The essential elements of a common law marriage are
  1. Between a man and woman,
  2. Both of whom are of legal age to contract a statutory marriage,
  3. Mutually consent to live together; and
  4. Hold themselves out to the world as husband and wife

Since 1957 Michigan has not recognized a common law marriage that is created within its borders, however if you fullfill the requirments of another State who still has common law marriage then it will be upheld in a Michigan Court.

If you have lived for a significant time in another state and think you may fullfill these elements and may have a issue you should contact an attorney cullengeisler@yahoo.com.



Michigan's a N0-Fault state. This means that either party can come before the circuit court and alledge

"The objects of matrimony have been dissolved and there is no reasonable likelihood that either party could live as Husband and Wife."

If this is alledged and the Judge is satisfied there is no likely hood of reconciliation a divorce will granted.

This also means that it takes two to tango and one party may want to keep the marriage alive but if the other party wants a divorce then it is granted.

Well what is the effect of fault in the dissolution of the marriage? Michigan is a quasi no-fault state because fault will come into play when dividing up the marital estate.



Question: 5 years prior to getting divorced I had a will drafted. What are the effects of my Divorce on my prior executed will.

Answer: Well vary good question. In Michigan a divorce has the effect on your will as follows, the law views your spouse as pre-deceasing you (by virtue of the Judgment of Divorce) and therefore will not inherit anything that you may have left them in your will.

Also any of your ex-spouses relatives who were in the will also will be treated as though they pre-deceased you.

****Therefore if you still want your ex-spouses Uncle Johnny to inherit under your will you will need to either re-execute the will or do a codicil (amendment) after the date your Judgment of Divorce is signed*****

If you have any questions contact a lawyer.



In the past I have had clients call and ask me about a Legal separation. In Michigan you can file for a Complaint for Separate Maintenance as opposed to a Complaint for Divorce. The effects are

  • All property issues are settled.
  • Any support issues are also settled.
  • If support issues are not mentioned they are reserved any can be litigate at a later date.

I put the last bullet point in bold to emphasize the effect that a Judgment of Separate Maintenance has is that you are still married in the eyes of the law and the effects that come along with the status of being married.

  • Right to inherit either by will or intestate.
  • Right to employer provided benefits.
  • Right to social security surviving spouse benefits.

I think some of the confusion stems from states such as New York who have a mandatory year cooling off period known as separation prior to granting a divorce.

Now I was involved with a client who we did do a Judgment of separate Maintenance because she was an woman over the age of 60 and wanted to move closer to her family down south but wanted to have a right to her husbands pension benefits going forward following the case as well as health benefits. Her husband wanted to stay in Michigan but there was a good chance at a reconciliation.

It is a crafty option for people to maintain certain benefits of being Married but also live a separate life.

Anybody considering this option should contact a family law attorney.



There is certainly a reason that going to consult a lawyer is sometimes worse then going to the dentist. Usually when us lawyers are brought in its when a deal has gone bad or even a friendship or business partnership has been destroyed. The problem is that most lawyers can stop you from having to go over a water fall, but once you are on the downside of the proverbial waterfall is when the fees start to add up.

This blog is here to talk about some relevant Legal Issues in the Great Lakes State of Michigan and put them in simple terms so that you are able to decide if you need to hire an attorney.

If you have a question about a post or just a general legal issue inplease email me at cullengeisler@yahoo.com and if I am unable to answer your question I will put you in touch with someone who can.