The Divorce Complaint and Answer in Michigan
When a couple makes the decision to get a divorce – or at least when one-half of a couple makes that decision – someone must file for divorce first. The paperwork they file is known as the divorce complaint. The other spouse’s response to the complaint is called the answer.
Understanding the Divorce Complaint in Michigan
A Michigan divorce begins with the filing of a complaint for divorce. The complaint, in its essence, is the document that states what one half of a divorcing couple is asking of the court. This document must include a great deal of information, including:
- An explanation of why the court you’re filing with has jurisdiction over your case.
- The details of when and where you were married, as well as who married you.
- A declaration that the marriage has broken down and cannot be repaired.
- The number of children born during the marriage and their ages.
- An explanation of your desired parameters surrounding custody, child support, and spousal support.
- A request for the division of joint property and assets.
- Reasons why, if applicable, you want a temporary custody order or restraining order.
- A request for attorney fees.
The Answer to a Michigan Divorce Complaint
The person who files for divorce is known as the plaintiff. The person who is served divorce papers is named the defendant. These titles are not an indication of guilt or innocence. “Plaintiff” is merely a title that refers to the person who filed for divorce first and officially opened the divorce case.
The rule of law as it pertains to Michigan divorce is clear, and there is no time to waste. Once the defendant is served, he or she has 21 days to file an answer to the complaint if they were physically handed the papers, or 28 days if served by certified mail.
If the answer to a divorce complaint is not filed by the deadline, the court can enter a default against the defendant. This means you are not allowed to participate in the case unless you file a motion to have the default set aside, and the motion is granted.
Don’t assume that dragging your feet about your divorce will ever work in your favor. If you default, the judge assigned to your case can make decisions about every matter relating to your split – including custody, assets, support, and more – all without your input or participation.
You can also talk to your attorney about the benefits of filing a counterclaim, which is a legal document in which you ask the court to give you a divorce – on your terms. This counterclaim must be filed and served at the same time the answer is filed and served.
File Your Divorce Complaint or Answer with the Help of a Michigan Divorce Lawyer
Hiring an experienced Michigan divorce lawyer to handle the legalities of filing for divorce ensures that all the necessary information is accounted for in your complaint. Attempting a do-it-yourself divorce almost guarantees that mistakes will be made, details will be missed, and paperwork will have to be refiled, making your divorce take longer to complete.
The wise defendant also retains the services of their own Michigan divorce lawyer once they have been served a divorce complaint so they can carefully and accurately address each allegation in the plaintiff’s complaint and file their response in the same county in which the complaint was filed.
If you are ready to file for divorce, make a counterclaim, or have any other questions about getting a divorce in Michigan, contact the divorce lawyers at Michigan Divorce Help, PLLC, serving Macomb County and the surrounding areas.