How to Get an Annulment in Massachusetts Without a Lawyer
If you went through the motions of filing a marriage in the state of Massachusetts, it's possible that it was null and void from the start. An annulment can be a preferable option to divorce for those meeting the legal requirements for annulment in Massachusetts. This can be a blessing for those who need to be free of the legal constraints of the legal status associated with persons registered as married in MA – but it can also be just as confusing as legal divorce requirements. At least it was until DoNotPay, which can streamline the Massachusetts annulment process for you at the press of a button.
Whether you'd like to tackle this challenge yourself or just annul your MA marriage as fast as possible, DoNotPay has compiled this short guide about the marriage annulment process in the state of Massachusetts. Read on to learn if you are eligible for annulment in MA, how to go about it, and what DoNotPay can do to take as much of it off your hands as possible.
What Is an Annulment in MA?
Annulment according to the state of Massachusetts legal code, you'll need to prove:
- The marriage is void or voidable, and
- This is the reason for asking for the annulment
That last point is a nuance that makes all the difference. Lower courts are constantly getting complaints that lack substantive claims from litigants or petitioners who do not make clear what order they are asking the court for.
Next, understand that "void" in legal contemplation is an act that is as though it never happened. It is void from the moment it supposedly took place, not from the date a court ruled it as such. As stated in 16 American Jurisprudence 2nd ed., "A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one," essentially stating that it is simply not even legally enforceable. In these cases, the state of Massachusetts cannot recognize the marriage as legitimate.
A voidable marriage is one that is questionable, but the state can legally authorize it as valid if the partners want it to.
This is all in distinction to divorce, which is when the marriage is deemed valid but the parties seek to end it. If this is the case, you'll need to obtain a divorce certificate and a favorable divorce settlement agreement.
Grounds for Getting an Annulment in the State of Massachusetts
With that clearly in mind, let's look further at annulment requirements according to the Mass.gov annulment web page:
|Void if…||Voidable if...|
|* Note that this includes the spouse's immediate family as well.||** The fraud must "go to the heart of the marriage"; examples have historically included situations such as:
Types of fraud specifically excluded, are those that the partner "knew or should have known" – a pretty grey area of interpretation… but them's the rules (codes, statutes, and regulations) involved when voluntarily registering and contracting with the federal territories known as "states", for those wondering how it became this way.
Not too many people seek "common law" marriages anymore, and making a place in your bed for the government seems to be more of a widespread relationship kink than ever–but as a robot, DoNotPay is not here to judge. DoNotPay always knew they were up to something with all that "commercial intercourse" talk, though…
As such, an annulment through a state government is not the same thing as a religious annulment. That will be between you, your not-as-significant other, and the other strange person in black robes.
The state of Massachusetts does not have a statute of limitations for annulments. You can read the relevant MA laws governing annulment for yourself at General Laws c. 207 § 14 – also see this descriptive index of Chapter 207.
Of course, the law is what courts decide the law means, so you must look at how the courts rule on these laws. According to case law, here are the limits they've judged apply to claims of fraud (i.e., claims which do not annul marriages):
- Pre-marital concealment of assets or debts
- Pre-marital concealment of health conditions (unless they are communicable)
- Lies pertaining to previous marriages and divorces
How to Get a Marriage Annulled in MA
According to the G.L. c. 207, Section 8, nothing must be done if the solemnized marriage was prohibited for the following reasons:
- Consanguinity or affinity between parties (close blood relation)
- Either of them "having a former wife or husband living"
In these cases, the marriage is void without a judgment or other legal process. You might also have a look at Section 19 and Section 20 to see if the proper process was even followed according to the filing process under the commonwealth's general laws.
It's easier to get an annulment when both partners agree it's in their best interests, but it's not necessary. You can seek an annulment by yourself if you have to.
What you must obtain from the court system of the state of Massachusetts is a "judgment of nullity." These are granted upon proof of claim and can only be applied when the plaintiff had a domicile within the Massachusetts commonwealth within the five years preceding the commencement of the action. An exception to that is if the courts find that the plaintiff "removed into" MA state for the specific purposes of getting the annulment.
To begin this process, you'll need the correct annulment forms, which can be found on the helpful Annulment portal at Mass.gov. There may be "ex parte" hearings, where only one of the parties is present, to determine the nature of the proof being used to justify the annulment action. Because marriages are presumptively valid until shown otherwise, a preponderance of the evidence is necessary (this is easier to meet than evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt" – but the Massachusetts courts don't make it too easy to meet their definition of the preponderance of the evidence, either, in annulment petitions).
If your partner-in-name resists your attempts to have the marriage declared officially annulled, they have the option to seek action affirming the marriage. Note that Massachusetts applies its marriage laws to same-sex marriages.
Annulment costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars (usually not too much more than $5,000 at most). This is the most typical process involving lawyers' fees and possibly deliberately drawn-out processes in the interest of charging unwitting people for maximum billable hours.
What Happens After an Annulment in MA?
A successful annulment action will result in a note of the annulment judgment being made in the margins of any marriage certificate by the commissioner of public health (and every clerk or registrar who received a copy). This order needs to be given to the commissioner, clerk, and/or registrar of every city or town in the commonwealth where the newly annuled party lived at the time.
If children are involved, the courts will give them consideration equal to children of divorcees most of the time, and treat them as though they were born out of wedlock in others. In any case, the biological parents will still be held legally liable for their children under the same laws as for a divorce. See G.L. c. 207 Section 18.
How property and debts are handled can be quite tricky, and you can read how your unique situation will probably be handled by researching the state of Massachusetts' Session Laws Chapter 521, Part 8, Section 2-802.
Next Steps for Marriage Annulment in MA if You Need More Help
If your situation is more complicated, your (not-so-much-of-a) partner is making it difficult, or the public servants in your jurisdiction are resisting your efforts, it may be necessary to hire the help of a lawyer – or find some other way of streamlining the process.
Because Massachusetts courts can be particularly resistant to granting marriage annulments, it's best to ensure you put forward only the best attempt from the beginning. If you've already made some efforts before getting second thoughts about your chances of success, it's still not too late. DoNotPay specializes in approaching legal matters in a functional and no-nonsense way that the courts appreciate because they speak the language of efficiency.
Solve Your MA Marriage Annulment Application Instantly With the Help of DoNotPay
DoNotPay can help petition the courts on your behalf and ensure you have the best chances of receiving an annulment in MA–all for about less than 1/10th of the cost of an average lawyer's single hour of time. DoNotPay can draft the perfect letter for Massachusetts family court if you are ready to petition for your annulment, or give you a useful annulment info sheet to help you plan where you are in the process and what your best options are. It can be very overwhelming to have to do all this yourself, and it's important to have at least a compass to guide you or at most a service to do as much of this as possible for you.
It only takes 3 steps:
- Search for Annulment on the DoNotPay website.
- Kick off the process to see if your marriage is eligible for an annulment.
- Answer some specific questions about your marriage and see if your state law allows for an annulment.
DoNotPay Also Works Across All States
DoNotPay can relay your best evidence for an annulment in any state court just as it can for Massachusetts.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
DoNotPay is a full-suite bureaucracy-simplification machine. See DoNotPay’s other great services, all available to its members at the same flat rate:
- Virtual credit cards
- Find missing money
- Simplify insurance claims
- Notarize any document
- Stop stalking and harassment
- Streamline small claims court
Imagine having all this and more at your disposal with DoNotPay.