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Find out if you’re eligible to get an annulment

Find out who's eligible to get an annulment and what you can do if you don't want an annulment.

To get an annulment, you need to prove that your marriage is either void or voidable and that this is the reason you're asking for an annulment. You can't get an annulment just because your marriage was very short.  

If you weren't legally allowed to marry in the first place and the state will never approve such a marriage, it's called a void marriage. If you weren't legally permitted to marry because of a particular problem, but the state will allow you to choose to remain married, you have a voidable marriage.

Void marriages

Your marriage is void if:

  • One of you was already married to someone else and the other didn't know. On the annulment complaint form, this is called bigamy. However, if the person asking for the annulment knew their spouse was already married before they married them, then they must request a divorce, not an annulment.
  • You have married a close relative or a close relative by marriage. On the annulment form, this is called “Incest, Consanguinity, and Affinity.” In Massachusetts, you may not marry your grandparents, step grandparents, parents, step parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, children, or grandchildren. You also can't marry your spouse’s parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren. However, a man may marry his son’s wife, and a woman may marry her husband’s father. 

Voidable marriages

Your marriage is voidable if:

  • One of the spouses didn't have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage at the time. For example, a spouse may have been drunk or mentally ill.
  • One of the spouses is not physically capable of sexual intercourse.
  • One of the spouses wasn't old enough to get married. In Massachusetts, you need to be 18 years old to get married, unless you have permission from your parents and the court.
  • There was fraud involved in getting married. The Massachusetts courts are very strict, and will only annul a marriage for a fraud that goes to the heart of the marriage itself. Historically, annulments for fraud were focused on sexual relations and the ability to have children. Courts have also been willing to find fraud where one person had purely ulterior motives for entering into the marriage, for example, if one person thought they were marrying for love, but the other person was only marrying them for immigration reasons. However, many deceptive or fraudulent acts won't be grounds for an annulment, and if you knew or should have known of the fraudulent conduct, an annulment won't be granted.

What if I don't want the annulment?

If you don’t want your marriage annulled and your spouse has requested an annulment because the marriage is voidable, you can request to affirm the marriage, which means you're asking the court to declare that you're still married.

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