If you are seeking a divorce in Michigan there are laws and issues you should consider before proceeding, such as separate maintenance, grounds for divorce, annulment, residency requirements, and property division. If a divorce is granted in Michigan, the ex-spouses will be legally single and able to re-marry. It is important to contact a Michigan divorce attorney for further advice.
Legal Separation / Separate Maintenance
Michigan does not have “legal separation,” but Michigan does have a similar option for married persons called “separate maintenance.” This is similar to legal separation, as the spouses are no longer living together, but need to settle marital issues (property, custody). In Michigan, a party may bring an action for “separate maintenance” (in their local Circuit Court) on the same grounds as an action for divorce, but it will only be granted if the other party does not submit a claim for divorce. In that event, the case is heard as a divorce case. Separate maintenance in Michigan does not make you single, you are not able to re-marry – only a divorce ends a marriage.
Grounds For Divorce
Michigan follows the grounds theory of no-fault divorce (spouse is claiming the reason for divorce is not either spouse’s fault). “Grounds for divorce” is another way to say reason for divorce; you are stating a reason (grounds) as to why you are seeking the divorce. Your complaint for divorce should use the Michigan statutory language, “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.” You should not list any other grounds or reasons for wanting a divorce in the document you file with the court, which is called a Complaint for Divorce and Judgment of Divorce. You file this complaint with your local Circuit Court. Once the judge approves your divorce, you will become an unmarried person again. You should consider consulting a Michigan divorce attorney for advice in this matter.
Divorce Residency Requirements
In order to properly file for divorce in Michigan, one of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of Michigan for 180 days and a resident of the county in which the petition is filed for 10 days preceding the filing. The 10-day requirement is waived and the complaint may be filed in any county if the defendant was born in another country, there are children involved, and there is evidence supporting a belief that the children may be taken out of the country by the defendant. The Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court will be managing your paperwork with the court. You should direct any residency concerns to a Michigan divorce attorney.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
A procedure for uncontested divorce is available in Michigan if there are no children of the marriage under the age of 18 and the parties can agree on all other issues arising from the marriage, such as property division and spousal support. An uncontested divorce has a shorter waiting period (60 days) than a divorce with minor children or contested divorce.
An annulment is when a court declares your marriage legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. Although difficult to obtain, a marriage can be annulled due to many factors, including bigamy, venereal disease, sterility, or impotence, mental incompetence, fraud, or a marriage entered into as a joke. It is important to consult a Michigan divorce attorney if you are considering annulment.
Equitable Division of Marital Property
Michigan follows the marital property division system of “equitable distribution.” The Michigan court will determine the rights of each spouse to marital property such as real estate, vested pension, annuity, or retirement benefits. The court will award a party all or a portion of the property, either real or personal, owned by his or her spouse, as appears to the court to be equitable under all the circumstances of the case (”equitable distribution”), if it appears from the evidence in the case that the party contributed to the acquisition, improvement, or accumulation of the property. Property distribution will vary from case to case, it is important to discuss your concerns with a Michigan divorce attorney.
Links to Divorce Statutes