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U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. and his wife, former Detroit City Council President Monica Conyers, have filed for divorce.

Wayne County Circuit Court records indicate she filed for divorce on Sept. 3 and he counter-sued on Sept. 21. The court documents offer few details on the cause, nor do they have to under Michigan’s no-fault laws.

Monica Conyers’ filing cites “a breakdown of marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed. There remains no reasonable likelihood the marriage can be preserved.”

When asked about the divorce, John Conyers told The Detroit News: “Umm, no. I’ll let you talk to her.” The Detroit Democrat and longest-serving member of Congress did not answer questions about the proceedings.

Royal Oak divorce attorney Daniel Findling confirmed he’s representing Monica Conyers but said, “It’s uncertain the direction the case is going to take in terms of whether the parties are going to divorce or seek other alternatives.

“We are working collaboratively with the other counsel to try to reach a resolution, which may or may not end in the termination of marriage,” Findling said. “It’s something we are still working through. There is nothing definite other than the filing.”

Speaking generally, Findling said “divorces are filed for a variety of reasons,” but he wouldn’t speak specifically about motives in this case.

The filing by 51-year-old Monica Conyers seeks spousal support and attorney fees. John Conyers, 86, is represented by Farmington Hills attorney Arnold E. Reed, who once represented former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. A message was left seeking comment.

A court officer has ordered a financial status quo and barred any transfer of assets or property.

Negative net worth

An analysis published in January by the Center for Responsive Politics determined the congressman is the fourth poorest member in Congress at an estimated worth of negative $187,500.

He has had a projected negative net worth since 2010, according to the center. In 2013, the center found that John Conyers had no assets, but was still on the hook for paying off a mortgage of $50,000 to $100,000, a personal loan of $10,000 to $15,000 and a student loan of at least $100,000.

The couple married June 4, 1990, after Monica Conyers went to Washington, D.C., to serve as a Lyndon B. Johnson intern and attend the University of the District of Columbia School of Law.

They have two grown sons. Over the years, the relationship has caused trouble for John Conyers, who was elected in 1965 and is the dean of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Monica Conyers was elected to the council largely on her family name in 2005 and served one rocky term. She feuded regularly with council members, including a dust-up that went viral on the Internet with council President Ken Cockrel Jr. in which she repeatedly called him “Shrek” and implored him to “do it baby.”

She pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 2010 and was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for accepting money in exchange for her vote on a $1 billion sludge-hauling deal.

Out in 2013

Conyers was released in 2013 and for the past several months has worked for Neighborhood Legal Services in Detroit.

She has kept a low profile, occasionally appearing with her husband at events such as this year’s funeral of UAW Vice President General Holiefield.

Once the host of her own cable talk show, Conyers has stayed out of the headlines for the past few years.

There were a few exceptions.

Last year, John Conyers Jr. had to amend financial disclosure forms required by all U.S. House members after initially failing to include Monica Conyers’ $50,000 debt to retailer Neiman Marcus. He initially said she didn’t believe the debts needed to be disclosed.

This year, Monica Conyers sued a McDonald’s restaurant inside Detroit Metropolitan Airport for $25,000.

The suit claimed she cut her finger on a chair while en route to a swearing-in ceremony for her husband. The suit claimed the chair wasn’t properly assembled and she was severely injured.

The congressman has had his own problems. He almost didn’t make last year’s primary ballot because of disqualified petition signatures until a federal judge intervened.

jkurth@detroitnews.com

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