Massachusetts law about marriage

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases, and web sources on marriage law in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Massachusetts laws

MGL c.207: Marriage. Particular sections of interest:

  • § 1 Marriage of man to certain relatives
  • § 2 Marriage of woman to certain relatives
  • § 4 Polygamy
  • § 7 Minors; solemnization of marriage (prohibits marrying individuals under 18). See also, Parton v. Hervey , 67 Mass. 119 (1854) for more discussion of the marriage of minors.
  • §14 Determination of validity (annulment)
  • § 24 Nonage minors; receiving of notice; prohibition (age requirement is 18)
  • § 25 Nonage minors; authorization of marriage (parental consent required under 18)
  • § 30 Dispensing with 3 days' notice
  • § 36 Registering marriages that took place outside of Massachusetts

Selected case law

Shea v. Cameron, 92 Mass. App. Ct. 731 (2018)
A claim of fraudulent inducement to marriage is barred by the Heart Balm Act (act), G. L. c. 207, § 47A.

Parton v. Hervey , 67 Mass. 119 (1854)
Discussion of the validity of marriage of minors above the age of consent without parental consent.


One day marriage designation, Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Use to have a friend or family member perform the ceremony.

Out of state non-resident clergy petition to solemnize marriage, Secretary of the Commonwealth.

Marriage without delay/Marriage of minors (CJD 430). Mass. Probate and Family Court Department.
"Use to request waiver of the required 3 day waiting period and/or approval for minor to marry." See also: Instructions for marriage without delay-Marriage of minors

Web sources

Fiance & marriage visas: a couple's guide to U.S. immigration, Nolo, 2019
Includes information on visas, green cards, income requirements, preparing the paperwork and more. Requires free library card for access.

Getting married in Massachusetts: before the wedding,, 2017.
Covers the basics of everything you need to know, including who can marry, who can conduct the wedding, and needed paperwork.

How to get married in Massachusetts, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), July 2015
Written for same-sex couples, but the procedures are identical for all couples. Clear detailed information. Includes information on how to change your surname.

Justices of the Peace: summary of duties
Compiled by the office of the Massachusetts Governor, explains the duties of a justice of the peace in performing a marriage, including the form of the ceremony, permitted fees, and more.

Applying for a marriage license in Massachusetts, The Spruce

Ordering a birth, marriage, or death certificate, Mass. Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
Information on getting copies of marriage records

Premarital agreement law in Massachusetts, Charles P. Kindregan Jr., December 3, 2012
"traces the various court interpretations up to the present, which in a series of decisions have made enforcement easier when the waiver is express, the agreement is fair and reasonable when made, and not unconscionable when enforcement of an agreement is sought."

Prenuptial agreements, Nolo, 2019
How to write a prenup. Requires free library card for access.

Massachusetts legal impediments to marriage, Mass. Registry of Vital Records and Statistics
Provides a list of who may not marry whom in Massachusetts.

Print sources

Lindy and Parley on separation agreements and antenuptial contracts, Matthew Bender, loose-leaf.
Includes prenuptial contracts



Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only


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Last updated: November 21, 2019