Divorce vs Dissolution vs Annulment

Divorce vs Dissolution vs Annulment


In the state of New Jersey, there are many ways to end a marriage. While you are probably familiar with the concept of divorce, you may not fully understand what it means to have a marriage annulled or dissolved. At the end of the day, all of these processes end with essentially the same result — two people are legally no longer married.

However, when you dig a little deeper, you quickly discover that divorces, annulments, and dissolutions are quite different from another. When you understand the legal implications of these three processes, you can select the one that best fits your unique requirements. Depending on your situation, one of these processes may have particular benefits or disadvantages.

What is a Divorce?

You probably already know exactly what a divorce is. This is when either spouse files a case with the court which outlines their wishes to end the marriage. In order to do this, the spouse must have lived in New Jersey for at least one year, except in the case of adultery, when there is no time limit.

The spouse must also have “grounds for divorce.” Here are some examples:

  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Extreme Cruelty
  • Separation
  • Your spouse has become addicted to drugs or abuses alcohol on a regular basis
  • Your spouse has been institutionalized due to mental illness
  • Your spouse is now in prison
  • Your spouse has committed deviant sexual conduct

If you are not sure whether you have grounds for divorce, speak with a qualified legal expert who can help you analyze your unique situation.

What is an Annulment?

divorce mediation lawyersUnlike a divorce, an annulment legally voids the marriage. After an annulment, it is like your marriage never existed in the first place in the eyes of New Jersey law. Annulments may only be granted under very specific circumstances:

  • One spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage
  • Polygamy
  • Bigamy
  • Incest
  • One or both spouses were incapacitated at the time of marriage. For example, you were intoxicated
  • You agreed to the marriage because of threats or lies
  • If one spouse is impotent, the other can legally file for an annulment in the state of New Jersey

One of the most important things to remember about an annulment is the fact that a judge cannot enter orders about the distribution of property and assets. Instead of splitting assets as you would in a divorce, you would simply refer to the title on your property. However, the same rules generally apply when it comes to child custody.

What is a Marriage Dissolution?

Marriage dissolution is quite simple. This is a legal process that takes place between both spouses outside of court. Usually, they both hire lawyers who can help both parties come to an agreement. When the details regarding child support, child custody, and the distribution of assets are agreed upon, both spouses file their dissolution with the court.

A dissolution helps you avoid preliminary hearings and a range of other expensive, time-consuming court processes. This is perhaps the best option if both parties generally agree on how the marriage should end.

Taking the Next Steps

Ending a marriage is never easy, but this process becomes easier when you enlist the help of a qualified attorney who has experience with these matters. With an attorney’s help, you may discover that you can get an annulment instead of a divorce, or vice versa. Reach out to Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law today, and we can help you make the right choice as you move forward.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *