Roadmap to Divorce in Michigan

Roadmap to Divorce in Michigan

Find Out If You Qualify For Divorce

In order to file for a divorce, you need to have been a Michigan resident for 180 days minimum and live in the county for at least 10 days. In addition, there is a time limit on when a divorce can be finalized. For a couple that has minor children, the waiting period is 180 days; without minor children, it’s 60 days.

File a Complaint

A divorce starts with a complaint, which is a written legal document that is served to the spouse. The Plaintiff is the one who files the complaint, while the opposing party is the Defendant. The divorce complaint is filed at the Family Division of the Circuit Court in the couple’s residing county. A family court judge is then assigned to the case at random.

Respond to the Complaint

Once the complaint and summons have been filed and served to the opposing party, the defendant must confirm or deny each statement in the document within 21 days (28 days if the complaint was served via mail or out of state). If the defendant fails to file an answer, a default judgment may be entered. However, the defendant may hire a lawyer and ask the court to overturn the default before the case is finished.

Issue a Temporary Order

A temporary order is typically filed when a couple has minor children. This order determines custody, parenting time, child support and several other important decisions. A temporary order may be completed through a court hearing or by agreement of both parties.

Discovery Phase

We gather relevant information based on what we believe will be contested in the case. Discovery may involve interrogatories, third-party subpoenas, depositions and more. We may consult accountants, appraisers and physiological professionals when necessary.

Begin Negotiations

Once the discovery has been completed, settlement negotiations begin through written proposals or in-person meetings. The goal is to resolve some of the issues present in the case. The attorneys and both parties might choose to set up a meeting without the court’s involvement. If both parties reach a settlement, you will both sign a document that outlines the provisions.


Both parties may choose mediation at any stage of the divorce. During a joint session, a mediator will act as a third party to help resolve pending disputes. The mediator works with both parties to help them reach a settlement. Mediation may help resolve the divorce in a more efficient manner.

Appearing in Court

If a divorce proceeds to court, we will help you prepare for the hearing. At a motion hearing, you will give a testimony, or an attorney may attend on your behalf. The judge may assign a referee, or court’s attorney, to first hear the motion and all matters relevant to the pending divorce. The referee makes suggestions to the judge, and their recommendation can be objected to within 21 days.

Schedule a Settlement Conference

Both parties must attend a formal settlement conference in which the goal is to resolve issues related to spousal support or property division. Attorneys will speak with the judge independently about various issues and try to obtain an informal decision. If parties are unable to settle all issues at the conference, a trial will be scheduled.

Final Judgment Is Issued

Finally, the Judgement of Divorce is issued, which is a written court order that formally grants the divorce. This document contains details of the judge’s ruling based on all aspects of the divorce, including child support, parenting time, property division and more. After the final judgment is ruled, the marriage is officially dissolved as of the indicated date.

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