Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to consider alternatives to divorce – marriage counseling, annulment or separation.
Many couples try counseling from a marriage counselor, social worker or psychotherapist as an alternative to divorce. Such counselors are trained to help couples resolve differences. The counselor may be able to help you and your spouse learn communication skills and a better understanding of one another to prevent your marriage from failing. Marriage counseling can be useful when couples find their problems have begun to affect their compatibility with each other. Counseling may also keep a relationship with your spouse from worsening even if divorce is unavoidable.
An annulment is a court ruling that a marriage was never legally valid. A marriage can only be annulled if there was serious defect at the time of the marriage ceremony. In most states, marriages can be annulled if one of the parties was under age at the time of the marriage, if a spouse could not consummate the marriage, if consent was obtained fraudulently, or if the marriage was bigamous or incestuous. People also may seek annulments for religious reasons or because marriage caused a party to lose spousal support from an earlier marriage. Issues of child custody or property division may also be addressed by the court as part of the proceeding.
If you and your spouse separate, it may be best to enter into a separation agreement or obtain a court order of separation. A separation agreement is a contract between you and your spouse that can provide for spousal support, child custody, visitation rights and a division of the property acquired during the marriage. The agreement can be enforced by courts if a party does not comply. If the parties later divorce, it may be included in the divorce judgment.
Common grounds for a fault divorce are adultery, bigamy, cruelty, desertion, incest and insanity. In addition, many states, including Michigan, have adopted “no fault” divorce laws that allow divorce without showing that one spouse was at fault. In Michigan, a divorce can frequently be obtained because of incompatibility of irreconcilable differences or if a spouses live apart for a period of time – often one year.
In certain circumstances, a fault divorce may offer a better legal strategy for you. Our office can guide you on the best way to proceed.