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When Fault Enters a No-Fault Divorce

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This simply means that you don’t need to prove any fault on the part of your spouse as grounds for a divorce. For example you needn’t show that your spouse was cheating on you, that your spouse was abusive, that your spouse has abandoned you or any other breach of the martial contract.

However, issues of fault may still be relevant to the divorce proceedings.  A trial court may consider questions of fault when they are in the process of dividing the maricutal assets, assessing spousal support payments or determining child custody and parenting time.

Marital assets

With regard to marital assets, it is important to know that in cases where the court does take fault into account, the judge generally won’t change the award very dramatically. The usual amount is a 5 to 10% variance in what you would have received without proving fault on the part of your spouse. In extreme cases of fault, however, the attorneys at Boyer, Dawson & St. Pierre have convinced the trial court to award upwards of 90% of the assets to the innocent spouse.

Spousal support payments

Generally, spousal support payments — sometimes known as alimony — take into consideration the size of the marital estate and whether one of the spouses will need to sell any of the assets awarded in the divorce to maintain a reasonable lifestyle. The factors that the court considers in awarding spousal support include:

  • Past relations and conduct of parties
  • Length of the marriage
  • Age of the parties
  • Ability to work
  • Present situation of parties
  • Financial needs of the parties
  • Health of the parties
  • Ability to pay spousal support
  • Source and amount of property awarded the parties
  • Prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others
  • General principles of equity (which does not necessarily mean strict equality)

Child custody and parenting time

If the court finds proximity to an abusive or neglectful parent is not in the child’s best interests, the court may consider those factors when determining custody and visitation arrangements.

These are merely guidelines and the court can and often does consider other factors when making its determination.

If you are going through a divorce is it recommended that you speak with an attorney to discuss the unexpected ways that fault can still be considered by Michigan courts. Our experienced Michigan divorce attorneys can help make sense of what can feel like a pretty complicated system. Contact Boyer, Dawson & St. Pierre in Sterling Heights today at 888-559-4705.

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