What Are "Grounds For Divorce" In Michigan?
Michigan is a "no-fault" divorce state. This means there is only one ground for divorce in this state based upon the family law statutes. The legal ground for divorce in Michigan is stated specifically as follows "there has been a breakdown of the marriage to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved". In fact, this is the only ground that a person filing for divorce (the plaintiff) is allowed to state in the complaint for divorce (the main document that one must file in order to start a divorce proceeding). That is why every divorce complaint filed here contains exactly the above quoted language.
The statute further states that the plaintiff is not allowed to provide a statement involving the graphic details behind the breakdown. Finally, the Defendant (the person against whom the divorce has been filed) only has to answer each allegation or statement in the complaint with a general admission or denial. The divorce will be granted even if the Defendant attempts to deny that there has been a breakdown of the marriage and the Plaintiff does not have to prove that there has actually been a breakdown for the judge to sign the judgment of divorce.
The fact that Michigan is a "no-fault" state and that one does not have to state or prove reasons for the breakdown of the marriage in order for a court to grant the divorce does not mean that fault cannot be considered. Fault for the breakdown of the marriage, including such issues as affairs, drug/alcohol abuse, economic control/abuse, verbal abuse or physical abuse to name a few, can be taken into account when dividing property, awarding alimony and determining custody or parenting time. However, fault is only one factor among many the court is required to consider when it makes these decisions. Finally, one should be aware that the alleged fault has to be above and beyond what the court typically sees in a divorce case and frankly, most of these cases involve some degree of fault.
If you have questions regarding divorce or the area of family law, please contact my assistant Cathy at (238) 608-4123 to schedule an appointment or contact us through the web site.