Massachusetts law about marriage

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

Massachusetts laws

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

Section 1: Marriage of Man to Certain Relatives
Section 2: Marriage of Woman to Certain Relatives
Section 4: Polygamy
Section 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.
Section 14: Determination of Validity (annulment)
Section 24: Nonage minors; receiving of notice; prohibition (age requirement is 18)
Section 25: Nonage minors; authorization of marriage (parental consent required under 18)
Section 30: Dispensing with Three Days' Notice
Section 36: Registering marriages that took place outside of Massachusetts

Forms

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: CJ-D 430. Mass. Probate and Family Court Department. (see additional resources below)
"Use to request waiver of the required 3 day waiting period and/or approval for minor to marry." 

Additional Resources

Web sources

Fiance & Marriage Visas: A Couple's Guide to U.S. Immigration, Nolo, 2016
Includes information on visas, green cards, income requirements, preparing the paperwork and more. Requires library card for access.

Getting Married in Massachusetts: Before the Wedding, Mass.gov, 2016.
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
"Sets forth the details for the process for marrying in Massachusetts – who can marry, how you get a license, what you need to bring with you, the waiting period, and who can perform the ceremony." 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.

Massachusetts Marriage License Laws, About.com

Obtaining Copies of Vital Records, Mass. Registry of Vital Records
Information on getting copies of marriage records

Premarital Agreement Law in Massachusetts, Charles P. Kindregan, 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, 2016
How to write a prenup. Requires library card for access.

State Laws Regarding Marriages Between First Cousins, National Conference of State Legislatures
Chart of state laws regarding cousin marriage. Massachusetts is one of 19 states allowing first cousins to marry.

Legal Impediments to Marriage, Mass. Registry of Vital Records (see additional resources below)
Provides a list of who may not marry whom in Massachusetts.

Additional Resources

Lindy and Parley on Separation Agreements and Antenuptial Contracts, Matthew Bender, loose-leaf.
Includes prenuptial contracts

Last update: November 10, 2017

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