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About Divorce

About Divorce
Cost of Divorce
Procedure for Divorce
Divorce vs. Annulment

About Divorce

The emotions that one may experience through the divorce process may be numerous ranging from anger, hurt, frustration, betrayal, vengeance, disappointment, sorrow, indifference, to suicidal thoughts and perhaps happiness and relief.  Often these emotions cloud proper judgment and the ability for a person to rationally focus on what needs to be accomplished to end the marriage.  Here at Golden & Jernigan, we our goal is to lead our clients through the divorce process on the correct path, allowing them to open a new chapter in their lives. 

The State of Michigan is known as a “no fault” divorce state.  However the words “no fault” may be misleading.  If the parties reach a final settlement on all issues, fault is not a factor.  If there is a dispute as to alimony, property, support, visitations, or custody, fault may become an active ingredient in resolving these issues.

In a divorce, the Court’s initial role is to equitably determine who should stay in the home, spousal support issues, custody issues and injunctions on the dissipation of any marriage assets.  Each case has its own unique needs as each family’s dynamics are unique.  At Golden & Jernigan we view our role as attorneys to advise what the client ‘should do’ and not what an individual ‘could do.’

At Golden & Jernigan, our role as attorney is to assist in the equitable distribution of the marital estate, finding hidden assets, assisting in securing immediate child support and spousal support determination.  If a trial is ultimately needed, expert witness need to be secured to testify to values of marital assets and business valuations.  If child custody is in dispute, a trial concerning the factors of child custody needs to be litigated. 
 
Divorce cases can become very “ugly” in every sense of the word.  Parties need to really try and set aside their emotions.  A “business hat” needs to be put on and the parties need to work on preserving the marital assets and continuing their loving relationship with their children.  By setting aside their dislike for each other the divorce process may be less costly and better for everyone emotionally in the long run.

There are many reasons people want to end their marriage.  At Golden & Jernigan numerous case examples include addiction to drugs and/or alcohol, pornography, infidelity, life stage differences, immigration purposes, verbal/physical abuse toward a spouse and child abuse, and more.  The attorneys at Golden & Jernigan P.C. have heard “it all” so to speak and your case will be kept confidential and you will be treated with dignity and respect.  If you have to ask the attorney as to whether or not you should get divorced--- do not schedule an appointment with Golden & Jernigan P.C. but with your spiritual advisor.

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Cost of Divorce

The average cost of a simple non-contested divorce ranges from $1,200-$1,500.00 and includes all filing fees.

The average cost of a contested divorce may range from $5,000.00 - $30,000.00 depending on the time spent on your file and the need for any expert witnesses.

Again, these are just estimates and each case is unique in scope, complexity, objectives and needs of the parties.

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Procedure for Divorce

This informative sheet is to provide our clients or potential clients with a basic understanding of the divorce process.  In no way is this meant as an all inclusive information guide.  It is a basic introduction to provide quick answers to many asked questions about the divorce process---if you need further clarification or have additional questions, you should contact your attorney.

Grounds for Divorce:

Michigan is known as a “no fault” divorce state.  However the words “no fault” may be misleading.  If the parties reach a final settlement on all issues, fault is not a factor.  If there is a dispute as to alimony, property, support, visitations, or custody, fault may become an active ingredient in resolving these issues.

Divorce Procedure:

The initial filing of a divorce case may include the following documentation:

1. Summons: This notifies the other spouse that a suit has been started and he/she has 21 days (if personally served) or 28 days if mailed - to respond or a default may be entered.
2. Complaint
3. Affidavit of Service - Proof of Service
4. Affidavit of Previous Suit
5. Statement to Friend of the Court - Verified Statement
6. Record of Annulment or Divorce
7. Injunctions
8. Ex Parte Orders
9. Affidavit for Ex Parte Order
10. Filing fee ($150 divorce with no minor children $180 for divorce with minor children)
11. Notice of hearing, motions, and $20.00 filing fee for all motions


Procedure:

The Plaintiff is the party who starts the lawsuit and the Defendant is the person against whom the suit is filed.  All proceedings in the divorce matter are finally resolved by the Circuit Court in which the case is started.  The Friend of the Court is an arm of the court which is used to assist the Court.  They usually make recommendations as to alimony, support, custody, and visitation rights.  They also assist in collecting and distributing alimony and support payments.

After the Complaint and Summons is served, the Defendant may file an answer.  If an answer is filed, the case is contested.  If no action is taken by the Defendant, an application for a default may be entered and approved.  Once the default is entered, indicating the Defendant’s lack of response, and the matter becomes an uncontested divorce case,

  • A divorce without minor children may be granted after 60 days from the date of filing.
  • A divorce with minor children may be granted after six months from the date of filing has lapsed.

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Divorce vs. Annulment

A valid marriage is a binding contractual relationship between a man and a woman that is regulated by law.  A strong presumption exists favoring a marriage’s validity.  Once the celebration of a marriage is shown, the contract of marriage, the capacity of the parties, and everything necessary to the validity of the marriage are presumed.  A party seeking to have a marriage annulled, in order to overcome the presumption favoring the validity of a marriage, must establish by clear and positive proof that the marriage was not valid.

For a marriage to be valid the following must be true:

1. The parties must not be married already
2. The parties must not be of the same sex
3. The parties must not be related within a prohibited degree of consanguinity or affinity
4. The parties must be of marriageable age
5. The parties must be mentally competent
6. The parties must be entering the marriage without fraud of duress
7. The parties must be free of communicable venereal disease


Clients often ask attorneys to distinguish between annulment and divorce proceedings.  Although the importance of annulment has been somewhat diminished by enactment of the no-fault divorce law, it should be considered as an alternative to divorce.  The attorney handling an annulment should carefully weigh the difficulty of overcoming the presumption of a marriage against the ease of obtaining a no-fault divorce, especially if the divorce involves no conflict over property settlement. 

An annulment proceeding is instituted to obtain a judicial ruling that a valid marriage never took place because of a defect existing when the parties were married.  A divorce proceeding is instituted to terminate a valid marriage for reasons that occurred after the marriage took place.

The following are advantages of an annulment proceeding:

1. Starting a new marriage as if it were a first marriage has a psychological advantage.
2. Any stigma of being divorced is avoided.
3. Spousal support payments from a prior marriage that were terminated on remarriage may be reinstated if the second marriage is annulled.
4. Pension, Social Security, or insurance benefits due from a prior marriage but discontinued at the time of this marriage may be reinstated.
5. An annulment vitiates all interfamily ties as though they never existed.
6. There are not lengthy residency requirements.
7. There is no 60-day mandatory waiting period before a hearing.


The following are disadvantages of an annulment:

1. Spousal support is hardly ever granted.
2. The woman has no dower rights in her husband’s property
3. Annulment can be barred by estoppel, prior knowledge, condonation, or in pari delicto (equal fault).
4. The proof required for annulment might be more difficult to obtain than that required no-fault divorce.


Fraudulent representations of wealth, social standing, fame and disposition are generally not sufficient grounds for an annulment proceeding.

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