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Michigan Family Law Blog

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

How Do Annulments Work?

It is more difficult to get an annulment than a divorce in Michigan because an annulment is a legal process that “cancels” a marriage or treats it as if it never happened. After getting an annulment, either party can truthfully say that, as to that relationship, they never were married.

Because of this additional outcome, Michigan, like other states, only allows annulments in a few, limited situations. A Michigan family law attorney can answer your questions about how annulments work and handle your legal annulment.

Religious and Legal Annulments

Religious and legal annulments are entirely separate processes. Getting a religious annulment does not create a legal annulment. Getting a legal annulment does not give you a religious annulment. Both types of annulment have separate rules and procedures. You can pursue a legal annulment through the courts and a religious annulment through your religious organization.

The Legal Annulment Process in Michigan

The court procedure for an annulment is very similar to that of a divorce. The person requesting the annulment files the same papers with the court as they would for a divorce, the difference being that the documents ask the court to grant an annulment, rather than a divorce. The parties must file the same financial information with the court as they would with a divorce case.

Even though the court ultimately makes a finding that the marriage never happened when it grants an annulment, the court will handle some issues that arose because of the relationship; for example, the court can:

  • Award child support
  • Distribute the property the parties acquired during the relationship
  • Order the payment of spousal support, but not permanent support.

Michigan courts use the same standards for determining child support in divorce cases and annulments.

Grounds for Annulment in Michigan

Courts in Michigan only grant annulments in these situations:

  • Duress or fraud. If you or your spouse only consented to the marriage because of force, lies, or deceit, and you did not live together, the court can annul the marriage.
  • Age of legal consent. The age of legal consent to marry is 16 in Michigan. You can get an annulment if either of you were underage at the time of the marriage unless you continued to cohabit after that person reached 16 years of age.
  • Bigamy. If either you or your spouse was already married to someone else when you married each other, the judge can grant an annulment. Getting married while your divorce from someone else is still pending is bigamy.
  • Lack of capacity. If either you or your spouse lacked the legal capacity to make important decisions, such as entering into a contract or buying real estate, at the time of the marriage, a judge can annul the marriage. The situation does not qualify for an annulment if the parties cohabit after the previously incapacitated spouse achieves legal capacity.
  • Relationship. In Michigan, you cannot marry certain people closely related to you by blood or marriage. If you marry your parent, sibling, father-in-law, or some other prohibited relationship, the judge can grant a request for an annulment.

Getting an annulment is more challenging than a divorce. Contact our Michigan divorce lawyers today. We can help you navigate through the legal process of annulling your marriage.


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