How Long Does a Divorce Take?

Time Limits Based on Whether the Couple has Minor Children

There are a number of court-imposed time limits on obtaining a divorce in Michigan. These time limits are imposed by state statute.

A divorce without minor children cannot be granted in less than 60 days from the time of filing. If there are minor children (children under the age of 18), the parties must wait 6 months. This 6-month period may be waived upon a proper showing of special circumstances, but this waiver is rarely granted, and should not be relied upon.

No matter what the facts of the case are, no divorce can be granted without a court hearing to determine the truth of the statements made in the Complaint. A brief hearing is necessary even if the matter is uncontested. This hearing is called a Pro Confesso, or Pro Con, hearing.

What Happens While You Wait?

Although your case may take six months or more, the time is not entirely spent waiting. This period is usually spent defining the facts and issues in your case and attempting to resolve them. Temporary injunctions and orders for custody, support, alimony, mortgage payments, medical payments, parenting time, injunctions, and other relief may be requested at any time during this period.

An attempt to determine the net worth of the parties and the general financial status of the family is also usually performed during this time. Interrogatories (written questions) may be sent to the other side requiring answers under oath from the recipient, and these often request financial information. Depositions (cross examination before a court reporter) may be taken to obtain further information from the other spouse or those that have the needed information. Appraisers, actuaries (if pensions are involved), accountants, or behavioral specialists may be used (with the client’s prior consent).

Please visit the section on property division in divorce to learn more.

Establishing Goals

Together, you and your attorney should set the goals you wish to obtain throughout the case. This should not be done hastily. Should you get to a point where the other side makes a proposal for settlement, you should be given ample opportunity to review the proposed settlement and to present your own counter-offer on the issues you do not believe were dealt with equitably.

Your attorney will advise you along the way about your options, the pros and cons of each option, whether or not a proposal is fair and just under the circumstances, the likelihood of the acceptance of your settlement proposal, and what a court may do if faced with making a decision on any of the contested issues.