I married my friend in Vegas as a joke. What now?

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Q. Five years ago, I got married in Vegas to my best friend – we really did it as a joke. But now he’s planning to marry someone for real. How can we get rid of this marriage without it costing us?
— Wife

A. This would be a funny story if there was an easy way to get out of this faux marriage.

In New Jersey, there is not really an easy or free way to simply annul or dissolve this marriage, said Jeralyn Lawrence, a family law attorney with Lawrence Law in Watchung.

She said under circumstances where the parties seeking divorce are amenable to all outstanding issues, the most efficient, cost-effective way to dissolve a marriage is to proceed with an uncontested divorce proceeding.

She recommends, in this instance, that you hire an attorney to draft a marital settlement agreement.

“A marital settlement agreement is a written agreement that specifically addresses and resolves any and all issues arising out of the marriage, even a phony one,” Lawrence said. “Once that agreement is signed, the case is considered settled and the parties can move forward with filing a complaint for divorce incorporating the terms of the agreement.”

Assuming there are no outstanding issues related to the divorce, the answering party may waive his or her appearance and the 35-day waiting period.

An uncontested hearing for divorce may then be scheduled as soon as the court calendar permits, which is generally within four to six weeks from when you have a signed agreement, she said.

Email your questions to moc.p1594397558leHye1594397558noMJN1594397558@ksA1594397558.

This story was originally published August 29, 2019.

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