Your divorce questions answered: Why do we need a cooling off period?

divorcing woman toying with wedding ring

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOTV) – In Michigan, the law requires that all couples who seek a divorce wait for a period of 60 days  to 180 days before the divorce becomes final.  If there are no children involved the cooling off time is 60 days.  If there are minor children involved then the couple must wait 180 days before the divorce can be finalized.  This ‘cooling off’ period was implemented for a variety of reasons, but primarily it is to allow the couple ample time to be sure of their decision and to explore reconciliation if at all possible.  The state takes the view that marriage and stable families are important to society and should be preserved if at all possible.

During the waiting period the court usually rules on who lives in the marital home, whether temporary support is awarded to either party.  By waiting to finalize the dissolution of the marriage it gives the couple time to figure out finances and living arrangements and answer questions like whether or not they can afford to remain in the marital home and if they will need to seek employment or change jobs in order to support their new life.  In other words, it gives them a good look at what their life after divorce will be like and allows them time to prepare.  It also gives the attorneys time to investigate the couple’s assets in preparation for negotiating a fair settlement.

If children are involved you will use this time to secure childcare as well as arranging for enrollment in different schools if that becomes necessary. Forming agreements on co-parenting rules for the children, visitation schedules and logistics of transferring the children from one home to the other can all be worked on.  The court will also use this time to conduct their investigations by child custody evaluators and/or the guardian ad litem (an attorney who represents the interests of the children).  This requires interviews with both parents and possibly the children and even perhaps any professional’s the children see.

Whether or not a waiting period in the divorce process actually leads to more couples reconciling has not been conclusively studied.  It does, however, give you time to address important issues so that when your divorce is final you have a sound plan going forward into your new life.


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