Elkouri Heath, PLC


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The Divorce Process in Michigan

Wayne County Divorce Lawyers

Oakland County Lawyers Offering Legal Guidance

A divorce is rarely an easy undertaking. There are many issues and concerns to address while dealing with the emotional aspect of ending a marriage. At Elkouri Heath PLC, we know how difficult divorce can be, but understanding the process can be helpful for all involved parties.

The Complaint and Ex Parte Orders

In the state of Michigan, a divorce case begins when one spouse files a Complaint for Divorce which includes the basic information about the parties and their children, the date of the marriage, and a statement that the marriage has broken down. The person who files the Complaint is the plaintiff, and the other spouse is the defendant. In practice, there is no real advantage or disadvantage to being the plaintiff or defendant.

Upon receipt of the Complaint and based entirely on its allegations, the court may enter Ex Parte Orders. Ex Parte Orders are temporary court orders used to set up child support payments, child custody arrangements, spousal support and other considerations for the duration of the divorce. The defendant has the right to object to an Ex Parte Order within 14 days.

Acknowledgement of Service and Answer

The defendant must be notified of the Complaint along with any Ex Parte Orders. In most situations, the plaintiff can hand his or her spouse a copy and ask the spouse to sign an Acknowledgement of Service. The use of a process server may be needed in more contentious situations.

Once served, the defendant has 21 days to file an Answer that addresses each allegation in the Complaint. Failure to file an Answer could result in a default judgment against the defendant.

Discovery, Negotiation, and Mediation

The next phase of the divorce process is Discovery. During Discovery, both parties must make a full financial disclosure, usually through written Interrogatories or in-person Depositions. The court may also issue subpoenas for wage-related information, bank or business records, and other relevant documents. This is also the stage during which property valuations must be conducted.

As the Discovery process moves along, the spouses will try to reach an agreement to avoid litigation. If negotiations are not successful, the court may order the parties to attend mediation before a trial can begin.

Parental Requirements

When a divorce includes minor children, the spouses may be required to meet with a Friend of the Court Referee for an Early Intervention Conference followed by a program designed to help parents minimize the effects of a divorce on their children. The specific program required will depend on the county in which the divorce is being heard.

Settlement, Trial, and Judgment

If the parties reach a settlement, their attorneys will typically draft a Judgment of Divorce to be approved and signed by the court. If they cannot reach a settlement, a trial will be conducted to address all issues that have not been resolved. The court will hear testimony, review evidence from both parties, and make decisions based on the circumstances of the case. The verdict is entered as a Judgment of Divorce.

For couples without children, a Judgment of Divorce cannot be issued until 60 days from the filing of the Complaint. Divorcing couples with minor children must wait 180 days, though the requirement may be shortened by the court if the parties agree and it is in the children's best interests to do so.

We Can Help

The experienced attorneys at Elkouri Heath PLC are ready to help you with all aspects of the divorce process. Call 248-344-9700 for a free, confidential consultation today. We serve clients in Oakland County, Wayne County, and throughout southeast Michigan.

Oakland County Bar Association State Bar of Michigan Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan WCCDBA Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan
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