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Updated: Nov 10, 2023

An elected official in a small town in Northern Michigan is serving time in jail for forging divorce documents in order to sway his international mistress to keep their relationship going.

The Detroit Free Press reported the village council member in Northport (near Traverse City) is accused of forging several signatures of court officials and his wife, photographing those records, and then electronically to the woman with whom he was having an extramarital relationship. She lives in London, England. He later destroyed those records. However, the woman contacted the official's wife to see if it was true. The wife, in turn, called the police. Originally charged with impersonation of a public officer or employee, which carries a maximum one-year jail term, the defendant ultimately pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of larceny by false pretenses. Although money was stolen, it is essentially a fraud charge. He's now serving a three-month sentence.

It's not clear whether the official will now be getting a real divorce.

As our Troy divorce attorneys can explain, there are no guarantees as to the timeline of a divorce, though some simple cases (i.e., without children or much in the way of divided assets) may be completed within two months. If there are children involved, the minimum amount of time one can expect to spend is six months. Varying circumstances could mean the process takes quite a bit longer.

Michigan law does require that persons filing a petition for divorce reside in the state for at least 180 days immediately before filing.

Michigan Revised Statute 552.6 holds that this is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. What that means is there doesn't need to be any proof that one party was at fault for what happened. All that needs to happen is an assertion by one party that there is been a breakdown of the marital relationship, such that there remains no reasonable likelihood the union is salvageable. In fact, the plaintiff is specifically instructed not to make any other explanation of the reason for the divorce.

When the defendant answers that complaint, they may either concede the grounds for divorce, or else they can deny it without further explanation.

The process can take months or years, but in the end, so long as at least one person wants to leave the marriage, the judge, after hearing evidence presented, will ultimately enter a judgment dissolving the marriage. Although fault does not affect the court's authority to terminate a relationship, it may impact issues of property rights, child custody, and spousal support.

Usually, by the time a case reaches that stage, both sides may agree that they no longer wish to continue the union. The issues that consume the most time are resolving disputes or formalizing agreements about child custody and support, as well as asset and debt division.

It should be noted that the majority of divorces are settled out-of-court and don't require a trial.

Despite this, anyone considering a divorce should contact an attorney. While most cases may be relatively straightforward (and not involve an international mistress), an attorney can help you understand what your rights are and help you make decisions that will allow you to make the next chapter of your life a better one.


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