187 South Old Woodward Avenue
Suite 250
Birmingham, Michigan 48009
Call Today (248) 540-3800
Divorce / Family Law Specialists
Ronald J. Bajorek
& Associates

Non-Traditional and Non-Marriage Relationships

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a non-married couple or same sex couple in Michigan enter into a cohabitation agreement?
Yes.  In fact this is to be encouraged in case of subsequent separation.

Can one cohabiting party be awarded alimony?

Maybe.  In Michigan alimony (spousal support) is authorized by statute.  Since the statute only allows a court to award alimony in cases of a marriage, it cannot by implication grant it without the benefit of marriage.  However, the Michigan courts will enforce an agreement between an unmarried couple on proof of sufficient facts to show an agreement supported by additional independent consideration.  This means that there has to be proof of circumstances above and beyond an ordinary cohabitation relationship to almost resembling a business relationship.  

Annulment vs. Divorce

Can I get an annulment rather than a divorce?

Annulments in Michigan are very few and far between.  Nevertheless there is ample authority in Michigan to grant an annulment under the right circumstances.  Unlike divorce, annulment alleges that there was a legal defect invalidating the marriage and the marriage ceremony should be found null and void from the beginning.  The grounds to allege annulment are generally:  (1) one of the parties was under the legal age of consent at the time of the marriage; (2) fraud; (3) mental incapacity; (4) duress; (5) bigamy; (6) parties of the same sex; (7) the parties are related; (8) the marriage ceremony was mutually entered into in jest.

What about a child born of an annulled marriage?

Michigan law states that children born of an annulled marriage are still considered legitimate.

Can a party be awarded alimony from an annulled marriage? 

No.  The Michigan statute allows for an award of alimony for divorce cases only.  The court will however make a fair and equitable division of property and provide child support as necessary, but not spousal support. 

I am Catholic.  Can I get an annulment through the courts that would apply to my religious practice?

No.  The Catholic church has its own procedures and rules under canon law and you must apply for an annulment through your local diocese. 

What are the advantages of an annulment vs. divorce?

The advantages are:  (1) you avoid the stigma of being divorced; (2) alimony, pension, social security and insurance benefits owed from a prior marriage and discontinued at the time of the annulled marriage can be reinstated; (3) there are no residency requirements in Michigan for an annulment; (4) there is no waiting period for a court hearing for an annulment.

(248) 540-3800


Common law marriage – Common law marriage (where parties cohabitated and held themselves out as married) was abolished in Michigan in 1957.  Accordingly, common law marriage is no longer recognized in Michigan.  One exception is that Michigan will recognize common law marriage if the parties legally entered into in a state that does allow it (currently Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Montana, Kansas, Iowa, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Texas).  

Foreign marriages
– Michigan recognizes foreign marriages the same as if the ceremony had been performed in Michigan.  

Same sex marriages
– By constitutional amendment passed in 2004 Michigan currently does not recognize same sex marriages.  Neither does Michigan recognize same sex marriages performed in other states.  Also Michigan public employers are not allowed to provide health care benefits to employees’ same sex domestic partners.  However, many private companies currently provide domestic partner benefits.  The federal Defensive of Marriage Act states that marriage is a union of a man and woman and that a spouse is a husband or wife of the opposite sex but also provides that no state may be required to recognize a same sex marriage performed in another state.  Unlike Michigan many states have extended marital rights to same sex couples including Hawaii and Massachusetts.  In addition, some states have legalized civil unions which does not legalize same sex marriage but provides same sex couples with many advantages of marriage including use of domestic relations laws regarding annulment, divorce, child custody, child support, property division, the right to sue for wrongful death, medical rights including hospital visits, family leave benefits, joint state tax filings and property inheritance.   These states include Vermont, Hawaii, California and New Jersey.  However, the state of the law throughout the country is constantly fluctuating so that one is well advised to check the current state of the law in each jurisdiction.

Cohabitating couples
– Many couples simply live together without the benefit of a marriage license.  Often this will include purchasing a home together, joint bank accounts, pooling assets, purchasing furniture and appliances and even having children.  Seldom is this arrangement formalized in writing. If and when the couple part ways there is no divorce since there was never a marriage.  In Michigan the courts allow a remedy for cohabitating couples allowing them to sue based upon an expressed or implied contract.  This can also involve a suit for partition of any real estate, jointly owned property, a request to establish paternity (if disputed) of the children along with child support, custody and parenting time. 

Ronald J. Bajorek
187 South Old Woodward Avenue
Suite 250
Birmingham, Michigan 48009
Call Today (248) 540-3800
Located in the historic Birmingham Theatre Office Building 1 block south of Maple, in the heart of downtown Birmingham.

Providing comprehensive divorce representation throughout Michigan including cities of Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Franklin, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills, Huntington Woods, Troy, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Novi, Southfield, Royal Oak, Farmington Hills, Clarkston, Livonia, Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Commerce, Milford, Brighton, Grosse Pointe, Sterling Heights, Bloomfield Twp., Shelby Twp., Macomb, Ann Arbor, Lake Orion, Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County and Livingston County among others.

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