THE VERIFIED COMPLAINT FOR DIVORCE
To start a divorce proceeding, you must file a Verified Complaint for Divorce and Summons in the county where you reside. In a Verified Complaint for Divorce the party filing the divorce (Plaintiff) will be required to state the following:
- That they have resided in Michigan for 180 days or more
- That they have resided in the county they are filing the divorce action in for 10 days or more
- The date, city, and state where the marriage was performed
- Name and birth dates of children
- Date of separation (if no longer living together)
- Identify any other county or state that has jurisdiction over the children
- Identify any other county of state that the party has another child custody proceeding in
- Identify any person not a party to the divorce who has physical custody of the children or claims legal or physical custody or parenting time rights with the children
- List any information that could affect a child custody proceeding, including a proceeding for enforcement, a domestic violence proceeding, a protective order, termination of parental rights, or adoption in any state
- A claim for spousal support (if you are requesting spousal support from your spouse)
- A claim for attorney’s fees (if you are requesting your spouse pay for your attorney’s fees)
- And that “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved”
The Verified Complaint for Divorce will be signed by the Plaintiff, in front of a notary public.
FILING THE DOCUMENTS WITH THE CLERK OF COURT
Once the Plaintiff has reviewed and signed the Verified Complaint for Divorce, the Verified Complaint for Divorce and Summons is filed with the clerk of the court, and the Summons is issued. At the time of filing, there will be a filing fee paid to the clerk of the court. This filing fee varies (a divorce with no minor children is less to file than a divorce with minor children).
The Summons is a document that is filed with the Verified Complaint for Divorce and served on the Defendant (responding party to the divorce). The Summons notifies the Defendant that an action has commenced against them and sets forth the time limits within which the Defendant must file an answer.
The Summons also identifies the date the Summons was issued and the expiration date of the Summons. If the Summons is not served on the Defendant before the expiration date, the Summons is no longer valid.
SERVICE OF THE DIVORCE DOCUMENTS
After the Verified Complaint for Divorce has been filed with the clerk of the court, and the Summons has been issued, both documents must be served on the Defendant. Service can be in person (voluntary or by a process server) or by mail.
TIME LIMITS FOR DEFENDANT TO FILE AN ANSWER
After the Defendant is served with the Summons and Verified Complaint for Divorce they will have:
- 21 days to file a written answer with the court – if served personally
- 28 days to file a written answer with the court – if they were served by mail or served outside of the state
AFFIDAVIT OF SERVICE
After the Defendant has been served, the Plaintiff must prove to the court that the Defendant has been served with the Verified Complaint for Divorce and Summons.
The Plaintiff “proves” to the court service has been completed by filing an Affidavit or Service with the clerk of court. The Affidavit of Service shows the court the name of the person who served the Defendant, as well as the date, time, and location of service of the Defendant.
If the Defendant accepted service voluntarily, an Acknowledgment of Service must be completed and filed with the court.
After the Verified Complaint for Divorce and Summons are served on the Defendant, they must file an answer with the clerk of the court within specific time limits (see “Time Limits for Defendant to File an Answer”). If the Defendant fails to file an answer within the time allowed, a default will be entered against them. After the default has been entered by the court, the Plaintiff can proceed with the divorce case, and request the court for a default judgment to be entered (after the required statutory wait period).
Michigan law establishes waiting periods depending on the individual circumstances.
If you do not have minor children of the marriage: There is a two-month waiting period after the filing of the Verified Complaint for Divorce has been filed.
If you have minor children of the marriage: There is a six-month waiting period after the after the filing of the Verified Complaint for Divorce has been filed.
A Judgment of Divorce cannot be entered earlier than these established times.
GRAND RAPIDS DIVORCE COLLABORATIVE ATTORNEY SERVING KENT, OTTAWA, AND ALLEGAN COUNTY.
If you need to know more about a Michigan divorce, including how to file for a divorce, contact an experienced attorney, Laurie Schmitt at Schmitt Law, PLLC. Schedule your consultation today with a dedicated attorney. We look forward to speaking to you and being your advocate during this crucial time in reframing your life. Contact Schmitt Law, PLLC online or call (616) 608-4634 to arrange a consultation.