Though more than 60 000 couples are getting married in Michigan every year, not all marriages last long. Usually, when people decide to end their marital relationship, they file for divorce. However, a marriage annulment is also an option in some specific situations. If you are curious about how a marriage can be annulled, what the grounds for annulment are, and how long the process takes, keep reading this article.
What Is Annulment?
A marriage annulment in Michigan is a legal process that declares a marriage invalid or void as if it never existed. Legal annulment shouldn’t be confused with a religious annulment. While the former focuses on the legal perspective of marriage, the latter pertains to the religious aspect and is granted by religious institutions or authorities independently of the legal process. Legal annulment doesn’t automatically lead to religious annulments and vice versa.
While some couples think that getting a marriage annulment is quicker and easier than filing for divorce, it’s not so. Besides, marriage can be annulled in a very limited number of cases.
Divorce vs. Annulment
Divorce and annulment are two legal processes that result in the end of a relationship. However, they differ significantly in terms of their definition, grounds, and legal consequences.
While divorce ends a valid marriage, an annulment declares that a marriage never legally occurred. To file for divorce in Michigan, a petitioner doesn’t have to prove that a partner committed wrongdoing that caused a marriage breakdown. In contrast, getting an annulment in Michigan is only possible on specific grounds that should be proved by reliable evidence.
In divorce, one party may be required to pay spousal support to the other party, depending on various factors, such as the length of the marriage, the parties’ income, and earning capacity. In an annulment, there is no permanent spousal support because the marriage is considered to have never existed. As for the division of marital property, it takes place both in divorce and marriage annulment cases. Concerning child-related issues, even if a marriage is annulled, children are considered legitimate, and the court will make decisions about custody, support, and visitation.
What Are the Grounds for Annulment in Michigan?
The common grounds for marriage annulment are:
- Fraud or Misrepresentation – one party agreed to marriage based on false information provided by the other party. The common cases are when one party lied about the ability or desire to have kids, concealed a criminal record, or intended to commit immigration fraud.
- Duress or Coercion – one party was forced into the marriage under threats by the other party.
- Bigamy – one party was already married to someone else at the time of marriage.
- Physical or Mental Incapacity – one or both parties were mentally incapable, e.g., due to illness or disability or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, to consent to the marriage.
- Consanguinity – the parties are closely related by blood.
- Underage – one or both parties were under 16 and didn’t have permission to marry from a parent or guardian.
- Improper ceremony – the person who performed the ceremony didn’t have the legal authority to do it.
One of the major rules for an annulment in Michigan is to prepare evidence supporting a person’s claim that a marriage never existed. It is important to note that in Michigan, there is no specific time limit for seeking an annulment except for cases that involve mental incapacity. If a person was incapable when the marriage was registered, the main requirement for annulment, in this case, is to address the court and fill out a petition for annulment within 2 years after marriage registration.
How soon a marriage can be annulled? If a person presents undeniable proof of marriage illegality based on the grounds listed above and the judge signs a court order for an annulment, such document comes into force immediately.
The Annulment Process
The annulment process in Michigan includes the following steps:
- Filing a petition. You must file a petition with the court to apply for an annulment. You must provide evidence to support your claim, such as witness testimony, medical records, summons, marriage certificate, etc.
- Serving the other party. A petitioner should serve a partner with a copy of Michigan annulment forms they filed with the court.
- Attending the court hearing. The court will schedule a hearing to determine whether a marriage can be qualified as invalid. Both parties will be able to present evidence and testimony to support their position.
- Waiting for the court order. If the court decides to annul a marriage, it will issue a court order declaring that the parties have never been married.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Marriage Annulled?
An annulment can take from several weeks to several months or even a year. The timelines depend on the complexity of the case, the court’s caseload, and the availability of evidence. Usually, an annulment is finalized faster than a divorce since there is no waiting period. However, the process of divorce in Michigan may take longer if the respondent disagrees that the marriage is invalid.
An annulment process can be more complicated than a divorce because a filing spouse has to prepare clear, irrefutable proof that the marriage is void. So, it may be helpful to address a family attorney who will guide you through the entire process.
Erik Smith is a well-known divorce specialist and writer at midivorcepapers.com with a background in marriage counseling and therapy. Having worked with countless couples, Erik brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his writing.