Michigan Divorce FAQ
Answering Macomb County’s Common Legal Questions
While every client we work with receives a case plan and services tailored to their unique circumstances, there are common questions and concerns we answer. Paul S. Kowal, P.C. is dedicated to resolving our clients’ divorce issues and offering sound legal guidance.
Can I Get a Michigan Divorce if My Spouse Does Not Want One?Yes. Although two people must agree to marry, if one person wants to divorce the judge will grant the divorce. All the divorcing party must allege is that in their mind, there is a breakdown of the marriage and it cannot be repaired. If that is done, the Court must grant the divorce.
How Is Property Divided?
Michigan is an ‘equitable distribution’ state. This mean that the court will try to divide property fairly, but not necessarily even. Property that is acquired during the marriage is considered marital property and is subject to division. While property the couple acquired before the marriage is considered separate property and may be safe from division.
The appreciation of separate property can be divided by the court. Further separate property can be divided in cases where the non-owner spouse contributed to the property’s value after marriage. Moreover, certain items may be considered both separate and marital such as retirement plans that were earned before and during the marriage.
How Is Alimony Determined?Couples are free to agree on an amount and duration of alimony, typically referred to as spousal support. If the couple asks the court to decide upon an arrangement, the court will consider factors such as the length of the marriage and the division of property settlement to determine an amount of alimony and the duration of alimony. The parties can agree that alimony/spousal support is not modifiable. If spousal support is awarded after a trial, it will remain modifiable.
How Is Child Support Determined?
Child support is determined according to a formula that takes environmental factors of each parent and child into account. The formula, once determined, is then converted to a computer program.
The information entered into the computer program includes:
- The incomes of the parents
- The number of overnights the children spend with each parent
- Who pays for health care for the children and the cost
- Who pays child care for the children and how much it costs
- Who receives tax exemptions for the children
Once all pertinent information has been inputted the program indicates who will pay child support and the monthly amount paid. Parties cannot decide to waive child support because it is an obligation that each parent owes to their child. Parents can agree to deviate from the child support. To deviate from the support amount recommended, the parties must give statutory reasons for deviating and obtain court approval.
How Is Custody Determined?
If parents can agree on custody and parenting time, the court will usually sign off on their agreement. If parents cannot agree on custody and parenting time, the court will determine how to create this agreement to ensure the child’s best interests are upheld.
A court must consider certain factors when determining custody, including:
- The willingness of each parent to encourage the parent/child relationship with the other
- The mental and physical condition of each parent
- The moral fitness of each parent
- The home, school, and community environment around each parent’s residence
- The child’s preference (if old enough to express one)
What Are the Grounds for Divorce?
Michigan is a ‘no-fault’ divorce state. This means that a divorce can be granted because there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship and there is no reasonable likelihood that it can be repaired.
While either party does not need to prove fault to have their divorce granted, the court may decide to consider fault as one factor when dividing property or awarding spousal support.
How Long Does a Divorce Take to Finalize?
A couple without children who have resolved all the issues in their divorce can be granted a divorce as soon as 60 days after the date the divorce paperwork was filed. A divorce involving minor children may be completed 180 days after the initial filing.
A judge can choose to shorten the 180-day period if there is a good reason to do so. These days, many judges will waive the waiting period if both parties agree and state that ending the divorce case early is in the best interests of the child/children.
What Does a Michigan Divorce Cost?
While there are some predictable expenses in a divorce, the cost to file for divorce in Michigan depends on factors such as:
- The process chosen
- The number of issues disputed, such as custody and spousal support
- The extent to which the parties are able to work together to resolve issues without court intervention
In general, the more fighting there is in a divorce, the more it will cost. In many ways, the divorce cost in Michigan can be affected by your actions during the divorce process (Think about this before spending $1000 in attorney fees fighting over a $100 item).
There are some costs in a divorce that are predictable. For instance, the filing fee to start a divorce case when the couple has no minor children in Macomb County or Oakland County is $175, but the filing fee for a divorce with children is $255. For additional information on the total cost to file for divorce in Michigan, reach out to us for a free consultation!