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Military Divorce in Michigan

Whether you are in the military or you are married to someone who is (or both), you should know that this situation can have an impact on divorce proceedings. Laws pertaining to military divorce vary by state, so if you reside in the state of Michigan, you need to know how state laws affect you. Keep in mind that petitions for divorce can be filed in a state of residence or a state where military members or families are stationed.

The main thing to understand about military spouse divorce in Michigan is that there are protections in place for active military members. These protections mainly apply in situations where a non-military spouse files for divorce.

Divorce, in general, is a complicated process, but it can become even more so when military divorce entitlements enter the picture. Here are a few things you should know before you move forward with military divorce.

Filing for Military Divorce in Michigan

In the state of Michigan, filing for divorce requires one spouse to file a complaint with the circuit court in his/her (or the spouse’s) county of residence, as well as serve the non-filing spouse with a summons. This can present an immediate problem when the non-filing spouse is an active member of the military, especially when stationed elsewhere or involved in active duty missions, for example.

A spouse must be served with the summons and a copy of the divorce action in person or by other verifiable means. If the summons is not properly served, Michigan courts cannot claim jurisdiction over the active military member and the divorce cannot proceed.

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If, however, the divorce is uncontested, the active military member may sign and file a waiver affidavit signifying knowledge of the divorce action in lieu of a summons being served. In addition, divorce action may be delayed while the military spouse is on active duty, and up to 60 days after he/she is released from active duty (unless a waiver is signed to allow the divorce to proceed).

These laws are intended to protect active military members from being held in default for failure to appear for a summons, as well as ensure that they have the opportunity to participate in divorce proceedings so as to have some say in the outcome. Otherwise it would be all too easy for a non-military spouse to obtain divorce and set the terms, to the detriment of the military spouse who is unable to appear.

Divorce Agreement

There are some aspects of divorce in the military that are the same as purely civilian divorces. Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, so the only grounds necessary are the perceived failure of the marriage. At least one spouse must hold residence in Michigan in order to file for divorce in the state, although in cases of military divorce in Michigan, this can extend to being stationed there.

However, there are some differences when it comes to creating divorce agreements. Division of assets, for example, largely follows state laws for asset division, but when it comes to retirement pay for military members, the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA) comes into play to determine the extent to which a non-military spouse may seek payment from a military retiree’s pay.

Alimony, child custody, and child support are also impacted by military service. Because of the somewhat transient nature of active military members, determining child custody can be difficult. Active military members are not in control of their living situation. They may be re-stationed or deployed at any time, and this naturally impacts a court’s decision when it comes to determining child custody.

This can also affect alimony and child support. However, the state of Michigan sets limits on support payments related to active military members. Awards of alimony and child support combined cannot exceed 60% of the military member’s pay and allowances, and military members may be able to argue against including certain allowances in calculations.

Hiring Military Divorce Lawyers

Because active military members are at the mercy of their situation, it would be easy for a non-military spouse to take advantage of the situation during divorce proceedings. It is for this reason that specific protections are put in place in the state of Michigan, but military members must do their part to file necessary paperwork and take necessary actions in order to benefit from these protections.

Whether you are a military member or you’re married to one, the best way to proceed with your divorce is by hiring qualified military divorce lawyers that have the knowledge and experience to represent your best interests during a military divorce in Michigan.