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Does fault affect divorce in Michigan?

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2017 | Divorce

Many people facing divorce in Michigan have questions about how one or both spouse’s behavior during the marriage may affect the property division process. This is a reasonable question and one that is not as simple as a “yes” or “no” answer.

When divorce comes knocking, it is common for both spouses to start compiling whatever evidence they can to take the other person down a notch. This is understandable given the circumstances, but may not actually prove useful in the divorce itself.

Michigan no-fault divorce laws

Michigan is a no-fault state, which is generally a good thing for those who wish to get divorced. This means that neither party has to prove any particular wrongdoing on the other spouse’s part, and generally helps facilitate more civil, simple divorces.

However, spouses who feel particularly wronged may wish to argue some egregious fault on the part of their partner. While this is possible in some cases, it does not generally have any great bearing on the way a judge may rule. An experienced attorney can help you evaluate the strongest strategy for your circumstances to ensure that your interests remain protected.

Instances where behavior may impact the divorce

In the eyes of the law, your divorce is essentially the dissolution of a business relationship, so the details of why the relationship dissolved is not particularly relevant from a legal standpoint.

There are, however, some exceptions.

If your spouse committed acts of violence or abuse toward you or your children, this may certainly come into play in a custody negotiation. Courts generally prioritize children’s best interests over a parent’s desire for equal custody, although a bill proposing equal custody is gaining traction in the state legislature as of June, 2017.

Under current guidelines, one parent generally receives primary custody while the other parent receives some version of weekends-and-holidays custody. Parental conduct certainly plays a part in determining who receives primary custody. If, for instance, a husband abuses a child or the mother, he may lose leverage in the custody negotiations.

Another exception may occur when one party stands to receive spousal support. In this case, the conduct of the receiving spouse can affect the amount of alimony they receive. If, for instance, a wife commits adultery that leads to the divorce, then these actions could diminish an alimony award later on in the divorce process.

Other than these issues, the fault of one or both spouses in a marriage does not generally affect property division.