What Do You Need to Understand When Going Through the Annulment Process in Massachusetts?

Navigating the landscape of marital dissolution can be challenging, particularly when it comes to understanding the factors involved in a process like annulment, which is much less common than divorce. At Reade Law Firm, PC, we’re here to guide you through this complex situation, ensuring a path forward that aligns with your best interests and aspirations. Today, let’s unravel the annulment process in Massachusetts, providing you with the clarity needed to make informed decisions.

Understanding Annulment in Massachusetts

Unlike divorce, which ends a legally valid marriage, an annulment declares a marriage null and void, as if it never legally existed. This distinction is crucial and often misunderstood. 

Annulments are granted under specific circumstances that make the marriage invalid. In Massachusetts, grounds for annulment include situations like bigamy, incest, lack of consent, or incapacity at the time of marriage. These are not merely formalities but fundamental flaws that question the very foundation of the marital union.

Void and Voidable Marriages Eligible for Annulment

Massachusetts law allows a couple to annul their marriage if the marriage is considered void or voidable. A void marriage cannot be approved, but a voidable marriage can remain in force unless one or both spouses seek an annulment. 

Void marriages include situations involving:

  • Bigamy: This occurs when one spouse is already legally married to another person at the time of the second marriage. In such cases, the second marriage is considered void and can be annulled unless the spouse seeking annulment knew of the earlier marriage. In that case, parties must proceed with a divorce rather than an annulment.
  • Incest: Marriages between close relatives are prohibited by law in Massachusetts. Such relationships include parent and child, siblings, and certain other close familial relations, making the marriage subject to annulment.

Marriages that can be declared voidable and either annulled or maintained include cases such as:

  • Underage Spouse: To marry, both partners must be at least 18 years old or receive permission from their parents and the court. If one partner is underage and the couple does not receive the required permission, their marriage can be annulled. 
  • Lack of Consent: Both parties must freely give consent. If one party was under duress, threat, or fraud at the time of the marriage, the marriage can be considered invalid. For instance, if one spouse lied about a fundamental aspect of themselves or the marriage was entered under false pretenses, these are grounds for annulment. Fraud must go to the heart of the marriage itself in order to provide grounds for an annulment.
  • Incapacity: If one or both parties were not mentally capable of understanding the nature of the marriage or were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the marriage could be annulled. This also includes situations where one party is unable to consummate the marriage due to a physical or psychological condition unknown to the other spouse at the time of marriage.

The Process of Filing for an Annulment

The procedural aspect of filing for an annulment can be intimidating because of the need to prove eligibility. Still, assistance from an experienced legal advisor can make the process much easier. Initiating the process involves submitting a Petition for Annulment in the appropriate court, necessitating accuracy and attention to detail. It’s not merely about filling out forms; it’s about crafting a narrative that clearly outlines the validity of your claim under state law. This step is where our approachable, professional guidance becomes invaluable, providing clarity and confidence as you move forward.

Impact on Children and Financial Matters

An annulment can significantly affect child custody and financial issues, albeit differently than in a divorce. Since an annulled marriage is considered invalid, questions often arise about the legal status of children and the division of assets. Massachusetts law provides frameworks to address these concerns, ensuring protection for children and equitable handling of financial matters. We’re committed to exploring these areas with you, offering insights and strategies tailored to your unique circumstances.

Why Choose Reade Law Firm, PC for Your Annulment Process

Navigating the annulment process in Massachusetts can be a pathway to a new beginning. Understanding the legalities, addressing the complexities, and making informed decisions are steps we walk together. Let the knowledgeable team at Reade Law Firm, PC, empower you to find your best way forward during and after the annulment. We help you achieve the objectives that mean the most to you while preserving your peace of mind. Contact us online or call us at (978) 767-8383. We’re happy to help. Let’s embark on this journey together, ensuring a positive future as we untangle the legalities and pave the way for new beginnings.