As emotionally challenging as they can be, there’s no reason to make a divorce more contentious or fraught than it needs to be. Preparation is key, and this divorce in Michigan checklist can ensure that you’re prepared for any eventuality, ensuring cases with minor children involved, or where a spouse does not answer a complaint. To prevent cases from being dismissed over a lack of process, here’s what you need to do.
Set Aside Money
Financially, a divorce process is a transformative time. You will need the room to see what your finances will look like on your own. As such, it’s wise to prepare enough money for around 3 months of daily expenses. You may also wish to take out a solo credit card in your name. Talking to a financial planner who specializes in divorces may be a wise idea to ensure the most secure financial positioning possible.
Maintain Separate Contact Information
Whether your spouse is aware of your intentions for divorce or not, it’s wise to start cutting off their access to your own communications. This can include changing login details for things like your phone and your email address. You should also open your own PO box that is used for private correspondence with your attorney, financial planner, and so on.
If Children Are Involved, Think About Your Custody Options
When consulting with an attorney, it’s a good idea to come with an understanding of the different custody options available: joint legal, joint physical, and sole. Your attorney is there to help you reach the outcome that you think is best, but the decision is on your shoulders.
Take the time to consider what is truly best for the children. If you want a judgement in your favor, you should be expected to prove why you deserve sole or joint custody.
Consider Your Living Options
As you get closer to the point that you move on with your life, you may need to consider physically moving on. Looking at the real estate and rental markets in your area can help you start putting together plans for moving out.
Your considerations will naturally change depending on whether minor children are involved and what custody plans you may be considering for them. For instance, if you intend to win custody, your chances may improve if you do not move out and leave them with your spouse.
Acquire a Credit Report
Your credit report will have listings of accounts in the marriage, including under whose name they are. A Judgement of Divorce should ensure that all liabilities are accounted for and, while not comprehensive, credit reports for both individuals can supply a lot of the needed information.
Gather Essential Documents
As soon as possible, it’s wise to start making copies of financial documents that could be used as evidence during the case including taxes, mortgages, auto loans, pay stubs, bank accounts, trusts, pension statements, investments, and more.
Ensure You Have the Paperwork Ready
While the forms needed may vary from county to county, it’s wise to have all the forms that may be necessary ready at hand. Consulting your divorce lawyers is the best way to ensure your paperwork is comprehensive, but the files often needed at the beginning include:
- Case Inventory Addendum
- Verified Statement
- Record of Divorce or Annulment
And for cases involving minor children, you will also need the following:
- Complaint for divorce with children
- Uniform Child Custody Justification Enforcement Act affidavit
- Application for IV-D Child Support Services
Getting Your Court Fees Waived
You may quality to waive the $175 cost of filing a complaint and the $80 judgment fee, as well as the other costs (serving papers, filing motions, or mediation). Fee Waiver Requests are automatically approved for those who receive public assistance based on having low income, are represented by legal services funded by the Legal Services Corporation or the Michigan State Bar Foundation or are represented by a law school clinic due to low income.
Otherwise, the request will be reviewed by the judge, and applicability will be determined largely by gross household income or the likelihood that paying the fees will result in financial hardship.
Signing, Copying, and Filing Your Forms
Each legal form you complete must be signed and dated, with some, like the Uniform Child Custody Justification Enforcement Act Affidavit also requiring a notary, which can be found at any bank. 3 copies should also be made of all the necessary files, one for your (the plaintiff, your spouse (the defendant) and the Friend of the Court, who assists with custody, parenting time, and child support decisions in the court. Fees should be expected when filing your forms with the court clerk.
Hopefully, the divorce in Michigan checklist above highlights some of what you should expect from the process. To ensure that you’re as best prepared as possible, involving a trusted divorce attorney in the process as soon as possible is always recommended.