Anatomy of a Michigan Divorce Case

There can be no doubt that every divorce carries its own unique circumstances. The length of the marriage, the existence of minor children, the relationship of the spouses, and the distribution of property are critical factors that will be different in every case. Still, there are some common features under Michigan law, as the goal of divorce proceedings is to ensure an equitable arrangement on all issues. While you should discuss your unique situation with an experienced Michigan divorce attorney if you're considering dissolving your marriage, it's helpful to understand how these cases proceed.

Initial Filings for Dissolution of Marriage

Initiating a divorce case involves a series of filings and actions under Michigan law.

  • Summons and Complaint: The summons serves as notice that you are filing for divorce, while the complaint outlines the reasons why you are seeking a dissolution of marriage. Note that Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you don't have to prove any set of circumstances that entitles you to end your marriage.

  • Answer: Your spouse will have an opportunity to address the allegations in the complaint in the answer, which will respond to each of the paragraphs you've outlined. There will be some areas where your spouse will agree and others where he or she will disagree.

  • Statutory Waiting Period: If you have children with your spouse, you must wait six months after filing before you can obtain a divorce. It is possible to shorten the waiting period, on proper cause. If you don't have children, you must still wait 60 days.

  • Issues Decided by Marriage Dissolution: When you file for divorce in Michigan, the end result is that your marriage will cease to exist. However, there are a number of different matters that the court will determine under state law.

  • Equitable Distribution of Property and Debt: The court will divide all marital property. Debt and assets accrued during your marriage will be distributed equitably, including all bank accounts, real estate, retirement plans, interests in a business, and pensions.

  • Spousal Support: Financial maintenance, otherwise known as alimony or spousal support, will also be before the court in a divorce. An award of spousal support may be temporary or permanent, and it will be based on a number of factors, such as the length of the marriage, ability to work, health, and standard of living during the marriage - just to name a few.

  • Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support for Minor Children: In a divorce, the court will also decide the living arrangements for your children, if any. A judge will determine which parent will have full time custody and how often the other spouse will be granted parenting time to stay connected with the children. The child support responsibilities of the non-custodial parent will also be decided by the court pursuant to the Michigan child support manual.

A Knowledgeable Divorce Attorney is a Phone Call Away

As you can see, divorce is a complex proceeding under Michigan law and your emotions can make the process even more complicated. This is why it's important to discuss your case with an experienced attorney who knows divorce law and will fight to protect your interests. If you're considering divorce or are currently involved with the process, please contact the Bloomfield Hills, MI office of Michael A. Robbins for more information.