Both marriage and divorce are legal processes that occur almost across the entire world. The only exceptions being the Philippines and the Vatican City, which do not allow divorce. While marriage is a fairly standard contract that doesn’t change much in it’s nature from place to place, divorce laws can and do differ vastly in each jurisdiction; both within the United States and around the world.
For all of the available variations on a theme, there tend to be two basic approaches to divorce: fault based and no-fault based. It is important to note that even in jurisdictions that don’t require a ‘fault’ to be assigned to one of the partners in order to justify a divorce, the court might still take ‘fault’ behavior into consideration when dividing assets and establishing custody arrangements.
This is true of Michigan, which is a no-fault divorce state. This means that any married person who is a resident of the state can sue for divorce from their spouse, without having to prove a wrongdoing. A court in Michigan can grant a divorce if “there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”
But family law in Michigan has changed over time.
Prior to the late 1960’s, most states in the U.S. required that a person prove that their spouse had committed an act that violated the marriage contract in order to show valid “grounds” for a divorce. Examples would be physical abuse of a spouse or their children, an extra-marital affair, or abandoning a spouse. In Michigan, as of 1972, all a person needs to do in order to end a marriage is allege that the relationship has broken down so far as to be unsavable.
In jurisdictions that require “irretrievable breakdown” in the marriage relationship as grounds for divorce, the simple statement that the marriage cannot be redeemed is sufficient to satisfy the court. Certain jurisdictions require that there be “irreconcilable differences”, but verbal assurances are enough, and additional proof is not required by the court.
A no-fault divorce jurisdiction will grant a divorce even if only one partner wants the divorce. This is the currently the case in Michigan, where a divorce will be granted even if only one partner wants it. This is true even if the other partner refuses to comply, or actively works to undermine the process.
Join us in the next segment as we wrap up a brief overview of the ways in which divorce can be executed here in Michigan. Because knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more prepared you will be if the time ever comes when divorce is something you need to handle in your own life.