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The role of fault in Michigan divorce cases, P.2

In our last post, we briefly discussed how fault can come into play in property division decisions in Michigan. As we noted, there is a limit to how much fault can be used as the basis for any given property division plan. In particular, it cannot be used to punish a party for breaking up the marriage or to justify an inequitable result from the standpoint of all the other factors that should be considered.

So while fault can be considered in property division, its role is limited to the goal of achieving an equitable result. In much the same way, fault can come into play in custody disputes as well, but not for the purpose of punishing a party for the failure of the marriage. Rather, fault can be considered in custody decisions insofar as it impacts the best interests of the child

In a way, fault can come into play more directly in child custody decisions. This can be seen especially in that judges are permitted to consider the moral fitness of each parent when deciding what is in the best interests of the couple’s children. Moral fitness can encompass personal decisions a parent has made in the past and is currently making. These are important precisely because they can impact the well-being of children under the parent’s care.

Courts can therefore concern themselves with things like alcohol and drug addiction, the types of relationships and friendships a parent keeps, a parent’s work ethic and ability to hold down a steady job, and other factors touching on a parent’s character. Obviously, though, there is a limit to how far a court may scrutinize a parent’s moral failings. At some point, a line must be drawn between scrutinizing a parent for his or her own sake and scrutinizing a parent for the sake of the child. It is important to have a legal advocate at one’s side to ensure the court doesn’t overreach in this area. 

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The role of fault in Michigan divorce cases, P.2 | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC