Divorce Cases

Information You Need to Know Regarding Divorce Cases

Each divorce is unique, as is each Trial Judge handling your case. It is imperative that your attorney know which Judge you will have during the course of your case so that he can provide the appropriate tailored representation. Divorce is failure of a marriage. It tends to be an extremely emotional experience.

If your marriage is ending, you should consult an attorney immediately. You will need professional advice for the determination of the division of property, child custody, child support, spousal support, and other important aspects that are specific to your case.

To file a divorce in Michigan, you must be a resident of the State of Michigan for at least 180 days prior to filing. Additionally, you must also be a resident of your county for at least 10 days prior to filing. To indicate that you want a divorce, all you have to allege is that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony are no longer possible.

In Michigan, a divorce case begins by filing a Summons and Complaint for Divorce. It becomes an adversarial case at that point; the husband against the wife or the wife against the husband and, from that point forward, it usually becomes more difficult to resolve issues between the parties.

The opposing party, or Defendant, must be served with the initially filed paperwork. This can be done by process server, certified mail, through the parties' attorney, or by serving the individual directly and having him/her sign a receipt for the paperwork. The Defendant then has 21 days in which to file an Answer to the Complaint for Divorce. If done through the mail, the Defendant has 28 days. If the Defendant fails to timely file an Answer, a Default Judgment may be requested.

Unfortunately, most cases are not that simple. I encourage parties to work out their differences on their own as best they can. I also encourage parties with children to resolve their differences regarding their children. However, in most instances, the children become a pawn in a game of control. The controlling party, during the term of the marriage, typically will use the children to control their spouse after the divorce has been filed. That process may begin with a request for custody from a parent who has spent little or no time with the children during the course of the marriage. When dealing with child custody issues, tensions run extremely high.

There is no such thing as a "quickie" divorce in Michigan. The Statute requires that with no minor children there is a mandatory 60-day waiting period from the time the Complaint for Divorce is filed until the divorce is granted. In a divorce with children, there is a 180-day waiting period. The reason for the waiting period is to allow for a cooling off period so that the parties can accurately determine where the case is going to go.

Most divorce cases are now resolved prior to trial. The Court now uses mediation to assist the parties is settling their cases.

Formal mediation is expensive. Not only do most counties compel the payment of mediation costs to the mediator; but they compel parties to have their attorneys at the mediation as well. This means that the parties have to pay not only the mediation fee, but their attorney fees as well. It is advisable to attend mediation with the knowledge of what you want prior to beginning. Compromise is a key factor in mediation.

Very few divorce cases in Michigan actually to trial. However, if your case does go to trial, the Plaintiff presents their evidence first and the Defendant follows with their evidence. The Judge then makes a ruling based on that evidence. Once the Judge makes his ruling, the entry of a Judgment of Divorce is imminent.

For additional assistance with this and other legal matters, please call Craig W Elhart, P.C. for a free consultation at 1-800-968-4534 or (231) 946-2420.

  Download Best Interests of the Minor Child Checklist (DOC file)

  Download Divorce Questionnaire wo Children (DOC file)

  Download Divorce Questionnaire with Children (DOC file)

  Download Assets & Liabilities Checklist.doc (DOC file)

  Download Custody Questionnaire (DOC file)