Rochester Hills Family and Divorce Attorneys
Is Michigan A No Fault Divorce State?
Michigan has a no-fault divorce policy which means that individuals seeking to file for divorce do not need to prove cheating, cruelty, or anything else to obtain a divorce. The other spouse also doesn't have to agree to the divorce in order for the spouse to file. At least one spouse must merely testify that there has been a serious, permanent, marital breakdown of the marriage relationship and there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. However, do note that although a person doesn’t have to prove fault to get a divorce, a spouse’s behavior during the marriage can impact the outcomes of the divorce. A judge can consider fault in making decisions about spousal support. If a couple has children, child custody and child support orders must also be decided.
Note that either spouse must have lived in Michigan for at least the last 6 months before filing, which can be done either in circuit court in the county where a spouse has lived for at least 10 days prior to filing or in the county where they themselves live.
Family legal matters can be complex and lengthy. Whether you are facing divorce or a custody battle in Michigan, you should not navigate the process alone. Our legal team at Little & Boylan PLLC has over 40 years of combined experience and can provide you the legal guidance you need to move forward following divorce.
Determining Child Custody
In many cases, Michigan will grant both parents joint custody of their children if it would be in the children's best interests. Joint legal custody gives both parents the decision-making authority over such things as their children's education, medical treatment, religious training, or enrichment activities.
Depending on the custody order, the parents will also have to draft a visitation schedule for parenting time. A typical arrangement is for the noncustodial parent to have the children on alternate weekends, alternate holidays, and some of the children's school vacations.
When finalizing a parenting time agreement, the judge will consider all the following factors:
- whether the child has special needs;
- if the child is less than 6 months old, or if less than 1 year, whether the child is still nursing;
- the reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect during parenting time;
- whether there is a chance the non-custodial parent will abuse the other parent during the parenting time exchanges;
- the inconvenience to, and impact on, the child for traveling for parenting time;
- whether the court believes the non-custodial parent will exercise parenting time according to the order;
- whether the non-custodial parent has frequently failed to exercise parenting time;
- the threatened or actual detention of a child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent during parenting time;
- any other relevant factors.
Under the Michigan Child Custody Act, the court must consider the children's best interests above all when determining custody.
Elements of Child Support
Child support will likely be calculated depending on the custody order. Michigan presumes that parents have a duty to support their children until the child reaches 18 years old. The basic amount of child support due will depend on the parents’ incomes, their parenting time, and the number of children to support. Income includes both parents’ net income and gross income (salary, wages, bonuses, etc.), as well as workers’ compensation, unemployment, or disability benefits. Note that while the parents’ income sets a baseline for the amount of support for the child, the formula divides support between the parents depending on parenting time. The more time a parent spends with the child, the higher that parent’s costs will be and the more support the non-custodial parent may owe.
Parents may agree on the child support amount on their own without the assistance of a court. However, if they cannot decide on an amount in the best interests of their children, a judge can make the final determination of the support amount. Visit our page on Child Custody and Support to learn more about what factors a judge will consider for this.
In addition to child support, a spouse may also receive spousal support (alimony). Michigan offers four types of spousal support – temporary, periodic, permanent, and lump sum (alimony in gross). Temporary support is only available during the pendency of the divorce; periodic support is paid in equal payments over a specific period; permanent support lasts indefinitely; and lump sum support is an amount paid all at once.
Unlike child support calculations there is no set formula a judge must use to calculate the amount and duration of spousal support, judges must consider various factors such as:
- the parties’ past relations and conduct;
- each spouse’s ability to work;
- the source and amount of property awarded to the parties in the divorce;
- the age and health of each party;
- the financial situation of each party;
- the needs of each spouse;
- the prior standard of living of the parties and whether the parties support other dependents;
- each parties’ contribution to the marital estate;
- whether a spouse’s conduct caused the divorce;
- how cohabitation affects a party’s financial status; and
- any other general principles of equity.
If you are facing family-related legal issues, consult an experienced attorney immediately for legal support. From divorce to child support in Michigan, our attorneys at Little & Boylan PLLC can put our knowledge and years of practice to use as we advocate for you and your child in the courtroom and the negotiations room.