The term “family law” often seems to be a synonym for divorce, as most family law attorneys focus primarily on divorce cases. In addition to divorce, family lawyers also represent clients in other proceedings, including child custody and Annulment. Annulment is different than a divorce, in that instead of concluding a marriage, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage never occurred. The length of time you have been married is not a factor; rather, a legal annulment is based upon the inability of one of the parties to marry at the time of the marriage or fraud in the contract of marriage. The experienced family attorneys at Neumann Law Group are here to answer any questions you may have about the possibility of obtaining an annulment.
In practice, annulment in Michigan can occur in several limited circumstances. First, you must be at least 16 years old to be married, and if you are under the age of 18, you must have your parents’ permission. If one of the married parties does not meet this requirement, the marriage can be annulled due to incapacity. Further, if the parties are close relatives—such as sibling, parent-child, or 1st cousin—the marriage may be set aside on the grounds of the incestuous relationship. Annulment also may be appropriate If one spouse was already legally married to another person at the time of the marriage. Marrying more than one person at the same time (polygamy) is generally illegal and may lead to an annulment.
Other rules involve some sort of fraud, lack of knowledge, or failure in the procedure of marriage. If the consent to marry was obtained under duress (shotgun wedding), the marriage may be annulled. If one of the parties concealed that they never intended to have sexual intercourse, or hid a criminal record involving “moral turpitude,” an annulment is available.
There are also archaic rule permitting annulment arising out of fertility. If a party conceals the fact that they cannot have children, the marriage can be set aside. Similarly, if one of the parties is unable to have children but doesn’t know it at the time of marriage, if the condition is discovered within two years, this can also stand as the basis for an annulment. Seeking an annulment in Michigan for lack of fertility may be a difficult practice, as state law contains no specific provisions to do so, but one of our qualified attorneys should be able to propose a resolution that works for our client while conforming to state law.
There are several reasons that a client may prefer an annulment over a divorce, including:
Declaration of Invalidity:
An annulment declares the marriage null and void, as if it never legally existed. This can be advantageous for individuals who may have strong religious or cultural beliefs against divorce.
Avoidance of Stigma:
In some cultural or religious contexts, divorce may carry a social stigma. Annulment, by declaring the marriage invalid from the outset, may be perceived differently and may not carry the same stigma.
Annulment may have different financial implications compared to divorce. Since an annulled marriage is considered void, there may be legal consequences for financial arrangements, property division, and spousal support. It is crucial to consult with a legal professional to understand the specific financial implications in your jurisdiction.
An annulment may have different implications for child custody compared to divorce. Since an annulled marriage is considered void, issues related to child custody and support may be treated differently.
Using annulment to dissolve a marriage is reserved for very particular circumstances, but many of the goals of an annulment can be obtained through a divorce proceeding. If you have a question about whether you may qualify for an annulment, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation. We represent clients statewide in all Michigan family law cases, and have offices in Traverse City, Detroit, and Grand Rapids. Call at 800-525-6386 or reach out through our website for a free case evaluation today.