What Is Considered Fraud for Annulment in Michigan?

By Beverly Bird

In Michigan, as in most states, it may be easier to get a divorce than an annulment. This is particularly true if you're alleging fraud as grounds. The burden of proof to convince a court that you were deceived – and that you wouldn't have married otherwise – is considerable in this state. You'd also have to somehow prove what your spouse was thinking at the time you got married.

Annulment

Annulment differs from divorce in that, with an annulment, the court rules that your marriage never happened. By contrast, a divorce acknowledges that you were married, but ends the marriage. The Michigan Revised Statutes provide that under a few circumstances, a court can declare a marriage void because it shouldn’t have happened in the first place since the union is in violation of the law; for example, if you were underage when married or still married to your previous spouse. Michigan will also annul voidable marriages, those in which some issue existed at the time of your marriage that violates the integrity of the union.

Fraud as Grounds

Grounds for divorce happen after you get married, whereas grounds for annulment exist at the time you marry. Michigan recognizes fraud as grounds for annulment, but some rules apply. For example, if your spouse neglected to tell you that she was married four times before, this does not typically constitute fraud for purposes of an annulment because her lie doesn't invalidate your relationship. If she told you she was the president's daughter, this isn't necessarily fraud either – you could have verified the accuracy of this statement. The lie or misrepresentation must be something that is "wholly subversive to the true essence of the marriage relationship," according to the Michigan Court of Appeals. This might be the case if your spouse only married you to secure a green card, but you didn't know she wasn't a United States resident. Under Section 552.2 of the Michigan Revised Statutes, some instances of fraud can cause your marriage to be void – not voidable – if you never lived together after you married.

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Intentions of Spouse

Another component of using fraud as grounds for annulment in Michigan is that your spouse must never have intended the marriage to be "real." For example, if she was only marrying you for a green card, she probably did so without any intention of making the union work. If she knew she was still legally married to someone else, she was aware at the time of your wedding that your marriage was illegal and thus, not valid. Fraud must be more than misleading – it must be a deliberate attempt to deceive you or your spouse must have entered into the marriage with knowledge that sustaining it would be impossible.

An Option

Given the uphill battle of proving fraud as grounds for annulment in Michigan, it might be easier and much quicker to file for divorce instead – assuming you don't have strong religious or other reasons for wanting the court to declare that your marriage never existed. Michigan is a "pure" no-fault divorce state. As such, it does not recognize any fault grounds. You need only tell the court your marriage is broken and there's no hope of fixing it, and you can get a divorce without proving any misconduct on the part of your spouse – or what she was thinking at the time she committed the misconduct.

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What Goes to the Essence of Marriage in Annulment Cases?

References

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Requirements for an Annulment in Massachusetts

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t annul your marriage just because it was fleeting in duration. Each state’s legislative code sets specific guidelines for what constitutes an annullable marriage. In Massachusetts, the length of the marriage is not included in these guidelines. The state is stingy about granting annulments, and spouses often find it easier to file for a no-fault divorce instead. If your marriage qualifies, you would have to prove to the court one of seven grounds for annulment. This is sometimes difficult, whereas you don’t have to prove any ground to get a no-fault divorce.

The Limitations for Getting an Annulment

Very few couples can annul their marriages -- it's usually much simpler to divorce instead. In most states, annulment is confined to very specific grounds and deadlines – and you can't get an annulment simply because you were married for only a short period of time unless other factors exist. An annulment voids your marriage as if it never existed, and this sometimes imposes additional limitations.

Annulment Fraud & California Law

Not all marriages are valid in California. If one spouse uses fraud to induce the other to marry, an annulment may be granted by the court. Annulments have the effect of restoring the parties to a position as if the marriage never occurred. However, due to the availability of divorces, annulments are applicable only in limited circumstances and require more proof than is typically needed to dissolve a marriage.

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