The major difference between a divorce and an annulment is that an annulment nullifies a marriage, whereas a divorce simply terminates it.
There are number of reasons that one may seek out an annulment rather than a divorce. If the marriage was officiated under terms that were not legal, for example, then an annulment may be sought out. Annulments are also common among religious groups, since divorce is often seen as sinful.
The following list from DivorceNet.com outlines the valid grounds for annulment in Massachusetts.
Grounds For an Annulment
In Massachusetts, you will have to show one of the following “grounds” reasons for an annulment:
- the spouses are related closer than first cousin, or the spouse of a close relative
- one spouse had a living husband or wife at the time of marriage
- one spouse defrauded the other to convince them to marry
- one spouse is impotent
- one spouse coerced the other spouse to get married
- one spouse is mentally incompetent
- one spouse hid a contagious disease
- one spouse is underage, or
- any other reason that the marriage should be annulled.
It is important to note that the above instances must have occurred before the marriage. If the spouse becomes mentally incompetent during the course of the marriage, for example, then this is not proper grounds for annulment. Speak with an attorney to learn more about the particulars of whether or not a specific situation qualifies for annulment.
In order to get an annulment, one or both parties must file a Complaint for Annulment at the probate and family court. If the annulment is successful, then the marriage will dissolve and legally be seen as if it had never happened.
In Massachusetts, when an annulment is granted, the judge has the right to choose (as in a divorce) what should be implemented with matters of child custody. However, Massachusetts court rarely grants annulments without heavy proof that the marriage was, in fact, invalid. If an annulment is something that you are interested in obtaining, you will most likely need a lawyer to assist you. The attorneys at Revelli & Luzzo would be happy to help you, so contact us today.