An annulment occurs when a judge declares that a married couple was never legally wed. In Massachusetts, specific circumstances warrant a marriage annulment, and one of these must be proven with clear evidence in order to successfully complete an annulment.
Void vs. Voidable Marriages
For a marriage annulment, one party must prove that it was either void or voidable; a person cannot simply get an annulment if they were married for a short time.
A void marriage is one that the state never legally approved in the first place. For example, marriages are void if:
- one or both parties were already married to another person; and/or
- the parties are closely related or related by marriage (siblings, stepsiblings, parents, grandparents, nieces, nephews, etc.).
A voidable marriage is one that the state doesn’t legally approve of but has allowed to occur at the parties’ choosing.. A marriage is voidable if one or both parties:
- were mentally incapacitated at the time of marriage (due to influence of a substance or a mental illness);
- is impotent;
- was underage at the time of marriage; and/or
- fraudulently coerced the other into marriage.
If one party is seeking a divorce based on fraud, the deception must be about an issue that directly affects the marriage. For instance, the wife could have lied about being pregnant or either party married the other for immigration reasons.
How to File for an Annulment
In Massachusetts, one party must file a Complaint for Annulment in the county where either you or your spouse currently resides. The Complaint for Annulment must list:
- each spouse’s name and address;
- the location and date of the marriage;
- the names and birthdates of any children born during the marriage; and
- the legal ground(s) for annulment.
After the party seeking annulment has filed the complaint, they must serve the other spouse with a copy of the document.
Effect of Annulment
If a court deems the circumstances surrounding a marriage valid for annulment, the marriage will legally not exist. In Massachusetts, upon annulment of a marriage, a judge can still rule on child custody and visitation issues. Additionally, a judge can divide any property and grant alimony to the spouse who sought the annulment.
Experienced Annulment Attorneys
If you have legal grounds to file for marital annulment, our lawyers can assist you. We can guide you through the annulment process and help you begin a fresh chapter in your life.