Divorce is one of the most stressful situations you will ever experience. The one person who knows you intimately for years has suddenly become your adversary, and may use all of your known flaws and indiscretions against you. Anger, although typical, is counter productive. If possible, you should discuss the reason(s) for the breakdown of the marriage. I’ve had situations where one spouse was virtually clueless regarding the other’s perspective on the marriage. One person is miserable and the other doesn’t even know it. Sometimes, when both parties would like the marriage to work, they reconcile and dismiss the divorce proceedings. In the majority of cases, once you’ve reached the stage of filing for divorce, the marriage has already irretrievably broken down.
I have been married for over thirty-five years. There are times in a marriage when you no longer feel in love with your partner. The decision to file for divorce is important and should not be entered into without first trying counseling to see if the marriage can be saved, especially if you have children. There is an immense body of studies that show that children do better, scholastically and emotionally, in an intact family. I can recommend a counselor if you wish to pursue this avenue
What can you do if your partner refuses counseling and is resigned to going forward with the divorce? After getting over the shock, grief and anger, your general attitude should be to accept the inevitable. Michigan is a no-fault state which means that only one of the parties has to want the divorce and that fault is not a factor in deciding whether to grant the divorce. You need to identify the assets accumulated during the marriage and obtain documentation of their current value. The norm is that the Court will divide marital property roughly equally.
The Court must justify the division of property using the following factors:
- duration of the marriage
- contributions of the parties to the marital estate
- age of the parties
- health of the parties
- life status of the parties
- necessities and circumstances of the parties
- earning abilities of the parties
- past relations and conduct of the parties
- general principles of equity.
There may even be additional factors that are relevant to a particular case. For example, the court may choose to consider the interruption of the personal career or education of either party. The determination of relevant factors will vary depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. Contrary to popular belief, one circumstance considered by the Court in the determination of property division is the fault or misconduct of a party. However, the trial court must consider all the relevant factors and not assign disproportionate weight to any one circumstance.
Obviously, for parents, the most important issue in a divorce is child custody, parenting time and support. These topics are discussed in separate sections of this site.