ARAG LEGAL PLANS ACCEPTED
ARAG LEGAL PLANS ACCEPTED
Filing for Divorce
A divorce action “may be brought by a wife or a husband.” MCL 552.11. Note, however, that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v Hodges, 576 US 644 (2015), invalidated state laws including Michigan’s statutes and constitutional provision defining marriage as being between one man and one woman “to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.” See §2.4. See also Stankevich v Milliron, 313 Mich App 233, 882 NW2d 194 (2015) (plaintiff had standing to bring equitable parent claim, which had previously been dismissed because Michigan did not recognize same-sex marriages before Obergefell).
A conservator or a guardian may also file a divorce action on behalf of an incompetent spouse. Burnett v Burnett (In re Estate of Burnett), 300 Mich App 489, 497, 834 NW2d 93 (2013); see also Houghton v Keller, 256 Mich App 336, 662 NW2d 854 (2003).
Grounds for Divorce
Michigan provides a single statutory ground for divorce: “[T]here has been a breakdown of 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.” MCL 552.6. In the complaint, the plaintiff may make no other explanation of the grounds. The defendant may either admit the grounds alleged or deny them, without further explanation. An admission may be considered by the court but is not binding. The court will enter a judgment dissolving the bonds of matrimony if evidence is presented in open court that there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship, as described in the statutory language.
On the date of filing, one of the parties must have resided in Michigan for at least 180 days and resided in the county of filing for at least 10 days. MCL 552.9(1); Stamadianos v Stamadianos, 425 Mich 1, 385 NW2d 604 (1986).
The 10-day county residency requirement need not be met if the following conditions are met and set forth in the complaint:
The Waiting Period
There is a 60-day waiting period after the complaint is filed before proofs or testimony may be taken. MCL 552.9f; see also MCR 3.210(A). If minor children are involved, the period is 6 months. MCL 552.9f. Because divorce cases are generally heard in open court on proofs taken, this waiting period sets the earliest date on which the judgment may be entered. See MCR 3.210(B)(5)(a).
The court has no power to shorten the 60-day period. Alexander v Alexander, 103 Mich App 263, 303 NW2d 202 (1981) (court erred in accepting parties’ stipulation to reduce 60-day period). However, the court can shorten the 6-month waiting period to as few as 60 days on written motion and proper showing of “unusual hardship or compelling necessity.” MCL 552.9f; MCR 3.210(A)(2); Hood v Hood, 154 Mich App 430, 436, 397 NW2d 557 (1986)
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