If you and your spouse have minor children together, your divorce will naturally be more complex than a divorce without children. On top of dividing assets, you will need to decide how each of you will spend time with your children, make decisions about them, and how you will provide for them financially. Equally important, and often overlooked, is deciding how you will help your children come to terms with your divorce.
At Blume Law Group, we understand that divorcing with children is not just a legal matter, but rather it is an emotional and financial process as well. We are committed to understanding your story, identifying your needs, and then exploring your options with you. Our goal is to help not only you, but your children, come through your divorce successfully.
In order to file for divorce in Michigan, you (or your spouse) need to have lived in the state for at least 180 days and in the county in which the case is being filed for at least 10 days. In order to start a divorce case in the courts, you will need to file certain documents, including:
Depending on the county and your situation, you may need to file additional documents, and everyone needs to pay a filing fee, unless the Court waives that fee due to financial hardship.
Once the case is filed, your spouse will need to acknowledge receipt of the papers, or you will need to have your spouse served with them. It’s usually easier if your spouse is willing to accept the papers by coming to our office; it’s less adversarial than using a process server, which helps start the divorce off on a better note. Since you will need to co-parent together, even at this early stage, it is preferable to avoid creating unnecessary hostility. Your spouse will have 21 days to file a formal answer with the court.
Some weeks after your spouse receives the court documents, you will have a court appearance called a “status conference” or “case management conference.” This hearing establishes a timeline for your case. Depending on the county, you may also have a meeting with the Friend of the Court Referee to identify, and attempt to resolve, issues regarding custody, parenting time, and child support. In Macomb and Oakland County, divorcing parents also have to attend a program called SMILE (Start Making It Livable for Everyone).
Next, you and your spouse will have the opportunity to engage in “discovery,” which is an exchange of information important to your case. Your attorneys may take depositions, request documents, or ask for answers to written questions. Together with both attorneys, you and your spouse may reach agreement on the terms of your divorce. If you are unable to reach agreement, the court will require you to go through mediation to resolve any unresolved issues. If mediation does not help you reach settlement, you will have a settlement conference before the judge. If there are still unresolved issues at that point, your case will go to trial.
Most Michigan divorce cases are settled before a trial becomes necessary. Reaching settlement is almost always less expensive and less stressful than a trial. Many cases are settled very early in the divorce process. A Michigan divorce case involving minor children can be resolved in as little as 180 days if the parties have reached agreement on all issues. If it would cause a serious hardship on the children for the divorce process to continue that long, a judge can grant a divorce even sooner, but not earlier than 60 days after the case was filed.
Divorce is stressful on everyone, especially the children of the divorcing couple. Sometimes it is necessary to go to trial in order to get a fair result in the case. Most of the time, though, a good attorney can help you reach settlement through negotiation, mediation, or the Collaborative Divorce process. In fact, some couples reach settlement through these processes before even filing for divorce.
As a parent, helping your child is your first priority. At Blume Law Group, helping you is ours. We represent parents in Michigan divorces in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and St. Clair counties. We invite you to contact our office to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.