If your spouse has filed for divorce, they are the Plaintiff in the case. You are the Defendant.
Being a defendant in a divorce case isn’t like being a defendant in a criminal case. It doesn’t mean you are the person who did something wrong or that you are in trouble. It doesn’t mean that your spouse gets to make all the decisions in your divorce. It just means that your spouse was the one to file the first paperwork and get the divorce case started.
It is important to understand your rights and responsibilities as a party to a divorce case. This article tells you what you can expect.
When Your Spouse Files for Divorce
There are several things to do when you receive divorce papers from your spouse.
Consider Talking to a Lawyer
If your spouse has filed for divorce, consider talking to a lawyer about your rights and options. Representing yourself in a divorce case is not easy.
The more complicated the issues in your divorce are, the more important it may be to have a lawyer. Consider talking to a lawyer if:
- You own real estate;
- You have a pension or retirement account;
- You have children born while you were married, but one spouse is not the parent;
- You need spousal support (alimony);
- Your spouse has been emotionally, verbally or physically abusive;
- You and your spouse disagree on one or more major issues in your divorce.
You cannot rely on your spouse’s lawyer to protect your interests, even if you and your spouse agree on most issues. If a lawyer has filed paperwork for your spouse or has appeared in court for your spouse, that person cannot represent you.
You might decide you want a lawyer to help you with your case. If you have low income, you may qualify for free legal services. Whether you have a low income or not, you can use the Guide to Legal Help to find lawyers in your area. If you are not able to get free legal services but can’t afford high legal fees, consider hiring a lawyer for part of your case instead of the whole thing. This is called limited scope representation. To learn more, read Limited Scope Representation (LSR): A More Affordable Way to Hire a Lawyer. To find a limited scope lawyer, follow this link to the State Bar of Michigan lawyer directory. This link lists lawyers who offer limited scope representation. You can narrow the results to lawyers in your area by typing in your county, city, or zip code at the top of the page. You can also narrow the results by topic by entering the kind of lawyer you need (divorce, estate, etc.) at the top of the page.
Accept Service of the Divorce Papers
If you know your spouse filed for divorce, do not try to avoid service (delivery) of the divorce papers. Avoiding service of divorce papers won’t do you any good, and it could cause you problems.
Avoiding service doesn’t mean your spouse won’t be able to divorce you. It may cause a slight delay at the beginning of the divorce case, and can result in not knowing what’s happening in the divorce. The court may also make important decisions about your children and property without your input.
Read the Papers Carefully
If you have been served with divorce papers, read them right away. It is important to understand what your spouse is asking of the court.
Your divorce case is a court process to end your marriage, but other important things will also get decided in your divorce. These include dividing your marital property and debt and determining whether one of you will pay spousal support (alimony) to the other person. If you have children, your divorce judgment will also state who will have physical and legal custody, when the children will spend time with each parent (parenting time), who will pay child support, and how much child support will be.
When you are first served divorce papers, expect to get the following:
Summons: The Summons is important because it tells you how long you have to file an Answer to your spouse’s Complaint for Divorce.
Complaint for Divorce: The Complaint for Divorce provides the judge with information about you, your spouse, your marriage, and your children. It states what your spouse is asking the judge to order. The complaint will say whether your spouse wants the judge to divide your property and debt and whether your spouse is asking for spousal support (alimony). If there are children, it will also state what custody and parenting time arrangements your spouse wants, and it will request child support.
When you are first served divorce papers, you might also get:
Ex Parte Orders: Your spouse may have filed one or more motions asking the judge to order something to happen at the start of the case, before you are even notified of the divorce. Ex parte orders are emergency orders that get decided by the judge without hearing your position. If you receive an ex parte order, the order is already in effect when you get it.
Ex parte orders can be about many different things. They can order both spouses not to get rid of money or other property until the divorce is final; give temporary custody of children to one spouse; and order child support payments.
If you get an ex parte order, talk to a lawyer. You only have a short amount of time — 14 days from the day you are served — to file an objection if you don’t agree with it. After 14 days the ex parte order becomes a temporary order, which will normally last for at least as long as it takes for your divorce to become final.
Motions for Temporary Orders: Your spouse may have also filed one or more motions asking the judge to enter temporary orders. Motions for temporary orders are often about the same types of things that ex parte orders are about, but the judge can’t sign a temporary order without holding a hearing first. If you get a motion for a temporary order, it will include a notice of hearing that tells you the date, time, and place where the hearing will be held.
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Affidavit: This paper is required in all divorce cases that involve minor children.
Verified Statement: If your divorce involves minor children or if your spouse is asking for spousal support, your spouse must give this paper to the Friend of the Court and have it served on you.
Application for IV-D Child Support Services: This form is used to ask for Michigan child support services. These services include establishing a court order for child support and collecting support payments, among others.
Friend of the Court Handbook: If your divorce involves minor children or if either party is pregnant, your spouse must also have you served with the Friend of the Court Handbook. It tells you what the Friend of the Court does.
Confidential Case Inventory: If there are any other pending or resolved family court cases involving you and your spouse, or your children, you will also get this form. This form lists basic information about each court case.
Decide How You Want to Respond
If you do nothing after your spouse files for divorce, your spouse can pursue the divorce without your input. If this happens, a judge can sign the final divorce order (the Judgment of Divorce) with only the terms that your spouse wants. This would be called a default judgment. This may be fine with you if you don’t have children, you don't have marital property and debt to divide, and your spouse is not asking for spousal support. However, consider participating if you do have children, property, debt, or other important issues in your divorce.
To participate in the divorce case as the defendant, you will need to prepare and file an Answer to Complaint for Divorce.
An Answer to Complaint for Divorce is a document where you explain whether you agree or disagree with each statement in the Plaintiff's Complaint for Divorce. If you disagree, you will explain why. You can prepare and download an Answer to Complaint for Divorce form using the Do-It-Yourself Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce. There are step-by-step instructions for filing the Answer and continuing with the divorce process in the resource pages Responding to Divorce with Children and Responding to Divorce without Children.
Only the Answer to Complaint for Divorce is required for you to participate in the divorce, but you may also want to file a Counterclaim for Divorce.
A Counterclaim lets the judge know what you would like to happen in your divorce. It lets you ask the judge to order things in your Judgment of Divorce that the plaintiff did not ask for. For example, if you are the defendant and you want your name changed as part of the divorce, you must make the name change request in your Counterclaim. If you want to request spousal support, you must make this request in the Counterclaim.
Filing a Counterclaim for Divorce also helps you make sure your divorce goes forward. If you don’t file a Counterclaim for Divorce and your spouse fails to move the case forward, your divorce case can get dismissed. Then, if you still want to get divorced, you would have to start over by filing a new case. You can prepare and download a Counterclaim form using the Do-It-Yourself Answer and Counterclaim for Divorce.
What Will Get Decided in My Divorce?
The following issues will get decided in your divorce.
End of Marriage
When you get a divorce, the judge will end your marriage. Because of Michigan’s no-fault law, no one will have to give a reason for the breakdown of the marriage.
Property and Debt Division
Property or debt that you get during your marriage is usually considered marital property and debt. Marital property may include real estate, pensions, insurance, retirement accounts, and investment accounts, among other kinds of property. If you and your spouse don’t agree on how to divide your property and debt, the judge will decide. Michigan law says marital property and debt must be divided fairly. In most cases, this means dividing them evenly.
To decide what is fair, the judge will consider these factors:
- The length of your marriage
- Your contribution to the marital estate
- Your age
- Your health
- Your standard of living during the marriage
- Your needs and your current living situation
- Your ability to earn money
- Your conduct during the marriage (fault)
Separate property is property owned by one spouse before the marriage or inherited by one spouse, and kept separate from the couple's other assets. The owner of separate property usually keeps it.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
If you or your spouse asks for spousal support and you can't reach an agreement, the judge will also decide this issue. Spousal support is not always awarded. When it is awarded, it can be temporary or permanent. When deciding whether to award spousal support, the judge will consider these factors:
- The length of your marriage (spousal support is more likely in a long marriage)
- Your conduct during the marriage
- Your ability to work
- The source and amount of property you are getting in the divorce
- Your age
- Ability to pay spousal support
- Your needs and your current living situation
- Your health
- Your standard of living during the marriage
- Whether you are responsible to pay for the support of others
- Contributions to the marital estate
- If you live with someone else, the effect this has on your financial status
For more information, read Spousal Support (Alimony) in a Nutshell.
There will also be decisions in your divorce about children who have both you and your spouse as legal parents.
Children who are included in your divorce are:
- Minor children born or conceived during your marriage
- Legally adopted children
- Minor children you and your spouse had together who were born before your marriage, as long as the husband's paternity was established by Affidavit of Parentage or court order
The following issues about these children will be decided in your divorce:
- Parenting time
- Child support
- Which parent will claim the child tax credit
There are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody means the right to make important decisions about your children such as school, religious, and medical decisions. Physical custody refers to who your children live with.
Both legal custody and physical custody can be sole or joint. Sole custody means only one parent has that type of custody. Joint custody means the parents share that type of custody.
If parents have joint legal custody, they both have the right to weigh in on important decisions about their children. They must reach agreements on these decisions. If parents are not able to talk and make decisions together, the judge may award one parent sole legal custody.
If parents have joint physical custody, the children live with each parent at different times. If one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will normally still have parenting time.
The judge makes custody decisions (legal and physical) based on “the best interests of the child.” This means the judge must consider the 12 best interest factors when deciding custody. To learn more, read The “Best Interests of the Child” Factors and Custody and Parenting Time.
Once physical custody is determined—joint or sole—parenting time must be established. Parenting time is the term used in Michigan for the time a child spends with each parent when parents do not live in the same home. When one party is awarded sole physical custody, typically that parent has a substantial amount of parenting time or time with the child, and the other parent has less. When parties have joint physical custody, although that doesn’t have to mean equal parenting time, it is often equal or close to equal.
Parenting time can be granted for specific dates and times, or it can be "reasonable parenting time." With reasonable parenting time, parents work out parenting time as they go, without a specific schedule. If there is a conflict about parenting time, you would need to go back to court and file a motion.
If you have specific parenting time, that means there is a specific schedule you must follow. In many cases, parents are able to agree to a specific parenting time schedule without the court's involvement, or with the help of the Friend of the Court. If the judge approves the agreed-upon schedule, it becomes part of the court order. The Parenting Time Guideline created by the Friend of the Court Bureau is a helpful resource for parents who need to put together a parenting time schedule. The Guideline includes sample schedules you can use as a starting place to create your family's schedule. It also has information about the developmental needs of children at different ages in connection to parenting time. The Guideline also addresses specific topics such as long distance parenting time, parenting time with a parent in prison, and how to address domestic violence situations.
If the parents can't agree, a judge will make parenting time decisions based on the best interests of the child factors. A child has a right to parenting time with a parent unless a party shows by clear and convincing evidence that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. In some cases, the judge may order parenting time to be supervised by a third party.
To learn more, read Custody and Parenting Time.
Child support is a parent’s court-ordered payment to help with the costs of raising a child. The amount of child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula. It takes into account the following factors:
- The parents’ incomes
- The number of nights per year ("overnights") the child spends with each parent
- The number of children supported
- Health care costs
- Child care costs
- Other factors
A judge must order support according to the Formula unless the result would be unfair or inappropriate. Even if you and the other parent agree to a deviation (a support amount different from the Formula calculation), you still have to convince the judge that the Formula amount would be unfair or inappropriate. If you are asking for a deviation, you must fill out an extra form called the Uniform Child Support Order Deviation Addendum. Bring the form to your court hearing along with the completed Uniform Child Support Order.
The Michigan Child Support Formula Manual lists 20 reasons (called deviation factors) that the Formula amount could be unfair or inappropriate. You can find these in Section 1.04(E) of the Manual. If you want to ask the court for a deviation from the Formula and any of these factors apply to your situation, bring them up at your hearing and refer to them in your Deviation Addendum. You may want a lawyer to help you with this. It can be hard to prove that there should be a deviation from the Formula.
You can use the MiChildSupport Calculator to find out what the Formula calculation might be in your case.
To learn more, read Child Support in a Nutshell.
Child Tax Credit
To learn about the Child Tax Credit (CTC), read Am I Eligible for the Child Tax Credit?
What Will the Divorce Process Be Like?
Below is an overview of the divorce process if you are a defendant. For detailed, step-by-step instructions, read the Instructions in the resource page that applies to you: Responding to Divorce with Children or Responding to Divorce without Children.
File an Answer to Complaint for Divorce (and a Counterclaim, if needed)
There are strict deadlines you must follow in a divorce case. To participate in the case, you must file and serve an Answer to Complaint for Divorce by the deadline on the Summons. Do this 21 days from the date of service if you were served (personally handed the Summons and Complaint for Divorce) or 28 days from the date of service if you were served by mail or while you were outside of Michigan.
If needed, file a Counterclaim for Divorce along with the Answer.
If you do not file an answer by the deadline, the court can enter a default against you. If a default is entered, you are not allowed to participate in the case unless you file a motion to have the default set aside and the judge grants your motion. If you are defaulted, the judge can make decisions about your marital property and debt, children, and other issues without your input.
If you need a motion to set aside a default, you can use the Motion to Set Aside Default/Default Judgment (Domestic Relations) on the Michigan One Court of Justice website.
Serve (send) a copy of everything you file to the Plaintiff.
If you and your spouse do not have children together, there is a two-month waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. If you do have children together, there is a six-month waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. The waiting period begins when your spouse files the divorce, even if you and your spouse were separated before that. If you and your spouse don’t agree on everything, your divorce can take longer than the waiting period.
In a divorce with children, the judge can waive part of the six-month waiting period in some cases. This can only happen if a party shows the waiting period should be shortened due to an "unusual hardship" or that there is a compelling need to shorten the waiting period. The judge cannot make the total waiting period less than 60 days.
If you are not in default, you can file a motion asking the judge to waive part of the waiting period in a divorce with children. Complete the following blank forms:
Title your motion “Motion to Waive the Statutory Waiting Period.” Explain in the body of the motion why your situation involves unusual hardship or another compelling reason for finalizing the divorce before the end of the full waiting period. File your forms and ask the clerk for a hearing date. You must serve (send) a copy of everything you file to your spouse at least nine days before the date of your hearing. Fill out the top part of the order and bring it with you to the hearing.
Friend of the Court
The Friend of the Court (FOC) is part of the family division of the circuit court. The FOC helps the court in cases involving custody, parenting time, and child support. Some of the duties the FOC performs are:
- Investigating and issuing recommendations on custody, parenting time, and child support
- Helping the parties settle disputes during and after their case
- Providing enforcement services on existing custody, parenting time, and support orders
In some counties, all divorce cases with minor children are automatically scheduled for a meeting with the Friend of the Court. There are different types of Friend of the Court meetings, such as mediation, where the Friend of the Court worker tries to help parties reach agreements on issues involving their children. Some types of Friend of the Court meetings may result in a recommendation to the judge on custody, parenting time, and support.
To learn more, read Friend of the Court Overview.
You may be referred to mediation during the waiting period to help you and your spouse reach an agreement about the contested issues in your case (for example: property and debt division, child custody, etc.). A mediator is a neutral person who helps you and the other party try to work out an agreement. You could be referred to mediation if you agree to it or if the judge orders it. There may be a fee. A mediator may be a Friend of the Court mediator or a private mediator. To learn more, read Mediation and Other Forms of Settlement and Friend of the Court Overview.
Some cases are not appropriate for mediation. Your case might be excused from mediation for any of the following reasons:
- You or the other party have a personal protection order against the other
- Your children have been abused or neglected
- There has been domestic violence in your relationship
- You or the other party is unable to negotiate for themselves at the mediation
- There is reason to believe that the health or safety of one or both of you will be put at risk by mediation
You and your spouse may agree to go to arbitration if there are issues in your case you don't agree on. Arbitration is a voluntary process. This means both parties have to agree to go to arbitration, and they must agree on what issue(s) the arbitrator will decide. The parties pay the arbitrator a fee to hear and decide their case.
Arbitration is different from mediation because the arbitrator’s decisions are binding in the same way that a judge's decisions are binding. The arbitrator is a neutral third party who is trained in making these decisions. Their decisions become part of the final judgment in a court case.
If your spouse files any motions in the divorce case, a hearing will normally be scheduled. You have the option to file a timely response to the motion and appear at the court hearing. A written response should be filed at least three days before the hearing. You must also have it served at least three days before the hearing if it is served on your spouse in person, or at least five days before the hearing if served by mail.
While your divorce is pending, you and your spouse may decide you don’t want to get divorced. If you want to dismiss your case, a lot depends on how far along you are in the divorce process.
If your spouse filed a complaint for divorce, and you have not filed an answer or motion in the case, your spouse can file a Dismissal. Your spouse can do this without your consent. If you have already filed an answer or motion, then the two of you must agree to dismiss the divorce. In that situation, you must also sign the Dismissal.
You can use our Do-It-Yourself Divorce Dismissal tool to prepare the forms you need.
Even if your spouse filed the complaint for divorce, you could decide to keep the case going. If you have already filed an answer or motion and do not agree to dismiss the case, your spouse can file a motion asking the judge to dismiss it. However, if you want to be divorced, it is likely that the judge will let the case continue.
Finalizing the Divorce
Your divorce might be resolved by:
- Default judgment, if you do not file an answer or participate in the case
- Negotiated judgment, where you and your spouse decide the terms together
- Mediated agreement, where you and your spouse meet with a mediator and decide the terms
- Arbitration agreement, where you and your spouse agree to have an arbitrator hear and decide the terms of your divorce
- Trial, where the judge hears and decides the terms of your divorce
After there is a default, an agreement, an arbitrator’s decision, or a judge’s decision, the judge will sign a Judgment of Divorce at a final court hearing. The Judgment will end your marriage and will decide child custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support (alimony), and property and debt division.
It is the Plaintiff’s responsibility to draft the Judgment of Divorce and mail you a copy before the final hearing. If you agree with all of its terms, you can sign the Judgment and the judge will enter it by consent.
If you are in default you still have the right to get a copy of the proposed Judgment before the final hearing. Then, you can attend the hearing and let the judge know which of the terms you don’t agree with. However, because you have been defaulted, you may have to take extra steps to ask the court to set aside the default before you can participate.
What Are the Requirements for Getting a Divorce in Michigan?
Below are certain requirements for getting a divorce in Michigan, and other information.
You or Your Spouse Must Be a Resident
Either you or your spouse must have lived in Michigan for at least the last 180 days before the case is filed. The case must be filed in circuit court in the county where either you or your spouse has lived for at least ten days before filing. Most people file in the county where they live, but it could be filed where the other spouse lives instead.
Spouses do not have to be separated or living apart for a divorce case to be filed.
To get a divorce in Michigan, only one spouse has to live in Michigan. However, if one of you has never lived in Michigan, the court may only have limited jurisdiction in your case. Limited jurisdiction means the court can divorce you, but might not be able to do other things, such as:
- Make decisions about custody and parenting time
- Order child support
- Divide your property
If you think your spouse filed in the wrong court, or the court has limited jurisdiction in your case, consider talking to a lawyer. Use the Guide to Legal Help to look for a lawyer or legal services in your area.
If you have a prior divorce case with your current spouse that might be active, talk to a lawyer. All prior divorce cases should be dismissed before a new one is filed.
Neither Party Has to “Prove” Anything to Get a Divorce
Michigan has “no-fault” divorce. No-fault means neither party has to prove cheating, abandonment, cruelty, or anything else to get a divorce. Spouses do not have to agree to get a divorce.
To get a divorce in Michigan, at least one spouse must testify 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.” This means there has been a serious, permanent, marital breakdown. It means that it is very unlikely that you and your spouse can work things out.
Although you don’t have to prove fault to get a divorce, a spouse’s behavior during the marriage can impact the outcomes of your divorce. The judge can consider fault in making decisions about spousal support (alimony) and dividing property.
Place of Marriage, Citizenship, and Common Law Marriage
If you were married in another state or country, you can still get divorced in Michigan as long as the residency requirements are met. Neither spouse has to be a U.S. citizen to get a divorce in Michigan. But if your right to live in the United States depends on your marriage, divorce may affect that right. If you are in this situation, consider talking to a lawyer. If you need a lawyer and have low income, you may qualify for free legal help. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find a lawyer or legal services in your area.
A Michigan court can grant you a divorce if you have a valid common law marriage. A common law marriage is an agreement between a man and woman to live together as husband and wife without being formally married. Only a few states recognize common law marriage today. Michigan has not allowed common law marriage since 1957. Michigan only recognizes common law marriages that:
- Were entered into in Michigan before 1957, or
- Were entered into in another state that recognizes common law marriage
What If I Am Pregnant or My Spouse Is Pregnant?
If you or your spouse is pregnant during the divorce, the judge may require you to wait to enter the Judgment of Divorce (the final order in your case) until after the birth. A judge might do this to make sure the custody, parenting time, and child support provisions in the Judgment of Divorce are complete. Or the judge may sign the Judgment of Divorce but require you to return to court after the birth to add custody, parenting time, and child support provisions to the Judgment.
In an opposite-sex marriage, if a woman is pregnant and her husband is not the father, this adds another legal issue to resolve. Under Michigan law, a husband is presumed to be the legal father of any child born or conceived during the marriage. To ask a judge to revoke the husband's legal paternity, either the mother, the husband, or the biological father can file a Motion or Complaint to Determine Child Born Out of Wedlock. Otherwise, the husband will remain the child's legal father, and the biological father will not have any parental rights or responsibilities.
You can use the Do-It-Yourself Revoke Paternity Established by Marriage tool to prepare the forms you need to ask the judge to revoke paternity in this situation.
What If There Is a Paternity Issue?
If a child is born or conceived during a marriage, and the mother's husband is not the father, this adds another legal issue to resolve. Under Michigan law, a husband is presumed to be the legal father of any child born or conceived during the marriage. To ask a judge to revoke the husband's legal paternity, either the mother, the husband, or the biological father must file a Motion or Complaint to Determine Child Born Out of Wedlock. This can be filed as a motion in a divorce case after the divorce is filed. If no one files to revoke paternity, the husband will remain the child's legal father, and the biological father will not have any parental rights or responsibilities.
You can use the Do-It-Yourself Revoke Paternity Established by Marriage tool to prepare the forms you need to ask the judge to revoke paternity in this situation.
If the wife is currently pregnant and her husband is not the father, either spouse or the biological father can file to revoke paternity after the child is born, but not before.
What If There Has Been Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can take many forms, including physical assault, sexual assault, emotional abuse, isolation, control of money, threats, stalking, and intimidation. Abusers use these behaviors to try to gain and keep power and control over another person. Domestic violence is serious and can affect many issues in your divorce, such as custody, parenting time and property division.
Domestic violence can get worse when a relationship ends. It is important for you to take steps to be safe. To learn more, read Domestic Violence and Divorce.
Can I Change My Name as Part of the Divorce?
If you are a woman and you changed your last name when you were married, you have the choice of keeping your married name or changing it in your divorce. Your Judgment of Divorce can restore your maiden name or the last name you used before your marriage. Or the judge can allow you to take a different last name. If you are the defendant, you must file a Counterclaim for Divorce to request a name change.
The law in Michigan doesn’t work the same way for men. Men aren’t able to change their name as part of the divorce. Instead, they must go through the process of petitioning the court for a name change. To learn more, go to the Filing for a Name Change resource page.
What Will Happen to My Health Insurance?
Although Michigan law requires parents to provide health insurance for their children, there are no such laws for a spouse. However, if you currently have health insurance through your spouse's employer, the court may require your spouse to maintain your health insurance during the divorce process.
Under COBRA (a federal law), your spouse's employer must allow you to be covered by its health insurer for up to three years after your divorce. However, you must pay the premiums, which will probably be more expensive than when you were covered as a spouse. Also, COBRA doesn’t apply to very small companies (those with fewer than 20 employees). To learn more, read the COBRA Continuation Coverage page on the U.S. Department of Labor website.
What If I Don’t Want a Divorce?
Michigan is a “no fault” divorce state. No fault means your spouse doesn’t have to prove cheating, abandonment, cruelty, or anything else to get a divorce. Your spouse can get a divorce whether or not you agree. Your spouse can get a divorce even if they did something that made your marriage end. You do not have to be living apart for your spouse to file for divorce.
The only ground for divorce in Michigan is 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.” This means there has been a serious, permanent, marital breakdown. It means it is very unlikely that you and your spouse can work things out. If your spouse can testify that they believe this marital breakdown has happened, the judge can grant the divorce. It doesn’t matter if you think your marriage can be saved.