Q: I recently filed a complaint for divorce. My wife says she is opposed to the idea of divorce and intends to contest it. What does this mean?

A: Michigan is known as a no-fault divorce state. This means that, in order to obtain a judgment of divorce, the plaintiff, who is the person filing for divorce, does not need to plead specific grounds for divorce. Prior to the passage of the no-fault divorce statute in the early 1970s, a person was required to plead and prove specific grounds for divorce. Some of the more commonly alleged grounds for divorce included abandonment, physical or mental cruelty, or irreconcilable differences. Now that Michigan has adopted the no-fault standard, there is only one statutory basis for divorce, which must be stated in a complaint for divorce. Under the current statutory framework, rather than stating specific grounds for divorce, the plaintiff needs only to state that “ there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood the marriage can be preserved”. This language is contained in every complaint for divorce and must be verified by sworn, in person testimony before the judge before a judgment of divorce can be entered.

So to answer your question, if you truly want a divorce and your wife is opposed to it, she will have an opportunity to file an answer to your complaint for divorce and will have a right to her day in court to testify concerning equitable division of your marital property and debts and, if you have minor children, regarding the important issues of custody, parenting time and support. However, if you are willing to testify that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship and you see no likelihood that it can be restored, there will be nothing your spouse can do to prevent entry of a judgment of divorce. Your testimony alone will meet the statutory grounds for divorce.

For more information about no-fault divorce click here.