The Michigan divorce process may seem complicated, however, in this video we summarize the process in less than a minute.
The Michigan Divorce Process
Step 1: The first step in every divorce is to file a Complaint for Divorce. The Complaint for Divorce sets forth the statutory requirements to divorce in Michigan. These requirements include the jurisdictional requirement that one party has resided in the State of Michigan for 180 days before filing and the County for 10 days. Also required in a Complaint for Divorce is the no-fault ground for divorce that: “there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and their remains no likelihood that the marriage can be preserved” and a prayer for relief.
Step 1.5: In most cases, your lawyer will submit two Ex Parte Orders. “Ex Parte” is a Latin legal term meaning “from one party”. Simply put, an Ex Parte order is an order submitted to the court without first having a hearing. There are two Ex Parte Orders typcially submitted in a divorce case. A Mutual Restraining Order against Property Transfer and a Financial Status Quo Order. These two Orders are intended to preserve the marital estate and ensure bills are paid during the divorce process.
Step 2: The second step is to place your spouse on legal notice that he/she is being sued for divorce. In most cases, your lawyer will hire a process server to physically hand your spouse the divorce papers, however, your spouse can acknowledge service or his/her attorney can accept service in lieu of using a process server.
Step 3: The third step is to conduct discovery. In most cases this is the most important step. Discovery is the process by which you can ask questions about the nature and extent of the marital estate, custody, income etc. A Verified Financial Information Form is a form required to be filled out by the parties and summarizes the marital estate. However, your lawyer has additional tools at his/her disposal such as Interrogatories, Depositions and a Subpoena power to properly prepare your file for settlement or trial.
Step 4: The fourth step is to attend mediation and negotiate a settlement. Mediation is typically court ordered and is a form of alternative dispute resolution to facilitate settlement using the services of a third party mediator who represents neither party, ignoring the formalities of trial. However, both parties must agree to settle a case or it will proceed to trial. The majority of cases settle at mediation.
Step 5: If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the Judge will decide all contested issues at trial. Alternatively, the parties can contract with a private judge called an Arbitrator to decide all contested issues.
Proper preparation for mediation ensures proper preparation should the case proceed to trial. With preparation, your lawyer can ensure that your goals are met which is the reason most cases settle which is why preparation is one of our core values at Findling Law.
Our Core Values
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.