A Troy Divorce Lawyer Fighting for Your Family Needs
If your husband or wife cheated on you, or abused you, or gambled, or were on drugs, or did any of the other things that might destroy a marriage, does it make any difference in a divorce?
Every state has different laws, but Michigan (which is where I practice) is a no fault-state. In no fault states, you do not have to prove fault to get a divorce, but that does NOT mean that bad acts have no impact on the case.
What Does a No-Fault Divorce Require in Michigan?
Michigan’s only requirement is that a party establishes that “there has been a breakdown in the marital relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”
This is essentially the same as citing “irreconcilable differences.” No one will go into the details of why you believe there has been a breakdown in the marital relationship, just as long as you establish that there is a breakdown and that you believe there is no chance of reconciliation, you’re good to go.
Does Fault Not Matter in a No-Fault Divorce?
As I stated, it is important to note that even though Michigan is a no-fault state, it doesn’t necessarily mean fault won’t be considered in the divorce.
In fact, the Judge may consider fault in deciding custody, parenting time, spousal support and/or property settlement. For example, if a spouse can prove that the other spouse was abusive, it may impact the determination of custody if it is determined that it is not in the best interests of the child to spend time with the alleged abusive parent. But, you have to have actual evidence of this. Some examples of evidence may include video, picture, or audio evidence, a criminal charge, or witnesses who observed it. Of course, your testimony is considered evidence, but it’s he said/she said, which is not very strong evidence. And then once you prove that the abuse did actually happen, then you have to prove that it makes that parent unfit to have custody or parenting time. So, if the abuse only happened outside the presence of the kids and the abuse was never directed at the kids, then it’s more difficult to prove that this impacts the kids. If, however, the abuse was directed at the children, or happened in front of the kids, that’s a different story. So, to use fault in determining child custody or parenting time, you would need two things: (1) evidence of the abuse; and (2) an impact on the kids.
What If My Spouse Was Un-faithful?
Here’s another example of how you may use fault in divorce: if one spouse was unfaithful, it may impact spousal support if you can prove that the infidelity is what led to the breakdown of the marital relationship. Again, you would need evidence of this, so it might be text messages or emails between your spouse and that other person, photos of them together, etc. And then, you would have to show that that infidelity is what led to the breakdown of the marital relationship. So, if you cheated on your spouse, but your spouse was emotionally abusive or distant, you can’t say that one person’s actions alone caused the breakdown of the relationship. And oftentimes, not always, both parties are at fault. So, just like before, to use fault in determining spousal support, you need two things (1) evidence and (2) an impact.
As you can see, using fault in a divorce is tricky, and there is a lot of strategy in determining how we use it, how we present it, what evidence we need, etc. It’s extremely important that you discuss the details of your marriage and family life with an experienced attorney that you can trust to determine whether those issues will arise in your divorce.
For more information about divorce and family law or to retain HermizLaw, please call us at 248-825-8042 for a consultation.