When you think about how age affects divorce rates in Michigan, you probably assume that more younger people end their marriages compared to older couples. This assumption may have been true at one time, but data from the Pew Research Center reveals that rates are on the rise related to the phenomenon termed “gray” divorce. Today, the number of individuals aged 50 years and older getting divorce is twice what it was in the 1990s. For couples over age 65, the divorce rate has tripled in the same amount of time.
Gray divorce in Michigan does present some challenges, but there are some extreme cases where abuse or domestic violence is a factor. Under the circumstances, you can play a key role in helping your grandmother who wants a divorce but is afraid of her husband. Make it a priority to retain a Michigan elder law and divorce attorney to assist you through the process, which works as follows:
Preparing to File
You will need to gather a substantial amount of information when getting ready to file, and the key details are financial in nature for a gray divorce in Michigan. Work with your grandmother to gather:
- Bank statements;
- Income tax returns; and,
- Deeds, titles, and other documentation showing ownership of assets.
In addition, if there are any police reports in connection with domestic violence issues, these may be important to the divorce proceedings.
Filing the Divorce Petition
You initiate the case by filing a Complaint for Divorce in the county where your grandmother resides. In it, the petitioner states basic facts surrounding the marriage and residency requirements; your grandmother must have lived in Michigan for at least 180 days prior to filing.
After the court clerk accepts the Complaint for Divorce and filing fees, it is necessary to officially serve all documents to your grandmother’s husband as the respondent. Official service is handled by police or special process servers. The respondent will have the opportunity to respond to the statements contained in the divorce petition.
Issues in a Michigan Divorce
A gray divorce will typically not address the needs of minor children, but most couples will be faced with two key issues.
By default, Michigan laws provide for an equitable division of all property acquired during the marriage. For couples of all ages, this means fairly distributing such assets as the primary home, other real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, personal collections, and household goods. For older individuals, property division can be complicated when it comes to:
- Retirement accounts;
- Pensions and employment benefits;
- Life insurance policies; and,
- Social Security benefits.
Courts may award spousal support to a lower earning spouse based upon numerous factors, but the overriding consideration is getting that person in a position to be financially self-sufficient. With older couples, employment options are limited and some spouses have already retired.
A Michigan Elder Law and Divorce Lawyer Can Advise Your Family
The presence of threats or violence can make a gray divorce more complicated, but you can best support your grandmother when you have skilled legal representation on your side. To set up a consultation with an experienced attorney, please contact Iafrate & Salassa, P.C. After assessing your situation, we can determine next steps for helping your grandmother.