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Massachusetts Marriage Laws

Marriage is essentially a legal commitment to another person. Marriage gives each spouse certain rights and responsibilities, as governed by each state's particular laws. While the procedure for getting married is also governed by state laws, all states require that individuals entering a marriage be of a certain age and have the legal capacity to make the decision.

Same-Sex Marriage in Massachusetts

Although there are still states that have laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, those laws became invalid as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts became legal much earlier, however. In 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts rendered a decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health declaring that the state couldn't deny same-sex couples the right to marry. The state started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting in May 2004

Overview of Massachusetts Marriage Laws

Statutes are a good source of information to learn more about the law, but they're rarely written in a clear and concise manner. For this reason, it's often helpful to also read a summary of statutes. In the following table you can find both a summary of marriage laws in Massachusetts as well as links to applicable statutes.

Statute(s) Massachusetts General Laws, Part II, Title II, Chapter 207, Section 1, et seq. (Marriage)
Age Requirements

An individual must be 18 years old to get married; however, minors can get married if they have a court order.

Prohibited Marriages

An individual is prohibited from marrying their:

  • Parent (including step-parent);
  • Sibling;
  • Child;
  • Grandparent (or their spouse);
  • Grandchild;
  • Aunt or Uncle;
  • Niece or Nephew;
  • Son or Daughter-in-Law;
  • Grandchild-in-Law;
  • Spouse's Grandparent;
  • Spouse's Child; and
  • Spouse's Grandchild.
Void Marriages

Any marriage prohibited because of blood relation, affinity, or either spouse already being married to someone else* is automatically void, meaning that a divorce or other legal process is unnecessary to invalidate the marriage.

*There are certain situations in which a marriage may be valid even though one spouse is already married. For details, please see Chapter 207, Section 6.

Related Statute(s)

Massachusetts General Laws, Part II, Title II, Chapter 209, Section 1, et seq. (Husband and Wife)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Massachusetts Marriage Laws: Related Resources

For additional information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links listed below.

Get Legal Help with Your Questions About Massachusetts Marriage Laws

It's important to know exactly what you're getting into when you marry another person. Although a lawyer can't tell you what kind of spouse your significant other will be, they can answer your legal questions about marriage and how it will impact your particular situation. So, if you have any questions about marriage laws in Massachusetts, it's best to speak with a skilled family law attorney near you.

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