When Should I File For Divorce

When Should I File For Divorce

Like the saying goes, “There’s no time like the present”, but is now truly the best time to get divorced?  I am frequently asked, “Does it matter when I file for divorce?” Most of the time, I can answer, “No, you can file whenever you are ready.”  However, as with everything in life, there are always exceptions.  Certain legal criteria must be met before someone can file for divorce.  Then there are some practical and personal considerations which should be examined when determining the proper time to file and we will explore them here.

Legal Considerations

Establishing jurisdiction:
  • In Michigan, you must be a resident of the State of Michigan for at least 180 days before you can file for divorce.  You must also be a resident of the county in which you would like to file for at least 10 days prior to filing.  If you meet these legal residency requirements, then the Court will have jurisdiction and you are ready to file.

Practical Considerations

Is the Marriage really over:
  • Have you exhausted all efforts to restore or reconcile your relationship?  Divorce can be emotionally draining, requires much time and effort and may require a significant financial investment.  You do not want to tread into the legal arena until you are sure the marriage is over and beyond repair.  The Court cannot, and will not, require you to attend marriage counseling or provide you with services to help repair your marriage so it is best to undertake these efforts before filing for divorce.
Time for Transition:
  • Do you have children?  If so, you may want to consider how the divorce process will affect them.  In Michigan, divorces can never be granted in less than 60 days.  Divorces with children take a minimum of 180 days, unless you can persuade the Court to waive the 180 day waiting period because of an undue hardship or compelling necessity.

Quite often, divorce will involve significant transition for minor children, such as: moving to a new home; starting a new school; adjusting to the physical separation of their parents and the travel between their two homes (sometimes great distances); learning and following a new parenting time schedule; attending counseling or therapy appointments; and possibly, new child care.  The best time for children to make these adjustments is in the summer when they are out of school.  Adjusting to a new parenting schedule is easier when they are not worried about homework and school schedules.  Getting used to being a single parent can also be easier for the adults when they do not have to worry about before and after school care, helping with homework, getting children to and from appointments, sports, and other activities.  Summer tends to provide a more relaxed schedule for everyone, not to mention better weather which leads to better moods.

Parties who wish to finalize their divorces before Labor Day, when the children return to school, will want to file their cases in the late winter and early spring months.  January, February, and March tend to be very popular months to start divorces with children.

Financial Considerations

Do it right the first time:
  • You only get one shot at this and you want to get the best result possible.  You will need a skilled and experienced attorney, like the ones at DAWN.  A good attorney will require a retainer fee up front.  A retainer fee is money paid in advance to hire attorney.   This is money that the attorney will bill against as they do work on your case.  Frequently, clients will use their tax refund, bonus or commission checks to fund their legal fees.  For this reason, February through April tend to be very popular as many companies pay their annual bonuses in late January or early February.  Those tax payers receiving refunds tend to file their returns early in March or April.

Emergency Circumstances

Domestic Violence:
  • If you or your children are ever the victims of physical abuse, you should report it to the police immediately or as soon as you are able to do so safely.  Even if the perpetrator is not arrested you may be eligible to receive a Personal Protection Order from the circuit court in the county where you reside.  It does not matter whether you are the victim of physical, verbal or emotional abuse – all are serious and have long lasting effects.  The important thing is to get yourself out of a bad situation as quickly as possible.  An abusive relationship needs to be terminated before permanent damage is done.  If your children are the victims of abuse, it is your duty to protect your children and failure to do so can cause you to be charged with neglect.  Filing for divorce to remove them from an abusive household is a step in the right direction.
Alcoholism/Drug abuse:
  • If your spouse is an alcoholic or drug abuser, his behavior may be harming the whole family. Alcoholism and drug abuse can lead to domestic violence, financial problems (loss of savings and retirement accounts), forfeiture of property, and open you up to potential liability through various lawsuits.

Hopefully, you have the information you need to answer the question, “Is this the right time for me to file for divorce?” The answer is different for everyone, but if you have given it some thought and you feel you are ready, then the time is probably right for you.  As they say, “The time to strike is while the iron is hot.”  Our attorneys are always ready and waiting to work for you.  Give us a call and let us get started working on the next chapter of your life.

For all of your family law issues, call the attorneys at DAWN, 888-772-DAWN (3296) or check us out at womensrights.com.

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