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Finishing Your Michigan Divorce with Minor Children

Contents

    Finalize your Judgment of Divorce and Uniform Child Support Order

    Before you go to your final divorce hearing, carefully read your Judgment of Divorce (JOD) to see if you need to make any changes. You can make changes to the judgment by hand, but it is better to log back in to the Law Help Interactive website to make changes. Go back to the Do-It-Yourself Divorce. When you are redirected to LawHelp Interactive, log in using the username and password you created when you first did the Do-It-Yourself Divorce. After you have logged in, you can click on your answer file and return to your saved answers.

    Click on the section that you want to change. Make the changes in your answers to the relevant questions and reprint the documents you changed. You don’t have to reprint the other documents – just the ones you changed.

    If the court has adopted any Friend of the Court recommendations or issued temporary custody, parenting time, or child support orders that haven’t been changed, the terms of those orders must be exactly the same in the JOD and the Uniform Child Support Order (UCSO). Fill in the child support amounts on the UCSO by hand.

    Mark the box on your JOD that shows it is entered either by default (if your spouse is not participating) or on consent of the parties. Mark the box on the top of the UCSO that shows it is a final order.

    Prepare for the Hearing

    If you are the Plaintiff, the judge may ask you to enter testimony at the final hearing. The Testimony in Final Divorce Hearing script will print with your other documents if you completed the Do-It-Yourself Divorce. If not, you can print the script from the article, Testimony in Final Divorce Hearing. Review the script, complete the blank spaces, and update information as needed. Bring this document with you to the hearing.

    Get Your Final Documents Signed and Filed

    At your final hearing, the judge will sign all the copies of your JOD and UCSO that you brought with you (see the procedural instructions for your county for the number of copies you must bring). After the hearing, follow the judge’s instructions for filing the JOD and UCSO with the court clerk. In some counties, a court employee will file them for you, but in most counties you have to file your own JOD and UCSO.

    If the signed JOD is not filed with the court clerk, you will not be considered divorced. The clerk will keep the originals of the Judgment of Divorce and Uniform Child Support Order for the court file and will return the signed copies of each to you.

    Have Your Spouse Served with the Final Documents

    Your spouse must be served with the final, signed Judgment of Divorce and Uniform Child Support Order as soon as possible. If your spouse is at the final hearing, you can give him or her copies of the signed orders in the courtroom. Otherwise, mail one copy of each of the signed documents to your spouse at his or her last known address or have them personally delivered to your spouse. Complete and file a Proof of Service with the court clerk.

    Other Documents You May Need to Finish Your Divorce

    Even if your Judgment of Divorce says you get certain property, title to that property is not automatically transferred. If your Judgment of Divorce says your spouse is responsible for certain debts, you are not automatically free of those debts. You must have certain documents prepared and filed or sent to the right place.

    Some of the documents you may need to complete (or hire a lawyer to complete for you) are listed below:

    • A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or an Eligible Domestic Relations Order (EDRO)

    Pension and retirement accounts can only be divided by a special order called a QDRO or an EDRO. If your Judgment of Divorce awards you part of your spouse’s pension or retirement account you must have a QDRO or EDRO drafted, filed and served on the administrator of the pension or retirement plan.

    Drafting a QDRO or EDRO is complicated. There is no form you can use to do this on your own. A lawyer can help you draft this document.

    Warning! If this isn’t done, you won’t get your share of those retirement funds.

    • Quitclaim Deed

    You or your spouse may need to sign a quitclaim deed if your JOD awards real property (a house, building, or land) to one spouse and the deed is in both your names or only in the name of the spouse not keeping the property. A quitclaim deed is a document that transfers title to real estate, or real property, from one party to another.

    You can prepare a quitclaim deed using the Do-It-Yourself Quitclaim Deed (after Divorce). Read the toolkit I Need a Quitclaim Deed to Transfer Real Property to learn more about quiclaim deeds.

    • Transfer car titles

    You must transfer a car’s title, registration and license plate if the JOD awards the car to one spouse and the car is titled in both your names, or only in the name of the spouse not keeping the car. If you are transferring a car from one spouse to the other, or are transferring a jointly titled car to one spouse, you will need to properly title, register and plate the vehicle.  It is best if you and your spouse can go to a Secretary of State office together to complete the title transfer. Make sure:

    • You have the title. Making changes on a title, such as crossing out a name, invalidates it. Copies are also not acceptable. The spouse giving up his or her interest in the vehicle must complete the seller's portion of the title, including the odometer disclosure statement, and sign it.
    • There is no outstanding loan against the vehicle. A title cannot be transferred until the vehicle loan is fully paid. A representative from the bank or financial institution that administered the loan must either have signed the title or provided the owner with a lien termination statement.
    • You check to see that the odometer reading and vehicle identification number on the title match the vehicle's odometer reading and VIN.
    • Transfer mobile home titles

    Mobile homes are titled in Michigan. The title is identified as a "Certificate of Manufactured Home Ownership" or "Certificate of Mobile Home Title." These documents look like a vehicle title and have the same purpose. Transferring a mobile home title is necessary if the JOD awards the mobile home to one spouse and it is titled in both your names, or only in the name of the spouse not keeping the mobile home.

    The spouse who is not keeping the mobile home should assign the title to the other spouse. The spouse keeping the mobile home can take the assigned title to a Secretary of State Branch Office to have it transferred into his or her name.

    If a third-party has a security interest in the mobile home (a bank or person that loaned you the money to buy the mobile home) you may want to check the loan documents to see if the third-party must approve a title transfer.

    • Investment transfers

    Mutual funds, stocks, and bank accounts need to be transferred if the JOD awards them to one spouse and they are held in both spouses’ names or only in the other spouse’s name. A lawyer or financial advisor can help you with investment transfers.

    • Letters to creditors

    You can send a copy of your signed JOD to your creditors, if the judgment assigns your spouse responsibility for paying joint debts. But doing so is not a guarantee that the creditor will not hold you responsible for a debt that was assigned to your spouse in the JOD and is not paid by your spouse.

    • Name change

    If you took your spouse’s last name when you were married, you may have asked the court in your divorce to allow you to change your last name as part of your divorce. Your Judgment of Divorce does not automatically change your name for you. You must take further steps to complete your name change with the appropriate agencies. You may need a certified copy of your JOD for certain agencies. Some places you should consider changing your name with:

    • Your employer
    • The Social Security Administration office
    •  The Secretary of State (to update your driver’s license, vehicle title(s), and voter registration)
    • The Post Office
    • Banks
    • Credit Card companies
    • Insurance companies
    • Utility providers

    If you want to keep your married name, you do not have to change it. Even if your spouse wants you to change your last name, Michigan law allows you to keep your married name.