Michael A. Hettinger
Allison Greenlee Korr
Kalamazoo: 324-2000 Battle Creek: 968-5000 Three Rivers: 273-7800 Sturgis: 659-6161 Coldwater: (517)278-6800 Dowagiac: 782-2500 Fax: 344-3601 Statewide: 800-294-5055
The decision to pursue divorce proceedings is a difficult one. However, once that decision is made, one must understand the legal aspects of divorce. The following is a brief capsule of divorce law in the state of Michigan, designed to give the client a better understanding of the rules that apply to divorce cases. The attorneys at Hettinger & Hettinger P.C., have in depth understanding of these rules, and all the other rules that apply to divorce cases. For further information, call for a free consultation.
Immediately prior to filing for divorce, one of the spouses must have been a resident for 180 days and a resident of the county where the divorce is filed for 10 days. A person may file in any county, however, if the defendant was born in or is a citizen of another country and there is a risk the minor children may be taken out of the country by the defendant.
Grounds for divorce in Michigan are based on No-fault principles. 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 is the standard necessary to divorce.
Property is dealt in an equitable distribution, with dual classification. Section 552.19 permits the court to divide the real and personal estate that shall have come to either party by reason of the marriage. Section 552.401 permits the court to award one spouse any property owned by the other party if it appears from the evidence in the case that the party contributed to the acquisition, improvement, or accumulation of the property. Section 552.23 permits the court to make an additional property award if the estate and effects awarded to either party are insufficient for the suitable support and maintenance of that party or the children. Either spouse may be ordered to pay alimony "in gross" or otherwise. Factors to be considered include: (1) the ability of either spouse to pay; (2) the character and situation of the spouses; (3) all other circumstances of the case.
Sole or joint custody is awarded based on the best interests of the child, based on the following factors: (1) moral character and prudence of the parents; (2) physical, emotional, mental, religious and social needs of the child; (3) capability and desire of each parent to meet the child's emotional, educational, and other needs; (4) preference of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity; (5) the love and affection and other emotional ties existing between the child and each parent; (6) the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity; (7) the desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving frequent relationship between the child and other parent; (8) the child's adjustment to his/her home, school, and community; (9) the mental and physical health of all parties; (10) permanence of the family unit of the proposed custodial home; (11) any evidence of domestic violence; (12) an other factors.
There is a joint custody presumption if the parties agree to joint custody. The court may also award joint custody if one party requests joint custody and the court finds it to be in the best interests of the child. In deciding whether to grant joint custody, the court shall consider all of the above factors plus: (1) whether the parents will be able to cooperate; (2) whether the parents have agreed to joint custody.
All payments of child support shall be ordered to be make through the Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau. Child support guidelines are contained in the Michigan Friend of Court Child Support Manual, now in the Eleventh Revision. The guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model, calculated on each parent's net income.