Annulments in NJ
Annulments in NJ may be granted on one of the following five grounds:
1. either party was married or a partner in a civil union at the time of the marriage;
2. the parties are within the degrees prohibited by law (one may not marry an ancestor or descendent, and aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, brother, or sister);
3. either party, at the time of the marriage was impotent; the other party was unaware of the impotence and has not ratified the marriage;
4. one of the parties lacked capacity to marry due to a mental condition, intoxication or drugs; or there was a lack of mutual assent, duress, or fraud as to the essentials of the marriage, and the marriage has not been ratified, or
5. the party asking for the annulment was under the age of 18 at the time of the marriage and has not confirmed the marriage since turning 18.
A common ground for annulment in NJ is fraud as to the essentials of the marriage. In V.J.S. v. M.J.B., the Court granted a wife’s petition for annulment because the husband refused to have sexual intercourse using contraception, after he had clearly agreed that he did not want children prior to marriage. V.J.S. v. M.J.B., 592 A.2d 328, (N.J. Super. 1991). In another case, the Supreme Court granted a wife an annulment because her husband had concealed a heroin addiction. Costello v. Porzelt, 282 A.2d 432, (N.J. Super. 1971).
Another common reason to annul a marriage is impotence, or when one spouse refuses to, or is incapable of, having sexual intercourse with the other. In T v. M, a husband was granted an annulment because his wife was unable to have sexual intercourse, but was apparently able to procreate, as she became pregnant without intercourse. T v. M, 100, 242 A.2d 670, (N.J. Super. 1968). An action for annulment in NJ on the grounds of impotence may be brought by either the impotent or the potent spouse, as the statute speaks in terms of either party.
Unlike a divorce, an annulment treats a marriage as if it never occurred. It is a way of ending a marriage, which is most appropriate for those who have had a short marriage and do not have assets to divide or custody and visitation issues to settle.
N.J. Stat. § 2A:34-1