Can a spouse still request alimony after an annulment?

| Mar 20, 2015 | Family Law

If you’re a frequent reader of our blog and read last week’s post that asked the question about the difference between a divorce and an annulment, then you know that annulments differ from divorces because it treats a marriage as if it never happened. Although an annulment does not affect child support obligations, it can affect other aspects associated with ending a marriage, like property division and requests for alimony.

This week, we’d like to follow up on that post by asking another question: can a spouse still request alimony after an annulment? If the marriage is treated like it never happened, most people would assume the answer is no. But because of the complexity of the law, the issue may not be as simple to remedy as you think.

The answer to this question is a tricky one because the courts must rely on the direction of the law. But if Massachusetts’ laws are in anyway absent regarding this legal issue or are in anyway unclear about how to proceed on it, the courts must turn to case law for answers.

If such a question were to arise in Nevada for example, the courts would look to the case of Williams v. Williams. This case looks at the putative spouse doctrine, which can award assets to a spouse after an annulment if they have entered into the marriage under good faith, and whether it can be applied to spousal support. The court ruled that it did not, citing state statutes as the reason why.

Unfortunately, this case is outside of our jurisdiction, meaning a Massachusetts court may not be able to use it to resolve an annulment proceeding where this question is asked. Our courts must instead rely on our own statutes and case law in order to explain whether spousal support may be rewarded.

Skilled lawyers, such as those here at Seder & Chandler, LLP, who have considerable experience handling complex family law issues are valuable in cases like this because they may be able to help the courts find the particular laws and cases necessary to address the issue at hand. They can also act as an advocate for a spouse who may not have the same legal knowledge necessary to help their case reach a favorable resolution.