Divorce is a formal legal procedure that allows a married couple to completely and legally end their marriage. It can sometimes be a complex process, as many different legal issues and concerns can be involved in the procedure. Each state has its own laws when it comes to divorce, and will have different requirements when it comes to filing and other steps. 

Some common issues in a divorce proceeding that need to be handled may include:

  • Payment of alimony or spousal support (these are payments made from one party to another after the divorce is finalized, to help the other person get a start after the divorce process);
  • Matters involving any children, such as child support, child custody, child visitation rights, and other decisions;
  • Division of property, assets, and debts between the parties (this is often a highly complex issue that can be subject to many disputes or conflicts); and
  • Various other issues.

Specifically, filing for divorce in the state of Michigan requires filing a Complaint for Divorce with the county circuit court in the county where at least one spouse lives. Additionally, either spouse has to live in the county for at least 10 days prior to filing for divorce.

How Does the Divorce Process Start in Michigan?

The divorce in Michigan generally process starts as soon as the petition is filed and the filing fee is paid at the circuit court. Once received, the clerk will stamp and file the petition. Once the petition is filed, the non-filing spouse is served with it (that is, the petition is officially delivered to the other spouse).

Another consideration to remember is that Michigan also has a 60-day waiting period after the divorce is filed. Additionally, if there are minor children involved, the waiting period will be 6 months.

It may take even longer than this if both spouses do not agree on all of the terms. If this happens, the court may need to make additional adjustments and may require the submission of other documents or forms. This can add to the overall time of the divorce process.

What Should I Do If I Am Served with Divorce Papers in Michigan?

The spouse who has been served with divorce papers has 21 days to file an answer with the circuit court. If no answer is filed, the spouse is considered to have defaulted. This means that a default judgment will be issued (meaning the court will proceed with the process even if the other spouse has not responded). Generally, if one of the parties defaults, they will have no say in matters like spousal support, child custody and support, and property settlement terms.

What Should I Expect After Michigan’s Mandatory Waiting Period is Complete?

In a divorce in Michigan the divorcing spouses have the option of trial or settlement. In a divorce trial, a judge decides issues such as child support and division of property. This usually is necessary when the spouses cannot agree on a particular issue. 

A settlement agreement may be used to finalize the divorce terms in instances where the parties are able to come to an agreement on their own without much court interference or intervention. Of course, many divorce cases will involve some disagreements or conflicts between the spouses, So, settlement agreements may not always be appropriate or workable in all divorce situations. 

In other instances, the parties can use a third-party mediator to help divorce negotiations run more smoothly. The mediator can help the parties cooperate and communicate with one another to reach a workable divorce agreement and terms.  

Will I Be Required to Pay Spousal Support If I Divorce in Michigan?

Spousal support is sometimes ordered by the court in some cases. This usually happens in instances where there is a large financial discrepancy in the earnings between the parties. Spousal support, also called “alimony,” may be ordered in order to help the non-paying spouse with living requirements after the divorce is finalized. It is not always ordered in each divorce case.

Factors that are used when determining spousal support amounts include:

  • The financial earnings of each individual party;
  • Whether there is a large gap between the assets and funds of the parties;
  • Whether there was any instance of fault or wrongdoing in connection with the divorce; and
  • Various other factors, such as whether either spouse has dependents or will be living with a new partner.

Do I Need an Attorney If I Am Filing for Divorce in Michigan?

Divorce proceedings can be very complicated and may involve a number of different legal issues. Hiring a Michigan divorce lawyer is highly recommended if you will be filing for divorce. An attorney in your area will help you in understanding your rights, and will represent you as you go through the divorce process. With the assistance of a divorce attorney, you will have the best chance to obtain the assets that you are due.