Michigan Family Law: Divorces
From the date a divorce action is filed, there is a statutory waiting period of 60 days in the event that there are no children involved, and 6 months if there are children involved, before a final judgment of divorce can be executed.
A divorce begins when one party files a Complaint with the Circuit Court alleging that “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.” At the time the Complaint is filed, one of the parties must have been a resident of the State of Michigan for at least 180 days, and a resident of the County for at least 10 days. This Complaint will be filed with the Court then served upon the Defendant personally.
The Defendant, by filing an Answer, may either admit the grounds for divorce alleged or deny them. Or, the Defendant may opt not to file anything which will result in a Default judgment being entered against him / her.
Once both parties have filed these Pleadings (the Complaint and the Answer together)…
A) Without Children, the Court has very little to do except aid the parties in resolving disputes until it is time for Trial when the parties cannot agree on a resolution; Or,
B) If there are children, then the Friend of the Court will get involved at this time
The Friend of the Court (FOC) handles all issues regarding children during a divorce. Most frequently, the FOC gathers information for use in temporarily determining custody, visitation, and child support. The FOC referee then takes the information it has gathered and makes a Recommendation to the Court for an order on those issues. This order becomes the order of the Court during the pendency of the Divorce. For additional information on the FOC, click here.
Should either party object to the FOC recommendation, then the matter will go in front of the Judge to hear all the testimony and to compare the recommendation with the information known at the time. The Judge will then enter an order to continue until the Judgment of Divorce is signed.
As the waiting period expires, the parties will either have a trial in which they will testify before the judge on property, assets, and custody issues or they will come to a resolution and agree to terms of a judgment for divorce.
Upon a resolution either by trial or by consent of the parties, the Court will hold a “pro confesso” hearing in which the Plaintiff will get on the stand and testify briefly that the marriage has broken down and that the Judge should enter the judgment. The Court will then enter the judgment and the case will be over.
For additional information on the differences between Marital property and separate property, click here.
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