Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Annulment: Grounds for Annulment and the Pros and Cons

By: Carole L. Chiamp

There are differences between having a marriage annulled or receiving a divorce.  An annulment can only be given for very specific reasons.  A divorce is granted for a breakdown in the marriage.

    The grounds for annulment in Michigan are as follows:

    1.    Prior spouse of a party: a marriage is void if it is performed while one of the parties is currently married to someone else. (Bigamy)

    2.    Relationships of consanguinity and affinity: marriages between parties related within certain degrees of consanguinity or affinity are prohibited (i.e. mother and son, brother and sister, etc.)

    3.    Lack of consent: marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman only.  Like any contract, consent to the contract is essential.

    4.    Nonage: A person must be at least 18 years old to be legally capable of entering into a marriage.  A 16-year-old can be married with the written consent of his/her parents.

    5.    Mental incompetence: a marriage is void if a party was not capable of contracting at the time of the solemnization.

    6.    Fraud and duress: a party must consent freely.  If the party was threatened or forced to enter into a marriage, the marriage is void.

    7.    Sterility or impotency: a marriage in which one of the parties has a physical incapacity to have children is valid until the other party seeks a judicial decree to annul it (not to exceed two years from the date of the marriage).

    8.    Other grounds in which the court deems it just to award an annulment.

    A person should carefully review whether an annulment is in their best interest.

    The following are the pros of an annulment proceeding:

    ●    Starting a new marriage as if it were a first marriage may have a positive psychological impact.

    ●    Any signs of being divorced is avoided.

    ●    Spousal support payments from a prior marriage that were terminated on remarriage may be reinstated if the second marriage is annulled.

    ●    Pension, social security or insurance benefits due from a prior marriage but discontinued at the time of this marriage may be reinstated.

    ●    An annulment nullifies all interfamily ties as though they never existed.

    ●    There are no lengthy residency requirements.

    ●    There is no 60-day mandatory waiting period before a hearing.

    The following are the cons of an annulment:

    ●    Spousal support is hardly ever granted.

    ●    The woman has no dower rights in her husband’s property.

    ●    Annulment can be barred by estoppel, prior knowledge, condonation, or in pari delicto which are all defenses which may be raised.

    ●    The proof required for annulment might be more difficult to obtain than proof required in a no-fault divorce action.

    ●    A spouse’s right to social security retirement and disability benefits is extinguished.

    Sometimes an annulment is filed along with a divorce action so that, should the court find that an annulment is not warranted, a divorce is granted instead.

    Generally an annulment will cost no more than a divorce as it is filed with the court in the same document with the request for divorce.