Divorce without Children
Divorce is never easy, but if you and your spouse do not have any minor children then the process can at least be somewhat streamlined. Without having to focus on the needs of young children, you and your spouse can divide your property and unwind your marriage on your own timetable.
At the Blume Law Group, PLLC, we offer our clients without children a variety of approaches to Michigan divorce, depending on their circumstances and goals. From amicable divorces of short-term marriages, to “grey divorces” involving older couples with significant assets, to high-conflict divorces, we can help you figure out the best divorce process for your unique needs, and guide you toward resolution.
Alternative Dispute Resolution options like mediation or Collaborative divorce offer divorcing couples flexibility to design resolutions that work for their needs while reducing conflict and the expense that goes with it. Of course, there are always those cases that are difficult to settle and which must go to court. If yours is one of those cases, attorney Sean Blume is an experienced litigator, unlike many family law attorneys. He has the broad skill set to help you reach a favorable settlement if that is possible, and to also fight for your interests in court if it’s not.
Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Michigan
Michigan is one of a number of “no-fault” divorce states. That means that neither spouse has to prove wrongdoing (like abuse, infidelity, or cruelty) by the other in order to be granted a divorce. They just need to state 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.”
That doesn’t mean that fault is irrelevant in a Michigan divorce. A judge may take fault into account in dividing assets or in awarding spousal support (alimony).
To file for divorce in Michigan you must have lived in the state for at least six months, and in the county where you are filing for divorce for at least ten days. If your spouse lives in a different county, you could also choose to file for divorce in that county.
The Michigan Divorce Process
The legal process of getting a Michigan divorce begins when one spouse (the plaintiff) files for divorce in the Circuit Court for the county in which they live. Then they must either serve the other spouse (the defendant) with the divorce complaint, or have the other spouse acknowledge that they received the complaint. The plaintiff files a proof of service with the court, and the defendant gets to file an answer to the divorce complaint.
The court will schedule a status conference or case management conference. This is a court appearance where important dates for the case are scheduled. These dates include:
- Discovery deadlines, which define the time period during which the parties can request information and documents from each other;
- Mediation deadlines, which lists the date by which the parties must meet for court-ordered mediation of their case if they have not already reached settlement;
- Settlement Conference, which is where the parties reappear in court to discuss settlement. If they have resolved all issues in their divorce, the divorce can be finalized at this time. If they are not in agreement then a trial order may be entered.
- Trial date, when the parties must reappear in court to testify and present evidence in a trial before the judge if they have not reached settlement.
You may be surprised to learn that very few divorce cases make it all the way to trial—about five percent. In the rest of the cases, the parties reach settlement at some point through some form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Reaching Settlement in a Michigan Divorce
There are a number of reasons that reaching settlement is usually preferable to going to trial in a divorce case, even when there are no children involved. The sooner a case is settled, the sooner the parties can move on with their lives. And, of course, the longer a case drags on, the more expensive it usually is, and the more of a toll it takes on each of the parties emotionally. Reaching a settlement that works for both spouses saves time, money, and stress.
How do you reach settlement? That depends on your situation. Some couples can just sit down at the kitchen table and work things out, consulting an attorney to draw up their settlement agreement in a way that complies with the law. Other couples prefer to negotiate through their attorneys. Collaborative divorce and divorce mediation are two forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) that allow couples to work together to reach “win-win” resolutions in a respectful way, using the support of legal and other professionals. In some cases, couples choose to negotiate a settlement before even filing for divorce, which shortens the legal process and minimizes court involvement.
With the right guidance it is possible to reach a favorable settlement in most cases. But in some situations, the only way to achieve a fair outcome is to take your case to trial. Attorney Sean Blume is an experienced courtroom advocate who understands how to move your case toward settlement, since that is the likely outcome, while at the same preparing your case to be heard by a judge at trial.
If you are planning to file for a divorce in Michigan, or need to respond to your spouse’s divorce filing, Blume Law Group can offer the advice and advocacy that you need. We represent Michigan divorce clients in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and St. Clair counties. We invite you to contact our office to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to working with you.