Marriage is supposed to be a blissful experience, one that leaves both parties involved better for having met and joined together. But this isn’t always the case. We all know that some marriages end in divorce, but what do you do when your marriage was started on rocky legal grounds?
For that, you’ll want to seek an annulment. But how do you go about getting an annulment in Michigan? We’ll answer this question below, after first exploring the difference between an annulment and a divorce. With this difference clear in our heads, we’ll look at what grounds Michigan requires to grant an annulment.
What’s the Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce?
An annulment and a divorce are similar in that either one can free you from an unhealthy marriage. But they each free you from that marriage in a unique way. For most people, they’re going to need to seek a divorce.
This is because a divorce is a means through which to end a legal marriage. Legally speaking, a divorce fully endorses the marriage that it is ending; it says that this marriage occurred legally, everything about it is proper and by the books, but the two people involved in it have decided to move on from the original agreement. Therefore, they must agree to separate and go through the legal process of dissolving the marriage: divorce.
An annulment has a very different view of the marriage it is looking to dissolve. Where a divorce dissolves a legal union, an annulment declares that the marriage never existed in the first place. A marriage is a union and agreement between two people and an annulment is what is used to dissolve that agreement when it is found out that it was entered into in an unlawful fashion.
It is much harder to get an annulment than it is to get a divorce because there is only a limited number of circumstances in which an annulment can be effected. Let’s look at those situations next.
What are Grounds for Annulment in Michigan?
Annulments only cover the following five situations. If the reason you want to separate from your partner is not one of these five situations then chances are good that what you’ll need is a divorce.
Annulments in Michigan only cover:
- Force/Fraud: A marriage can only be legal if both people give their consent freely. If one party gets the consent of the other through force or fraud, then an annulment could dissolve the marriage. Examples of this include fraud such as not telling your partner you can’t have children or lying about the paternity of a child.
- Bigamy: This is what we call it when your spouse was already married to another person when they tied the knot with you. This marriage is entirely void and getting an annulment is appropriate.
- Under Age: In order to get married in Michigan, a person has to be sixteen years or older. However, a signed court order could allow for a younger individual to get married. An underage marriage can be annulled as long as husband and wife don’t freely live together as husband and wife after reaching the age of consent. If they do so, the marriage becomes valid and a divorce is needed to dissolve it.
- Incapacity: In cases where an individual is mentally incapable of entering into marriage then another individual can file for annulment on their behalf. If you or your spouse were physically incapable or mentally incapable at the time of the marriage then it can be annulled within two years of the marriage date. However, if you become capable and keep living together as husband and wife then the marriage will become valid.
- Kinship: If you find out that the person you married is related closer than a first cousin then the marriage is not valid. This is true whether the relation is through blood or through marriage, so step-relations are also invalid if they are closer than a step-first cousin.
How Do You Get an Annulment?
So long as you are able to meet the criteria that allow for an annulment, the actual process of getting one isn’t as complicated as you might fear. As the individual seeking the annulment, you would file papers in the circuit court of the county where you live.
The hard part here is not in filing itself, but in providing enough information to show the court that your marriage falls under one of the categories discussed previously. That’s where it pays to work with an experienced attorney that understands marriage, divorce, and annulment issues, like those you’ll find at A.D.A.M., the American Divorce Association for Men.
Once the annulment is ordered by a judge, it will be like the marriage never existed. In contrast, when you get a divorce, the marriage is considered to be over but it still continues to have existed and this will impact different aspects of life going forward. The annulment removes the marriage entirely.
How Can I be Certain that an Annulment is Right for Me?
If you are looking to end your marriage, but you doubt its validity, then you should reach out to us. We’ll find an experienced family attorney to listen to your situation so that they can advise you on the best possible course of action to take.