Each year, approximately 827,000 divorces occur. If you've been having issues in your marriage, then the decision to take the next step and file for divorce can be difficult. Unfortunately, even if you're not ready to take this step, your spouse might be. This leaves you with an impending divorce and no plan moving forward.
If you've recently and unexpectedly been handed divorce papers, then you should take these steps.
What Are Michigan's Divorce Laws?
When you're facing a divorce in the state of Michigan, the first step is to familiarize with the state’s divorce laws. Here are a few of Michigan's divorce laws:
- Residency requirements to file for divorce. To file for divorce, the plaintiff (or the individual who filed for divorce) must be a resident of Michigan for at least six months. The plaintiff must also be a resident of the county in which they are filing for divorce for at least 10 days.
- No-fault state. Michigan is classified as a "no-fault" divorce state. This means that the plaintiff does not need to provide a specific reason for filing, such as marital infidelity. The plaintiff only needs to state that the marriage is broken and cannot be fixed.
- Waiting period. The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce is dependent on several factors. At the very least, you will have to wait for 60-days before the divorce is finalized. If the couple has children under 18, the waiting period is 6 months.
An annulment can also be granted under specific circumstances. For example, an annulment, which means that the marriage never occurred, might be granted if one of the spouses was underage at the time of marriage, or if the spouses entered into a bigamous marriage.
Hire a Divorce Attorney Immediately
Once you've familiarized yourself with the basic divorce laws, the next step is to hire a divorce attorney. Even if the divorce seems straightforward and you don't have children, a divorce can get messy quickly. If your spouse filed, then it is important to protect yourself and your assets. An attorney can help you determine which steps to take next, and how to protect your financial future.
How Will the Court Divide the Property?
Michigan is classified as an equitable distribution of property state. This means that during the court proceedings, the judge will attempt to divide your property and assets fairly between you and your spouse.
However, some types of assets are exempt from this distribution. For example, any property you purchased or assets you acquired before the marriage or gifts or inheritances you received while you were married.
Of course, there are some exceptions to these rules. For example, if you purchased a classic car before you were married and your spouse invested in its restoration, they could make an argument that it is shared property. Your attorney will help you determine how the assets and debts in your marriage will be divided by the court.
How Can You Protect Your Financial Future?
You need to take several steps immediately to protect your finances, both now and in the future. Begin by getting a separate checking and savings account. If your paycheck is being direct deposited in a joint bank account with your spouse, then switch it to your personal account.
Also, get a credit card under your name only, and cancel all your joint credit cards. This will protect you from any potential reckless purchases made by your spouse.
Getting hit with surprise divorce papers is never easy to handle. If you have any more questions, then contact the professionals at Witzel & Zoeller Lawyers PC.