How to Navigate the Ups and Downs of a Michigan Divorce
In any divorce proceeding, there are going to be ups and downs as separating parties try to deal with the emotional and logistical concerns of legal separation. It may help to have some idea of what the process will entail before you begin, and a qualified attorney can help you to understand and navigate the process. Here’s what you can generally expect to go through when divorcing in the state of Michigan.
Complaint for Divorce and Answer
Divorce proceedings begin when one party files a complaint, sometimes referred to as a petition for divorce. In Michigan, filing for divorce requires only that one party involved is a resident of the state (although it doesn’t have to be the party filing for divorce). Even though Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, the complaint must contain the reason, or grounds for divorce.
Once the paperwork has been filed, the filing party is required to serve his/her spouse with divorce papers within 90 days. Upon receipt of these papers, the spouse has 21 days to respond, or file answer with the court. Failure to do so could result in a default judgment by the court.
Divorce proceedings are rarely a simple matter, and they can take months or longer to resolve. In the meantime, separating couples must deal with issues like dividing households and finances, as well as determining custody of any children involved. In such cases, a judge will often issue temporary orders that spell out guidelines for handling finances and parenting time until such matters are permanently decided when the divorce is finalized.
Mediation is the first step in ironing out how the divorce will proceed and what will happen when the divorce is finalized. During this process, spouses and their lawyers will meet with an appointed Friend of the Court, who will try to help the parties come to agreements regarding separation of assets (and debts), alimony, and a permanent child custody arrangement, if applicable.
This process may entail discovery by lawyers on both sides, whereby pertinent information is exchanged to ensure that all assets and debts are accounted for, as well as determine potential alimony, child custody, and child support. This could include appraising property and obtaining depositions, witness interviews, and subpoenas, just for example.
If parties are able to settle their differences with a mediator, a trial can be avoided. Often, a judge will accept an agreement reached through mediation so long as it is fair, equal, and in the best interests of all parties involved, including children.
Unfortunately, not all divorcing couples are able to reach an amicable settlement during mediation. In this case, the divorce will move on to the trial process, by which a family court judge will review all available information and render judgment on pertinent issues like separation of assets, alimony, child custody, and child support.
Regardless of how you expect your Michigan divorce to proceed (amicably or contentiously), it’s always wise to have a legal advocate in your corner. Contact the qualified attorneys at The Gucciardo Law Firm today at 248-723-5190 to get the advice and legal support that will help you navigate the ups and downs of your divorce.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.