If you had a hasty marriage and then find out your new spouse is a minor or has a serious mental illness, then you may want to get out of the marriage as if it never happened. The way to do this is to get an annulment. State laws determine which reasons are grounds for an annulment, as well as what types of marriages are prohibited entirely, such as marriage between close family members or bigamous marriages.
States prohibit incestuous marriages to some degree, direct family members are always off limits. Cousins are generally the dividing line for states, with cousin marriages aren’t accepted at all in some states and in others they’re absolutely valid. Maine has a unique cousin marriage law in that it’s totally fine as long as you go in with both eyes open because you’ve already had genetic counseling.
Other prohibited marriages in all states are bigamous ones. Even if you remarried many years after your spouse disappeared at war and was presumed dead, if he or she returns alive, that marriage is still valid. However, your new marriage is invalid.
Maine Specific Laws
Maine’s annulment and prohibited marriages laws are similar to other states, but it’s good to know the specifics for your state if you need to get out of a marriage and prefer to do so without a full on divorce, for either religious or financial reasons.
The following chart lists the basics on Maine’s annulment and prohibited marriage laws.
||Maine Code Revised Title 19-A, Sections 701: Prohibited Marriage and Sections 751-753: Void Marriages and Annulment
|Grounds for Annulment
||A marriage can be annulled for:
- Mental illness or retardation (intellectual disability) of sufficient degree
- Polygamous marriage
|Legitimacy of Children
||Irrelevant as “illegitimacy” is a constitutionally protected class now and being born out-of-wedlock isn’t used in modern culture to discriminate against a person.
Incestuous and polygamous marriages are prohibited in Maine. Marriages are considered incestuous if between ancestor and descendant, brother and sister, aunt and nephew, or uncle and niece.
In addition, marriages with person suffering from severe mental illness or mental retardation to the point they don’t have capacity to marry and their guardian did not approve the marriage are prohibited.
Also, out-of-state marriages to evade Maine’s law are prohibited.
||In 2012, Mainers voted to allow same-sex marriage, thus becoming the 8th state with lawful same-sex marriage. By 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court, in its Obergefell v. Hodges decision, extended the right to same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriage to all states.
||First cousins are prohibited from marrying unless they first obtain a physician's certificate of genetic counseling prior to the marriage.
|Common Law Marriage
||Common law marriages, which are marriages that didn’t go through the formally required steps to marry aren’t valid or recognized in Maine.
If you’re considering annulment or divorce in Maine, you may want to read up on the divorce laws in your state. If you have more questions about which options are open to you, you should consult with an experienced local divorce lawyer.
Note: State laws change frequently. Please contact a knowledgeable attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify these state family laws.
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