In Michigan, a divorce is started when one of the spouses files a Complaint for Divorce in the Circuit Court. The case should be filed in the county where one of the parties has resided for at least ten days. To meet the jurisdictional requirements to file in Michigan, one of the parties must have resided here for at least six months (180 days).
Each Court requires certain forms to be filed along with the Complaint for Divorce. We strongly recommend consulting with an attorney before you file for divorce to make sure you are fully aware of all the ramifications of filing. Here are some examples of forms that may be required to be filed depending on your jurisdiction.
Summons – This is a State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) form that notifies the other party that they are being sued and lists a timeframe in which the Summons must be served on the other party.
Verified Statement – This is another SCAO form that is turned into the Friend of the Court whenever a case is filed that involves children or spousal support.
Record of Divorce – Some courts required that this form be filed with the initial pleadings. This is a form that is sent to the Michigan Department of Health and Human services for biographical record keeping.
Case Inventory Addendum – This is a new SCAO form that is required whenever either party has had certain prior cases in the Circuit Court.
Waiver/ Suspension of Fees/ Costs – There is a filing fee associated with filing for divorce. This SCAO form can be used if a party is indigent or unable to pay the filing fees associated with a divorce.
Some Courts are set up to E-File the initial pleadings in a divorce case and others require them to be filed in person or by mail.
It is important to note that once a case is filed with the Court it becomes a public record. So, your spouse may find out about the filing before you have time to serve him/ her with the documents. Appropriate measures should be taken to plan for this before you file for divorce.
Also, filing the divorce is only step one to obtaining a divorce in Michigan. Many additional steps need to be completed that may require the assistance of an attorney.
You should also consider filing temporary or ex-parte orders along with your initial pleadings to protect your marital estate. If you have concerns that your spouse may drain your bank accounts, cancel your insurance, cut you off financially, stop paying marital bills, or destroy your personal possessions, you should consult with an attorney before you file for divorce.
Formulating a plan prior to filing for divorce is essential. Contact us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with our experienced family law attorneys.