Divorce is messy business. Even spouses that divorce amicably are not left unscathed. The process of a permanent, legal dissolution of marriage could entail division of assets, spousal support, child custody, and child support negotiations.
Even if you do your homework and figure out how to file for divorce in Michigan without a lawyer, there will still be expenses associated with filing. Then there are the emotional costs to consider. It’s a hard road, but you may eventually come to the conclusion that divorce is necessary.
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means you don’t need a reason to file for divorce. If either spouse feels that issues with the marriage cannot be reconciled, he/she may elect to begin the divorce process in Michigan.
How do you file for divorce and proceed from there? Here are a few things you need to know going into the Michigan divorce process.
Prerequisites for Filing for Divorce in Michigan
You do not need a reason when filing for divorce in Michigan, other than “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved”. However, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days prior to filing for divorce with a Michigan court.
In addition, you must file Michigan divorce papers with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse has been in residence for at least the last 10 days, except under very specific circumstances, such as the fear that a spouse who is not a U.S. citizen might flee the country with children, for example.
Work with a Trusted Divorce Attorney
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Hiring Legal Representation
The best way to file for divorce is with the help of a qualified and experienced family lawyer. These professionals know how to file for divorce in Michigan and they can walk you through this difficult process, file appropriate paperwork, and provide you with advice about the best options when it comes to division of assets, alimony, and child custody and child support proceedings.
It’s true that you don’t necessarily have to rely on a lawyer – you can do research and learn how to get a divorce in Michigan all on your own if you’re trying to save money. However, consider that having a qualified family lawyer on your side could help you to save a lot when it comes to division of assets and ongoing payments following divorce. Saving a little during the divorce could end up costing you a lot in the long run.
Either way, it’s not a bad idea to have at least a basic understanding of how divorce proceedings work before you dive in. For example, you’ll need to compile relevant paperwork, including tax returns, pay stubs, and information regarding marital assets before you meet with a lawyer or show up for court or mediation.
You should also know that divorce is not your only option. In specific circumstances, annulment could be an alternative solution. You might also decide that a legal separation makes more sense, particularly if you want to stay married for religious, financial, or other reasons. You’ll separate households, marital assets, child custody, and so on, just as with divorce, but ultimately, you’ll remain legally married.
These are all options your lawyer can explain and advise you on. Divorce is a complex process, and if you own property, you have kids, you’re seeking alimony, the divorce is contentious, or you’re leaving an abusive situation, hiring a lawyer is the best way to assure a relatively painless and quick divorce in Michigan.
How to Get a Divorce in Michigan
Beginning divorce proceedings is fairly simple, although actually getting a divorce in Michigan can take a while. You’ll start by filing a Summons and a Complaint with the circuit court in your county of residence (or the county where your spouse lives). If you have children, you will have to file a Summons and a Complaint for Divorce with Children, as well as a Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) Affidavit, a Verified Statement, and a Record of Divorce or Annulment (depending on your county). Divorce papers must be served to your spouse.
Once divorce papers are filed, there is a 60-day waiting period before you can be divorced, unless there were children born during the marriage or a child is on the way, in which case the waiting period is 180 days. Once issues like division of assets, alimony, child custody, and child support are agreed upon or determined by a judge, divorce proceedings can be finalized.