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Brooklyn Family Law, Blog

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October 20, 2014
Our Family Law Practice in Brooklyn, Blog coming soon
October 21, 2014
Blog posts coming soon, watch for update

Annulment, How Do I Annul My Marriage in New York (NY) or New Jersey (NJ)?

In both New York State and New Jersey, you can commence an action to annul a marriage. A Summons and Complaint are drafted, on specific grounds for each state, and served on the other side, just like any other Court action. In New York, there is also an action to declare the nullity of a marriage, also requiring a summons and complaint to be served on the other side. What is being discussed here are civil annulments, meaning these would legally annul your marriage or declare it a nullity. This has nothing to do with a religious or church annulment. That is something that you need to take up with your clergy because the Court has absolutely no power to provide a religious annulment.

In New York, an action to declare the nullity of a void marriage can be based upon bigamy, incestuous marriages or an actual error in the marriage ceremony; grounds for  annulling a voidable marriage can be based upon a) one or both parties being under the age of consent when the marriage occurred; b) mental illness or retardation; c)  physical incapacity meaning one of the parties is incurably  incapable of having sexual intercourse; d)  consent to marry being obtained through force, duress or fraud; e) incurable mental illness for a period of five years after the marriage occurred.

In New York, if the cause for declaration of the void marriage as a nullity or for annulment are successful, the Court will make all of the determinations in the final Order that would happen in a divorce action. This would include equitable distribution of the assets and debt no matter how the asset is titled or who incurred the debt, child custody and visitation, child support and spousal support. Such is not the case in New Jersey with regard to distribution of assets in an action for annulment.

A successful annulment action in New Jersey results in a determination on child custody and visitation, child support and even alimony in addition to your annulment.  In an action for annulment, New Jersey does not distribute property and debt in the way they do in a divorce action, Instead, assets titled to you are yours alone, assets titled to your spouse are theirs alone and what is titled to both of you is still titled to both of you.

Grounds for annulment in New Jersey are not so different than annulment in New York, and New Jersey includes the basis for New York’s declaration of nullity of marriage as part of their annulment grounds.  Bases for annulment in New Jersey include a) either party being under the age of eighteen at the time of the marriage and not having sexual relations since attaining the age of eighteen; b) fraud or lies to induce one party to marry; c) an inability to understand that you are getting married as a result of intoxication or a mental condition; d) refusal to have sexual intercourse or impotency that was not divulged to the other party; e) marriage resulting from severe threats; f) the spouses are too close in blood relation, incest (these are prohibited marriages as well); g) one party already being married; h) incapacity to consent for various reasons.  Also, an annulment can be obtained within thirty days of a marriage without cause because of a relatively new statute.     

There are also certain requirements as to residency for these actions in either state. One party must reside in the state where the action is brought.

Obviously, there are more details involved in an annulment or declaration of nullity. These cases for annulment can sometimes be brought by relatives or those with an interest in the outcome under very specific circumstances. These details for annulments should be discussed with your attorney to determine if your circumstances warrant an action for annulment in either state or to declare your marriage a nullity in New York. We are happy to sit down with you to discuss your situation and whether an annulment is the way for you to move forward for yourself, or for a relative unable to do it themselves.

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