An annulment legally erases your marriage and is much more difficult to obtain than divorce in Michigan. There are five legally acceptable reasons for annulment in Michigan:
- Bigamy. If you or your spouse were already married to someone else at the time you entered into a marriage together, your marriage can be annulled.
- Kinship. If you or your spouse are related to each other in a way prohibited by Michigan law (including siblings, cousins and stepparents), the marriage was not legally entered into and can be annulled.
- Incapacity. If either spouse was not able to make decisions for himself or herself or had a physical incapacity at the time the marriage was created, the marriage is invalid. If the spouse who was incapable at the time of the marriage later became capable and the couple stayed together, then the marriage cannot be annulled.
- Under age. If you or your spouse were under age 16 when you married (the legal age of consent in Michigan), you can get an annulment. If you continued to live together once the underage person was of age, then an annulment is not available.
- Fraud or duress. If you or your spouse agreed to the marriage because you were tricked, lied to or forced into giving consent, and you did not cohabit at all, then the marriage can be annulled.
Any children born into a marriage that is later annulled are legitimate and are legally children of both spouses. Custody of the children of the marriage can be determined as part of the annulment process. However, if one of the spouses is incapable or is underage, he or she cannot have custody of the child as long as the incapacity exists or until he or she is of legal age.
The annulment process is almost identical to the divorce process and requires filing of the correct papers and service according to Michigan law. If there are children of the marriage, the court can decide child support, using Michigan child support standards. Property acquired during the marriage can be distributed by the court in the annulment, as it is in a divorce. Spousal support, or alimony, is also available; however, permanent support cannot be ordered in an annulment case.
A legal annulment is completely different from a religious annulment. If you receive a legal annulment, your marriage is not annulled in the eyes of your religious institution. The opposite is also true: if you obtain a religious annulment, it is not considered a legal annulment. You should talk with your clergy member to determine the steps you need to take to obtain a religious annulment.
If you are considering divorce or annulment Michigan, make an appointment with Michigan family law attorney Paul J. Tafelski, P.C., to discuss your options.