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Michigan Family Law Blog

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Annulment?

Posted by Cameron Goulding | Jun 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

Both a divorce and an annulment are actions to end a marriage. However, the requirements for seeking an annulment are different from the requirements for seeking a divorce. A Michigan divorce lawyer can be extremely helpful if you do not know whether to file for divorce or request an annulment to end your marriage.

What is an Annulment?

An annulment is a legal process of canceling a marriage or voiding a marriage that was not valid. If the court grants an annulment, it is as if you were never married to that person for all legal intents and purposes.

On the other hand, divorce is the legal process of ending a valid marriage. The courts recognize that the marriage was legally valid, but that the marital union is broken.

During the divorce process, the court determines issues such as property division, child support, custody, alimony, and time-sharing. However, in an annulment, the court finds that the marriage was invalid. Therefore, if the parties were not married, they could not have accumulated marital property or debt to divide. The same would be true for alimony. If the parties were never married, the spouses do not have a financial obligation to each other.

Issues related to children would be handled in the same manner in an annulment as they would be in a divorce. The children are legitimate, even though the parties were never legally married.

While it may sound appealing to go back in time so that you could change your mind about marrying your spouse, Michigan courts only grant annulments in certain cases.

Grounds for an Annulment in Michigan

To obtain an annulment of your marriage, you must meet very specific requirements. The laws in Michigan limit the reasons for declaring a marriage invalid.

Grounds for seeking an annulment in Michigan include:

  • Under 16 Years of Age — If either spouse is under the age of 16 years, the marriage may be annulled. However, if the parties continue to live together after both parties are of legal age for marriage, the marriage cannot be annulled.
  • Family Members — Michigan prohibits marriage between certain family members. For example, a marriage between siblings, stepparents, and cousins would not be valid and could be annulled.
  • Bigamy — If a person is legally married when he or she enters another marriage, the subsequent marriage is not valid and may be annulled.
  • Incapacity — A marriage may be annulled on the grounds of mental or physical incapacity. If the person with the incapacity becomes capable and the parties remain together, the marriage cannot be annulled.
  • Duress or Fraud — A spouse can request an annulment if he or she was forced into consenting to marriage. The same applies to a marriage that was entered into because of deception, tricks, or lies.
  • Impotence or Sterility — A party may receive an annulment if the other spouse is unable to have children at the time of the marriage or within two years of the date of the marriage.

Contact a Michigan Family Law Attorney for More Information

There could be other grounds for an annulment in some situations. Because an annulment could offer certain benefits and advantages, you may want to consult an experienced Michigan family law attorney to discuss all your options for ending a marriage before taking any action. Contact North Oakland Michigan Divorce Lawyer, Cameron C. Goulding, to schedule a consultation by calling (248) 608-4123, by email at [email protected] or through the website.

About the Author

Cameron Goulding

A native of Oakland County, Michigan, family lawyer Cameron C. Goulding has been providing counseling and legal services of the highest caliber to individuals and families in Southeastern Michigan for over 24 years. Mr. Goulding grew up in Oakland County, Michigan and graduated from Birmingham G...


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