Commitment Ceremony is not a Marriage in Michigan According to Courts

Two well-dressed people pour different colored liquids into the same glass as a commitment ceremony.There have been ceremonies uniting couples throughout history. Hand-fastings, unity tea ceremony, tree planting ceremony, and faith-based ceremonies are all opportunities for a couple to dedicate themselves to each other. Each of these ceremonies, rites, or traditions carry different implications for a couple privately and legally. Personally, there are varying levels of commitment with the various agreements. But exploring the legal side is a bit more complicated. Let’s take a quick look at commitment ceremonies before going into a recent appellate court ruling in Michigan.

What is a Commitment Ceremony

A commitment ceremony is often a spiritual event that has two people agree to remain together to whatever extent makes sense for them. This ceremony is typically more of a personal, family, and community event than a legal agreement.

Most Recent Michigan Appellate Court Ruling

A recent case came before the Michigan State Court of Appeals relating to commitment ceremonies. This case challenged a lower court ruling on whether or not a commitment ceremony counted as a marriage. An ex-husband claims his former wife’s service with a current partner excuses him from continuing to pay spousal support. On the other hand, the ex-wife’s position is that he still owes the previously agreed-upon payments. The support payments were a stipulation in the divorce proceedings that ended the first couple’s marriage.   

The appeals court upheld the lower court decision that the ceremony does not equal marriage. This ruling only applies to people married in Michigan. Based on the verdict, the ex-husband will still need to continue making payments based on the original arrangement.

There are still options available to the ex-husband. He already chooses to appeal the lower court decision. If he would like to pursue the case further, his next step would be to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. At this time, the state of Michigan does not legally recognize common law marriages.

The FasTrack Divorce team of legal experts adds to their years of experience helping couples navigate the beginning and end of marriage agreements while remaining current with the most recent court rulings. If you need a divorce expert on your side, give us a call at (248) 594-1213 today.

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