Annulment means the marriage has been declared invalid; in essence it didn’t happen. This happens for two reasons. The marriage was void or voidable.
Void marriages are those that legally cannot happen. For example, in Michigan, people who are closely related, such as siblings or first cousins, may not marry. There is a list of ineligible people in the statute. There is no way to make this marriage legal.
Voidable marriages could be legal if intervening events had not occurred. For example, the parties are eligible to marry, but one was forced to marry the other or one party was underage and did not have parental consent. Important information, such as one party does not want children and the other does want them, was withheld before the marriage.
The person wishing to have the marriage annulled must demonstrate that once he or she found out about the ineligibility, that they ceased cohabiting with the other.
It takes a court filing to have the marriage annulled. This proceeding can be more complex than getting a divorce since the party asking for the annulment must prove that the marriage is void or voidable or eligible for annulment. Also, when you accuse your spouse of wrongdoing, there is generally pushback where he or she denies having done anything wrong, such as failed to disclose some vital information about their past. Most divorces are settled by agreement. You do not necessarily have to have a disputed hearing before a judge. Consequently, an annulment can take longer and cost more than a divorce.
If the parties have children, those children are a legitimate issue of the marriage. All the child issues, such as custody, parenting time and child support needs to be decided. Property acquired during the marriage is divided.
In some cultures, it’s important for a person to have an annulment to permit them to marry in the future. In such cases, an annulment is necessary. However, if there are not such cultural or religious considerations, a divorce may be preferable.