What is Discovery in a Michigan Divorce?

The divorce process in Michigan can be complex, especially when two parties in a long-term marriage are seeking a divorce, or when there is a high net worth divorce with substantial assets. While some divorces can be relatively straightforward if there are limited marital assets and no children from the marriage, or in the rare case where couples agree on every aspect of the divorce, most are more complicated. Accordingly, there are numerous steps in most divorce processes, and one of those phases is known as "discovery."

The different phases in a divorce process can be confusing for anyone who is not familiar with Michigan family law. We want to provide you with more information about how discovery works in a Michigan divorce.

Understand the Divorce Process More Generally in Michigan

In order to understand how discovery fits into a Michigan divorce, it is important to know more about how the divorce process works. In general, the following are the phases of a divorce process that occurs under Michigan law (MCL 552.6):

  • Complaint or petition for divorce: One of the parties begins the divorce process by filing a complaint (also known as a petition) for divorce in the appropriate court. Then, the complaint is served on the other party.

  • Answer: The other spouse (the one who is not filing for divorce) has an opportunity to respond once she or he receives the complaint. This is known as an "answer."

  • Interim orders: There are numerous reasons that an interim order may need to be issued before the divorce is finalized yet as the divorce is ongoing. Typically interim orders concern matters like spousal support, child support, and child custody.

  • Discovery: This is the point in the process where both sides can request information from the other side. We will say more about this part of the process below.

  • Hearing/trial: There may be more than one (and in fact) many times that both parties will need to appear before a judge. In most cases, the parties will need to appear in court before the court issues a judgment in the divorce.

  • Judgment: Once the court has heard the case, it will issue a judgment of divorce. The judgment of divorce can finalize information about property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody.

Not all cases will go through a lengthy divorce process, and for some people methods of collaborative divorce or alternative dispute resolution may be possible. For example, some couples may choose mediation in order to reach a settlement agreement.

Learning More About Discovery

Now that you know a little bit more about where the phase of discovery often will fit in the divorce process, it is important to learn more about discovery. Like the name suggests, this phase allows both parties to "discover" information about the other. Typically, any of the following will come up during discovery:

  • Depositions (being orally questioned on the record by the other party's lawyer);

  • Requests for production of documents (requesting that the other side provide specific documents);

  • Interrogatories (written questions to be answered by the other party); and

  • Subpoenas (seeking documents that the other party will not produce or that require specific authorization).

Speak with a Divorce Attorney in Michigan

If you have questions about the divorce process and how discovery works, a dedicated divorce attorney in Michigan can speak with you today. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information.