Divorce is the legal termination of the marriage. During this process, matters such as division of property, custody of children, spousal/child support, etc. will be settled. It is preferable for the parties to reach a settlement amongst themselves. However, if a settlement cannot be reached, the court will make a determination on these matters.


Separation (separate maintenance) is very similar to divorce. Upon finalization of a separate maintenance action, the parties will no longer live together. They will divide property and custody of children will be determined. Spousal support and child support may even be granted.  The main difference between separation and divorce is with separation the parties are still legally married. Therefore, they still enjoy certain rights afforded to married persons, such as the right to receive pension benefits and intestacy rights. Also, if a person who is separated wishes to re-marry, he/she must first obtain a divorce.


Alimony, or spousal support, is sometimes paid from one party in a divorce to the other party. The amount of alimony can be determined by agreement of the parties or by court order. The length of time alimony must be paid will vary and, in rare cases, may be permanent.

Child Support

When parents of a child do not live together, the non-custodial parent may pay child support to the custodial parent. Michigan applies a formula to determine how much if any, child support the non-custodial parent must pay. Factors such as the income of both parents, number of children and ages of children are considered by the formula.

Judgment Modifications

Court ordered alimony or child support arrangements may be modified upon a showing of a substantial change in circumstances for either party.


A court will determine which parent gets custody of a child by considering what is in the best interest of the child. Many factors go into determining what is in the best interest of the child. Among them are each parent’s ability to provide the child with:

  • Love and affection
  • Food, clothing and other necessities
  • Stability


Barring unusual circumstances, the parent that is not granted custody of the child will be granted visitation, known as parenting time. Parenting time should be granted to a parent in a frequency, duration and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent.

Division of Property

When parents of a child do not live together, marital property is equitably divided by the courts. Generally, this does not include property owned by either party before the marriage began. It also does not include property received as a gift or inherited during marriage.

Many factors go into the determination of an equitable division of marital property, which is not necessarily an equal division of the marital property. Among these factors are fault and contribution to the acquisition of the marital property.

Change of Domicile

If the custodial parent would like to move more than 100 miles away from his/her current home, the non-custodial parent’s permission or a court order may be required.

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