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Common Questions when Filing for Divorce in Michigan

When clients come to us about filing for divorce in Michigan, they typically have a lot of questions. Here are our responses to some of those most commonly asked. If you don’t find an answer to your question here, don’t lose heart. We’ll answer even more commonly asked questions about Michigan divorces in our next article: More Common Questions When Filing for Divorce in Michigan.

How long does a divorce take in Michigan?

In Michigan a judge cannot grant a divorce in fewer than 60 days. If minor children are involved, the minimum waiting period is six months (180 days), so the divorcing spouses have ample opportunity to think carefully about getting divorced. On occasion, if the court finds extenuating circumstances of undue hardship or compelling necessity and it is in the best interest of the child, the judge may waive the six-month waiting period. If there are many contested issues in the divorce, it may take longer than six months, but usually not more than a year.

How much will a divorce cost?

The cost of divorce depends on many factors, including the county in which the divorce takes place, your attorney’s fee rate, the number of contested issues, the amount of property to be divided, whether children are involved, and whether the divorcing spouses are able to agree on terms. The more contested issues there are and the less the spouses are able to get along, the more costly the divorce will be because of increased case time for the attorney and increased number of court hearings.

Do I need an attorney to get divorced?

Michigan law does not require anyone to have an attorney to get a divorce. However, divorce and custody laws are complex and many people who represent themselves miss out on many of their rights and usually get the short end of the stick. Having a qualified attorney on your side ensures your rights are protected and ensures that the divorce goes as smoothly as possible.

Can divorcing spouses share a divorce attorney?

No. Representing both spouses in a divorce would be a conflict of interest for the attorney and is not permitted. One party may represent themselves rather than hire an attorney, but if one spouse is represented by an attorney, it is recommended that the other have an attorney as well to ensure his/her rights are protected.

Does Michigan allow annulment of a marriage?

Michigan law permits annulment of a marriage when the marriage is between close relatives (known as “consanguinity”) or involves a person who is incompetent or not of sufficient age for legal marriage. A marriage can also be annulled in cases of bigamy, fraud or marriage under duress. If an annulment is granted, it means the marriage never took place and each party takes with them whatever was theirs prior to the marriage or would have been theirs if they had never married. If you think your circumstances warrant annulment, it is best to consult with an attorney to be sure before filing for annulment.

Are there limits on when I can file for divorce in Michigan?

At least one spouse must have been a resident of Michigan for a minimum of 180 days prior to filing for divorce, and at least one spouse must have been a resident of the county in which divorce is filed for a minimum of 10 days.

If one spouse doesn’t want a divorce, can he/she stop a divorce filed by the other spouse?

No. Since Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, only one spouse alleging that the marriage is broken and irreparable is necessary for the divorce to take place. A spouse who doesn’t want the divorce can make things difficult, delay proceedings and make the divorce more costly, but they cannot prevent the divorce.

Do child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division all have to be decided before a divorce is final?

Yes. Divorce will not be granted until all related issues are resolved.

When can a divorcing spouse remarry?

Once the final Judgment of Divorce is entered and the case is closed. If one spouse remarries before the divorce is complete, the new marriage is void and can be annulled.

How do I file for divorce?

To initiate a divorce, one spouse must file a Summons and Complaint, along with the appropriate filing fee, in the Clerk of Courts office of the county where either spouse lives (assuming the spouse has lived in that county at least 10 days prior to filing.

Does it matter which spouse files for divorce first?

Filing first provides no advantage toward the final outcome of divorce proceedings. Only the facts revealed during trial and in court filings influence a judge’s decisions regarding property division, child custody and spousal support. However, it may be advantageous to file for divorce first if you are seeking an ex parte order to obtain custody of children and child support, to preserve property, or to maintain the financial status quo during the divorce proceedings. For more information on ex parte orders, see our website article on that topic: Ex Parte Orders

Will my divorce be public record?

All court proceedings are public record, including divorces. Property settlements can be kept from the public if agreed to outside of court.

Can I make my spouse leave the house during a divorce?

It depends on the circumstances. If there are domestic violence issues or other extreme circumstances that may put one spouse or the couple’s children in danger, a judge may order the endangering spouse to leave. Although uncomfortable, it is often more practical financially to live together until the divorce is final or issues regarding home ownership or spousal support are decided.

Do I have to let my spouse back in the house if they left and the divorce is not yet final?

Yes, unless you have a court order that specifically prohibits his/her return to the house. Each spouse’s right to return to the home and live there is enforceable by police. Usually, getting a court order to prohibit a spouse’s return is only possible in cases of domestic violence or when one spouse has made violent threats against the other or against the couple’s children.

More Questions About Divorce and Child Custody?

If you have a question about filing for divorce in Michigan that isn’t included in this article, please take a look at our next article: More Common Questions When Filing for Divorce in Michigan. Or call our office and Metro Detroit family law and divorce attorney Carlo J. Martina can answer your questions about divorce and child custody matters. Mr. Martina can also represent you in all family law and divorce proceedings to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Call Plymouth, MI divorce lawyer Carlo J. Martina today at (734) 254-1140 to schedule a consultation.

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