An action for divorce commences when the you file a summons and a complaint with the court. A filing fee of $175 must be paid unless you qualify for a waiver of fees. The complaint must allege the breakdown your marriage as required by statute and you must also state that one of the parties has resided in Michigan for at least 180 days and in the county of filing for at least 10 days immediately before the complaint was filed. The summons and complaint must be served or receipt acknowledged by your spousal. If you have children then a request for child support and spousal support may be requested. Procedurally, you must also serve the your spouse and the Friend of the Court with a verified statement.
If you have minor children, either the complaint or an attached affidavit must include information regarding other custody proceedings. Under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Jurisdiction of a court to make an initial custody determination is limited to the child’s “home state." (*And requires payment of an additional $80 filing fee for actions involving custody or parenting time of minor children).
You may seek ex parte (without a hearing) relief at the time the complaint for divorce is filed to request temporary child custody and support, a restraining order, or other relief. The request may be made in the verified complaint or by separate affidavit and must provide specific facts showing the court that delay or notice of the action will lead to irreparable injury or loss. Personal protection orders (PPOs) against domestic violence are available in a separate action if there has been violence in the relationship or a threat of violence.
So-called gray divorces are becoming more common. A divorce is considered gray when one or both spouses are over the age of 50 or “gray-haired.” In these cases information about finances—brokerage and bank account records, tax returns, etc.—is very important and should frozen as soon as possible. If the client reports that the other spouse has an individual retirement account or brokerage accounts, an ex parte temporary mutual restraining order should be sought immediately in order to eliminate the potential for accounts to be significantly diminished, compromising your opportunity for a fair division.
The Friend of the Court becomes involved in divorce matters when there are disputes about minor children or spousal support. Although the scope of the Friend of the Court’s role in cases varies from county to county, generally that office investigates and makes recommendations to the court and the parties regarding disputed issues. You and your spouse may opt out of Friend of the Court services.
Post-judgment, there are several avenues available to a party seeking to contest or later modify the judgment or custody. Motions may be filed requesting clarification, modification, amendment, setting the judgment aside, or broad other relief.
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