Michigan Divorce: All the steps of the process

Representing Clients In Macomb, Washtenaw, Wayne, Genesee County, and all over the State of Michigan.


What is the Divorce Process like in Michigan?

If you are considering a divorce, it is important to understand all the steps of the process. There are few experiences that can be more challenging than a divorce, but with proper legal representation, you can protect your rights and interests. 

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means there does not need to be any proof of wrongdoing to initiate a divorce. In this article, we will outline all the steps involved in a Michigan divorce proceeding.

During the entire divorce process questions surrounding the actual divorce, children, assets, and property will all come forward. It can be a tough emotional process and thoughts of fault, blame, or guilt will surely come up. You can leave us to deal with the paperwork, negotiations, and headaches. However, being aware of the process and what it entails is advised. Check out the rest of this article to find out more.

The Initial Steps in the Divorce Process

There are around 10 steps in the Michigan divorce process. The first step is determining if you and your spouse are eligible for a divorce in Michigan. To be eligible, at least one spouse must have lived in Michigan for 6 months and they must testify to a breakdown in the marriage. If you do not meet these requirements, you may still be eligible for a divorce if your spouse meets the residency requirements and consents to Michigan having jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings. 

If you or your spouse are eligible and meet these initial requirements then the following step is the filing. Here you actually go to the local county circuit court and file the paperwork to start the proceedings. At this step in the process, Ex Parte Orders can be filed as well. An Ex Parte Order in this context usually revolves around finances and big-financial decisions. It’s a way for the court to say “Okay, you are about to dissolve this marriage, let’s not sell the house or cars just yet.” In an Ex Parte Order, both parties do not need to be present because the actual hearing for arguing is set to a later date.

After this, the next steps involve actually serving the second party. The defendant must be served the complaint within 90 days of the filing and then they have 21 days to respond. At this point, they will either respond or not respond. If they do not respond then the divorce is considered uncontested and a default ruling could be issued. 

How Temporary Orders work in Divorce

Before Court Appearances, Mediation, and Negotiations can happen the court will likely issue a temporary order if there are minor children involved. This is essentially a way for the court to dictate parenting time, temporary child support, and child custody. 

The Divorce Process Begins – Discovery

Michigan courts require that all household and individual assets be accounted for. This means that each party must disclose all of their assets. Subpoenas can be brought forth to gather this information (through disclosures about wages, pensions, and bank information). For higher net worth divorces experts can be retained to evaluate assets and property. Intentionally hiding assets can be punished under Michigan law. 

Negotiation and Mediation

At this point in the process, a settlement agreement should be initiated, however it does not need to be accepted. Mediation is available at any point during the process. Mediators are called in as neutral 3rd party facilitators. Mediation is required before a trial if the proceedings lead down that road. During this state a court appearance is scheduled. The court will try to reach a settlement if it wasn’t possible during mediation. 

Final Judgements 

If during the previous steps of the process a settlement was not reached then the court will call for a final settlement conference. This settlement hearing will determine whether or not both parties can reach an agreeable settlement. If not then a trial is set. After this step, with or without a trial, the judge of the case will read the final judgments.