An annulment, like a divorce, ends a marriage. Unlike a divorce, an annulment actually nullifies a marriage, just as it never existed. A divorce simply terminates an existing marriage. While you can get divorced under New Jersey law for any or no reason, however, a legal annulment is available only in a few circumstances. There are different reasons that you might seek an annulment as opposed to a divorce. Some religions may be more accepting of annulments than divorces, and there may be less social stigma to having your marriage annulled rather than getting divorced.  

Generally, there must be some type of misrepresentation or fraud concerning an essential part of the marital relationship in order to have the marriage annulled. For instance, bigamy is one circumstance in which you may be able to annul your marriage. If your spouse has another living spouse when you marry him or her, it is bigamy; if you weren’t aware of the fact that your spouse already was married, you will likely be able to get an annulment or a declaration that the marriage was invalid or void from the beginning.

Another reason for annulment is duress. If your spouse or another person threatened you with serious violence in order to compel you to get married, you may be eligible for an annulment under New Jersey law. Similarly, if an individual lacked the mental capacity to understand that he or she is getting married, then the marriage can be annulled. Other grounds for an annulment include nonage, in that one or both of the spouses was under the age of 18, impotence, or incest.

Finally, other types of fraud or misrepresentation that affects the marriage can be a ground for an annulment. The most common types of fraud concern one’s desire to have children, addiction to drugs or alcohol, immigration status, religious beliefs, and pregnancy by another person at the time of the marriage.

It should be noted that legal annulment and religious annulment are not the same thing.  Certain religions allow for religious annulments in the event of a legal dissolution of your marriage but a legal dissolution (divorce or annulment) does not necessarily equate to a religious annulment (and vice versa). 

Whether you ultimately seek a divorce or annulment, the break-up of a family relationship is not an easy task. During times like these, it is hard to ensure that you are making the decisions that are truly best for you and your family, especially when it comes to the demise of a marriage. It is in these kinds of cases that a New Jersey family lawyer can be most useful to you and truly make a difference in the outcome of your case. You can click here or email us at, and one of our staff members will get back to you right away.