Frequently Asked Questions About Michigan Divorce Law
At the Law Offices of Kevin R. Lynch in Eastpointe, we provide comprehensive counsel to help Michigan residents navigate the divorce process. You can count us to provide honest, accurate answers to all of your questions regarding marriage dissolution, such as:
- How do I file for divorce?
- How long does it take to complete the marriage dissolution process?
- What is “no fault” divorce?
- How are decisions related to child custody and visitation made?
- When is alimony awarded in a divorce?
- How will our marital property be divided?
Like other civil litigation proceedings, divorces are commenced by the filing and service of Summons and Complaint. The filing party must have been a Michigan resident for at least 180 days and a resident of the county for at least ten days. If you have agreed to all divorce terms, you can submit an executed marital settlement agreement and a parenting time schedule to the court for approval.
Childless couples might be able to finalize their divorce as soon as 60 days after filing. For parents of minor children, the waiting period must be at least six months. Of course, some proceedings can last much longer if there are serious conflicts over issues such as property division and parenting arrangements.
In Michigan, courts end marriages because the relationship between the parties has broken down beyond repair. Under this “no fault” standard, traditional grounds related to marital misconduct, such as adultery, are not used. However, there are situations where improper behavior by a spouse could affect divorce terms. For example, abusive behavior might lead to limits on a spouse’s custody and visitation rights.
Michigan’s Child Custody Act declares that when parents live apart, parenting time shall be granted in accordance with the child’s best interests. Usually, it’s preferable for the parties in a divorce to reach agreement on legal authority, residential custody and visitation. Each situation is unique however, and sometimes, parents cannot achieve consensus on a parenting time plan. In those cases, courts examine a variety of factors when issuing an order, including any likelihood of abuse or neglect, whether the parties will abide by the parenting time schedule and any special circumstances that might exist.
Either a petitioning or responding party can request spousal support, also known as alimony. These payments can be ordered while the divorce proceeding is pending and after the marriage has been dissolved. There are three types of post-divorce spousal support that can be granted to someone who has relied on their ex-spouse for their financial needs. Mostly commonly, a judge will award periodic alimony for the amount of time it should take for the recipient party to establish their ability to support themselves, while permanent alimony typically is reserved for people who are unlikely or unable to secure sufficient income due to their age, health or special child-care responsibilities. Or instead of repeating payments, the parties can agree, or the court can direct, that the entire alimony obligation be provided in a lump sum.
Regardless of which spouse earned income or acquired a particular item, most assets and debts accumulated from the wedding up until the divorce filing are considered marital property. When the spouses cannot agree on how to divide the marital estate, Michigan courts make a decision according to the principle of equitable distribution, which means that the judge allocates property based on what they believe to be fair. Any pertinent information can be considered, and the end result does not have to be a 50-50 split.
Contact Attorney Kevin Lynch today
For dedicated assistance related to your Michigan divorce, contact Attorney Kevin Lynch today. His offices are conveniently located in Eastpointe and Clinton Township.