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Frequently Asked Questions about Annulment

Q.

How is an annulment different than a divorce or separate maintenance?

A.

In order for the Court to order a divorce or separate maintenance, the Judge needs to decide that there was a valid marriage that has "broken down" and that there is no reasonable possibility that it can be saved. In an annulment case, one of the parties is asking to Court to decide that there NEVER was a legal marriage in the first place.

Q.

How long do I have to be married in order for the Judge to decide that it is a legal marriage?

A.

The length of time that the people are married has nothing to do with whether it is a legal marriage or one that can be "annulled."

Q.

If the length of time doesn't matter, what are some of the reasons that a marriage might not be "legal?"

A.

There are some laws preventing certain people from getting married. For example, certain relatives cannot marry in Michigan. A person who already has a husband or wife cannot legally marry. There are also some laws that allow people to marry only if his or her legal guardian gives consent. These include adults who have been declared "legally incompetent" by the Probate Court. If one of these people does get married, the marriage is absolutely void.

Q.

Exactly, which relatives are prevented from marrying?

A.

A man cannot marry his mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, stepmother, grandfather's wife, son's wife, grandson's wife, wife's mother, wife's grandmother, wife's granddaughter, his sister, brother's daughter, sister's daughter, father's sister, mother's sister or a first cousin.

A woman cannot marry her father, grandfather, son, grandson, stepfather, grandmother's husband, daughter's husband, granddaughter's husband, husband's father, husband's grandfather, husband's son, brother, brother's son, sister's son, father's brother, mother's brother, or a first cousin.

Q.

Doesn't the law also say that you cannot get married without your parent's consent unless you are an adult?

A.

Yes. Michigan law provides that no one under 16 years old can get married even with the consent of a parent or legal guardian. (In some cases, traditionally if the girl was pregnant, a Probate Judge could give consent if one of the parties was under 16 years old; however, this is rarely done.) Before a marriage license can be issued to any person who is between 16 years old and 18 years old, the person must have a notarized statement of at least one parent giving consent to the marriage.

Q.

What are some other reasons that a marriage might not be "legal"?

A.

A marriage is not legal if one of the parties only agreed because they were forced or deliberately fooled into agreeing to the marriage.

Q.

Does that mean I can get an annulment if he promised to stop drinking if I married him or said he would buy me an engagement ring after we were married and didn't or . .?

A.

No. What the law mean by "fraud" is that person was mislead about the fact that they were agreeing to marriage some fact is hidden from the person that is important to having a marriage. For example, a woman is told that it is a "play practice" and then finds that it was a real wedding. The other kind of situation is where, knowing that the other man expects to have children of the marriage, doesn't tell him that her tubes have been tied.

Q.

When can the Court annul a marriage?

A.

If the marriage is not valid because the person was already married or a relative or "legally incompetent", the Court will declare that marriage absolutely void.

If one or both parties say that the marriage was not valid because they were under age or didn't have parental consent, the marriage can be annulled unless the couple continued to live together as husband and wife after they turned 18 years old.

If one party wants a marriage annulled because of force or fraud, it can be unless the parties lived together voluntarily as husband and wife after the fraud was discovered.

Q.

What if the marriage is annulled and there are children? Are they illegitimate?

A.

No. The law specifically provides that children born during a marriage that is annulled continue to be treated under the law as legitimate children of the parties. The Court can issue orders for custody, support and parenting time in a Judgment of Annulment the same as in a Judgment of Divorce or Separate Maintenance.

Q.

Is it easier to get an annulment than a divorce?

A.

No. The legal procedures and paperwork are about the same and, unlike "no fault" divorce, proving that one of the situations above is true and that there has not been any consent by living together afterward can sometimes be difficult

The information on this website is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice or representationYou should talk with an attorney if you have any questions about how this information applies to your own problem or facts.