When you are unhappy in your marriage, you might be thinking about ending the relationship. For many Michigan couples, the obvious way to end a marriage is to file for divorce. Some people, however, want to know if they can simply have a marriage “annulled,” moving forward as if the legal relationship had not happened in the first place. It is extremely important to distinguish between divorce and annulment, however.
Filing for divorce is a way of legally dissolving a legal relationship, while an annulment is a way of officially ending a relationship that was never legally valid in the first place. To be clear, divorce and annulment are not interchangeable, regardless of the amount of time you were married or whether there are children from the marriage. What do you need to know about seeking a divorce (MCL Chapter 552) versus an annulment? We will tell you more about each and the difference between them.
What is an Annulment in Michigan?
An annulment is a process by which a couple who is married says that the marriage was not valid in the first place, and thus the legal marriage did not exist. Some people ask their divorce lawyers if they can seek an annulment instead of a divorce because they have heard it is faster, or because they were married for such a short time, or because they did not have any children with their spouse. In short, none of these reasons are grounds for an annulment. What are some of the reasons that Michigan law allows for an annulment? The following are some of the key reasons why a marriage can be annulled:
- One or both parties was underage at the time of the marriage: If you are under the age of 16, Michigan law says that you cannot get married unless there is a court order that says the marriage is allowed. One exception to this “underage” rule is that if two people get married before one or both reach the age of 16, they cannot declare the marriage invalid through annulment if they continue to live together as husband and wife after reaching the age of 16 (otherwise known as the age of consent).
- Force or fraud: both parties who are getting married must consent to the marriage, and if one of the party’s consent was obtained through force or fraud, then an annulment may be possible.
- Incapacity: both parties must be capable of physical and mental consent to a marriage. If either party is incapacitated at the time of the marriage, it may be possible to get an annulment.
- Bigamous relationship: when two people get married, neither can be already married to another person. If one of the parties already was married at the time of the marriage, then the second marriage is invalid.
Unlike annulment, divorce is intended for two people who entered into a valid marriage and who now want to dissolve that legal relationship. Divorce and annulment, generally speaking, are mutually exclusive.
How a Michigan Divorce Lawyer Can Help You
If you are married and need help determining whether you are eligible to file for divorce, an experienced divorce lawyer in Michigan can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins to learn more about our services.