Michigan divorce courts can consider misconduct such as adultery when deciding spousal support and property division.

Celeste worked for nearly six years doing administrative work at a local insurance company to pay the bills while her husband Bill studied full-time to get his bachelor’s degree in accounting -- all with the hopes that sacrifices she made now would pay off when it was her turn to pursue a college degree.

She felt absolutely betrayed when she discovered Bill was having an affair with another student in one of his classes -- ironically the final one he needed for graduation. When Celeste confronted him, Bill admitted he had been cheating on her for more than a year and he now wanted a divorce.

Celeste was more than happy to oblige, but she was incensed because she had supported Bill for years so he could attain a higher annual salary -- only to have him leave before she could benefit from her sacrifices for them both.

But Celeste learned from her family law attorney that the court considers a number of factors in a divorce proceeding regarding spousal support and property division that would help balance out the inequities of her situation.

Since Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, spouses are not required to allege misconduct to file for divorce. However, misconduct - such as adultery or abuse - is one of the 12 factors used to determine spousal support and one of the 9 factors used to divide property.

Her family law attorney also advised Celeste that Michigan is an equitable property state, which means that property is divided fairly, but not necessarily evenly.

During the divorce proceedings, the court held a hearing on spousal support. Bill’s conduct and other factors such as the length of the marriage, the parties’ earning ability, and the age and health of the parties, were all considered. The court ruled that Bill would pay some spousal support to Celeste to compensate her for helping Bill attain a college degree and a higher salary.

When it came to dividing the couple’s assets, the court again took into account Bill’s conduct, along with other factors such as each party's contributions to the marital property, and the parties’ earnings potential. The court ruled that Celeste should receive slightly more than half the marital estate.

While the divorce was a traumatic experience, Celeste walked away confident that she could make a fresh start with her life because of the spousal support and property that she received.

Mike Toburen - Attorney at Law   

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