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From our State Capitol in Lansing to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, WKAR is committed to explaining how the actions of lawmakers are affecting Michiganders. Political and government reporter Abigail Censky leads this section. There are also stories from Capitol correspondents Cheyna Roth, Rick Pluta and the Associated Press. As the 2020 presidential race begins, look here for reports on the role Michigan will play in electing or re-electing the president.

Michigan Appeals Court: Commitment Ceremony Not A Marriage

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A commitment ceremony is not the same as a marriage in Michigan, according to the Michigan Court of Appeals. 

Karen Kueck's ex-husband says her commitment ceremony with her new partner relieves him of an expensive spousal support obligation. 

Lueck says he still owes the money. The appeals court agrees. They said he has to continue paying an agreed-upon spousal support arrangement. That’s even though Lueck and her new partner invited friends and families to witness their commitment ceremony.

Kevin Gentry, Lueck’s attorney, said the terms of the divorce were carefully negotiated. He says the opinion means the law is clear: 

“To get married in Michigan, you’ve got to get a license, you’ve got to have witnesses. It’s a legal status, and my client didn’t have that legal status.”

The appeals court decision reverses a lower court’s decision.

Michigan law does not recognize common law marriages. The ex-husband could appeal the case to the Michigan Supreme Court.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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