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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

An annulment is a court judgment that says your marriage was not legal.

That means the marriage has no legal force or binding effect.

What can I do if I think my marriage is not legal?

You can file a Complaint for Annulment. A Complaint for Annulment asks the Court to grant a Judgment of Annulment. A Judgment of Annulment declares the marriage not legal and without legal or binding effect.

What do I have to show the judge to get an annulment?

You have to show one of the following:

  1. Consanguinity: You are too closely related by blood. For example, you are brother and sister.
  2. Affinity: You are too closely related through marriage. For example, you are a father-in-law and daughter-in-law.
  3. Bigamy: One of you was already married to someone else when you married each other. But you cannot get an annulment if you knew about your partner’s other marriage when you got married.
  4. Age. One of you is under 18 years of age and did not get permission from your parents or a judge to marry.
  5. Capacity: One of you did not have the mental capacity to agree to marry. This can also mean one of you was high or drunk during the ceremony and could not consent to the marriage.
  6. Impotence: One of you is impotent. This means one of you can not perform sexually. Impotent does not mean being unable to have children.
  7. Fraud: You must show you did not have all the information. fraud going to the essence of the marriage contract”. For example, you got married just so you could avoid deportation but you acted like the marriage was real.


Not having had sex with your spouse is not a legal reason to get an annulment. You must show one of the 7 reasons listed above.

What if my marriage is annulled and we have kids together?

Children of parents who are too closely related by blood or marriage

Your children are the legal child of their mother but not of the father. It's like you were never married. See Common questions about paternity to learn more about your legal rights if you were not married to the parent of your child.

Children whose parents whose marriage was annulled because of incapacity. 

Incapacity includes being a minor. It also includes not having the mental capacity to consent to the marriage. Your children are the legal children of the parent with capacity at the time of marriage.

Children of parents whose marriage was annulled because one parent was already married. 

Your children are the legal children of the parent who was not already married at the time of the second marriage. The parent who was already married is not a legal parent.

If your marriage is annulled, the court can make orders relative to the care, custody and financial support of your children.

What do I file to get an annulment?


  • Complaint for Annulment.
  • Certificate of Absolute Divorce or Annulment
  • Military Affidavit
  • Affidavit of Care and Custody form (only if you have children)
  • Original or certified copy of Marriage Certificate (must be in English or have a certified translation)
Where do I file for an annulment?

If you both still live in the county where you last lived together, you have to file for annulment in the Probate and Family Court in that county.

If your spouse has moved out of that county, you can file in the county where you live or in the county where your spouse lives now.

What does it cost to file an annulment?

When you file an annulment, you have to pay:

  • a filing fee and surcharge $215,
  • a summons fee, and
  • a fee to the deputy sheriff or constable to serve the court papers to the other party.

If you cannot afford the costs of filing a case for separate support, you can ask the state to pay the fees. See Affidavit of indigency if you can't afford court costs.


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