When two people marry, the marriage is presumed valid. However, there may be some reasons that the marriage is not valid, and it may be important for a Court to annul the marriage, or formally declare it was or is invalid. It is important to understand that marriages are rarely annulled in Michigan, because there are a very narrow set of circumstances in which a court could find the marriage is or was invalid. Even if two consenting adults marry, but never live together, a marriage might still be considered “valid” and the spouses must go through a formal divorce proceeding to dissolve the marriage.
In some circumstances, the marriage is “void ab initio“, meaning, from the very beginning. In those circumstances the two persons did not have the legal capacity to enter into a valid marriage when the marriage was entered into. In other circumstances the marriage is valid when it occurred, but facts that transpire later give rise to invalidating it, such as the failure to conceive a child.
Some spouses may prefer annulling a marriage rather than divorcing to avoid any perceived stigma of divorce, to reinstate spousal support, insurance, pension, Social Security or otherwise from a prior divorce that was terminated because of the remarriage. Unlike divorce actions, there is no residency requirement before filing an action to annul a marriage, and there is no mandatory waiting period. However, some disadvantages to annulling a marriage are that spousal support is rarely granted upon dissolving that marriage and the facts may be very difficult to prove, resulting in the case being required to be re-filed as a divorce case anyway (which results in delay and additional attorney and filing fees).