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Family Law
WMU-Cooley Law School
Cunningham, Janice K.

Family Law Outline
·        Family law is a court of equity not a court of law.
·        No-fault state
o       To get divorced you do not list the reason; list the following:
§         “There has been a breakdown in the relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage could be preserved.”
·        Cannot stop the divorce if you are the party who does not want it.
o       One person wants and it and they file in the county where they live.
·        When you look at alimony, fault is a consideration.
o       Fault is a consideration also for property and custody. Depends on who it is and what it is.
·        Condemnation-cannot hold it against someone for doing something in the past, they stop and you forgive them.
·        To be able to get married in MI must be 18.
o       If want to get married between the ages of 16-18 you have to have the permission of a legal guardian.
o       Cannot get married under the age of 16 for any reason.
·        Two ways we annul marriages
o       Void, meaning it never happened. Should still file and make it clear it is annulled.
o       If voidable=The court can choose to say that the marriage did not happen.
·        Prohibited from getting married, if within a certain degree of consanguinity and infinity (relationship created at law).
o       A man cannot marry his mother, sister…. Need to know that there is a level that is not permitted.
o       If that happens the marriage is void. Not voidable.
·        If someone is concerned whether or not they have a void marriage, they can file with the court to find if the marriage is valid. Ask the court to determine conclusively that they have a valid marriage so that there is no issue down the road.
o       Fraud is where you are trying to have the marriage be voidable.
o       In order for fraud to be successful it has to go to the essential element of the marriage contract.
§         It has to be wholly subversive to the whole marital relationship. Had to have impacted the free party.
§          It has to be something that is clearly established.
·        Cannot legally terminate a contract of marriage without going through the court.
o       The reason you have to go to court is because public policy says we want to encourage marriage. We do not want it to be ended or terminated on a whim.
·        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 could be restored.
o       We do not want negative allegations in the initial complaint.
·        The court cannot make anybody go to marriage counseling.
·        In Michigan there is a cooling off period.
o       07-xxx-DM or DO
o       Divorce without minor children must wait 60 days
o       If you file with minor children DM then you must wait 180 days.
o       If the woman is pregnant and is going to give birth within 6 months and the husband is not the father, then these are compelling circ

live together.
o       There are no defenses to divorce. Can try to make it difficult but the end result is if one spouse wants a divorce or legal separation you cannot stop it.
·        Once you get married you automatically have a dower interest.
·        There is a dispute of whether or not you can get alimony in an annulment case.
o       If alimony was an issue, you would advise your client that you do not want an annulment.
·        Annulment does not impact the legitimacy of children.
o       Still considered to be the legitimate issue of both parties. Court can still order child support, parenting time,
·        The court can also divide the property in an annulment proceeding.
·        The court does have authority to award attorney fees in an annulment case.
o       When we talk about attorney fees we are talking about MCR 3.206C. that a party at anytime can request fees and the other party can pay. Looking at economic disparity between the parties.
·        There can be tax consequences
o       If the marriage is determined to be void. Technically each party should immediately file amended tax returns for each year they were married.
If the marriage is voidable, they do not have to file amended tax returns.