On February 19, 2008, a bill was introduced in Michigan's state legislature to amend the divorce statute with respect to grounds for divorce. If passed, this law would take Michigan residents back 38 years. In terms of the majority view on morality, evidenced by significant increases in cohabitation rather than marriage as a lifestyle, it would take us back to the 18th century. The legislation, if passed, would state:
Sec. 6. (1) A complaint for divorce may be filed in the
circuit court upon the allegation 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.
(2) If subsection (1) does not apply, a complaint for divorce
may be filed in the circuit court alleging 1 or more of the
following grounds for divorce:
(a) The defendant has committed adultery.
(b) The defendant has been convicted of a felony and has been
sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or more.
(c) The defendant abandoned the matrimonial domicile 1 year or
more before the complaint was filed and was requested by the
plaintiff during that period to return to the matrimonial domicile,
but did not do so.
(d) The defendant has physically or sexually abused the
plaintiff or a child of 1 or both of the parties.
(e) The parties by mutual consent have been living separate
and apart continuously without reconciliation for 2 years or more.
(f) A judgment of separate maintenance has been entered in an
action between the parties and the parties by mutual consent have
been living separate and apart continuously without reconciliation
for 18 months or more after entry of the judgment.
(3) A plaintiff shall not include in a complaint for divorce
an explanation of the grounds for divorce other than by the use of
the applicable statutory language.
(4) The defendant, by answer, may either admit the grounds
for divorce alleged or deny them without further explanation. An
admission by the defendant of the grounds for divorce may be
considered by the court but is not binding on the court's
(5) The court shall enter a judgment dissolving the bonds
of matrimony if evidence is presented in open court 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. showing 1
of the following:
(a) If the complaint is filed under subsection (1), that, by a
preponderance of the evidence, grounds for divorce as described in
subsection (1) exist.
(b) If the complaint is filed under subsection (2), that, by
clear and convincing evidence, grounds for divorce as described in
subsection (2) exist.
What does this proposal mean? Certain state legislators are trying to eradicate no-fault divorce in Michigan for families with minor children and for marriages without children in which one party wishes to stay married. Note that section (4) prohibits a person from naming a paramour in a complaint, consistent with the current law. Nevertheless, the court cannot grant a divorce without the plaintiff proving fault unless
- both parties consent or stipulate that "here 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" the marriage is broken want a divorce, and
- the parties have no minor children.
The burden of proof of fault sufficient to allow the court to grant a divorce is by a preponderance of the evidence (at least 51% to 49%) if there are no minor children. For litigants with minor children, however, the burden of proof is very high -- clear and convincing evidence. This means that evidence of adultery would have to be presented in court. Rarely does that occur, unless the party committing adultery is seeking custodial rights and the other party believes that the adultery has an impact of the adulterer's parenting ability.
Sounds like we'll need to sell scarlet As in stores if this piece of legislation passes. Moreover, citizens would have to become very interested in circuit court judicial races. Electing someone to the bench whose views on morality differ significantly from your own would risk imposition of their views on your life.
Speaking of adultery (we were speaking of adultery, weren't we?), in Jackson v Jackson, Docket No 271917, per curiam decision issued by the court of appeals on February 19, 2008, the COA named the wife's paramour in its decision, not once, not twice, but eight times!
The COA approved distribution of the marital estate 97% to H and 3% to W, all because W did not come with "clean hands" to the court. Of course she did not have clean hands. Her hands had rat poison on them!
W's parental rights were earlier terminated. (Docket No. 267963, Lv Den) She got 9 to 25 years for attempted murder, (affirmed Docket No 260313) and unfortunately since H got most of the money, the taxpayers are footing the bill . . . What a world!
You'll find other articles about divorce, child custody, and support issues on my website traversecityfamilylaw.com