Giordano Law PLC

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Steps to a Michigan divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Divorce

Any experienced divorce attorney in Michigan will attest to the proposition that no two divorces are identical. Each divorce has its own twists and turns as determined by the personalities of the spouses, their financial situation, whether they have minor children, and their motivation for seeking a divorce.

However, the Michigan legislature has passed a number of laws that govern the divorce process, and every divorce must adhere to these statutes. Understanding this process can help anyone considering a divorce decide whether to proceed.

Residency and waiting periods

Anyone wishing to seek a divorce from a Michigan court must have resided in the state for 180 days before filing the petition. Only one spouse needs to have lived in the state to confer jurisdiction on Michigan courts.

The next step is to draft and file the divorce petition. The divorce petition must provide basic information about the filing party and any children. The petition must be served upon the other spouse before the matter will be referred to a judge.

The parties must then wait for the mandatory waiting period to expire. For couples with no children, the waiting period is sixty days; for couples with children, the waiting period is six months.

The waiting period is intended to give couples time to sort out matters such as child custody and support as well as just a general “cooling off” period.

Exchanging information

While the mandatory waiting period is tolling, the parties must exchange personal and financial information including employment status, sources of income, other property owned, debts or court obligations, and motor vehicles owned by that person.  This exchange of information, called discovery, will assist parties in having informed settlement discussions.

Drafting a settlement agreement

If parties are able to reach resolution, a written agreement, or Judgment of Divorce, is drafted regarding matters such as child support and custody, division of assets, and spousal support. This document is then submitted to the judge for the purpose of determining whether its terms are fair and equitable. The spouses must comply with the terms of the settlement agreement as it constitutes a legally binding contract.

Final settlement agreement and hearing

If the divorce and terms of the settlement agreement are accepted by both spouses, the court will sign the final judgment which dissolves the marriage and settles all issues, including child custody and support and property division.

If the parties cannot reach an agreement on their own, the court will conduct a trial where parties can submit evidence and testimony as it relates to their respective positions on all issues. After the trial concludes, the court will issue a final judgment and decree. This order will have the same effect as a judgment in an uncontested divorce and will be legally binding on the parties.

If you’d like to learn more about the divorce process and how different procedures may work for your situation, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.