Not all divorces here in Michigan progress is the same manner, but you can expect that your divorce will likely go through the stages listed below in more or less the same order in which they are presented.
- One Spouse Files a Petition for Divorce
In Michigan a petition for divorce is commonly referred to as a “complaint for divorce” and is the document that one spouse files with the courts in order to get the divorce process started. In order to file a complaint for divorce in Michigan at least one spouse must meet the residency/jurisdiction requirement, i.e. they must have lived within the state for at least the last six months and in the county they are filing in for at least 10 days prior to the filing. Additionally, the complaint for divorce must state the statutory grounds for divorce. After the complaint has been filed with the court the filing party must then serve their spouse with the appropriate divorce papers within 90 days.
- An Answer is Filed
After a spouse is served with divorce papers in Michigan he/she generally has 21 days within which to file an answer with the court. If an answer is not filed by the applicable deadline then the court may decide to enter a default judgment in the case.
- Temporary Orders
Getting divorced is a complex process that can often take a long time, however some divorce-related matters are time sensitive and can’t wait until the divorce is finalized to be sorted out. Therefore, after a complaint for divorce is filed in Michigan a judge will sometimes issue temporary orders concerning time sensitive matters such as child custody, visitation rights, who will pay the household bills, etc. that will stay in effect until the couple’s divorce is finalized and more permanent orders can be established.
Divorcing couples who have minor children in often will meet with the Friend of the Court while their divorce case is pending in order to discuss and resolve the various legal aspects of their divorce that relate to their children (for example, child custody and child support). Additionally, a mediator can also help the parties reach agreements on other important issues such as how their property will be divided and whether or not one spouse will pay alimony to the other, just to name a few.
While attempting to sort out the various divorce-related issues described above the spouses and their attorneys will request and exchange a great deal of information. This process is commonly referred to as “discovery” and can be quite involved in some divorce cases. Some examples of discovery are depositions, interrogations, subpoenas, and obtaining appraisals.
- Settlement or Trial
Divorcing spouses who are able to work out the details of their divorce during settlement conferences (or via the use of a mediator) will draft a settlement agreement and/or judgement of divorce; and submit it to the court for approval. If settlement is not possible, or if the couple can only agree on some issues, then the unresolved matters can go to trial and to be determined by a judge.
Need Legal Advice?
Having an experienced divorce attorney by your side while navigating the murky waters of divorce can make this confusing process much more manageable. Therefore, if you have not yet consulted with a local lawyer about your legal options we highly recommend that you do so without delay. Here at the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins we represent clients in divorce proceedings throughout Michigan and would be happy to put our expertise to work for you. To find out what our firm can do for you contact our Bloomfield Hills office by calling (248) 646-7980 at your earliest convenience.