Contested Divorce Attorneys in Waterford, Michigan
Agreeing with your spouse that a divorce is in your best interests is only the first step. The two of you must also be in total agreement regarding issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support (alimony) and the division of marital property. If you do not agree on how these issues should be resolved, they need to be litigated in court, where a judge will make a final decision based on the legal arguments made and evidence introduced in a contested hearing.
A divorce where all the issues are not agreed upon in advance is considered to be a contested divorce. Contested divorces are quite common, and having a contested divorce does not mean you and your spouse are at each other’s throats. It only means you have legitimate disagreements that need to be worked out as part of the divorce. At Clarkston Legal, our skilled Waterford & Clarkston contested divorce lawyers can represent you in resolving these questions, whether through negotiation, mediation, litigation or other appropriate means. Learn more below about how contested divorces in Michigan work, and call our office in Clarkston for a free consultation regarding how we can help.
Michigan Residency Requirements
Michigan residency requirements must be met before a divorce can be filed. According to Michigan divorce law, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state of Michigan for at least 180 days in order to file for divorce here. The proper court to file divorce papers is the family court in the county where one of the spouses has lived for at least ten days. For instance, the 6th Circuit Court in Pontiac serves Oakland County, while the 7th Circuit Court in Flint serves Genesee County.
Legal Grounds for Divorce
Michigan recognizes a no-fault ground for divorce, so it is not necessary to prove that one spouse is to blame in causing the breakup of the marriage through adultery, abuse or some other bad act. It is necessary to allege in the complaint that the relationship has broken down and cannot be repaired.
The Contested Divorce Process
One spouse prepares a petition or complaint and files it with the court. A copy of the complaint is served on the other spouse, who files a response. These papers set out the grounds for the divorce and what each party is seeking on issues such as the division of property, spousal support, child custody and child support. The judge can enter temporary orders for custody and support if requested by either party and may enter other orders as well, such as ordering each spouse not to dispose of significant assets or incur large amounts of debt while the divorce is pending.
Each spouse is required to make financial disclosures regarding assets and liabilities. A relatively recent development involves exchanging a Verified Financial Information form; this form includes basic details about the marital estate including marital debts. Each party is required to complete and exchange this form at the conclusion of the pleading phase of the case.
The contested divorce then enters the discovery phase, where each party can gather evidence from the other spouse in the form of depositions, document requests and other tools of discovery. After discovery has concluded, the family court usually orders the parties to attempt a mediated settlement. If mediation is unsuccessful, then a trial will be conducted, with the introduction of evidence, testimony and legal arguments for the judge to consider. Pre-trial and post-trial motions may be made as well.
In granting a final judgment of divorce, the court will issue court orders regarding the property settlement, alimony and other applicable issues. In most of these areas, the judge has a list of statutory factors to consider in making his or her decision. It is up to the parties through their attorneys to convince the judge on the proper way to interpret those statutory factors and apply them to your divorce. In most questions involving children, including post-divorce modifications of child custody or support, the best interest of the children is the most important factor that overrides all others.
Clarkston Legal Attorneys Have the Experience Necessary for Your Contested Divorce
The involvement of an experienced divorce lawyer is critical to have your interests represented in a contested divorce. For help with contested divorce in Waterford & Clarkston, call Clarkston Legal for a free consultation with a skilled and experienced Waterford & Clarkston divorce lawyer.