Marriage Annulment in Massachusetts

Divorce Papers » Marriage Annulment in Massachusetts

Annulment in Massachusetts is a judicial declaration that the marriage in question never existed and thus, it is non-existent in the eyes of the law. It is not easily granted by the court and it is easier to file for a no-fault divorce instead of an annulment.

Types of Marriages Eligible for Annulment in Massachusetts:

There are two types of marriages eligible to file for an annulment according to the statute of Massachusetts. These types are as follows:

  1. Void Marriage - A void marriage is a marriage which should never have been.. It is void ab initio, that is, from its inception and nothing can be done to make it valid. Such marriages have to be annulled as some crucial factor is amiss in these marriages. The bottom line is that the marriage which should never have existed has been performed and it has to be annulled. This type of marriages are prohibited by the law and are null and void from the word 'go'!

  2. Voidable Marriage - A voidable marriage is a marriage which never would have happened if certain conditions or situations were revealed before the marriage took place. This marriage is valid until some condition or situation is discovered which makes it invalid. Generally, a void marriage is considered valid if it is consummated in which case the grounds are difficult to prove.

Grounds for Annulment in Massachusetts:

The grounds for annulment in Massachusetts have been categorized under the two types of marriages mentioned above. These grounds pertain to the type ops marriage which was performed and are annulled accordingly.

Let us have a look at these grounds in detail:

Grounds for Annulment of a Void Marriage:

  • Consanguinity - A marriage between the blood relatives is considered as consanguinity. These relations include parent - child, grandparent - grandchild, aunt - nephew, uncle - niece, siblings, cousins and other relationships which are formed due to the blood relation between two people. In short, people descending from the same blood line should not marry.

    Such marriage is considered void ab initio as mentioned above and has to be annulled on the same grounds. The proof of the blood relation of the couple has to be submitted to the court before it reaches its decision.

  • Affinity - Affinity literally means a relationship formulated by marriage instead of blood ties. Such marriages are prohibited by law in the state of Massachusetts. The examples of such a relationship are step parents - step children, step grandparents - step grandchildren, step - siblings, step - cousins or any other relations which have been formulated by marriage.

    The proof of the relationship by marriage has to be produced in front of the court so that the decision of the court remains beneficial to both the parties.

  • Bigamy - Marrying a person while being married to someone who is known to be living without dissolving the previous marriage is a punishable offense by law and such a marriage is considered void ab initio and has to be annulled on the basis of bigamy.

    The proof such as previous marriage certificate or the testimony of the previous spouse can prove valuable in such cases.

Grounds for Annulment of a Voidable Marriage:

  • Fraud - Fraud in a marriage comprises of concealment of some important issue or factor which is vital for a marital relationship to survive. It could be anything from hiding the sexuality to not informing about any stints in the prison due to a felony committed ages ago.

    However, the proofs have to be submitted and the conditions should be met while filing the lawsuit.

  • Force - Coercing a person into the marriage by the means of duress, force or threats such as killing or holding them at the gunpoint is an example of a marriage by force. Such a marriage lacks the free consent required for marriage and is thus voidable.

    The proof of force or threats needs to be submitted to the court, which is difficult due to the risk involved in putting together the evidences in such cases.

  • Inability to Consummate - Impotency or inability to consummate the marriage can be a strong ground for getting an annulment in the state of Massachusetts. However, the individual should be incapable of overall performance; not only producing children (sterility).

    The medical reports and the testimony of the physician treating the person for this inability can be the proof enough for the court to grant an annulment in such a case.

  • Mental Incapacity - If a person was incapable of making an important decision such as marriage owing to the conditions such as insanity or intoxication or because he / she was underage at the time of marriage; such a marriage is voidable and can be annulled on the grounds of metal incapacity which is hard to prove.

Trivia about Annulment in Massachusetts:

Some of the interesting facts about annulment in Massachusetts are as follows:

  • The duration of marriage does not matter when it comes to the granting of annulment. The court examines the grounds and the proofs submitted and then reaches the verdict.
  • Filing for divorce is much easier than filing for an annulment owing to the complicated nature of the lawsuit and the difficulty in proving the cited grounds.
  • At least one of the above mentioned grounds needs to be proved in order to get an annulment. If the party fails to provide substantial proofs, the court can transfer the lawsuit to divorce or cancel the plea altogether.
  • One can fight the petition for annulment by affirming the marriage or by counter-filing for divorce. In both the cases, the annulment plea is dismissed and the court may ask the petitioner to file for a no-fault divorce instead of annulment or continue the marriage.

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