Any person can file for divorce in Michigan after residing in the state for 180 days. The petitioner, or plaintiff, files papers with the court in his county of residence. The petition is then served to the respondent, or defendant, usually in person by a process server or through certified mail. The petition includes a list of reasons for divorce and requests regarding division of property, child support, child custody and alimony. The respondent can file an answer to agree or dispute the petitioner's claims, but an answer is not required. Some respondents hire a lawyer, but many defend themselves.
Review each claim made by the petitioner; each claim will be numbered and clearly defined. Some claims simply list the names of you and your spouse and the location of your marriage, while other claims regard disputable terms like property division.
Determine whether you want to answer the petition. If you agree on all the claims and terms set forth by the petitioner, there is no need to answer and you can simply be granted a default divorce.
Hire a lawyer if you are uncomfortable with legal procedures and there are several areas of the petition that you wish to dispute. Lawyers are familiar with legal jargon and can guide you through the procedures for answering the petition in a professional manner.
Indicate your response to each numbered claim of the petition by choosing "admitted," "denied" or "neither admitted nor denied." If you choose "denied" or "neither admitted nor denied," then you will need to provide a statement supporting your reasons for denial. This is your chance to set your own requests for each term set forth by the petitioner.
Type your responses in the same format as the petition; be sure to include an answer for each section. In some cases, the petition packet may include an answer sheet where you can check a box to admit or deny a term and then fill in a blank with your responses.
Mail in your response to the courthouse where the petition for divorce was filed by your spouse. If you are short on time, you can deliver the answer by hand.
File your response in a timely manner to ensure that the judge will hear your responses. You have 21 days to file your answer if it was delivered by a process server; you have 28 days to file your answer if you received the petition by certified mail.