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Why Does Michigan Have a Waiting Period for Divorce?

 Posted on August 10, 2018 in Divorce

MI divorce lawyerWith our lives running on Internet time — in minutes, not months — you may well wonder why there is a two- to six-month minimum waiting period between the initial filing and the finalization of a Michigan divorce.

Here are four good reasons the law requires these waiting periods and how they can actually benefit you.

1. Opportunity for Reconciliation

Marital tension can sometimes build up to the point of eruption, with a decision to divorce made in the heat of anger and frustration. A waiting period gives the couple time to cool off and reconsider whether divorce is really the solution they want.

Once a divorce complaint is filed in court, the looming reality of separation can trigger couples to begin talking about their issues in a new way. Or the spouse who initiated the divorce may move out of the family home and realize that life alone is not what they thought it would be. The waiting period allows the couple time to explore the possibility of reconciliation.

A fair number of divorce filings do not result in a final judgment of divorce. A couple may even ask the court to delay the finalization of a divorce for a few months to see if the marriage can be saved, or even decide to dismiss the divorce complaint entirely.

2. Financial Preparations

Married couples have typically commingled their finances, and it can take some time to pull of all the documentation together, total everything up, and figure out how best to separate one person’s debts and assets from the other’s.

Checking accounts, investment accounts, insurance policies, bank loans, and credit cards are just a few examples. Physical assets like real estate, vehicles, and other valuables need to be appraised. One or both spouses have to find a new place to live.

All of these things take time. When you look at all of this and consider that both people in the marriage probably work full time, 60 days starts to look like not nearly enough time.

3. Settlement Prior to Court Date

For couples without children, Michigan courts tend to hold the first divorce hearing at least 60 days after the divorce complaint is filed. Couples with relatively few issues can often agree upon the terms of their divorce prior to that first court date. Then, because the 60-day waiting period has passed, the divorce can be finalized at that first hearing.

If a settlement has not been reached by the first court date, the parties have at least had time to define their issues and estimate how much more time they need to reach a settlement, and whether they might need the intervention of a mediator.

4. Care for Children

Michigan requires a 180-day waiting period for divorces involving children. This provides time for the parents to line up daycare, schools, visitation schedules, and so on.

If the parents cannot agree on custody, there will have to be a trial in which each side presents evidence and the judge will make the custody decision. Pre-trial, the judge may order a specially-trained custody investigator to assess the relative ability of each parent to care for the children. The process to determine what custody arrangement is in the “best interests of the child” (as defined in the Child Custody Act) can take months to complete.

Get Advice from a Seasoned Oakland County Divorce Lawyer

We understand that when a relationship has completely broken down, you probably want your divorce to be over as soon as possible. An experienced Farmington Hills divorce lawyer can help you work through the many details of a divorce settlement as quickly as possible. But equally important, we look out for your best interests and guard your legal rights so that you do not sacrifice unnecessarily in the interest of speed. Call Elkouri Heath PLC at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free initial consultation.







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