Important Legal Terms in Michigan Divorce Law

There are a number of legal terms in divorce law, many of which you may encounter while your lawyer proceeds with your case. Familiarizing yourself with the important terminology will help you to better understand the divorce process and what may lie ahead as you work with your Michigan divorce attorney on your case. An overview of these words and concepts is provided below.

Documents and Evidence Involved in a Divorce Case

Affidavit under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) – This document is a sworn statement of fact made by a parent that informs the court about pertinent information regarding your children. This document is made under oath.

Complaint – This document states the names of the parties, where, when, and by whom the parties were married, names and birth dates of children (if any), wife’s and husband’s names before marriage, length of residence in the county and state, the date of separation, grounds for divorce, a brief statement as to property, and the relief requested.

Depositions – In a deposition, the attorney of one party gets to ask questions of the other party, or of individuals who may have information about the parties. The questioning is done under oath, in front of a court reporter, and is similar in style to cross-examination in trial. The questions and answers are recorded for later use as evidence in trial.

Ex Parte Order – In rare cases, ex parte orders may be obtained for temporary custody, support, etc. If your spouse files an objection to the ex parte order within the appropriate time frame, the Court will examine whether the order is appropriate.

Injunction – Injunctions are used to restrain you and/or your spouse from performing or committing certain acts, and are only used in limited circumstances. To obtain an injunction, you must file a request for injunctive relief, which the judge will grant or deny. Your attorney will explain this procedure to you in detail and ask if you require an injunction.

Interrogatories – Interrogatories are written questions which are submitted by one attorney to the other, and which must be answered by the other party under oath. Typically, your attorney will assist you with preparing your answers to these questions, and you will return a written answer of each to the party that sent them.

Record of Divorce – This document is used as a statistical record required by the state.

Statements to the Friend of the Court – Used to inform the Friend of the Court of the essential facts of the case. This is not necessary in cases where Friend of Court services are not required.

Summons – The summons is used to notify the other spouse that a suit has been started and that he or she has 21 days (or in some cases 28 days) to respond or a default may be taken.

People and Agencies Involved in a Divorce Case

Defendant – The Defendant is the person against whom the initial divorce proceeding is filed, and who will respond to the allegations listed in the original complaint, if he or she wishes.

Family Court – The Family Court in Michigan is a division of the circuit court in all of the counties throughout the state. The Family Court has jurisdiction over family matters, including divorce, child custody, child support, and other family issues.

Friend of the Court – The Friend of the Court is an arm of the Family Court which oversees certain matters for the Court and provides the Court with recommendations regarding family matters, including child support, custody, and parenting time. They assist the Court in investigating and enforcing family issues, and may assist in family dispute resolution.

Plaintiff – The Plaintiff is the person who starts the divorce proceeding by filing the complaint against his or her spouse.