The formal Michigan divorce process – Divorce Steps

The formal Michigan divorce process – Divorce Steps:  In Michigan, a divorce follows a formal process and our Michigan divorce attorneys understand the steps and can help you navigate the process without turbulence.  The divorce steps for a Michigan divorce are as follows:

Divorce steps – One:  Prepare and file Complaint for divorce and ex parte orders.


The Complaint for divorce is the formal document where you request a divorce from the court.  It contains general allegations, such as the date of marriage, that there is property to divide, and custody preferences, if applicable.

Ex Parte orders: Are orders typically submitted when filing a complaint and often include both a mutual restraining order to preserve the marital estate and an order requiring the parties to continue to jointly pay bills (maintain the financial status quo).

Divorce steps – Two:  The complaint and orders are given to your spouse;

The legal term divorce lawyers and divorce court’s use to describe giving your spouse a copy of the Complaint and orders is called service of processThe court requires that service of process be done is a very specific manner.

Divorce steps – Three:  Your spouse must answer the complaint or be in default;

Typically, within 21 days after receiving the Michigan divorce complaint, Michigan divorce law requires that a formal answer to the complaint be filed.  Like the complaint for divorce, the answer for the complaint typically contains general answers to the allegations contained in the complaint for divorce.

Divorce step – Four:  Conduct discovery to understand the nature and extent of what there is to divide.

The Discovery process is usually the most important part of the Michigan divorce process.  Discovery is the process by which we ask questions, under oath, subject to the penalty of perjury.  It is important for both you and your divorce attorney to understand notions such as what are the property and debts?  And, if applicable, what are the custody preferences?

Lawyers use Interrogatories (written questions), Subpoenas (court orders) and, Depositions (recorded testimony) when conducting discovery.  The manner and method of discovery is unique to each Michigan divorce case.

Divorce steps – Five:  The first court date – typically a called a scheduling conference, case management, status conference or Early Intervention Conference.  Notwithstanding the name of the first court date, the date typically involves setting a scheduling order, or roadmap for future divorce court appearances.

Divorce steps –  Six:  Go to mediation if settlement is not otherwise achievable.  Michigan divorce lawyers, Michigan divorce courts and divorce mediators, encourage settlement whenever possible.  The vast majority of Michigan divorce cases settle.  Mediation typically involves a third party neutral to help settle cases.  Many cases settle without mediation.  Other cases resolve at trial.

Divorce steps – Seven:  The second court date is called the settlement conference.  If your case settled at mediation or beforehand, this court date typically becomes the divorce date.  If the parties have not settled, many Michigan divorce courts will try to encourage settlement talks.  At the settlement conference, the court will also set a trial date.

Divorce steps – Eight:  Divorce trial or arbitration.  At trial, a Michigan divorce court will decide your fate.  Arbitration is an alternative trial and is best described as binding mediation.

Michigan Divorce formal process FAQ

What is the statutory waiting period? (6 months with minor children 60 days without)

Can the statutory waiting period be waived?  (yes, upon showing of a compelling necessity)

What are the no fault ground for divorce?  (The grounds for divorce in Michigan are met if there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship and their remains no likelihood that the marriage can be preserved).

Does fault matter?  (The Court will not inquire as to the issue of fault when granting a divorce but may inquire as to the issue of fault when deciding issues pertaining to the division of property, an award of alimony and in custody determinations – fault does matter)

Is there a defense to divorce?  (It takes two people to get married but only one person to get divorce – there are no defenses to a divorce)

  • Your spouse can refuse to sign the papers, but you can still get divorced.
  • Your spouse can refuse to accept the documents, but alternatives to personal service will be made.
  • If you want the divorce, your spouse cannot legally prevent it from happening.

About Findling Lawdivorce and christmas

I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades.  The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.

That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

We want to help you manage your situation. Let our exceptional legal team help you . . .


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By:  Daniel Findling

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