Divorce is a common way to dissolve marriages. However, under certain circumstances, Michigan law will end a marriage by annulling it. Annulment is not the same as divorce. Some marriages are unlawful from their inception, meaning the spouses involved should never have married in the first place. Under such circumstances, a spouse can seek an annulment of the union.
As explained by FindLaw, Michigan law describes a number of grounds for people to try to annul their marriages. For one thing, spouses should enter into a marriage of their own free will. No one should enter into a union by force or through the use of fraud. In the event one spouse tricked or forced the other into a marriage, the state may declare the union invalid.
Additionally, some spouses marry but cannot consummate their marriage. Under state law, spouses may seek an annulment if they are unable to consummate a union. Annulment may also occur if one of the spouses suffers from mental incapacitation or what the law calls idiocy. Basically, if a person lacks the proper mental understanding to enter a marriage, the state may annul his or her union.
State law also forbids certain marriages. A person cannot marry a partner while already married to another, which is bigamy. Individuals also cannot marry close relatives. This would include siblings marrying each other, an aunt marrying a nephew, an uncle marrying a niece, or first cousins entering into a union. Marrying at the wrong age can also be a factor. Spouses may seek annulment if they married younger than legal age.
Not all situations that seemingly lead to annulment are crystal clear. Certain factors can complicate the ability of a couple to annul their marriage. For example, while state law allows for annulment due to an inability to consummate, the annulment should take place no more than two years following the marriage, so timing is important to successfully carry out an annulment.