What is the process for a civil union dissolution in Michigan?

Understanding Civil Union Dissolution in Michigan

The dissolution of a civil union in Michigan follows a legal process similar to that of divorce. Although Michigan does not recognize civil unions performed within its jurisdiction, it acknowledges those established in other states. Therefore, when partners in a civil union decide to part ways, they must navigate a set of steps to ensure the dissolution is legally binding.

Initiating the Dissolution Process

To begin the dissolution process, one partner must file a complaint with the circuit court in the county where either partner resides. This document outlines the grounds for dissolution and any relief sought, such as property division, alimony, or custody arrangements if children are involved.

Serving the Complaint

Once filed, the complaint must be served to the other partner, giving them notice of the dissolution proceedings. This can be done through personal service or by certified mail.

Responding to the Complaint

The served partner has an opportunity to respond to the complaint. If they disagree with any terms, they can file an answer or counter-complaint with their requests for relief.

Negotiating Settlement Agreements

Partners are encouraged to negotiate settlement agreements on matters like property division and spousal support. If an agreement is reached, it can be presented to the court for approval.

Court Involvement and Hearings

If negotiation fails, the court will schedule hearings where both partners can present their cases. A judge will make decisions regarding contested issues based on equitable distribution laws and the best interests of any children involved.

Finalizing the Dissolution

Once all issues are resolved, either through settlement or court ruling, the judge will issue a judgment of dissolution. This document formally ends the civil union and outlines each partner's rights and obligations post-dissolution.

Historical References and Examples

While Michigan's legal landscape has evolved, it historically did not provide for civil unions. However, with the recognition of same-sex marriage nationwide following the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, Michigan courts have adapted to address dissolutions for same-sex couples who previously entered into civil unions in other states.

An example is when partners A and B entered into a civil union in Vermont but later moved to Michigan. Should they wish to dissolve their union, they would need to follow Michigan's legal framework for dissolution while providing proof of their valid out-of-state civil union.