Detroit Divorce Attorney
Filing for Divorce in Michigan
Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning spouses do not need to prove that the other caused the divorce in some way. In several other states, it is necessary to show that one of the spouses did something wrong, such as adultery or being in jail for a period of time.
However, in Michigan, it is sufficient to show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and the spouses do not believe they can continue to be married. At least one of the spouses will be required to testify to this fact, usually through an affidavit filed with the court.
There are several legal rules and principles that dictate how a Michigan divorce is filed, where it is filed, and when it is filed. For instance, in order to file for divorce in Michigan, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 6 months before filing. In addition, you are required to file the divorce at a court in the local county where you (and the children have lived.
Sometimes, determining how these rules apply to your case can be straightforward. Other times, it will be incredibly complicated, requiring the assistance of an experienced Detroit area divorce attorney.
What Does the Divorce Process Entail?
Once a divorce complaint has been filed, this officially begins the divorce process. The next step is to “serve” the Summons and Complaint on the other spouse. This can often be done by certified mail, hand-delivering the papers in person, or any other process that the court allows.
After papers are served, the defendant will be required to file an answer within 21 days to the plaintiff and also serve these on the plaintiff. The answer should respond to all issues raised in the Complaint and may also raise new issues that the respondent wishes to bring to the notice of the court. As your family law attorney will advise, there are strict timelines within which all of this must be done.
Once the parties have filed their papers, a stage known as the “discovery” stage will commence. At this stage, the attorneys on both sides will try to gather the information that is helpful to the case of either party. This includes information that can assist in fair distribution of marital assets, such as income, the value of businesses, shares, and other assets. They will also be necessary for identifying information that will help the court assess and award child custody, including proposed living arrangements, how much time each parent has to work, and other information.
The discovery process can either be formal or informal. It is formal when each party relies strictly on court-approved processes to elicit information from the other party. This can often involve a lot of time and effort on both sides, especially when there is some information one party may not wish to disclose.
The process is informal when both parties cooperate with each other to provide information the other requires. This can save time from the sometimes lengthy discovery process. The good news is that it can save time, money, and emotional distress.
After the end of the discovery process, the court will hold a hearing to settle any issues that were discovered during this process. This stage gives the parties the opportunity to resolve any disputes in the divorce and reach a faster resolution.
Alternatives to Court-Supervised Divorce
There are other alternatives that may be explored to reach a more expeditious conclusion of the divorce proceedings. These alternatives are often cheaper, faster, and much more amicable than litigation, which is why most families prefer them.
The processes include divorce arbitration, divorce mediation, and collaborative law. Divorce arbitration is essentially a court-like proceeding where an impartial third party helps the spouses finalize the dissolution of their marriage. The proceeding is court-like because, even though it is not overseen by a judge, it results in a binding outcome that can be enforced as a judgment of the court. The advantage here is you and your spouse get to agree on what issues to put before the arbitrator and you can resolve these through a more flexible procedure whenever you want.
Divorce mediation also involves a third-party that helps you come to a positive resolution. But rather than the position with arbitration, a mediator allows you and your spouse come to an agreement by yourselves, instead of making a decision for you. Going through a divorce mediation can help you and your spouse achieve a more rounded view of the issues in the divorce and come to a mutually beneficial resolution.
Collaborative law is a new area of Michigan family law that involves only the two parties and their attorneys. Rather than a traditional court case where the attorneys’ job is to go to war on your behalf, they will instead be working together to reach an agreement on contentious issues in the divorce. The goal of the process will be to finalize a document that embodies both of your wishes and takes into account the best interest of your children.
Each of these procedures has its benefits, as does litigation. However, they also have specific cases in which they are most beneficial. Attorney Folmar will help you determine which of these procedures best suits your divorce and how to make the most of the process for a solution that works for you.
Thinking about Divorce? Contact Allison for help
Allison understands how complicated divorce can be, and her first priority is to ensure you understand exactly what to expect. She will stand by your side and help you secure the outcome that best suits your goals and provides a satisfying conclusion.