What is an Uncontested Divorce in Michigan?
When some people think about the divorce process, many times pop culture courtroom scenes come to mind, such as those depicted in the films “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Intolerable Cruelty,” “Marriage Story” and even “Mrs. Doubtfire.” These movies portray what’s known as a contested divorce. However, parties often also pursue an uncontested divorce, which is a no-frills, inexpensive, and quicker way to divorce than a traditional contested divorce. But, how do you know if an uncontested divorce is right for your situation?
What is a contested divorce?
A contested divorce is when couples cannot agree on all or some of the issues involved with ending their marriage. For example, child custody was a contested issue in “Kramer vs. Kramer,” “Marriage Story,” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.” In “Intolerable Cruelty,” the contested issue was spousal support.
Unless the couple manages to settle their disputes during the legal process, they will need to go to trial to have a judge resolve the issues for them.
What is an uncontested divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, there’s no need for a trial because the spouses have resolved the issues themselves. Couples have avoided lengthy court battles, saving themselves both time and money.
To qualify for an uncontested divorce in Michigan a couple must agree on the following:
- The division of debt and property;
- Each spouse’s rights to benefits such as life insurance and retirement;
- Matters related to minor children, including custody, and child support; and
- Spousal support, including how much and for how long.
Couples must also meet Michigan’s residency requirements for divorce, which means one spouse must have resided in the state for at least 180 days and at least 10 days in the county where he or she filed the divorce papers.
The vast majority of cases ultimately settle without having a trial. In cases where the spouses have different opinions on topics such as spousal support, child custody, or the distribution of assets/liabilities the spouses (usually through their respective attorneys) will hire a mediator to help resolve contested issues. Mediation is where a neutral third party (usually another attorney) works with the spouses to resolve issues.
Do you need an attorney for an uncontested divorce?
Some couples may not need the help of an attorney, especially if they are comfortable handling the paperwork themselves. However, couples with complex assets such as a family business or those with questions about mediation, or the divorce process may wish to meet with an attorney.
Help is available
If you are considering a divorce in Michigan, please call the family law attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio at 586-726-1000 or visit our website at www.orlaw.com.