Filing & Serving Divorce Papers in Michigan
In order to file for divorce in Michigan, you need to follow both the procedural and substantive laws in the state.
Procedural law refers to the timing of events. For example, if you need to respond to a complaint within a certain time frame, this is a procedural law. Substantive law is more about what happens, such as determining how much child support is owed.
Working with a lawyer can help you avoid the problems that can arise from not being aware of these rules and laws. A downriver area divorce attorney can answer your questions about filing and serving divorce papers in Michigan.
Requirements to Filing for Divorce in Michigan
Like most other states, Michigan does not require you to allege or prove fault, also called misconduct, to file for or receive a dissolution of marriage. You only need to state in the petition that the marriage is broken, and there is no reasonable likelihood that your and your spouse will reconcile.
The state of Michigan must have jurisdiction over the divorce case. For Michigan to have jurisdiction, at least one of you has to live in the state for at least six months right before you file the divorce case. The lawsuit has to get filed in the county where one of you lives.
What Topics Do Your Divorce Papers Have to Cover?
A divorce can do much more than end a marriage, depending on your situation. The court should apportion the debts between the spouse, divide the assets into marital and separate property, and distribute those items.
People with minor children have to address who will have custody of the children, how much child support will get paid, and the parenting time schedule. The divorce should either order spousal support, also called alimony or maintenance, or specifically deny such support.
You and your spouse can save a lot of money if you can reach an agreement on all of these topics. Your attorney can draft the agreement and other papers for a non-contested divorce. These cases go through the courts more quickly and at far less cost to the parties than contested cases.
How Do You Serve Divorce Papers in Michigan?
Your divorce case can get dismissed if you do not get service on your spouse in time. Your lawyer might have to request an additional summons from the court if the process server has difficulty accomplishing service. Your spouse will receive a copy of the petition, also called the complaint and the summons from the court. You might need to serve additional documents on your spouse.
The process server goes in person and gives your spouse a copy of all the initial documents your lawyer filed with the court and the summons. After doing so, the process server completes and signs the Proof of Service form in front of a notary and files the form with the court. You cannot be the process server in your divorce.
In an amicable divorce, you can have your lawyer send the initial pleadings and summons to your spouse’s attorney to save your spouse the embarrassment of getting served by a sheriff’s deputy or another process server at work or home. Your spouse’s lawyer can then file an entry of appearance with the court.
In some situations, it is possible to accomplish service by mail or by alternate service, but if you do not follow the rules precisely, the judge could dismiss your case.
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