They say the wedding is the most beautiful day in a couple’s life as they mark the beginning of a lifetime together. When getting married, the possibility of one day deciding to split up never even crosses their mind. Therefore, if the marriage does eventually go south, the process of preparing for divorce can seem like the most unbearable thought in any couple’s mind. As unbearable as it is, it doesn’t have to be impossible. If you understand the process, it can even be relatively straightforward.
In Michigan, the court recognizes no-fault divorces, which means that neither spouse has to prove that their partner did anything wrong. Filing for divorce is not easy, and a couple has to go through a detailed process. Here we have a complete guide for you if you want to get a divorce in Michigan. Give it a good read to prepare yourself.
Types of Divorces in Michigan
- Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce is when both spouses cooperate to reach an agreement on all issues. It saves a lot of time and money because it allows you to avoid a drawn-out process, court visits, and in many cases, the need to hire attorneys.
- Do it Yourself Divorce
This kind of divorce is when a couple foregoes all professional assistance and handles the divorce on their own. It is the cheapest option, as it reduces the divorce to just filing fees and basic court relates costs. But DIY divorce is typically only possible when the divorce is uncontested and relatively simple (no children/no large assets).
- Online Divorce
In Michigan, a couple can also legally get divorced by seeking assistance over the internet. A reliable online divorce platform eliminates the confusion associated with the paperwork and helps you fill the application for divorce online. Such platforms that offer internet divorce also inform you of all the key legal issues that one must remember as they apply for divorce. Online divorce is the perfect option for couples with an uncontested divorce who want to avoid the hassle of the paperwork but not have to pay for an expensive attorney.
- Divorce Mediation
Sometimes, a couple has one or two issues that they can’t work out on their own. In this process, you and your spouse remain neutral professionals who work towards achieving an agreement. The mediator will help you think about your options, hear the other side out, and come up with a compromise, allowing you to move forward with an uncontested divorce. Mediation, though not cheap, is much more affordable than hiring attorneys and facing a trial.
- Collaborative Divorce
Contrary to popular opinion, this doesn’t just mean you and your spouse are “jointly” going to work out your divorce. There’s much more to it. A structured process that takes a team approach is collaborative divorce. Divorce is much more than a process of law as it has money, feelings, and children involved.
When a couple cannot work out their issues on their own, it falls to the court to decide. Litigation becomes the default option. In this alternative, the cost of divorce is relatively high. It is an attorney-driven process that can last several months up to well past a year.
Factors Determined During the Divorce Proceedings
A divorce is not just about a couple splitting up. Many things need to be assessed. There are different strings attached between a couple that must be cleared before they can go their separate ways and start a new life as single people.
Children (if any)
A couple needs to decide who gets to keep the children and how frequently the other parent gets to visit. The court wants what’s best for your child, and while they may consider their wishes, the judge will also carefully evaluate which parent can better cater to the child’s financial and emotional needs. They also assess if your house is a safe place for children to grow up.
After the child’s custody is decided, the other spouse is given parenting time. This means that the child can come to visit and spend time with them. However, if it’s proven in the court that you may negatively influence the child, the judge may take away visitation privileges for the child’s security.
Furthermore, using the Michigan Child Support Formula, child support is measured. The estimate is dependent on many variables, including parents’ income, the number of kids, and even the nights each parent spends with the kid. Usually, child care ceases when your kid turns 18. It also needs to be decided which parent will get the child tax credit.
If a couple cannot decide on alimony, the judge will step in and look into the matter for you. In Michigan, you are not always given the privilege of spousal support, and it can be provided on a temporary basis. There is a list of factors that the judge would consider while deciding the amount.
Alimony is decided based on the length of the marriage. It is more probable in marriages that last longer. The judge will also consider other factors such as:
- Behavior during the marriage period
- Your ability to work
- Capability to pay spousal support
- Amount and source of property you get in the divorce
- Current living situation and needs
- Standard of living/ Financial standing
- Whether you are responsible for paying the support
- Your health
- Contributions of each spouse to the marital estate
- Asset Division
Debt or any property you earn throughout your marriage is commonly known as marital property. Among other kinds of property, marital property can include your pensions, investment accounts, real estate, insurance, and retirement plans. The judge will determine whether you and your spouse agree or disagree on splitting your property and debt. Michigan law says it is appropriate to equally separate marital property and debt. In most instances, this means equally splitting them.
Other Important Tips to Remember
Alternatives like web divorce and divorce without an attorney can be considered inexpensive options that save you time and less paperwork. However, if making your divorce affordable is one of your aims, you should go for a postnuptial agreement that can be signed after your marriage and protect your rights in a divorce.
Considering the kind of emotional trauma a family goes through when parents sign up for a divorce, it is highly recommended to prepare for the divorce before starting the process. One needs to clearly understand the factors that brought them to the decision of ending their marriage. You must gather all information and think critically about where you stand after the divorce. Will you be able to make it financially? Are you still emotionally dependent on your spouse? Is there no way you can make it work for the betterment of your family? These are just some of the vital questions one needs to ask themselves.
When a spouse is sure that they will need alimony support, they should gather all the documents independently. Divorce documentation also includes declaring your income and assets. It helps the court decide a fair distribution of assets and alimony rate.
During compilation, if you find any assets that your spouse may have kept hidden from you. Attaching evidence of their ownership will work in your favor. Even though Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, digital documentation, including messages, emails, and photos, can be used as evidence when there is abuse, violence, or addiction.
Indeed when a marriage comes to an end, it can make you sad and uncertain about your future. However, you must understand the importance of getting out of a toxic relationship. Remain patient when your divorce proceedings are being finalized, and soon you’ll observe an improvement in your mental health and quality of life.