FAMILY LAW

DIVORCE​


Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that in order for the court to grant a divorce, you don't have to prove grounds for the divorce (such as adultery, abuse or other grounds.  One must simply state that there has been a breakdown in the marriage and there is no likelihood of preserving the marriage. In the state of Michigan due to the "No-fault" laws, a person will be granted a divorce even if the other party contests the court granting a divorce.


Michigan Courts can take fault into consideration in determining  custody, visitation, spousal support and property rights. In doing so, the Court will resolve all issues between the parties.


LEGAL SEPARATION


In  Michigan, parties can also be legally separated. In a Legal Separation, the court will resolve all the issues in the same manner as a divorce. However the parties will remain legally married. It is important to note, even though you are legally married, you may have to file taxes separately and may not be allowed to remain on their spouses health insurance. It would be important to consult with an accountant for tax issues.


ANNULMENT


An Annulment is a judicial determination that a valid marriage did not occur. In Michigan in order to obtain an Annulment proper grounds for the Annulment must be proved. Grounds that are recognized in Michigan are Bigamy, Marriage prohibited by the relationship of the parties, Incompetence, Underage Marriages, Fraud and dress or Other grounds. Other grounds must have existed at the time of the marriage that are incurable and the party knew of the inability and failed to disclose it, such as inability to have children.


CHILD CUSTODY/SUPPORT


In Michigan, the Courts have authority to award custody, parenting time and support under the Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970,  MCL 722.21 et seq.  There are 2 types of Custody. Legal Custody, which allows the parent or parents to make decisions regarding the child, such as medical, schooling, and religious decisions. The Court can award Legal Custody to one party (Sole) or award Joint Legal Custody to both parents.  Physical Custody is where the child resides, currently in Michigan, unless a party has no parenting time awarded, physical custody is considered joint. In making a determination for custody and parenting time, the court utilizes the Best Interest Factors.


The Factors are:

 

  • (a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child. This factor focuses on the emotional bond that already exists between the parent and the child.
  • (b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved  to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the  education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if  any. This factor tries to project the parent’s ability to  foster an emotional bond in the future, and the parent’s impact on such  matters as education, guidance, and religious training.
  • (c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved  to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other  remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in  place of medical care, and other material needs. 
  • (d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable,  satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining  continuity. 
  • (e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes. This  factor focuses solely on the permanence of the family environment, not  the acceptability of the home or child care arrangements.
  • (f) The moral fitness of the parties involved. This  factor evaluates the parties’ moral fitness only as it relates to how  they will function as a parent and not as to who is the morally superior  adult.
  • (g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved. This factor should not impair or defeat the public policy goal of integrating disabled persons into the mainstream of society.
  • (h) The home, school, and community record of the child. 
  • (i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference. The  court must take the preference of the child into account if it decides  that the child is old enough to express a preference. The court is not  required to disclose the child’s preference. The child’s preference does  not automatically outweigh other factors; it is only one element used  to make the determination.
  • (j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties  to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child  relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the  parents. A court may not consider negatively for the purposes of this  factor any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or  that parent from sexual assault or domestic violence by the child’s  other parent. 
  • (k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child. 
  • (  l  ) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute. The court may not consider the race of a parent’s spouse in considering whether to change custody.

The Court uses these factors in determining both Legal and Physical custody.


NEGLECT ABUSE


Child Protection Laws are governed by  MCL 722.621 et seq.; the Juvenile Code, MCL 712A.1 et seq.; and subchapter 3.900 of the Michigan Court Rules.  Taken together, these sources of authority  establish a comprehensive scheme for reporting cases of suspected abuse  and neglect, investigating those reports, and responding, when necessary, with appropriate legal  action. 


Child Protective Proceedings deal with a variety of incidents and are very complex. I would encourage anyone dealing with a Neglect/Abuse Case to consult with and retain an attorney as the consequences can be severe including the termination of parental rights.