No Fault Divorce
Legal Grounds for Divorce
A divorce is the termination of a marriage or marital union, thus dismissing the legal duties and responsibilities of the marriage. Michigan is considered a no-fault divorce state. A no-fault divorce refers to the type of divorce in which the spouse that is filing does not have to prove any fault on the part of the other spouse. Allegations of abuse, cruelty, adultery, or abandonment do not need to exist in the relationship. All that is required in Michigan is for one party to allege that “there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved” (MCL 552.6). The most common reason given is “irreconcilable differences.”
Although Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, this does not mean that fault is not considered in any issues addressed in the divorce proceeding. The court may still consider fault when determining issues related to alimony, child support, and the division of property.
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No Fault Divorce Requirements
- Residency: To file for a divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least the last 180 days. MCL 552.9
- Jurisdiction: Your divorce must be filed in the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse has lived for at least the last 10 days. You may only file in any Michigan county regardless of how long you or your spouse lived there if the following conditions are met and are included in your complaint for divorce: your spouse was born in a country other than the United States or is a citizen of another country; you and your spouse have a minor child; and there is a risk that the defendant will take the minor child out of the United States to a different country and keep them there. MCL 552.9
- Waiting Period: The court must observe a “cooling off” period before granting a divorce. If your case does not involve minor children, the divorce cannot be finalized for a minimum of 60 days. If your case involves minor children, the divorce cannot be finalized for a minimum of 6 months. MCL 552.9(f)
Other Options to a No Fault Divorce:
Annulment: An annulment is a court decision that a marriage did not occur. Annulments are difficult to obtain and only granted in limited situations. This includes bigamy, incapacity, kinship, under age, and fraud/duress.
Separate Maintenance: An action for separate maintenance is commonly referred to as a “legal separation.” This is filed by a married couple who wishes to separate from each other without filing for a divorce. This is normally done due to religious objection to divorce or to continue health care benefits for both parties.
For information on specific family law issues please see: