Same-sex marriages were briefly recognized in Michigan in 2014 but banned again after a few days. They became legal only after a ruling by the Supreme Court in June 2015. Since the ruling, every Michigan court had to recognize gay marriage and, subsequently, gay divorce.
Michigan Compiled Laws regulate same-sex divorce in Michigan. Heterosexual and gay couples enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same laws. Anyone married to a same-sex partner can get a divorce in Michigan if they meet the state residence requirements.
Gay couples considering the option of a common-law marriage need to be aware that it was abolished in 1957. The only way to be legally married is to obtain a marriage license.
Same-sex divorce online
Couples who want to file for same-sex divorce in Michigan can prepare all the necessary papers online without a lawyer. This is a quick and easy option for those who have an uncontested divorce. Online services provide their clients with up-to-date printable documents ready to file with the court.
Divorce over the internet is an inexpensive solution for couples with a tight budget. For instance, onlinemichigandivorce.com charges only $139, which is much cheaper than if you hire a lawyer. Do-it-yourself divorces are not only more affordable but also less time consuming and less stressful.
Same-sex divorce papers in Michigan
The divorce process for same-sex couples cannot begin without the submission of the documents to the court by one of the spouses. Although local rules can be slightly different in every county, divorce proceedings are the same for all state residents. After the same-sex divorce papers are submitted in the petitioner’s county of residence in Michigan, the couple attends a court hearing where a judge reviews their case and makes a final judgment.
Same-sex divorce forms in Michigan vary depending on the circumstances of the couple. However, a complaint for divorce is mandatory for all cases. For example, uncontested same-sex divorce cases in Michigan without children require less paperwork than contested ones.
If you decide to prepare for your marriage dissolution procedure by yourself, it would be useful to find more information on how to file same-sex divorce in Michigan at the county clerk’s office.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Michigan
To file for divorce in Michigan and dissolve a same-sex marriage, one of the spouses has to meet the state’s residency requirements.
Since Michigan is a no-fault state, the courts do not require any fault-based grounds, such as adultery or desertion. According to Section 552.6 of M.C.L., a person filing for divorce can simply state without further explanation that “there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship” with no prospects of reconciliation.
Custody of the Child
Spouses with minor children can get a same-sex divorce in Michigan only after they resolve Issues of child custody and support, which are considered as family law matters. Courts pay careful attention to the parent-children relationship in any marriage dissolution process.
Only legal parents can be awarded custody over children. Gender and sexual orientation do not affect the decision, and both parents will have equal rights. The court may send the parents to attend a parenting class to instruct them on how to help their children adjust to the changes.
When determining custody and visitation, a judge considers the following factors (M.C.L. Section 722.23):
- Emotional ties between the parties and the child
- The capacity of the parties to give their child love and guidance
- The ability to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical care
- The mental and physical health of each party
- The wishes of the child if he or she is of sufficient age
- The willingness of each parent to encourage contact between the child and the other parent
- Whether there were instances of domestic violence
- Whether any of the spouses was charged with child neglect
- Other relevant factors
There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Each of them can be either joint or sole. In Michigan, the most common type is joint legal custody, where both parents participate in important decisions about their child’s health, education, and well-being.
Physical custody can also be joint. If joint physical custody is awarded, the child will live an equal amount of time with each parent during the year. When sole physical custody is awarded, the child will live permanently with one of the parents, and the other parent will have visitation rights.
In Michigan, one or both parties may be required to pay child support. The amount of payments is determined by the Michigan child support formula based on the income shares model.
It includes the parents’ income, the number of children, and the number of nights spent with each parent. An additional amount of money must be paid for child care and health care expenses.
The income of each parent consists, but is not limited to:
- wages, bonuses, or any money from employment or business;
- distributed profits, compensations, unemployment benefits;
- interests, dividends, royalties, etc., if they can be considered as regular income;
- and other sources.
The sum calculated by the formula may be changed if the judge determines it to be unfair.
The payments terminate when the child reaches 18 years of age. However, according to Section 552.605b of M.C.L., it can be extended until 19 years and six months if the child is attending high school full-time.
During the action of marriage dissolution, the court may order one of the spouses to provide financial support to the other. It can be periodic, permanent, temporary, or one lump-sum. There is no state formula for the calculation of alimony, so the judge has to consider factors such as:
- the need for maintenance;
- the length of marriage;
- age and health of the parties;
- the financial situation of both spouses;
- ability to pay alimony;
- property awarded to each party;
- past relations;
- living standard during the marriage;
- other factors.
Spousal support can be modified if one of the spouses experiences considerable changes in financial standing. To apply for such modification, he or she must file a request and present facts in support of their situation.
In the absence of any agreement stating otherwise, alimony is terminated when a supporting spouse remarries (M.C.L., Section 552.13).
Divorce laws in Michigan regarding the distribution of property are the same for same-sex unions and heterosexual marriages. Marital property is distributed equitably between the spouses, which does not necessarily mean that the judge will divide assets and debts in half. So how is property divided exactly?
If the couple did not reach an amicable agreement beforehand, the judge will consider several factors when determining how to distribute the property, including:
- the duration of the marriage;
- the contribution of each spouse to the value of property;
- the needs of all parties including children;
- earning capacities of spouses;
- causes of marriage breakdown;
- age and health of the parties;
- other factors.
Separate property usually stays with its original owner unless the other spouse has made contributions that increased its value (Section 552.401 of M.C.L.).
Mediation is an alternative way to resolve conflicts between the spouses under the supervision and guidance of a neutral third party known as a mediator. Typically, the parties negotiate the issues of property division, child custody and support, and alimony. Mediation is less expensive than traditional litigation. It is also confidential and non-binding, unlike arbitration, for example.
Both spouses can go through the process with or without an attorney. If the couple reaches a settlement agreement, they can avoid a divorce trial. Otherwise, the judge will decide disputed issues at his or her own discretion.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Michigan
Any person can file for same-sex divorce in Michigan by submitting a complaint for marriage dissolution. Typically, there is a filing fee of $150. If the spouses have children, they will also have to pay a Custody and Parenting Time fee of $80. Additional motions made in court by either party will cost $20.
If a person is not able to pay the fees because of financial hardship, he or she can request a waiver. The court requires the provision of financial information that can prove the lack of resources.
How long will it take
There is a mandatory waiting period to get a divorce for same-sex couples in Michigan. When there are no contested issues between the spouses and no minor children, the marriage can be dissolved in as soon as 60 days. Usually, a marriage dissolution decree is obtained relatively quickly for uncontested cases. Couples with children will have to wait at least six months.
Another decision that can affect the time needed for final judgment is how to serve the papers to the other party. A person serving the documents has to be 18 years of age and not involved in the case.
The length of divorce process can vary depending on the circumstances of each case. For example, a person who is married to a same-sex partner and wants to get a divorce in Michigan if the spouse is out of state will have to locate them first. After a copy of the documents is served, the other spouse has 28 days to file their response.