Do It Yourself: Uncontested Divorce in Michigan
By Heather Frances J.D.
An uncontested divorce is one in which both spouses agree to the divorce itself and the terms of the divorce, such as child support, child custody and property division. Michigan allows spouses to file their own paperwork or use an online legal documentation service to prepare and file their paperwork for them.
Residency and Grounds
In most cases, at least one spouse must be a resident of Michigan for at least 180 days before filing for divorce, and a resident of the county where the couple files for at least 10 days before filing. Michigan courts do not require spouses to place blame on one spouse before granting a divorce. Instead, Michigan allows spouses to file for a no-fault divorce, and spouses can simply state that their marriage is irretrievably broken without providing proof that one spouse is at fault.
Filing for Divorce
The Michigan divorce process begins when one spouse files a complaint. The complaint must include basic information about the spouses, including their names, date of their marriage and a statement that their marriage has broken down. The filing spouse must serve the responding spouse with the complaint and other forms after he files them with the court. The responding spouse can sign an Acknowledgment of Service, a form that indicates the responding spouse agrees that he received the papers, or the filing spouse can hire a process server to deliver the papers to the responding spouse. The filing spouse is responsible for providing the Acknowledgment of Service or other proof of service to the court.
Divorce with Children
Divorce cases frequently require additional forms, such as a settlement agreement describing the terms of the divorce and child-support worksheets to assist the court in assigning a child support amount. Parents must also determine a proposed custody arrangement, submitting the proposed schedule to the court. The court may require the parents to meet with a Friend of the Court, which is an adult appointed to represent the interests of the child. The purpose of this meeting, called an Early Intervention Conference, is to provide the spouses with an overview of the role of the Friend of the Court through the divorce process.
If the spouses do not have any children, they must wait at least 60 days after the date the complaint was filed before the court can enter a final judgment on the complaint. If they do have children, they must wait at least 180 days, but the judge can waive this requirement if it is in the best interests of the children. Typically, at least one spouse must appear before the judge at a final hearing before the court will issue a divorce decree, but the judge may allow a spouse to “appear” by telephone instead of in person.
Heather Frances has been writing professionally since 2005. Her work has been published in law reviews, local newspapers and online. Frances holds a Bachelor of Arts in social studies education from the University of Wyoming and a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School.