A Step-By-Step Guide To Michigan Divorce Procedures

Many people facing divorce want to know, "What happens next?" Divorce is a time of upheaval and change. You may find it helpful to know what to expect as you go through the process of divorce. At Vander Horst Law Office, P.C., we have helped many families in southwest Michigan through divorce for more than 25 years, and we can help your family too.

Here are the basic steps to filing a divorce in Michigan:

  • Filing the complaint. One party must file a complaint giving the basic information about the parties, dates of marriage and separation, any minor children and a statement about the breakdown of the marriage, stating that there remains no reasonable likelihood the marriage can be preserved. The filing party will be known as the plaintiff. The plaintiff must have lived in Michigan for 180 days, and in the county for 10 days.
  • Court orders and service. The court may choose to issue orders for temporary child custody and child support during the divorce process. The ex parte orders and the complaint must be served to the other spouse, known as the defendant. The defendant may file an answer within 21 days if he or she wishes to contest anything in the complaint.
  • Discovery and mediation. The discovery process begins, meaning that the attorneys for each party will request documents and information from the other side to start building a case. Each side will also determine the value of all the major assets owned by the parties. This is also the time to start discussing settlement, if both parties are willing to do so. Settlement can save the parties time and money. If the parties have a difficult time agreeing, the judge may appoint a mediator, who will help both sides negotiate a settlement.
  • Reaching an agreement. If the parties can settle their differences, the attorneys for both sides will create a Judgment of Divorce to document the terms. One or both parties will take the Judgment of Divorce before the court for approval. The court cannot enter a judgment until 60 days after the complaint, or 180 days if minor children are involved.
  • Going to trial. If the parties cannot settle their differences, the court will hold a trial for a contested divorce, reviewing all the evidence. The judge will decide on a fair division of property and spousal support, as well as custody arrangements he finds to be in the best interest of the children.

Call Us For Divorce Help

The above steps are just an overview of the process. Hopefully, knowing these steps helps you envision your path forward. For a personalized analysis of your divorce case, contact our Kalamazoo office to speak with an experienced divorce attorney. Call us at 269-388-7600 or send an email.

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