When “Fault” Matters in “No Fault” Divorce
Although “no fault” divorce became law in Michigan in 1972, the court may consider fault when dividing marital assets or when one party asks for spousal support or alimony. “No fault” divorce means you don’t need to prove that your spouse was “at fault,” or did anything wrong to have the court grant you a divorce. A party only needs to allege the marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown” — legalese for you and your spouse don’t get along and your marriage cannot be repaired. This is the reason, or “grounds,” for the divorce, and it must be stated in the court documents. (Most states refer to this marital breakdown as “irreconcilable differences,” the phrase you have heard used in television shows and movies).
However, fault is one of the factors a judge may look at when determining what is fair in the division of property and whether spousal support or alimony should be awarded. In addition, the aspects of fault may come out in the event of child custody litigation. Fault may be shown by evidence of behaviors such as adultery, abandonment, and infliction of emotional or physical pain.
For instance, if your spouse cheated and not only caused the marriage to end but also depleted marital assets by spending large sums on gifts for an extramarital lover, then a Michigan judge can consider that evidence when deciding the amount and duration of alimony, or whether alimony should be awarded at all. Other factors, established by case law, that a court may consider in determining property distribution and alimony include: how long you were married; your and your spouse’s ages, needs and earning power; and source of the property.
Remember, Noud & Noud can help you. By providing caring support and diligent, aggressive and knowledgeable representation, Noud & Noud have successfully helped hundreds of clients reach their full goals regarding equitable distribution of marital assets.