Difference Between an Annulment and Divorce

Difference Between an Annulment and Divorce


Many people have only heard of an annulment as a method of separating from another person in a religious context. However, the state of New Jersey will allow people to either get divorced or have their marriage annulled under certain circumstances. Understanding the different grounds upon which you may get divorced or obtain an annulment may help you make the best decision for your unique circumstance.

Difference Between Annulment and Divorce

Annulments essentially eliminate that a marriage ever existed under the law. If you succeed in obtaining an annulment, the court will declare your marriage null and void from its inception. While the marriage will remain on file, it will also contain a record that it was never legally valid from the start. Again, this is a legal decision made by a court, and has nothing to do with anything that any religious institution may provide to its members.


A divorce is a ruling by the court that while a marriage was legally valid, it is now dissolved under the law. A divorce allows two people who were married under the law to now end their marriage and marry others if they wish to do so legally.

Grounds for Annulment

In the state of New Jersey, there are several grounds upon which someone may obtain an annulment.

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  • If one person is already married to another person, they do not have the legal standing to marry another person.
  • If one person threatens the other with any kind of harm, or threatens harm to another unless the person marries them, this is considered duress and a marriage will be considered invalid.
  • Non-age. If one person is under the age of 18, they are not legally allowed to marry in the state of New Jersey.
  • If a person does not have the mental capacity to understand that they are getting married, or what that means, or if a person is intoxicated when they are getting married, the marriage is not valid.
  • If one partner is impotent or if a woman is unable to have children, and hid that fact from the other spouse at the time of marriage, it would be grounds for annulment.
  • No marriages between blood relatives are legal in the state of New Jersey.
  • If one spouse lies or misrepresents anything such as their status as a legal resident of the United States, their desire to have children, an addiction to drugs or alcohol, their religious beliefs, or that a woman is pregnant by another man, this is fraud and grounds for an annulment.

Grounds for Divorce

New Jersey is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorce. Both of the grounds for divorce mean that both parties agree that the marriage should end and that one party is not accepting fault or placing blame on the other. The two grounds for divorce in New Jersey are separation (living separately for at least 18 months and both parties agree there is no chance at reconciliation) or irreconcilable differences (both parties simply agree that there is no hope to reconcile.)

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Contact a family law attorney at Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law to help you make the decision how to proceed regarding the ending of your marriage. Contact our experienced lawyers today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can ensure your legal rights are protected.


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