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Michigan Divorce Law

While a divorce is never an easy process to go through, it becomes a lot more challenging when children, unemployment, disability or any other financially and legally complex factors are involved. The legalities of your divorce can also change depending on whether your spouse is willing to cooperate.

LawInfo’s Michigan Divorce Law articles can help relieve some of the stress of the process. You’ll learn about the state’s divorce prerequisites, how property is divided and many other divorce topics. Whether you need assistance in Detroit, Grand Rapids or Ann Arbor, LawInfo can help connect you with a Michigan divorce attorney.

Michigan No-Fault Divorces

Where some states may let a spouse file a divorce petition based on one of several legal grounds, Michigan only requires the “no-fault” ground of an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. One or both parties must only prove that there is no reasonable expectation for them to mend whatever damages their marriage had suffered.

Equitable Distribution in Michigan

When you get a divorce in Michigan, not everything you and your spouse owned is divided between you, neither do you receive an equal share of whatever property is divided. A Michigan court will use the legal practice of equitable distribution to determine a fair (but not always equal) division of marital property.

Marital property includes assets and debts that were received and jointly owned by both spouses during the marriage. Only marital property is considered for equitable distribution in divorce cases. Separate property—which includes assets and debts owned individually prior to the marriage or gifted, inherited or earned from insurance or personal injury compensation during the marriage—is not typically considered for distribution. Each spouse keeps their own separate property in the divorce.

There is no specific formula when it comes to equitable distribution in Michigan. Courts will make judgments on a case-by-case basis. There are also no statutory “factors” that a court must consider in an equitable distribution judgment as there are in other states. In general, some of the factors a court may consider include:

  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • Marital misconduct or divorce fault. (Courts may judge fault grounds for a divorce in property division cases at their discretion despite the no-fault divorce law.)
  • Each spouse’s contributions to the other and their marriage.
  • The needs of the parent with custodial rights.

Uncontested Divorces in Michigan

Once a divorce petition is filed by the petitioning spouse (the plaintiff), a copy of the petition is delivered to the other spouse (the defendant). The defendant then has 21 days starting from the day the petition is received to file an answer to the court handling the divorce. (The time limit is 28 days if the petition was delivered by mail.)

If the defendant doesn’t submit an answer to the petition within the time limit, the court may proceed with the uncontested divorce. This means that the defendant is excluded from the divorce trial proceedings, including decisions about property distribution, alimony and child custody. An uncontested divorce results in a default judgment, which is similar to a divorce decree but only includes the original terms listed in the initial petition.

A defendant usually doesn’t answer a petition if they agree with the terms of the divorce. Even if the defendant doesn’t submit an answer to the petition, they can still petition to set aside the default judgment within a specific time limit.

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