Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

39555 Orchard Hill Place, Suite 215, Novi, MI 48375

3 Things to Do if You Are Unexpectedly Served with Divorce Papers

Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce lawyer answering divorce summonsMost married people naturally assume that they will have some warning of marital problems--a discussion about marriage counseling, perhaps, or mention of a trial separation--before anyone actually takes legal action. Yet quite a few people are completely surprised when they are served with divorce papers. 

What should you do if your spouse files for divorce unexpectedly? Here are three things you can do after being served with Michigan divorce papers:

1. Give Yourself a Little Breathing Space

Upon receiving divorce papers, you may feel furious, tearful, sick to your stomach with anxiety, or all of these. Giving yourself a day or two to recover before taking any further actions can help you process the emotional upheaval and prepare for how best to respond. 

2.  Start By Reading the Summons and Complaint Pages

That package of divorce papers you received might seem intimidating. You may be tempted to put off looking at them. But, within a day or two of receipt, you really do need to start reading those papers, because the Michigan divorce process moves quickly. The summons and complaint documents are a good place to start.

The summons and complaint form serves as proof that you have been informed of the divorce filing, the name and location of the court where the divorce will be processed, and your deadline for filing a response to the attached complaint. 

The complaint for divorce document spells out your spouse’s requests for the division of assets and spousal support (alimony), along with child support, custody, and parenting time arrangements. You have 21 days to respond (28 days if you are out of state).

This is a good time to reach out to an attorney, who can help you decide if the proposed division of assets and other terms are in your best interests and recommend alternatives.

3. Understand What Is Required of You With Regard to Any Temporary or Ex Parte Court Orders

Along with the summons and complaint, you may also receive documents related to temporary or ex parte court orders. These orders address how family matters should be handled between now and the time that the divorce becomes final.

A motion for a temporary order will specify a date for a court hearing, at which time the judge will hear from both parties and decide whether to issue the requested order. Temporary orders typically address issues like protection of assets, child care arrangements, and family bill-paying. 

An ex parte order means a judge has already issued an order with immediate effect, without hearing your side of the story. To get an ex parte order, one spouse has to make a case that there is a high risk of irreparable harm if the order is not issued. For example, if one spouse has always controlled the family finances, ex parte orders may be needed to prevent that spouse from selling or hiding assets or depriving the other of sufficient money to live on. If there are allegations of abuse, ex parte orders may be used to grant one spouse sole possession of the family home or to award immediate and sole custody of the children to one spouse. 

You have a limited time to decide how you want to handle both types of orders. An experienced Michigan divorce attorney can help you develop your responses and ensure that your spouse does not take advantage of you during this stressful time.

Consult a Divorce Lawyer Serving Farmington Hills and Livonia

If you have just been served with divorce papers, you have a limited window of time in which to respond. Consult an Oakland County divorce attorney right away. The partners of Elkouri Heath PLC each have 20+ years of legal experience in Michigan and have helped hundreds of people reach positive resolutions to their divorce. We will patiently explain your options at each step of the divorce process, and you will quickly see how dedicated we are to protecting both your legal rights and your financial security. Call Elkouri Heath PLC at 248-344-9700 for a free consultation. 

Sources:

https://www.3rdcc.org/videos-on-filing-for-divorce

https://mjieducation.mi.gov/documents/resources-for-trial-court-staff/178-holt-rev-2015/file

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