Filing for divorce is never a straightforward thing, but understanding how to file for divorce is essential if you reach that point in your relationship. Firstly, it provides closure for both parties, and secondly, it divides up shared assets and debts. Also, it helps resolve the issues of child custody and alimony, two sensitive yet essential aspects of a divorce.
In this post, we’ll outline the most critical parts of how to file for divorce to make the process as binding and amicable as possible.
Hire A Lawyer
Hiring a lawyer is always the first step in divorce proceedings. Without a legal expert by your side, it’s easy to make mistakes that might cost you in the future. No one wants to punish their spouse, but you also don’t want to be taken advantage of by their legal aid. At Fowler & Williams, we use our knowledge and experience to offer leverage and zealously represent in your family law case.
When you hire one of our attorneys, you can rely on them to listen to your wants and needs and find secure an excellent deal.
Determine The Grounds For Divorce
After you have a lawyer by your side, the next issue is to determine the grounds for your application. How to file for divorce includes breaking the reasons into two categories: fault and non-fault. The former focuses on things such as adultery and abandonment, whereas the latter surrounded topics like incompatibility and separation.
In Michigan, fault divorces aren’t permitted, which means you need to prove incompatibility or separation. Achieving this means you have to state, “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship… and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”
Figure Out The Residency Requirements
Every state differs regarding the residency requirements for filing for a divorce. In Nevada, for example, the regulations are less strict as couples can divorce after six weeks. Michigan is less liberal. You need to have lived in the county for ten days and the state for a total of six months before you can apply to terminate your marriage. Only one person out of a couple has to fit these criteria.
How do you file for divorce if you don’t meet the specifications above? It’s possible to avoid the ten-day county rule if the defendant was born in or is a citizen of another country. However, this is only applicable if you have kids that stand a risk of being removed from the US. If the marriage broke down outside of Michigan, you have to prove you were a resident of the state for at least one year.
Contested Versus Uncontested
Once the residency matters are out of the way, you have to decide whether you want to file for a contested or uncontested divorce. Usually, an uncontested divorce is the best course as action as you and your spouse find a suitable compromise. This can include agreeing to terms on property division and joint custody of your children, among other things. To file for an uncontested marriage termination, we will craft a Complaint for Divorce document. In short, it sets out the terms of the settlement concerning assets and children.
A contested divorce is more complicated and requires third-parties to negotiate with regards to the above. Usually, the two attorneys start proceedings and make amendments via their clients. But, it’s also possible to be referred to mediation if talks stall.
File With The Court
When terms are agreed and contracts signed, you have to file with the court and provide copies to your spouse. People who decide to file without an attorney, called pro se, need to apply for a divorce decree by filling out divorce and financial paperwork. Anyone who has a lawyer can rely on a legal professional to understand how to file for divorce in court. You need to pay a fee, the amount of which varies depending on the state. There are waivers for those who can’t afford it, or you can opt for a payment plan.
The court will then schedule a hearing to enter your Judgment of Divorce. For this purpose, the judge could ask questions pertaining details relating to your marriage. Mostly, the discussion is to ensure your paperwork is in order.
Serve The Papers
Your spouse needs to be served with the papers so that they can accept or contest the divorce. They have thirty days to respond. If both parties don’t contest, there’s a higher chance of a judge granting a divorce.
Serving the papers after agreeing to terms without the help of the court is an excellent way to avoid going to court in the first place.
Applications aren’t instant. For the most part, the court might not schedule a hearing until sixty days after the Complaint is filed. It can increase to six months if young children are involved to ensure the best terms for the kids. The hearing will be pushed forward if you can prove hardship.
During the process, you will interact with the Friend of the Court to discuss everything from property division to custody and alimony. Later on, you’ll also need to communicate with the FotC to enforce the judgment.
Who Makes The Final Judgment?
The judge will determine the terms of your divorce. For things such as dividing assets, there are no guidelines in Michigan law. As a result, it’s up to them, and their decision goes off what they “deem just and reasonable.” Spousal support is decided in a similar way as the only guidelines in Michigan state law is whether alimony is necessary based on the party’s ability to pay. Their circumstances are considered, too.
Child custody different is different as it has to factor in issues that include:
- The emotional ties of the child with their parents
- The party’s capacity to love and provide for their child
- Mental and physical health considerations
- Domestic violence
- The accessibility of joint custody
For all your divorce needs, please contact us now. We can help take the strain off a challenging process and make sure you get the compromise you deserve.