Archive for November, 2011

No-fault divorce doesn’t mean that fault doesn’t count!

In 1971 Michigan’s divorce law was changed to provide for “no-fault divorce.” Prior to 1971 you had to allege, and then prove, that your spouse had either committed adultery, was incompetent, imprisoned for more than three years, deserted you or was a habitual drunkard to get divorced. Now all you need allege and prove is “that there has been a breakdown in 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.” That is all that is required to dissolve your marriage.

That does not mean that “fault,” in all its traditional forms, is not relevant when seeking a divorce. Behaving badly still has its consequences.

If you have minor children, bad behavior can certainly impact which parent gets custody, as well as the type of parenting time granted to the non-custodial parent. When resolving a custody dispute, the Child Custody Act requires that a judge consider “the moral fitness of the parties involved,” whether the parent can provide a “stable and satisfactory environment,” and “domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against, or witnessed by the child.”

When it comes to property division, “fault” is one of many equitable factors the court may consider in dividing the property of a divorcing couple. While many judges are reluctant to consider fault, and the Michigan Court of Appeals has cautioned that it not be overemphasized, the trial court may weigh fault in the balance when deciding who gets what.

So when you hear that Michigan has “no-fault divorce,” don’t assume that fault doesn’t count.

‘The Secret Lives of Wives’

It’s a matter of endurance. Marriage, that is. In her book, “The Secret Lives of Wives: Women Share What It Really Takes To Stay Married,” Iris Krasnow interviewed 200 women managing to stick it out in long marriages.

“I have found in my collection of wives who remain in long running marriages that the majority of them share these common traits: They have the guts and determination to stick it out, no matter what. And their laments about their marriages aren’t because of anything serious. It’s the subtle nuances of living with one person in one house for a very long time that grates at the soul, and that causes a simmering malaise. It’s the grind of the ordinary that drives people into thinking, ‘Is this all there is? I want more. I want adventure. I want change.’”

So, should you decide to “stick it out,” or call Noud & Noud? Before calling me, ask yourself: “Will I really be better off (emotionally, financially, socially) divorced? Will being single again really make me happier?”

If the answer to either of these questions is “No,” divorce may not necessarily be the answer. As Krasnow says: “Who stays married and who doesn’t is a question not always about commitment or deep abiding love — it’s about endurance.” Make sure your capacity for endurance has reached its limit before calling Noud & Noud. But if it has, we can make the fresh start you are looking for a reality.
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Noud & Noud represents clients throughout the Lansing, Michigan, area, including Ingham County, Eaton County, Jackson County and the communities of Mason, Dansville, Eaton Rapids, Charlotte, Dimondale, Leslie, Jackson, Lansing, East Lansing, Okemos, Haslett, Williamston, Holt, Potterville and Stockbridge.