“Should I file for divorce?” This is the question we are asked repeatedly by new and consulting clients. This question may be more appropriate for a psychologist or a psychiatrist than a divorce lawyer. However, this question is addressed in the Michigan court rules and statutes.
MCR 3.206 relates to pleadings in domestic relations actions. MCR 3.206 (5)(d) provides, “In an action for divorce, separate maintenance, annulment of marriage, or affirmation of marriage, regardless of the contentions of the parties with respect to the existence or validity of the marriage, the complaint also must state…(d) the factual grounds for the action, except that in an action for divorce or separate maintenance, the grounds must be stated in the statutory language, without further particulars.”
In Michigan, no-fault divorce is found in Chapter 552 of Michigan Compiled Laws. MCL 552.6 discusses the filing and content of a complaint for divorce. Section 1 states, “a complaint for divorce may be filed in the Circuit Court upon the allegation that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. In the complaint, the plaintiff shall make no other explanation of the grounds for divorce than by use of the statutory language.”
A spouse should file for divorce when there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed, and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. “Reasonable” means fair, proper, just, moderate, suitable under the circumstances. From this perspective, a legal analysis of the issue would indicate that if a party was “reasonably” certain of the breakdown of the marriage, coupled with no “reasonable” expectation of reconciliation, that party should file for divorce.
People are typically emotionally as well as financially invested in their marriage, children, and families. These investments often span decades. Spouses are understandably reluctant to acknowledge that their investment has gone bust, as must be confessed in the complaint for divorce. A legal analysis of this issue often helps clients move forward. However, a true analysis of the issue must be made from a psychological as well as a legal perspective. When all inquiries are made, and a full soul-searching has been performed, the decision whether to file for divorce should become (if only a little bit) easier.