Married at First Sight star Michael Watson has filed for annulment of his marriage to Meka Jones, claiming he was defrauded into marriage by the reality show.
Michael filed for annulment or divorce from Meka last month and made the allegation in his court filing that has been exclusively obtained by Reality TV World.
According to Michael’s court complaint — which asks for “annulment or, in the alternative, limited divorce” — he believed Married at First Sight’s matchmaking experts intended to select someone who would be “compatible with him in order to establish a committed and lasting marriage.”
However, the complaint claims that Michael now believes he was defrauded by Married at First Sight and the “actual goal” was to put him into a marriage that would create “drama and excitement” for television.
“Given everything that has transpired between then and now, [Michael] now believes he was defrauded into this process and the legal marriage that ensued, as it appears that the actual goal of the ‘experiment’ was not to form lasting, committed unions but rather to create drama and excitement for television ratings,” Michael’s attorney wrote in the filing.
If he had known that, Michael would not have married Meka, he claims.
“Had [Michael] been aware of that prior to agreeing to participate, [he] would not have agreed to participate, and would not have legally married [Meka],” the filing states.
While the season is only airing on Lifetime now, Married at First Sight’s tenth season was filmed in the Washington, D.C. area late last year.
Michael and Meka were married on August 5, according to his court filing, and “officially separated” on October 1.
The timing suggests Michael and Meka decided to split on “Decision Day”, the final day of the season’s eight-week filming period in which each Married at First Sight participant must decide if they want to remain married to their new spouse or get a divorce.
However, it is also possible Michael and Meka professed plans to remain together while filming “Decision Day” but then opted to split shortly afterwards.
In addition to alleging he was defrauded by the show, Michael’s complaint also claims he discovered Meka’s legal name was actually Kwaneja Jones at the time of their marriage and throughout the Married at First Sight season’s production.
Meka had allegedly filed to legally change her name to Meka Jones in May 2019, however the court order finalizing her name change wasn’t issued until January 17, 2020.
Michael’s complaint was filed on January 21, less than three weeks after fellow Married at First Sight Season 10 co-star Brandon Reid similarly filed for annulment from wife Taylor Dunklin.
As Reality TV World exclusively reported last month, Brandon’s filing alleges Taylor committed adultery during their marriage and only participated in Married at First Sight for publicity and exposure.
Many Married at First Sight couples have filed for divorce throughout the show’s previous seasons, however, prior to Brandon (and now Michael), no MAFS participant is believed to have attempted to end their marriage via annulment instead of divorce as the show reportedly prohibits annulment.
As previously reported, whether the annulment requests will be successful is uncertain given annulments have very specific requirements.
While Married at First Sight has billed Washington, D.C. as Season 10’s location, some of the cast members actually live outside the District of Columbia in nearby Maryland, including Meka and Taylor.
As such, both Michael and Brandon filed in Maryland.
According to the DivorceNet website, there are only six valid grounds for marriage annulment in the state of Maryland.
Four of the six valid grounds are bigamy, mental incapacitation, spouses who have a blood relationship closer than first cousins, or spouses who were underage and married without parental consent.
The remaining two grounds require that one spouse coerced the other spouse into getting married, or that one spouse defrauded the other to convince them to get married.
In addition, if a spouse wants the marriage annulled because they were coerced into the marriage, Maryland requires that the coercion existed at the time of the actual ceremony and the spouse was in fear of great bodily harm, according to DivorceNet.
Additional requirements also reportedly exist for spouses seeking an annulment on the grounds of fraud such as Michael and Brandon are seeking.
“If a spouse wants the marriage to be annulled for fraud, the fraud has to be related to the essential elements of the marriage,” according to DivorceNet.
“It is not enough that one spouse lied about such as his or her financial situation, habits, temper or personality. For fraud to be a basis to annul a marriage, it must be something that affects the health or well-being of the parties or the offspring of the marriage.”
“Hiding a previous marriage and divorce is not enough to annul a marriage, but hiding prior insanity would be sufficient to annul a marriage. A wife hiding that she is pregnant by another man at the time of marriage would also be sufficient for an annulment.”
Recognizing his annulment request may not be granted, Michael’s filing ends by requesting the court “annul… or, in the alternative” grant a limited divorce to Michael (Brandon’s filing also does similarly).
News of Michael’s filing was first reported by the Instagram @Mafsfan account.
In addition to Michael and Meka and Brandon and Taylor, Married at First Sight’s tenth season also stars Katie Conrad and Derek Sherman, Jessica Studer and Austin Hurd, and Mindy Shiben and Zach Justice.
Married at First Sight airs Wednesdays at 8PM ET/PT on Lifetime.