Michigan Divorce Law
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Divorce Residency Essentials to Get Divorce in Michigan
Immediately prior to filing for divorce, one of the spouses must have been a resident of Michigan for 180 days and a resident of the county for 10 days where the divorce is filed. However, a person may file for divorce in any county in the state without meeting the 10-day residency requirement if the defendant was born in or is a citizen of a foreign country and there are minor children in the marriage who are at risk of being taken out of the country by the defendant. [Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated; Section 552.9].
Reasons for Divorce in Michigan
There is really only one reason of divorce in Michigan, whether General or No-Fault, and that is:
- A breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. [Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated; Section 552.6].
Custody of the Children in Michigan
Sole or joint custody is awarded based on the best interests of the child and on the following factors:
- Moral character and prudence of the parents;
- Physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child;
- Capability and desire of each parent to meet the child’s emotional, educational, and other needs;
- Preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity;
- The love and affection and other emotional ties existing between the child and each parent;
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- The desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving frequent relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
- The permanence as a family unit of the proposed custodial home or homes; and
- Any other factors.
If joint custody is an issue, the court will consider all of the above factors and the following additional factors:
- Whether the parents will be able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child and
- If the parents agree on joint custody. [Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated; Sections 552.16, 722.23, and 722.26a].
Property Distribution in Michigan
Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state. The court may divide the all of the spouse’s property, including any gifts or inheritances, in a just and reasonable manner, if it appears that the spouse contributed to the acquisition, improvement, or accumulation of the property. The factors to be considered are:
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
- The length of the marriage;
- Any retirement benefits, including social security, civil service, and military and railroad retirement benefits;
- Any prior marriage of each spouse;
- The circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the spouses;
- The source of the property;
- The cause of the divorce; and
- Each spouse’s financial circumstances and rights to any insurance policies. [Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated; Sections 552.19, 552.101, and 552.401 and Michigan Case Law].
Michigan Spousal Support Guidelines
Either spouse may be ordered to pay alimony. The alimony may be awarded if the property awarded to a spouse is insufficient to allow that spouse suitable support and maintenance. Factors for consideration specified in the statute are:
- The ability of either spouse to pay;
- The character and situation of the spouses; and
- All other circumstances of the case.
All payments of spousal support shall be ordered to be made through the Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau. [Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated; Sections 552.13, 552.23, and 552.452].
Michigan Child Support Guidelines
Either parent may be ordered to provide a just and proper amount of child support. There is a Child Support Formula to be used as a guideline and it is presumed to be correct unless shown to be unjust or inappropriate under the circumstances in a particular case. There is a manual available from the Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau. The court may require the parent providing support to file a bond guaranteeing the support payments. Support may include health care, dental care, childcare, and education of the child. The Judgment of Divorce must include a provision that requires one or both of the parents to provide health care coverage, if such coverage is available at a reasonable cost as a benefit of employment. All payments of child support shall be ordered to be made through the Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau. Each parent will be required to keep the Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau informed of their address, sources of income, and health insurance coverage. [Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated; Sections 552.15, 552.16, 552.452, and 552.519].
Voluntary mediation services are available in all situations involving custody and visitation of children. [Michigan Compiled Laws Annotated; Section 552.513].