How to Contest a Divorce in the State of Michigan

By Janice Fahy

Michigan divorce cases can be uncontested or contested. In an uncontested matter, both parties are in agreement concerning issues like child support, child custody, alimony, and division of property and debt; in a contested case, the parties have not reached a mutual decision regarding their marital issues. Contested cases are decided by a judge or jury after testimony and evidence is presented by both partners.

Make note of the day your response must be filed with the court clerk as soon as you're served with a divorce action. Under Michigan state law, you have 21 days to file an answer contesting the complaint if the complaint was served on you personally (by someone physically handing it to you). If the divorce action is served on you by certified mail, you have 28 days to contest it.

Prepare an answer to the complaint for divorce that has been served on you. The answer is a legal document, or pleading, that will respond specifically to every allegation that has been made in the complaint. The answer should state whether you agree or don't agree with each numbered paragraph of the complaint.

Put the case number that's on the divorce complaint into your answer. This allows the clerk to identify it as a legal pleading filed in that particular case. Sign your answer and make two copies of it.

File your answer with the clerk of the court in the Michigan county where the divorce action was originally filed. Go to the Family Division of the circuit court where the divorce was filed; ask the clerk to stamp both of your copies as "Filed." Send one of the copies of the answer to your spouse or your spouse's attorney; keep the other copy for your files. The clerk will keep the original.

Respond promptly and and in writing to any interrogatories (questions) or requests for documents that your spouse or her attorney sends to you. You can also send interrogatories or requests for documents to your spouse. Use the information you gather during this period, formally called discovery, to support the issues in the case that you're contesting.

Attend any hearings that may be scheduled by the court or your spouse (you'll receive notice of these in the mail). At the hearing, you'll be able to tell the judge about any issues you're contesting.

Attend and participate in mediation. Most Michigan courts require parties to try to settle their divorce case by undergoing this process, where a neutral party (the mediator) works with them to come to agreement about any contested issues. Many cases settle during mediation. You'll be responsible for paying half of the mediation fee.

Attend and participate in trial if your case doesn't settle. Bring copies of any documents that support your claims, and be prepared to testify about any facts that may persuade the judge or jury to side with you.

About the Author

Janice Fahy is a freelance writer who is comfortable researching and writing on just about any topic under the sun. With a professional history that includes more than 15 years of writing for newspapers, magazines, law firms and private Web clients, she also writes for Break Studios, eHow and Trails.