HOW DOES DIVORCE WORK IN MICHIGAN
Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that you do not have to “prove” that you should be allowed to get a divorce. It does not imply anything about how the Court may consider fault regarding property division or alimony. In order to initiate a divorce in Michigan, you will need to state in the Complaint for Divorce that: “there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed, and there remains no reasonable likelihood the marriage can be preserved.”
In the State of Michigan, the number of years you are legally married are the only years that are taken into account for purposes of determining the financial outcomes of a divorce. This differs from some states, which recognize common law marriages, including couples who have cohabitated for a long time without a legal marriage.
Once a Complaint for Divorce has been filed, the state requires a waiting period of at least 60 days before a case can be finalized. If you have minor children that are a product of the marriage, the waiting period increases to six months (180 days). Many judges will adjust this timing if the divorcing couple is able to resolve all of their legal issues before the end of the six months.
DIVISION OF PROPERTY
In Michigan, most divorces result in a 50/50 division of assets and debts that were accumulated during the marriage (i.e an equal split). That said, this is not a hard and fast rule – there are many exceptions. If one party has inherited money from a relative, there is a chance that money can be treated as a separate asset, outside the boundaries of the joined assets. Certain debts may also be counted as individual rather than shared. If one spouse collects debt that is not from something joint at all, for example a gambling debt, it is possible for that debt to be considered the sole responsibility of the spouse who incurred the debt.
WHAT IS MEDIATION
There are often challenges resolving the more contentious issues in a divorce, such as custody or alimony. The Court may mandate the parties attend mediation in order to attempt to resolve outstanding matters and disputes. This is a process whereby a neutral third party, typically a specially trained family law attorney, is engaged as a mediator. The mediator acts as a communicator and liaison and works with the attorneys and clients to try and move forward to settle the issues and the case. Mediation can be less expensive, more private and faster than trial. A shorter and less expensive process is often good for the clients on both sides and if there are children involved, often benefits the children.
JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE
The Judgment of Divorce is the document that confirms the details of the divorce at the end of a divorce settlement or trial. Things that must be addressed in an entered Judgment of Divorce include, but are not limited to:
Itemized Division of Debts
All of these particulars and more are laid out in the Judgment of Divorce that will be signed by the parties, their attorneys as well as the Court in order to finalize a divorce in the State of Michigan. Always keep a copy of your final Judgment of Divorce in a safe place for future reference.