Annulment is a civil court process that declares a marriage never existed. You can only get an annulment in very limited situations.
This process should not be confused with a religious annulment, which can only be granted through your clergy. A religious annulment has no legal effect on your marital status.
Many people think an annulment is an easier or quicker alternative to getting a divorce, but this is simply not true. Because the situations in which an annulment could be granted are limited and very specific, you should seek the help of a lawyer.
A spouse may seek an annulment if the marriage is invalid. In Michigan, a marriage may be invalid due to any of the following:
Force or Fraud
When consent of one spouse was obtained by force or fraud, and the husband and wife did not live together voluntarily after the marriage, then the marriage may be annulled. Examples of fraud include:
- a woman who knows she is unable to have children and does not tell the husband before getting married
- a woman who is pregnant by another man and the soon-to-be husband didn’t know she was pregnant at time of marriage, and
- one spouse enters marriage intending to never have sex and never have children and didn’t tell the other spouse of this intention.
If an annulment is granted for force or fraud, custody of children from the marriage will be given to the innocent parent.
Bigamy happens when one spouse was already married to another living person at the time of the second (or subsequent) marriage. This type of marriage is completely void.
In Michigan, persons under age of 16 are not allowed to get married unless there is permission from a signed court order. However, if the husband and wife freely live together as husband and wife after reaching age of consent, then the marriage becomes valid.
Incapacity can include physical incapacity and mental incapacity. If one spouse suffered from a physical incapacity, defect or infirmity at the time of the marriage, the marriage may be annulled if a case is brought to court within two years of the marriage date. If one spouse was mentally incapable of entering into marriage, another person may file the annulment case on behalf of the incapable person. However, if either spouse who was incapable at the time of marriage later becomes capable and the couple continues to live together, then the marriage will become valid.
A marriage is invalid if it's between a man and woman who are related closer than first cousins, including stepfamily relations.
When a marriage is invalid in one or more ways, a spouse may file papers for an annulment in the circuit court of the county where either spouse lives. Because annulment is a complicated claim to make, you should seek the help of a lawyer to file your case.
When a judge orders a marriage annulled, the effect is that the marriage never existed and that the couple was never married. This is different from divorce, where a marriage exists but is then ended by a court order.
Children of an annulled marriage are considered legitimate children of the marriage and the husband and wife are eligible to seek court orders on child custody, visitation and child support. If one spouse was underage or incapable of entering the marriage, the children are the legitimate children of the capable spouse.
A judge may order distribution of real estate, assets and other property acquired during the marriage. A judge may also award post-separation support (payments to one spouse made by the other spouse). However, permanent alimony is not available when a marriage is annulled.