In this article, you will learn:
- What to expect during a Michigan divorce?
- The timeline of divorce from start to finish
- How custody may be determined if a child is involved
Divorcing couples have several options in Michigan. They can choose facilitative divorce, mediation using one attorney if it is appropriate, or each person can have their own attorney.
The General Timeline For A Divorce To Get Finalized In The State Of Michigan
Once a party files for divorce in Michigan, a couple with no minor children will have a cooling-off period of 60 days, and there will be a six-month cooling off period if you have minor children. Once a party files, and depending upon how the defendant was served, the defendant can have anywhere from 21 to 28 days to answer. Once the complaint is answered or the other party is defaulted, the steps vary. But if the person answers, the next step is going to be a pre-trial conference identifying the issues, and that's when discovery is going to take place. Still, mediation is required in Michigan for family law cases.
How Time Sharing Or Custody May Be Determined In Michigan When A Couple Is Divorcing
In Michigan, when a divorcing couple has minor children, the court looks to establish legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is who will be making the legal decisions for the minor children about healthcare, school, and activities. The court strives for joint legal custody so both parties can work together to make the child's important life decisions. Sometimes, it is not possible because the parents are not able to agree on anything or communicate in a productive manner. In that event, the court will award one party the decision-making power. Physical custody is the custody that determines who or where the minor children will be with or where they spend most of their time. In order to determine physical custody, the court must look at the best interest of the minor child standard, which is based on a combination of best interest factors that the judge utilizes to help determine who the minor child should live with.
Factor A is the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and a child. Factor B is the capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child's religion or creed if any. It is asking who stays home from work if the child is sick, who handles school and homework issues, who handles sports and activities, if the child attends church, and if so, where?
Factor C is the capacity and disposition of parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or other remedial care. It asks about who buys the clothes, toys, and food, who will attend to the special needs of the child, what is the earning capacity of each parent, and the flexibility of their work hours. Factor D is the length of time a child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of continuing it. Factor E is the permanence as a family unit in existing custodial homes; will the child live with siblings or half-siblings?
Factor F is the moral fitness of the parties involved. Has either parent had an extra-marital affair that the child knows about? Has there been physical or verbal abuse, alcohol use and driving, or poor driving records? Factor G is the mental and physical health of the parties involved. If either party has had a physical or mental health problem that impairs their ability to care for the child, it will affect the decision. Factor I is the reasonable preference of the child if the judge considers the child to be old enough, which is usually four or five years old.
Once that preference is stated, the judge will not disclose it, and neither will the friend of the court. Factor J is the willingness and the ability of each party to facilitate a close and continuing parent relationship between the child and the other parent. Factor K is domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
Finally, the last Factor, L, is any other factor that the judge considers validated. It could be that the child has special needs, how the parent takes care of these needs, if either parent has threatened to kidnap the child, missed visits, failed to return the child, or things of that nature.
For more information on Proceeding With A Divorce In Michigan, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (616) 681-4042 today.