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Michigan Couple Remarries Two Years After Illegal Nuptials


It turns out the second time was the charm for one pair of Michigan “newlyweds.”

Philip Timmer and Trisha Stewart, of Montcalm Company, in December went before a local judge to be married. It was the second time the couple said their vows in two years. That’s because sometime after they initially married in 2016, Stewart realized that her divorce from a previous husband had never been finalized.

Stewart and her first husband began divorce proceedings in 1993, ending a 15-year marriage in which they had five children. The Texas judge who was overseeing the divorce passed away without finalizing some of the paperwork, however, Stewart later told the Associated Press. In other words, Stewart was still legally married to another man.

Michigan law bans a previously married person from entering into a new marriage, unless the previous spouse has died or the prior marriage have been properly dissolved.

So Timmer and Stewart went to the courthouse. This time they asked Montcalm County Circuit Court Judge Ronald Schafer to void their marriage. By that time, Stewart had properly finalized the Texas divorce. So the couple also took a second shot at tying the knot. They asked Schafer to preside over the courtroom wedding.

“As a Circuit Court judge, my docket involves divorces, maybe the least favorite part of my job,” Schafer told the Montcalm County Daily News. “It’s not enjoyable finalizing the end of a marriage. To have the opportunity to join two in marriage was a pleasant surprise.”

Michigan’s “No-Fault” Divorce System

Divorce can be a difficult and stressful process for everyone involved. It can also be legally complicated, as Timmer and Stewart’s story makes clear. There are a number of steps the divorcing spouses must take in order to finalize the dissolution of their marriage.

The good news is Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state. That means you don’t have to allege that one spouse is responsible for the split because of infidelity, abuse or other reasons. Instead, you need merely show that there’s been “a breakdown in 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.”

Still, questions of fault may come into play in resolving a number of related legal issues. That includes determining how marital property will be divided and whether one spouse should get alimony or spousal support. That’s why it’s critical to have an experienced divorce lawyer in your corner.

Speak With a Grand Rapids Divorce Lawyer

If you are considering separating or getting a divorce, it’s vital that you seek the advice and counsel of an experienced family law attorney. A seasoned lawyer will help you understand your rights and options while guiding you step by step through the legal process.

At Kraayeveld Law, we’re been assisting clients throughout Grand Rapids in divorce and other family law matter for more than a quarter of a century. Our lawyers combine decades of experience in complex matters to help people efficiently untangle their marriages.

We are conveniently located at 300 State Street SE in Grand Rapids. Call 616-285-0808 or contact us online to make an appointment to speak with a Grand Rapids divorce lawyer about you situation.