MCR 3.223 Joint Petition for Divorce
After working for years with clients that prefer a more amicable divorce process, we now have new court rules for a more peaceful court process. In the past, clients that reached agreements together prior to filing a case with the court then had to file court documents including a Summons that states, “Notice to Defendant: In the name of the people of the State of Michigan you are notified: 1. You are being sued.” The traditional litigious process also involves a Plaintiff vs. Defendant. Now, the cases with signed agreements may be filed with a joint petition and the signed consent judgment attached requesting a final hearing to resolve the matter without the typical pretrial requirements.
In 2014, I served on a team of devoted lawyers and mediators to help advocate for these new court rules. Our goal was to help create a less adversarial approach to filing divorce paperwork with the court. It reminded me of the process for a bill become a new law (I’m a big fan of Schoolhouse Rock - I’m Just a Bill). The language for the proposed rule had to be reviewed, debated, and tweaked before submitting the proposed amendments to the Michigan Supreme Court for review and approval.
On September 20, 2018, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an Order to help create my new favorite court rule, MCR 3.223 Summary Proceeding for Entry of Consent Judgment or Order. This new rule became effective on April 1, 2019, and allows a joint petition to be filed with the court for a more family friendly divorce process without labeling either party as the Plaintiff or Defendant. With the new court rules, a hearing may be scheduled for both petitioners to attend and provide the necessary testimony for entry of the signed court documents after at least 60 days have passed from the date of filing the case. The assigned Judge will review each case individually to determine if cases with minor children must wait the 6 month waiting period or an order may be approved by the Judge to waive this requirement based on the facts of each case. For cases without minor children, the divorce may be issued after 60 days. To learn more about the joint filing petition and process, please contact our office at (248) 587-7888.
Rule 3.223 Summary Proceeding for Entry of Consent Judgment or Order
(A) Scope and Applicability of Rules. This rule governs practice and procedure for entering a consent judgment or consent order as an original action.
(B) Definitions. For purposes of this rule:
(1) “Party A” is the equivalent of a plaintiff and means the party responsible for filing and service requirements.
(2) “Party B” is the equivalent of a defendant and means the non-filing party.
(C) Commencing an Action.
(1) The parties shall file a petition to submit to court jurisdiction and request for entry of a proposed consent judgment or proposed consent order on a form approved by the State Court Administrative Office.
(a) The petition shall be brought “In the Matter of” the names of Party A and Party B and the subject matter of the proposed consent judgment or proposed consent order using the case type codes under MCR 8.117. The petition shall:
(i) contain, at a minimum, the grounds for jurisdiction, the statutory grounds to enter the judgment or order, and a request to enter the judgment or order;
(ii) comply with the provisions of MCR 2.113 and MCR 3.206(A);
(iii) be signed by both parties;
(iv) be accompanied by the proposed consent judgment or consent order, that complies with MCR 3.211 and is signed by both parties;
(v) be accompanied by a verified statement if required by MCR 3.206(B) and a judgment information form if required by MCR 3.211(F); and
(vi) under MCL 691.1345, be accompanied by domestic violence screening forms. The domestic violence screening form shall be limited to reporting personal protection actions, domestic violence criminal actions, and child protective actions involving the parties and shall be on a form approved by the State Court Administrative Office. Each party must complete a separate form.
(b) The petition may contain a request to waive the six-month statutory waiting period under MCL 552.9f.
(2) The petition filed under subrule (1)(a) serves as a complaint and answer unless a party files an objection under subrule (5). It also serves as an appearance of the attorney who signs the petition.
(3) On the filing of the petition and request for entry of consent judgment or consent order and payment of the filing fees, the court clerk shall:
(a) assign a case number and judge, and shall issue a notice of the filing on a form approved by the State Court Administrative Office to be served by Party A as provided in MCR 2.103 and 2.105. The court clerk shall not issue a summons under MCR 2.102(A), and
(b) schedule a hearing date on the proposed consent judgment or consent order but shall not schedule the matter for any pretrial proceedings unless requested by the parties on filing of a motion. The hearing date may not be scheduled sooner than 60 days after the date of the notice of filing. Nothing in this rule precludes the court from waiving the six-month statutory waiting period in accordance with MCL 552.9f.
(4) The notice of the filing must be issued “In the name of the people of the State of Michigan,” under the seal of the court that issued it. It must be directed to both parties and include:
(a) the name and address of the court,
(b) the names of the parties,
(c) the case number and name of assigned judge,
(d) the names, addresses, and bar numbers of any attorneys representing the parties,
(e) the date on which the notice of filing was issued,
(f) the date on which the proposed consent judgment or order will be heard by the court,
(g) a statement that if either party objects to this summary proceeding at any time before entry of the proposed consent judgment or consent order, the case will be dismissed, and
(h) a statement that the hearing on the proposed consent judgment or consent order will be held under MCR 3.210 at the conclusion of any applicable statutory waiting period.
(5) If either party objects to this summary proceeding any time before entry of the proposed consent judgment or proposed consent order, the court shall dismiss the case.
(6) At any time after the filing of the proposed consent judgment or proposed consent order, the parties may file stipulations and motions and the court may enter temporary orders.
(D) Entry of Final Consent Judgment or Consent Order. The court shall conduct a hearing on the proposed consent judgment or proposed consent order in accordance with MCR 3.210. Except when a consent judgment is derived through MCR 3.222, both petitioners shall be present for this hearing. The final consent judgment or final consent order shall be served in accordance with MCR 2.602(D).
(E) Dismissal. A party may dismiss a matter commenced under this rule at any time under MCR 2.504 or as provided under subrule (C)(5).