Divorces and Annulments: What are the Permissible Grounds for Each in Michigan?

If you live in Michigan and are contemplating ending your marriage you should be aware that there are two different ways in which this can legally be accomplished. The first way is by obtaining an annulment, which is used to dissolve a marriage that is invalid for some reason. When a couple gets an annulment their marriage is dissolved and legally never existed because it was technically never valid in the first place. The second way is by getting divorced, which is a legal process that operates to end a valid marriage. Each state has its own laws that dictate when a married couple is eligible to have their marriage annulled or ended via a divorce. This article provides a brief overview of the permissible grounds for obtaining an annulment or a divorce in Michigan.

Grounds for Obtaining an Annulment in Michigan

Either spouse can apply for an annulment in Michigan if they can show that their marriage is legally invalid for one of the following reasons:

  • The Spouses are Related to Each Other: MLC 551.3 and MLC 551.4 prohibits people who are related to each other, either by blood or by marriage, from getting married in Michigan if they are related closer than second cousins.

  • Marital Consent Was Obtained Via Force or Fraud: If one spouse consented to the marriage due to force or fraud then the marriage is invalid. However, MLC 552.37 notes that if the couple voluntarily cohabitated as husband and wife at any point after discovery of the fraud or force then their annulment petition may be denied.

  • Bigamy: MLC 551.5 holds that a marriage in Michigan is invalid due to bigamy if either the husband or the wife was married to someone else at the time that their subsequent marriage was entered into.

  • Age of Consent: In Michigan, individuals under the age of 16 are prohibited from getting married, unless they have special permission from the court. Under MLC 551.51 an underage marriage is invalid and can be annulled unless the couple voluntarily choose to live together as husband and wife after the underage spouse(s) reached the age of consent.

  • Physical or Mental Incapacity: In Michigan a marriage can generally be annulled if one or both spouses lacked the physical or mental capacity necessary to enter into a marriage. However, if the couple continues to live together as husband and wife after the previously incapacitated spouse becomes capable then their marriage can not be annulled.

Grounds for Obtaining a Divorce in Michigan

While not many marriages in Michigan are eligible for annulment under the criteria listed above, almost any willing couple can obtain a divorce in Michigan. This is because Michigan is a "no-fault" divorce state. This means that while some other states require one spouse to accuse the other spouse of some sort of wrongdoing before the state will issue the couple a divorce, married couples in Michigan can essentially obtain a divorce simply because they no longer wish to be married. The only ground for divorce is that there must have been a "breakdown of the marriage relationship" and that is it unlikely that the marriage can be preserved.

Need Legal Advice?

Whether you are considering filing for divorce or petitioning the court for an annulment, it is important that you have a competent family law attorney by your side. Mr. Michael A. Robbins is a nationally known divorce and family law practitioner who has years of experience representing clients throughout Michigan. If you would like to discuss your case with Mr. Robbins call his Bloomfield Hills office at (248) 646-7980 today.