Although divorce in Michigan has seen a fairly steady downward trend over the past 40 years, it is still a fairly commonplace occurrence. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there were over 28,000 divorces statewide in 2018 alone. This amounts to a rate of 5.6 divorces for every 1,000 people in the state.
For most of those people, the marriage was their first. Therefore, it was also their first divorce filing. People filing for divorce for the first time may not be familiar with the process. Divorce laws vary by state, so the Michigan Legislature explains the specific process one must follow with this jurisdiction.
The complaint is the legal document one must file to start the divorce process. It must use the language of the statute to explain that there is no reasonable likelihood of preserving the marriage due to a breakdown of the relationship that has destroyed the objects of matrimony. Once the complaint is complete, the person seeking a divorce files it with the circuit court.
The other spouse, which state law refers to as the defendant, receives notice that the plaintiff has filed for divorce. The defendant then has the opportunity to submit an answer. Upon looking over the divorce allegations, the defendant has three options:
- Filing a counterclaim for divorce
- Denying the grounds without further explanation
- Admitting the grounds
The plaintiff and the defendant will then have the opportunity to appear in open court before a judge and present evidence of a breakdown in the marriage relationship. If the defendant has filed a counterclaim for divorce, the court shall enter a judgment dissolving the bonds of matrimony. If not, the court enters a judgment of separate maintenance.