Michigan Family Law (Frequently Asked Questions)The questions provided below are frequently asked questions regarding family laws in the state of Michigan. If you find that your question is not answered below please contact us for a consultation.

Q: Can my spouse and I hire a same divorce attorney in Michigan? A: No. A family law or divorce lawyer in Michigan cannot represent both of you, as it will be a conflict of interest and ethically wrong.

Q: What will be the cost of a divorce in Michigan?A: Usually, a family law or divorce attorney charge you fees at an hourly rate. A family law or divorce lawyer may also ask you to pay a retainer fee in advance. Cost of your divorce usually depend on many factors such as the time your attorney spends for your divorce case, the complexity of your divorce case, the fees for filing the suit and other expenses. You can minimize your cost for divorce by taking some measures:

Q: Can I seek a divorce in Michigan if my spouse doesn’t want it?A: Since Michigan is a No Fault Divorce State, you are not required to demonstrate grounds or reasons to seek a divorce in the state. It also implies that if one party demands a divorce, it will be allowed, in any event of the other party desires to be divorced or not.

Q: Can my spouse get a divorce if I don’t sign anything?A: If your spouse formally files a Complaint and Summons for divorce, and you are appropriately served the summon, and you remain silent after receiving the summon, your spouse will be eligible for obtaining a Default Judgment of divorce in Michigan for your failure to respond to the Court in writing through the filing of an Answer to the Complaint.

Q: Is there alimony in Michigan? A: Yes, there is alimony in Michigan. Alimony is known as “Spousal Support” in Michigan. Several factors are considered in determining the amount and duration of spousal support to be awarded. Spousal support is not granted in every case in Michigan, and is only granted if it is demanded and fulfils the necessary requirements.

Q: What is the procedure to get a legal separation in Michigan? A: In Michigan, there is no any legal process defined as “legal separation” where you file a legal document and you are right away get legally separated. However, there is “Separate Maintenance” action, which is essentially what people assume as legal separation.

Q: What are the grounds for getting an annulment in Michigan? A: Michigan statutes provide that an annulment can only be granted in cases of bigamy, physical incapacity, mental incapacity, consent obtained by fraud or force, incapacity due to age, prohibitively related and foreign law violations.

Q: How is an uncontested divorce different from a contested divorce?A: In an uncontested divorce in Michigan, one party files complaint for a divorce, and the other party does not file an answer to the complaint, and the party who files the complaint gets a default judgment. Most divorce cases in Michigan have some contested issues, such as child custody, support, parenting time, spousal support and property settlement. However, most Michigan divorce cases are in fact settled without going to trial.

Q: If a spouse leaves the house, will that spouse be charged with abandonment? A: Since a divorce action is not considered as a criminal proceeding in Michigan, hence a party cannot be “charged” for any crime allegation. However, the State of Michigan can charge you with criminal abuse or neglect for abandonment if you disappear by leaving your children alone or unattended. You will not lose your share of the equity in the house if you leave the house for a short period of time during the pendency of the divorce proceeding. However, if you disappear for a longer time, it is more likely that you will lose your share of the equity.

Q: Can a spouse ask the other spouse to leave the home during the pendency of divorce? A: Unless there is family violence or other severe situations involved, a Judge will not order a spouse to leave the marital home during the pendency of divorce proceeding in Michigan. Divorce seeking spouses usually live together during the pendency of divorce proceedings in Michigan. If one spouse sets up a residence at some other place or if there is any domestic violence involved, the Judge may issue an Order of Exclusive Occupancy, stating that only one of the spouses can live in the marital home during the pendency of the divorce. If you are a victim of violent acts of your spouse or he/she makes violent threats, it is possible to obtain a Personal Protection Order (PPO) from the court without filing complaint for divorce. Such order can include a stipulation that he/she is precluded from going to your living place.

Q: Shall I allow my spouse to visit the kids if he/she has left the marital home?A: If there is no court order concerning parenting time or custody, legally both of the spouses have custody of the children. Some situations may arise where it could be justifiable for a spouse to go to court to request for a constraint on parenting time of the other spouse. You should consult with an attorney before refusing parenting time of your spouse or ex spouse if you do not have a court order.

Q: When can a child choose who he/she wants to live with? A: In Michigan a child will have to an adult, minimum 18 years of, prior to make any choice of with whom he/she will live. Even though the preference of the minor child is one of the ‘Best Interest of the Child Factors’, the factor is considered equally with other factors by the Court in determining custody of a child.

Q: Can a spouse move with his/her children after divorce?A: If a spouse desires to change the domicile of the children from the state of Michigan, he/she must petition the Court. If the parents both have legal custody, and one of them plans to move more than 100 miles away from the other parent, he/she must either petition the court or have the consent of the other party..

Q: Can a spouse withhold parenting time of other spouse if that spouse fails to pay child support? A: No. Parenting time and child support are two different matters. A parent can be held in contempt of court, or may even be charged with a felony if that parent fails to pay child support. Similarly, you can be held in contempt of court if you fail to provide the scheduled parenting time.

Q: Is it possible to terminate the father’s parental rights? A: No. One can only terminate parental rights by means of either the adoption code (in case of a step-parent adoption) or through the criminal code (in case of child neglect charge or criminal child abuse). Therefore, it is simply impossible for one to willingly renounce or terminate a parent’s parental rights in Michigan. It is not possible also for a parent to request the Court in Michigan to terminate the other parent’s parental rights.