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Michigan Annulments
Annulments in Michigan

An annulment is not an easier or quicker alternative to a divorce, contrary to what many people think. Courts grant annulments in limited circumstances.

An annulment means that the marriage never existed and that the couple was never married; a divorce means a valid marriage ended by a court order.

Children of an annulled marriage are legitimate. The partners may 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.

The court may distribute real estate, assets and other property acquired during the marriage. Permanent alimony is not available when a marriage is annulled, but a judge may award post-separation support.

Grounds

Most laws governing annulment of marriage in Michigan are listed under Section 552 of the Michigan Revised Statutes. The general grounds for annulments are:

  • Consanguinity, which is described under 551.3-4 of the Michigan revised statutes, means a person cannot marry their parent, sibling, grandparent, child, grandchild, stepparent, spouse of grandparent, spouse of child, spouse of grandchild, a cousin, or any of the other spouse’s relatives as listed above. A marriage is invalid if it's between a man and woman who are related closer than first cousins, including stepfamily relations.
  • Bigamy, defined under 551.5 of the statutes, states an annulment is required if either spouse is married to another person during the time of the second marriage.
  • Physical incapacity: An annulment is required under 552.39 of the statutes if either party was physically incapable of marrying. Incapacity includes physical incapacity and mental incapacity. If one spouse suffers 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 becomes valid.

Annulments of voidable marriages in Michigan may occur for additional reasons. In Michigan, a marriage may be invalid due to:

  • Force or Fraud: When one spouse obtains consent by force or fraud. If the partners did not live together after voluntarily marrying, the marriage is voidable. Examples of fraud include when a woman who knows she is unable to have children does not tell the husband before marrying him; a woman is pregnant by another man and her partner didn’t know it, and when one partner marries never intending to have sex and hides that intention from his or her partner. If an annulment is granted for force or fraud, custody of children from the marriage will be given to the innocent parent.
  • Under Age: Marriage for persons under age of 16 requires a 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.

Procedure

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, the filing spouse should seek legal assistance.

The filing spouse must complete several different forms depending on the grounds and file a petition with the probate court. All of the required papers for annulments of marriages in Michigan can be obtained in the local probate court.

The filing spouse pays fees for every form. Additional forms are required to establish temporary forms for child support, spousal support, or other issues. The filing partner can ask the court to send the documents to the respondent, or mail them, or ask a third party to deliver them.

The court holds a hearing, and the judge decides.

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