment.
  • Polygamy: In the event one of the parties is married to another at the time of the marriage and that other person does not know about that existing marriage, the marriage may be annulled in New Jersey.

These are just a few examples of circumstances which could satisfy the statutory requirements for a marriage to be annulled.

Does adultery affect a divorce case?

Generally speaking, adultery does not affect a divorce case in New Jersey as New Jersey is a no-fault divorce state and does not consider fault on any level in and of itself. That being said, the circumstances of the adultery may play a part in the divorce such as the use of marital funds to support the affair, the dissipation of assets in anticipation of the divorce or the affair becoming known, etc.

In another aspect, affairs could impact custody if the affair is resulting in the cheating spouse not being suitable to care for the children. For example, if the cheating spouse is leaving the children home to go out with their paramour, or constantly leaving the children with third parties so that they can ensure their dating life continues without a break, then this aspect would impact custody. In other words, if the relationship with the paramour has removed a parent substantially from the life of the children during that extra-marital relationship, there is always the possibility of this impact the issue of custody.

How long does an uncontested divorce generally take?

The divorce process in New Jersey generally takes one (1) year from start to end in most cases which although resolve in an uncontested matter begin as contested matters. The only way a divorce process commences in an uncontested forum is if the parties’ have a fully signed and executed Marital Settlement Agreement before retaining counsel and before filing the Complaint for Divorce. In that event, an uncontested divorce (a divorce commencing with a fully signed MSA) would take on average two (2) to four (4) months.

What is the general process for filing for divorce?

While all cases vary, the divorce process is begun with a meeting with an attorney and the filing of a Complaint for Divorce. Upon receipt of the filed complaint for divorce back from the court, service of the complaint must be made on the other side. They will then have thirty (35) days to file an Answer and Counterclaim. Upon the filing of an Answer to the Complaint, a Case Management Order is generally entered by the Court wherein discovery deadlines and dates for completion are provided. With that Order and within a few brief exchanges between counsel for both parties, it then becomes clearer as to the necessary time frame to complete the process.

Contact a New Jersey divorce lawyer

For a consultation regarding your particular legal concerns, please call 856-432-4587 or contact me onlineMy office is in Haddon Heights.