Divorce in Michigan
To change marital status, a law suit must be filed
Address domestic violence first
Various authorities and experts tell us that if a contemplated divorce involves domestic violence, addressing the violence takes first priority. Of course, if you already have a compatible, experienced divorce attorney, your attorney can help with the violence and any necessary court orders. Otherwise, following are some online resources for dealing with domestic violence in Michigan:
- Michigan State Police: “Domestic Violence Awareness”
- Department of Human Services: “Overview”
- Department of Human Services: “Michigan Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Board”
- Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Plan for counseling
Next, even in an uncontested divorce, the pain of separation and grief over the end of a relationship may be so intense as to require counseling or spiritual guidance: don’t overlook your emotional and psychological health.
Three ways to end a marriage
Michigan law provides for the end of marriage via three separate processes:
- Annulment, which strikes the marriage from the books as though it had never occurred; however, this is rare and must meet specific, strict requirements;
- Separate maintenance, which is as close as Michigan gets to what’s commonly referred to as “legal separation,” but is more formal and is the result of a law suit and attendant court order providing for division of property and custody and support when children are involved. Also relatively rare, separate maintenance is usually the reserve of those with certain religious beliefs or specific needs such as living separately but maintaining insurance coverage–the couple remains legally married;
- Divorce–Michigan is a “n0-fault” state, which, according to Michigan Legal Aid, “means that you do not have to prove adultery or cruelty or any other ‘grounds’ for divorce.”
You only have to show that your marriage has broken down and you cannot get back together. No fault also means that even if you are the one who made your marriage break up, you can still file for divorce. No fault divorce also means that if you want to get divorced, your spouse can fight over other things involved in the divorce like child custody and support and property. But if you want the divorce you can get it even if your spouse does not wantit – and even if you made the marriage break up. But remember, the judge can look at fault in deciding how to divide up property or who should get custody of the children.
Michigan Legal Aid also says, “You or your spouse (husband or wife) must have lived in Michigan for at least the last six (6) months.You must file for divorce in the Michigan county where you or your spouse has lived for the last 10 days. Most people file where they live but you do not have to – you can file where your spouse lives. You do not need to know where your spouse lives to get a divorce. A divorce notice can be put in a newspaper after you have filed.”
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