When you are planning to file for divorce in Michigan, it is important to understand that the divorce process will vary slightly depending upon your situation and the particularities of your divorce case. While every divorce is different, there is a general framework for the divorce process under Michigan law, and our experienced Michigan divorce attorneys want to provide you with key information about the Michigan divorce process.
Hire a Divorce Attorney in Michigan
The very first step in any divorce case is hiring an experienced divorce lawyer in Michigan to represent you in your case. Michigan divorce law is complex, and you will want to have an advocate on your side from start to finish to ensure that you meet all requirements under the law and that you have the best chance of obtaining a favorable outcome from your divorce case.
Determine Whether or Not You Meet the Divorce Requirements in Michigan
You cannot file for divorce in Michigan unless you meet the requirements under Michigan law. Accordingly, the first step in any Michigan divorce process is to determine your eligibility to file a petition for divorce. To be eligible, you do not need to live separate and apart from your spouse, and you do not need to allege or prove fault. Rather, you must have lived in Michigan for at least 180 days prior to file, and you must have lived in the county where you are filing for at least 10 days. Then, only must be able to allege that the marriage has broken down to the point that it cannot be fixed.
File or Answer the Divorce Complaint
The next step in the divorce process is filing the complaint for divorce, which is what gets the divorce started. The spouse who files the complaint will have the divorce papers served on the other spouse, who will typically have 21 days to file an answer (although that timeline extends to 28 days if the spouse receiving the papers is served by mail or lives out of state).
All civil lawsuits, including divorces, have a discovery phase in which both sides seek and request information to use in the divorce case. During discovery, you might also seek advice from a forensic accountant, an appraiser, a child psychologist, or another expert who can assist with your case.
Mediation and Negotiation to Seek an Uncontested Divorce
Whether you go through family mediation in Michigan or simply negotiate through your lawyers, the next step is typically to attempt to resolve any outstanding disputes so that you can have an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces tend to take less time and cost less money than divorces that require a judge to decide issues in dispute, but the parties must agree on all issues—not even one issue can remain in dispute—to have an uncontested divorce.
Court Hearing and Final Judgment
If you cannot reach an agreement with your spouse for an uncontested divorce, you will both present your cases before a judge in a hearing. The judge will make a ruling on issues like the division of marital property, spousal support, child custody, child support, and any other relevant issues. Then, whether the court resolves disputes or you are able to resolve all issues with your spouse through negotiation, the court will enter a Judgment of Divorce. This is a legally binding document that grants the divorce and sets out all the issues determined as part of the divorce case.
Contact a Michigan Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions about your divorce process, a Michigan divorce attorney can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today.