Divorce in the US is governed by the laws of the individual states. Divorce, also known as “dissolution of marriage,” is a legal process in which a judge or other authority legally terminates a marriage, restoring them to the status of being single and allowing them to marry other individuals.

Michigan is an equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution means the marital property will be divided between spouses in an equitable or fair manner.  This means that rather than dividing the property equally, property will be divided “equitably” or fairly. The goal in dividing property is to divide property so that each spouse maintains some assets from the marriage there are two kinds of property involved, separate property and marital property.  Separate property is property owned by either party before the marriage, and some property acquired during the marriage by gift or inheritance. Separate property is normally awarded to the party it went to originally. Separate property can become marital property. If separate property is mixed with marital property it may be considered marital property at the time of separation.  Marital property is property, or debt attained during the marriage that started from the wedding date until the divorce happens. Marital property can cause division between the parties.  There is a presumption that the division will be roughly equal, unless the court finds a good enough reason for it not to be.

In Michigan, you may get a divorce if your marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no chance of reconciliation.  Michigan is a no fault state that where do not have to prove any other reasons to get divorced.  There is no need to be separated in order to get a divorce, in fact, couples can still live under the same roof, just not as husband and wife.  To file for divorce in the state you must be a Michigan resident for at least six months and must live in the county where you filed for divorce for ten days prior to filing. Normally, the judge enters a judgment for divorce after six months once you filed for divorce.  A Summons and complaint must be filed to begin a divorce and filed with the appropriate filing fee.  A woman’s maiden surname can be restored by court order. Usually, the restoration of a maiden name is included in the judgment of divorce. After the judgment is filed with the court, she can proceed with changing her name with the federal government (social security office) and the state (Michigan Secretary of State).

These terms seem pretty fair.  I would expect that you must be living in the county and state for a certain amount of time before you could file for judgement.  The courts can order either spouse to pay alimony to the other party. This could include attorney fees as well. The amount should be sufficient so that the receiving spouse can maintain a home. The obligation to pay alimony ends when either party dies, or when the person receiving alimony remarries.  This might deter some people from remarrying early or at all.

The divorce rate in Michigan in 2014 was 6.0 persons whose marriage ended in divorce or annulment per 1,000 population.  This is slightly less than the 7.6 in US that year.  The number of divorces fluctuate as far as trends go and stay around 30,000 a year.  The average cost of non-contested divorce can range from $1,200-$1,500.00 and includes the filing fees. The average cost of a contested divorce may range from $5,000.00 – $30,000.00 depending on the time the lawyer spent on the file and the need for any expert witnesses.

With divorce the issue of child support arises for those that had children together.  The parents are required to support their children financially until they finish high school or until they are 19 and a half years old. The court will determine the amount of child support including child care, health insurance, and education which is withdrawn directly from the parents’ income and is enforced the Department of Human Services.

As a child of divorced parents I understand how common divorce is.  Although my parents’ divorced in Virginia, some of the rules and laws are somewhat similar to Michigan.  When I was seven years old, the question about who would get custody of me and my brother arose. Virginia and Michigan courts encourage parents to have joint custody of their children. If parents can’t agree on custody, the court will determine custody rights based on the child’s best interest based on the emotional ties between each parent and the child, the parent’s ability to provide for the child’s wellbeing, the amount of time the child has lived in that environment, and the child’s relationship to their community.