What is an Annulment?

In Massachusetts, an annulment is a statement by the Court that you were never legally married. Unlike divorce, which acknowledges that you were married and then terminates that marriage, annulment it is as if the marriage never happened.  Annulment is a very specific process.  There are only a few reasons why you can ask the Court for an annulment and you must be able to prove to the Court that these reasons exist.

Here’s the scenario:  Lori calls and tells me that she recently got married.  She knew him for years but now found out that he misrepresented many things to her, including previous marriages. She doesn’t want a divorce and to share anything with him.  Can she get an annulment?

To get an annulment in Massachusetts, you need to prove that your marriage is either “void” or “voidable.” Your marriage is “void” if the state would never approve the marriage in the first place.  For example, if one of you was already married to someone else at the time of marriage or you married a close relative.  Your marriage is “voidable” if you were not legally permitted to marry in the first instance, but the state will allow you to stay married at your option.  For example, if one of the spouses lacked the mental capacity to consent to a marriage, if one of the spouses cannot participate in sexual intercourse, if one of the spouses was not old enough to marry, or if there was fraud involved in the marriage.  

It is important to know that you must prove not only that the marriage was void or voidable, but that this was the specific reason that you seek to annul the marriage.  If there are other reasons for the end of the relationship, you cannot use this process as an excuse to end it.  For example, if your spouse cheats and you want a divorce as a result, you cannot annul simply because you are able to prove these facts.

So, going back to Lori, if she later found out that her husband was married to another at the time that they were married , she can try to annul the marriage.  If she simply finds out that he failed to tell her that he had been previously married (but these marriages are now legally ended in divorce), she may not annul (though she can divorce).

If you think an annulment is a better option for your situation, please contact me and we will discuss your situation to find the best course of action.