Filing for divorce in Michigan generates many questions for those seeking divorce. There are lots of rumors and misconceptions about the divorce process that give people false hope or unnecessary despair. In this article, we continue to answer some of the most common questions fielded at our Michigan family law office. If you don’t find an answer here to your question about Michigan divorces, please see our previous article on answers to Common Questions when Filing for Divorce in Michigan.
What is a “no-fault” divorce under Michigan law?
In Michigan, one spouse does not have to prove that the other spouse was at fault for the break-down of the marriage through infidelity, abandonment or similar behavior. Instead, one spouse simply has to testify that “the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved,” in order for a divorce to be granted. However, if either spouse has engaged in behavior that contributed to the break-down of the marriage, that behavior may come into play in determining child custody, spousal support or maintenance, and division of property.
On what grounds can I divorce my spouse in Michigan?
Because Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, no “grounds” are needed to seek a divorce. The simple claim that the marriage has broken down and is irreparable is enough.
Will I have to go to court during my divorce?
At least one spouse will have to appear at court to testify on the record that the marriage has broken down and is irreparable before the judge can finalize the divorce. If there are no contested issues in the divorce, such as disagreements about property division or child custody, it is possible to avoid any further court appearances. However, most divorce cases have at least one court hearing. If children are involved a court appearance is unavoidable.
Does Michigan allow legal separation?
The arrangement often referred to as “legal separation” is called “separate maintenance” in Michigan. Separate maintenance functions much like a divorce in that the spouses live apart, divide property, one spouse may pay maintenance to the other as a form of spousal support, and custody of children along with visitation schedule is decided. The main difference is that the parties remain legally married, and neither spouse is allowed to remarry. A separate maintenance arrangement is designed to allow spouses in a troubled marriage to determine whether divorce is the right course of action. Separation may also be granted for couples whose religion does not allow them to divorce. Note that if one spouse files for divorce while the other files for separate maintenance, only the divorce suit will be considered.
How is property divided between spouses in a Michigan divorce?
The best way to divide property between spouses is to reach an agreement with the other spouse outside of court. Doing so allows the divorcing spouses more freedom in how property is divided and may avoid a painful trial. If divorcing spouses cannot reach an agreement, there will be a trial and the judge will decide how property gets divided. Usually a family law judge will start with the assumption that all property will be divided equally between the spouses. The judge then considers several factors to determine whether one spouse should receive more than the other and which property will go to each spouse. Factors taken into consideration include:
- Length of marriage and the contributions of each spouse
- Whether one spouse is dependent on the other
- Income and earning ability of each spouse
- Circumstances and needs of each spouse
- Past conduct of each spouse and their relationships
Will I have to pay spousal support/maintenance to my spouse or will my spouse pay spousal support/maintenance to me?
In Michigan, one spouse may pay spousal support to the other if the judge believes it is appropriate. Michigan law has no parameter or formula for determining whether one spouse will pay spousal support to the other or how much spousal support will be. It is entirely at the judge’s discretion. However, factors that will be considered are much the same as those considered in dividing property. Spousal support can be permanent until death or remarriage of the receiving spouse. Support can also be temporary, continuing for a period of time (usually several years) to allow the receiving spouse opportunity to get on his/her feet financially.
Can’t Find an Answer to Your Question About Divorce or Child Custody?
If you have a question about filing for divorce in Michigan that isn’t included in this article, please take a look at our previous article: Common Questions When Filing for Divorce in Michigan. Or call our office and Metro Detroit family law and divorce attorney Carlo J. Martina can answer your questions about divorce and child custody matters. Mr. Martina can also represent you in all family law and divorce proceedings to ensure your rights and interests are protected.
Call Michigan divorce lawyer Carlo J. Martina today at (734) 254-1140 to schedule a consultation.