Divorce & Family Law

A plaintiff who wishes to begin an action for divorce must file with the court a summons and complaint and in many counties a record of divorce or annulment. A filing fee is also required The complaint must allege the breakdown of the marriage as required by statute and must also state that one of the parties has resided in Michigan for at least 180 days and 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 the defendant. If there is a child or if child or spousal support is requested, the plaintiff must also serve the defendant and the Friend of the Court with a verified statement. When the parties have minor children, either the complaint or an attached affidavit must include information regarding other custody proceedings required by statute. In some counties, additional fees are required at filing; in others, when judgment is entered.

The plaintiff may seek ex parte 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 against domestic violence are available in a separate action if there has been violence in the relationship or a threat of violence.

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 such disputed issues.

Post-judgment, there are several avenues available to a party seeking to contest or later modify the judgment. Motions may be filed requesting clarification, modification, amendment, setting the judgment aside, or broad other relief.