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What is a legal marriage in Michigan?

When two people decide to marry, it can be a joyous event. Even though people typically do not think about the legalities of marriage or the potential family law issues, generally it is important to have a basic understanding of what the law says about what a valid legal marriage is and the procedure involved. In order for a marriage to be considered valid in Michigan, the age of the parties matters, and any marriage of an individual under the age of 16 is consider to be void. In Michigan marriage is defined as a civil contract between a consenting man and woman.

However, the law clarifies that simply consenting to marry is not enough. Consent must be effectuated by getting a marriage license. It is very important to keep in mind that presently Michigan does not recognize same-sex marriage and any union between same-sex couples is considered invalid.

Additional, for a marriage to be legal between a man and woman, the individual cannot marry a family relation. The law specifically lists which family relations the individual is prohibited from marrying. For instance, a person is prohibited from marrying a brother or sister. Bigamy, which means that an individual cannot be married to two different people at the same, is prohibited under law and will not be recognized as a legal marriage.

For a marriage to be considered valid, after a man and woman decide to marry they must declare in the presence of at least two witnesses that they take each other as husband and wife. The two witnesses requirement is in addition to the officiant - the person who solemnizes the marriage. An officiant can be district court judge, a religious practitioner or a person authorized to solemnize a marriage.

Although no specific form is required to get married, a marriage certificate must be filed with court and it is considered to proof that the marriage has occurred and is a legal marriage. In the event a marriage is not deemed a legal and valid marriage, the parties can seek an annulment.

Source: Michigan Legislature, "Chapter 83 - Of marriage and the solemnization thereof," Accessed June 8, 2015

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The Smith Law Offices, P.C.
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