The parties were married in India. In the years after their marriage, the parties lived in Michigan. Throughout the marriage, the parties disagreed about having children. During a 2019 visit to India, the parties consulted with a doctor about starting invitro fertilization treatments, but plaintiff ultimately decided against a pregnancy.
Petition for Divorce in India
On June 10, 2019, defendant filed a petition for divorce in India. There were several subsequent hearings in the India case that plaintiff appeared for by proxy as is provided for by India law.
After returning to the United States, plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce in the instant case on January 26, 2020.
Defendant moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(6), arguing that the India court has jurisdiction and that this case and the India case involved the same claim under the court rule. The trial court agreed and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint without prejudice.
Summary disposition is appropriate under MCR 2.116(C)(6) when another action has been initiated between the same parties involving the same claim. This subrule applies even when the other action is in a foreign court. Both the India action and the Michigan action involve the same parties and the same claim, i.e., a request for dissolution of the marriage.
No-fault vs Proof of Fault
Plaintiff argued that the case in India does not involve the same claim as the Michigan action because the two jurisdictions grant divorces on entirely different bases. While Michigan has a no-fault divorce law, the Hindu Marriage Act requires proof of fault to obtain a divorce.
Plaintiff therefore contends that the Michigan and India courts, respectively, will rely on different operative facts in adjudicating the parties’ divorce. However, while Michigan spouses are not required to prove fault to obtain divorce, fault may be relevant to the divorce proceedings. For example, in cases where a party seeks spousal support, as plaintiff does, the trial court will consider several factors including the length of the marriage, the parties’ ability to pay, their past relations and conduct, their ages, needs, ability to work, health and fault, if any, and all other circumstances of the case. Further, trial courts in Michigan may consider fault in dividing a marital estate. Thus, plaintiff’s contention that the India action is based on a different set of facts is not accurate.
India Divorce Decree Recognition in Michigan
Plaintiff retains the right to oppose recognition and enforcement of the India divorce decree. However, whether the India divorce decree should be recognized and enforced in Michigan can only be determined after it has been issued.
Experienced Advice to Clients Facing Divorces
At Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys have the skill and experience you need to address all family law issues that may arise during your divorce. We are committed to providing each of our clients with quality legal representation and superior service.