Michigan No-Fault Divorce Law
By Beverly Bird
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Michigan is a true no-fault divorce state; you cannot receive a divorce on any other grounds. There aren't any fault options available. This makes filing for divorce relatively simple and contesting the divorce, itself, virtually impossible. However, in some cases, the court can still address a spouse's misconduct.
You can only receive a divorce in Michigan by stating that your marriage has broken down and that you do not believe it’s savable. If your spouse committed adultery or was abusive toward you, the law doesn’t allow you to mention this in your complaint for divorce. You don’t have to prove that your marriage is broken. It’s sufficient that you believe this to be the case.
Contesting the Divorce
Unlike some states, Michigan does not allow your spouse to contest your ground for divorce. He can’t answer your complaint and allege that your marriage is alive and well. There’s nothing he can do to block your complaint if he doesn’t want the divorce. The court will grant your divorce, and it will only judge the issues involved in ending your marriage, such as property, children and support.
Even if you and your spouse entered into an agreement as to how to settle all issues between you before you filed for divorce, the no-fault ground does not affect Michigan’s rule regarding a waiting period. You can’t finalize your divorce until at least two months have passed since you filed your complaint and served a copy on your spouse. If you have children, you must wait six months. Although you don’t have to prove that your marriage is over, Michigan gives you time after you file to be sure.
Property and Custody
Your divorce is considered contested if you and your spouse don't agree on how you're going to end your marriage. It doesn't matter if you agree that your marriage is over; if you don't reach a settlement, you'll have to go to trial. In Michigan, you can introduce at trial the wrongdoing you couldn’t mention in your complaint for divorce. Issues such as adultery and abuse might affect property division, custody or spousal support. How much they might affect these issues is largely up to the opinion of the judge. If you want to use allegations of fault at trial, you must prove them. You must also prove that your spouse’s fault was the reason your marriage ended.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.