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The importance of responding to a Michigan divorce petition

Michigan divorce may come as a surprise, especially if the decision to end a marriage is not mutual. When one party decides to file for divorce, the other party may be surprised once the petition is sent. Just like other lawsuits, the person who receives the divorce petition, also called a defendant or respondent, has to respond and answer the petition.

The petition contains proposals on how to divide property or assets, child custody and alimony. The respondent may agree on what is being demanded by the other party or choose to contest the petition. A divorce form contains preprinted check boxes on each side of a statement or demand. The respondent should respond wisely when answering divorce petition questions. The petition also allows the respondent to write an explanation or list his or her own demands. In the event that the respondent fails to respond to the petition, the court may assume default, meaning that court will assume that the respondent agrees with what is written on the petition. However, if the respondent misses the deadline, he or she can still argue or request to "set aside" the default by presenting valid reasons that would justify the request.

Once divorce papers are served in Michigan, spouses may consider speaking with their legal professionals. Divorce is complicated and with a team of legal experts, consisting of financial planner, therapists and legal professionals, a spouse may find it easier to face the legal challenges. These experts provide sound advice that can help divorcing spouses make good decisions during a stressful and emotional time.

Divorce can be settled through litigation or alternative methods, such as mediation or collaborative law. To learn more about these options, spouses may wish to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney. Spouses may also wish to negotiate with their spouses before taking the case in court.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Answering the divorce/dissolution petition," accessed on Sept. 18, 2014

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