How Divorce, Separate Maintenance and Annulment Differ

By Daniel H Moss, Attorney

Michigan is known as a “no fault” divorce state.

In order to get divorced, it must be alleged that:

“There has been a breakdown of 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.”

What you need to know:

  • This requires an assertion that your marriage is dead, and you will never live with your spouse as husband and wife.

Fault may still be a factor in other issues of the divorce:
What you need to know:

  • If the parties reach a final settlement on all issues, fault is not a factor.
  • If there is a dispute as to alimony, property, support, visitation, or custody, fault may become an active ingredient in resolving these issues. In this case, you and your attorney may discuss any indiscretions of the parties

Separate Maintenance Actions:
In Michigan, we have provided also for Separate Maintenance actions, which are generally seldom processed.

What you need to know:

  • The procedure is relatively the same as in a divorce matter, except that neither party may remarry, and legally are still married.
  • The law provides that if one party institutes a Separate Maintenance suit, and the other party files for divorce, the court will only consider the case as a divorce matter and cannot enter a Judgment of Separate Maintenance.

Annulment Proceeding:
Michigan also has an Annulment proceeding, which invalidates a marriage.

What you need to know:

  • Marriages may be void from the inception, or are avoidable depending on the circumstances.
  • Applicable grounds for annulment include: incapacity to marry such as insanity, bigamy, under age, or any type of fraud that goes to the heart of the marriage.
  • Parties desiring an annulment must not cohabitate after having discovered the impediment to the marriage.

This information is intended to provide some general information. It is not intended to answer specific questions about a particular case, as each case is different.

If you have questions or are looking for advice about your specific situation, please contact me directly at 248.855.5656 or [email protected].