So, you have come to the decision that divorce is in the cards, and now you want to know how the process unfolds. Before you can make these decisions, however, you will want to have some idea of your future goals. A Michigan divorce lawyer can help you through every phase of the process. Below, we will discuss the first steps in a Michigan divorce.
To file for divorce in Michigan, you must be able to prove that either you or your spouse have resided in the state for at least 180 consecutive days. You must also live in the county where the divorce is filed for at least 10 days.
For those with a spouse who lives out of state, there are additional requirements. You and your spouse must have (at some point) lived together in Michigan as a married couple, or you must be a resident of the state for at least a year prior to the divorce.
While you will hear many different types of words used to describe divorce, there are two categories you should be familiar with — contested and uncontested divorces. If you and your spouse can agree on all terms of the divorce, then you can present a unified petition to dissolve your marriage. All other forms of divorce are considered “contested.”
However, the manner in which you contest your divorce is up to you. Some individuals try mediation, where a neutral third party helps the couple negotiate a divorce settlement. Others try collaborative approaches in which they try to reach an agreement using experts and talking through their concerns. For everyone else, there are litigated divorces that involve accusations and blame, not to mention disputes over finances and children.
Uncontested divorces are cheaper and quicker to pursue. You can file these yourself with your local circuit court. However, given the financial fallout that can occur after the divorce is finalized, most individuals have a lawyer at least look over the terms of the settlement before recommending their client sign it.
For those with disputes over money, custody, or other issues, some form of negotiated arrangement will be necessary. This will likely require you to hire your own lawyer. However, the process need not be acrimonious. You can, for instance, take a collaborative approach to divorce which avoids most of the problematic squabbling that can occur during negotiations.
Before you can file any paperwork, you must have a clear idea of what you want, and your spouse must agree to it. You can then file a petition for an uncontested divorce. As far as contested divorces go, you can serve your spouse with a divorce complaint shortly after filing your paperwork with the court. But they do not have to accept it. This would force you to have another individual (a server) serve the complaint. Contested divorces almost never proceed without attorneys, and attorneys are usually involved in uncontested divorces, as well.
Are you considering divorce? Talk to a Sterling Heights family lawyer today, and we can discuss your goals for the future, issues related to your marriage, and the best way to successfully dissolve your marriage so that you can write the next chapter of your life.
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