If you are planning to file for divorce in Michigan, it is important for you to learn more about how divorce works in the state. Even if you have friends or family members who have gone through divorces in the past, some laws may have changed in that time, and Michigan-specific laws can mean that your divorce case will look much different from that of a friend or family member if the divorce occurred in another state. While there are certainly more than five things you should know about a Michigan divorce, the following are some key aspects of Michigan divorce that you should understand as you prepare to hire a Michigan divorce lawyer and to move forward with your case.
1. Michigan is a No-Fault Divorce State
When you are considering divorce, you should know that Michigan is a no-fault state for divorce purposes. Under Michigan law, courts will not consider fault by either spouse in determining whether or not to grant a divorce. Instead, the party who files for divorce will simply plead that irreconcilable differences led the marriage to fail. Beyond pleading no-fault grounds for divorce, the only other requirements to be eligible for divorce in the state are residency requirements: one of the spouses must have lived in Michigan for at least 180 days before filing for divorce, and one of the spouses must have resided in the county where the divorce petition is filed for at least 10 days prior to the filing.
To be clear, there is no need to prove that one of the spouses is at fault for the divorce in order to have your divorce case finalized.
2. Divorces Can Be Uncontested or Contested
Divorce in Michigan can be uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce is one in which the parties have reached an agreement about all issues, while a contested divorce is one in which one or more issues remain in dispute (such as the division of marital property or child custody).
3. Michigan is an Equitable Distribution State
Michigan is an equitable distribution state, which means that all marital assets and debts will be distributed between the spouses in a way that the court determines to be equitable. Separate assets and debts (typically those acquired prior to the marriage, or those acquired through gift or inheritance during the marriage), will not be divided. It is important to understand that equitable does not mean equal. Instead, equitable distribution means property will be divided in a way that is fair based on the circumstances of the case.
4. Child Custody Will Be Decided in Divorce Cases with Minor Children from the Marriage
If you have minor children from your marriage and you are getting divorced, child custody will be included in your divorce case.
5. Michigan Uses an Income Shares Model for Child Support Calculations
If you do have minor children from your marriage and you get divorced, not only will the issue of child custody become part of your divorce case, but the court will also need to determine the parents’ child support obligations. Michigan is what is known as an “income shares” state for purposes of child support, which means the court combines both parents’ incomes to arrive at a total income for purposes of using the state’s child support guidelines. The court determines the total child support obligation according to the guidelines (in effect, a chart), and then each parent is responsible for a portion of that total child support obligation. There are very limited circumstances in which the court will deviate from the child support formula.
Contact Our Michigan Divorce Attorneys for Assistance
When you are getting divorced in Michigan, it is critical to have an experienced Michigan divorce attorney on your side. You should have an attorney with experience handling divorce cases similar to your own, whether that means experience handling high asset divorce cases or cases involving complex child custody situations. Contact Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC for more information about how our firm can assist you with your divorce.