Good people get divorced, and the break-up of a marriage is traumatic regardless of the level of hurt involved. The role of the divorce attorney is to advise and counsel the client so that the client is aware of his or her legal options and is able to make informed, well thought-out decisions. In this way the attorney and the client work together to obtain the best legal outcome possible.
The time it takes to obtain a divorce varies depending on the complexity of the issues and whether or not the parties have minor children. A divorce not involving minor children may be granted 60 days following the filing of the Complaint for Divorce if all issues are resolved. A divorcing couple that has a minor child or children may not be granted a divorce until at least 180 days (6 months) following the filing of the Complaint unless the Judge, for good reason, waives the waiting period. No divorce is granted without a court hearing.
Michigan is a “no-fault” state, which means that you do not have to prove “fault” in order to be granted a divorce. However “fault” may play a role in resolution of the issues of custody and parenting time, spousal support and the division of marital property.
The statutory basis for granting a divorce in Michigan is that “There has been a breakdown in the marital relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”
While the divorce is pending temporary orders for custody, child support, spousal support, mortgage and household bill payment, parenting time, etc may be implemented upon agreement of the parties or upon order of the court. Temporary orders regulate the affairs of the parties until such time as the orders are amended or replaced and revoked by the Judgment of Divorce.
During the months following the filing of the Complaint for Divorce, the parties and their attorneys will work to establish the net worth and general financial status of the parties. Discovery of the documents necessary to determine the value of the “marital estate” may be freely disclosed by the parties or may be obtained by subpoena, interrogatories, and deposition. When all the financial information has been collected, you and your attorney are in a position to reflect on your financial goals and discuss a framework for settlement.
If minor children are involved, this is also the time that the parties will be formulating a parenting time plan or seeking Friend of the Court involvement in the event of a dispute.
There is an array of experts available to assist divorcing parties in resolving contested issues. Parenting-time facilitators, mediators, arbitrators, therapists, accountants, appraisers, and pension and business valuation experts are just examples of the professionals that may be hired by the parties, or appointed by the court, to assist in resolving parenting-time and property disputes.
A Judgment of Divorce is an order of the court that contains either the final settlement of the parties or, if the case has gone to trial, the decision of the judge. For many parties the Judgment is the final divorce document. It sets out in great detail the rights and obligations of the parties and a failure to comply with the terms of the Judgment could subject a party to contempt of court.
The Judgment of Divorce will detail-out the division of assets and debts, spousal and child support to be paid, the parenting time of the children (including holidays and vacations) and many, many other matters. A “true copy” of your Judgment of Divorce should be retained indefinitely in a safe location.
A Personal Protection Order (PPO) should be sought when necessary to stop abuse of the individual or family. You may apply for a PPO at your local Circuit Court without the assistance of an attorney (and you do not need to have a pending divorce in order to obtain one).
Contact the Family Court in your county for more information and check out the Resources section of this website.