Divorce in Michigan
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This means that in order to obtain a divorce in Michigan, all a spouse needs to do is demonstrate to the court 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.”
Typically, this only requires testifying in court that if the judge were to deny a divorce, the parties would not continue living together but would go their separate ways. It is not necessary to prove that the other party did something “wrong” in order to get a divorce.
Many people thinking about filing divorce ask me if the judge will look more critically at the party who files. Because Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, the answer is quite simply – no.
Legal Separation in Michigan
In Michigan, there is no such thing as a “legal separation” – at least not in the traditional sense. However, there is something called “Separate Maintenance.”
Separate maintenance is essentially identical to divorce – except that the parties are not free to re-marry because they are technically still married to each other.
A separate maintenance judgment looks virtually the same as a divorce judgment. It can award custody, parenting time and child support. It can award spousal support. A separate maintenance judgment divides property, including awarding a marital home to one party, divides retirement assets and allocates payment of joint marital debts.
Separate maintenance is usually used by parties either for religious reasons, or to keep one party on the other’s health insurance policy indefinitely.
Annulment in Michigan
Annulments are rarely granted in Michigan because the grounds for an annulment are few and hard to prove. I’ve been contacted many times by parties seeking annulment because they never lived together or otherwise consummated the marriage. Clients are always surprised to learn than these facts, alone, do not qualify for annulment.
It is always a good idea to consult with an experienced family law attorney to determine if grounds for annulment exist.