A divorce is not official until a judgment of divorce is entered in the Court by the Judge. In Michigan, there are two statutory waiting-periods that must expire prior to the entry of a judgment for divorce. These time periods depend on whether the divorce involves minor children. If there are no minor children during the divorce and the wife is not pregnant, the parties can enter a judgment in 90-days after the complaint is filed. If minor children are involved, the judgment cannot be entered until 180-days. The legislative purpose of these wait periods is to provide an opportunity for the parties to reconcile. On occasion, a Judge may waive the 180-day wait period if there is a compelling reason to do so (usually involving the safety of the minor children). The 90-day period in cases without minor children cannot be waived.
Many divorce cases are not completed upon expiration of the statutory wait periods, even though the parties want to be divorced. This is due to the complexity of the case or because there are unresolved issues that need resolution by the Judge or through an alternative dispute resolution process such as mediation or arbitration. Depending on the issues, the attorneys and the parties, some divorces take more than a year to complete. Even when the divorce is “final”, there are often post-judgment issues, particularly in cases with young minor children, that require additional attorney representation and subsequent trips to court.