Filing for divorce in Michigan may be one of the toughest decisions you may ever have to make. Whether the idea of a divorce brings you a sense of peace or anxiety, it is important to understand the consequences of your choices. Michigan divorce laws can be complicated, and they vary from other state’s divorce laws. Michigan child custody law, spousal support (alimony), property distribution and other aspects of the Michigan divorce process should be discussed with a Michigan divorce attorney.
Hiring a Michigan Divorce Lawyer
Michigan divorce lawyers believe the more information you have about your Michigan divorce, the better prepared you will be to deal with the outcome. Michigan divorce lawyers understand the complexities of Michigan divorce laws and can answer your Michigan divorce questions. How does a Michigan divorce affect your children or the distribution of your property? Are you entitled to alimony payments in a Michigan divorce? Do not make decisions about your Michigan divorce without contacting a Michigan attorney and letting them evaluate your personal and financial situation.
Children and Divorce in Michigan
Michigan courts will determine Michigan child custody arrangements by deciding what is in the best interest of the child. Under most conditions, the courts tend to favor joint legal custody which allows both parents to participate in the nurturing and responsibility of caring for the child. This arrangement may not be best, and the court may choose another child custody arrangement if they decide joint custody would be detrimental to the child’s safety, physical or mental well-being. Prior to making their child custody decisions, the Michigan court will consider the following:
- The emotional ties, love and affection which exist between the parents and the child
- The capacity of each party to care for the child with affection, guidance and love
- The ability of each parent to provide the necessities of the child’s life including: food, shelter and medical care
- The amount of time the child has been in a satisfactory and stable environment and whether or not a new arrangement is preferable or if it is more desirable to maintain the continuity of the child’s current living arrangement
- The permanence of the current family arrangement and the proposed arrangement
- The moral fitness of each parent
- The physical and mental status of both parents and the child
- The school, home and community record of the child
- If the child is of sufficient age the court will consider their living preference.
- The ability of each parent to encourage and support a continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
- Whether there is a history of domestic violence, either directed against the child or witnessed by the child
- Any other facto the court deems important.
More information can be found in the Michigan Revised Statutes Section 722.23.
Michigan Child Support
Like other states, the state of Michigan has enacted child support guidelines which are used to determine the amount of child support which must be paid. If the court finds strict adherence to the proposed child support guidelines would be unjust, they may choose to deviate from them and require a different child support payment.
Child support is paid until a reaches 18 years of age, until they finish high school or until the child reaches 19 years and 6 months.
Michigan Divorce Laws
If you wish to file a Michigan divorce you must provide the appropriate grounds to the court. Regardless of the grounds, you must have sufficient proof which can be presented to the court. The divorce grounds in the state of Michigan are:
- No-fault grounds – Michigan couples may file for divorce if they can prove their marriage is irretrievably broken, and there is no chance that the marriage can be preserved.
Michigan courts will grant a no-fault divorce if one spouse alleges or both spouses agree that the marriage can not be repaired. Michigan couples must meet all Michigan residency requirements prior to filing for a Michigan divorce.
Michigan Divorce Residency Requirements
Michigan divorces are governed by Michigan state laws, and couples who wish to divorce must meet specific Michigan residency requirements. Meeting Michigan’s divorce residency requirements is generally only a problem if a spouse has moved or is planning to move.
To file a Michigan divorce at least one of the parties in the marriage must have lived in the state of Michigan for at least 180 days prior to filing for the divorce and must have lived in the county where they filed for the divorce for at least 10 days prior to the filing the Michigan divorce complaint.
Exceptions to the Michigan divorce residency requirements may be made if the defendant in the divorce is not a citizen of the United States or was born in another country and fears their minor children may be taken out of the United States by the other parent.
Alimony in Michigan
Michigan state laws do not provide a specific calculation for determining the amount or the duration of alimony payments. Michigan courts will evaluate a variety of factors for each specific case to determine if alimony should be awarded. If you are unsure if you will be required to pay alimony or if you may be entitled to it, talk to a Michigan divorce lawyer for more information.
Michigan courts will evaluate the following factors to determine whether or not Michigan alimony should be awarded:
- The past conduct and relations of each spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- Whether or not each spouse is able to work
- What types of property has been awarded to each spouse
- The age of each spouse
- The ability of the paying spouse to make alimony payments
- The present financial situation of each spouse
- The financial needs and expenses of each spouse
- The mental and physical health of each spouse
- Whether either spouse is responsible for caring for anyone else
- The standard of living in which each spouse is accustomed
- All other relevant factors and principles of equity
Annulment in Michigan
Divorce is the legal process for terminating a valid marriage, but what if the marriage was not viable from its inception? If the marital union was invalid, the state of Michigan will allow, under certain conditions, the marriage to be annulled. Michigan annulments are rare, and it may be easier for couples to file for a divorce than to try to get an annulment. Annulments may be allowed in the state of Michigan for the following reasons:
- Bigamy – One of the spouses was previously married at the time of the marriage.
- Under-aged – One of the spouses was under the age of 16 or one of the parties has been declared legally incompetent to make the decision to marry. The marriage must be annulled prior to the under-aged spouse turning 18 years old.
- Fraud – One spouse possessed knowledge of something that if the other spouse had known about it they would have chosen not to marry.
- Duress – One of the spouses was compelled or forced to marry.
- Venereal disease
Alimony is not awarded in an annulment, although property and debt will be divided as they would have been divided in a Michigan divorce.
Legal Separation in Michigan
If you live in Michigan and you desire to live apart from your spouse due to marital discord, but you do not want to divorce, Michigan does not have what many people term a “legal separation” but they do have other means to sever your marital relationship and establish your own separate life.
Michigan allows for couples to separate and live apart using what they term a Judgment of Separate Maintenance. A Judgment for Separate maintenance is virtually identical in every way to a Michigan divorce. In fact, the petitioner will be required to complete similar forms and paperwork and plead their case under similar grounds but the couple remains married until they choose to divorce.
Under a Judgment for Separate Maintenance the courts are allowed to divide all property, assets and liabilities, and they also may order one spouse to pay the other Michigan spousal support. Child custody will also be determined by analyzing all the issues the court determines relevant to determining the arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. Other issues such as parent visitation and child support payments will be made using criteria that is used in a Michigan divorce.
A Judgment for Separate Maintenance can be vacated at any time or converted by the court to a Michigan divorce. Due to the complexities of Michigan law, it is a good idea to discuss your desires to enter into a Judgment for Separate Maintenance with a Michigan Divorce lawyer.
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