To file for Divorce in Michigan, one of the spouses must have resided in the state for 180 days prior, and in the county where the action will be filed for 10 days immediately before filing, with the following exception. A person may file a Complaint for Divorce in any county in Michigan without fulfilling the 10-day requirement if all of the following criteria apply:
The Plaintiff, filing spouse, may file a Complaint for Divorce in the family division of the circuit court. The Defendant may file an Answer admitting the grounds for divorce or denying them without further explanation.
If the Defendant did not live in Michigan either when the Complaint for Divorce was filed or when the cause for divorce alleged in the Petition arose, in order for the court to issue a divorce decree, one of the following circumstances must occur:
Whenever any such order is served outside the state, proof of this service shall be made by the affidavit of the person who served the Defendant, made before a notary public, and shall have the certificate of the clerk of a court of record attached, certifying to the official character of the notary and the genuineness of his/her signature to the jurat of the affidavit.
If there are no minor children, there is a 60-day waiting period before a divorce can be granted. When there are minor children, the waiting period is generally six months. These cases may be referred to the friend of the court office for evaluation and recommendations regarding child support, custody, and parenting time.
When a decree of divorce is granted, at the request of the woman, the circuit court may decree to restore her birth name or the surname she legally bore prior to the marriage, or to allow her to adopt another surname if the change is not sought with any fraudulent or evil intent.
Michigan only provides no-fault grounds for divorce.
The court shall enter a judgment dissolving the bonds of matrimony if 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.
Michigan statutes state that the following marriages shall be deemed void, without any decree of divorce or other legal process:
The following are void marriages:
A party to a marriage who was not capable in law of contracting at the time of the marriage may bring an action to annul the marriage if the parties have not cohabitated as husband and wife after he/she became capable in law of contracting.
A suit to annul a marriage, on the ground of the physical incapacity of one of the parties, shall only be maintained by the injured party against the party whose incapacity is alleged, and must be brought within two years from the date of the marriage.
If a marriage is voidable, or the validity is doubted, either party may file a Petition or bill in the Circuit Court where one of the parties resides, or in the court of chancery, for annulment.
If the validity of any marriage is denied or doubted by either of the parties, the other party may file a bill or petition to affirm the marriage, and upon proof of the validity, the court will issue a decree or sentence of validity.
Michigan is an equitable distribution state. Upon annulment of a marriage, a divorce, or a judgment of separate maintenance, the court may make a further judgment for restoring to either party in whole, or in part, the real and personal estate that shall have come to either party by reason of the marriage, or for awarding to either party the equivalent value, to be paid by either party in money.
The circuit court may award to a party all or a portion of the real or personal property owned by his/her spouse, as deemed to be equitable under all circumstances of the case, it if appears from the evidence in the case that the party contributed to the acquisitions, improvement, or accumulation of the property. The decree, upon becoming final, shall have the same force and effect as a quitclaim deed of the real estate, if any, or a bill of sale of the personal property, if any, given by the party's spouse to the party.
When a Michigan court grants a judgment of divorce or separate maintenance, it shall include a provision in lieu of the dower of the wife in the property of the husband, which shall be in full satisfaction of all claims that the wife may have in any property that the husband owns or may own in the future or in which he may have an interest.
When a married couple own real estate as joint tenants or tenants by entirety, upon a divorce, they shall become tenants in common of the real estate, unless the ownership is determined differently by the divorce decree.
The court considers the following factors when distributing marital property.
A court may consider fault when dividing marital property.
In actions for divorce or legal separation the court may require either party to pay alimony for the suitable maintenance of the adverse party, to pay such sums as deemed proper and necessary to conserve any real or personal property owned by the parties or either of them, and to pay any sums necessary to enable the adverse party to carry on or defend the action during its pendency.
The following factors are considered when determining alimony awards:
An award of alimony may be terminated by the court upon remarriage of the receiving party, unless a contrary agreement is specifically stated in the judgment of divorce.
When parents cannot reach an agreement regarding custody, the judge will decide by analyzing the following best interests of the child factors:
There are two types of joint custody in Michigan:
Joint legal custody is the more common choice of Michigan's courts.
Michigan uses the Income Share Model to determine child support. The court shall generally order child support as determined by the Michigan Child Support Formula developed by the state friend of the court.
The court may deviate from the child support formula if it determines from the facts of the case that use of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate. Support orders entered by the circuit court shall provide for an order of income withholding.
A child support order may continue past the age of 18 if the child is regularly attending high school on a full-time basis with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the recipient of the support or at an institution, but only until the child is 19 and ½ years of age.
Michigan doesn't provide for actual legal separations. Instead, it allows actions for Separate Maintenance, which may be filed in the circuit court in the same manner and on the same grounds as an action for divorce. This also requires the same residency requirements and waiting periods.
Originally, there were two types of divorce:
In a judgment of Separate Maintenance, the court divides the property and debts of the couple, determines child custody, orders parenting time and child support, and alimony, if applicable, and rules on any other relevant issues.
If a couple later decide to seek a divorce, they can file an Amended Petition and ask the court for Dissolution.
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