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Divorce in Michigan - YOUR COMPLETE STARTER GUIDE

Last updated: July 08, 2019
Divorce in Michigan

Divorce is rarely easy but knowing the basics about Michigan divorce laws can help you understand what to expect as you navigate legal proceedings. Let’s get started.

How to File for Divorce in Michigan

To file for a divorce in Michigan, at least one of the spouses must be a resident of the state, and must have lived in Michigan for the last 180 days or longer. You should file for divorce at the circuit court in the county where either of you has lived for the past ten days or longer. If you and your spouse live in separate counties, you may file in either one.

You do not have to be separated from your spouse before filing. You may file for a divorce even if the two of you are still living together.

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You are not required to provide grounds for divorce in Michigan since it is a no-fault divorce state. The law states that the only reason for divorce is that “there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”

The process of filing for divorce in Michigan varies, depending on whether you have minor children or not.

If you have no minor children, you should file a Summons and Complaint for Divorce in the appropriate circuit court. Forms are available online if preferred.

Michigan Divorce with Children

If you have minor children, you’ll need to start your divorce by filing a Summons at the appropriate circuit court. You will need to file the following forms at the same time:

  • Complaint for Divorce with Children

  • Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Affidavit (UCCJEA affidavit)

  • Verified Statement

  • Record of Divorce or Annulment (varies by county)

These forms may be obtained in person or online.

Michigan divorce law provides an exception to the ten-day residency requirement and allows plaintiffs to file in any county so long as all of the following conditions are true:

  • The defendant is a citizen of another country, or was born in another country.

  • You have a minor child with the defendant.

  • There is a risk that the defendant will take the minor child(ren) out of the United States to a different country and fail to return them.

You must be able to prove to the judge that a flight risk exists in order to receive a waiver for the ten-day residency period.

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How Much Does It Cost to Get Divorced in Michigan?

If you are able to file for divorce and go through proceedings without help from a lawyer, you’ll find that divorce is affordable compared with rates in some other states. People who have no minor children are charged a $175 filing fee. Those who have minor children pay a $225 filing fee. Other costs may vary, including having papers served on your spouse, paying fees for services such as mediation, and fees for filing motions.

If you receive public assistance or are low-income, you may be eligible to waive fees and other costs. If you believe that you are eligible, fill out a fee waiver and present it to the clerk. The form can be found at the courthouse as well as online.

How Long Will it Take to Get a Divorce in Michigan?

So long as you aren’t expecting a child and there were no children born during your marriage, the waiting period for Michigan divorce is 60 days. If you and your spouse had children during your marriage, or if you’re expecting a baby now, then the waiting period is usually 180 days. The waiting period for Michigan divorces with children may be reduced to as little as 60 days if you can prove hardship and if the judge agrees.

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Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

If you and your spouse are able to agree on major issues, then your divorce is considered uncontested and you may be able to handle it without help from a lawyer. Major issues include the following:

  • Child custody

  • Parenting time

  • Child support

  • Spousal support (alimony)

  • Division of property

  • Division of assets

  • Division of debt

If you aren’t able to come to an agreement, then your divorce is contested. It’s important to talk with a lawyer when you cannot agree on important issues. In Michigan, low-income divorce assistance is often available. Sometimes it’s even possible to get free legal help.

Checklist of resources you may need when divorcing in Michigan

Sometimes it takes a village to navigate the divorce process. Thankfully, there are trained professionals who can guide you through it safely and efficiently. If you are looking to build your dream divorce team or add to it, we have compiled a list of our favorite experts from which you can pick and choose according to your needs. Your Michigan divorce team may include any combination of the following individuals or websites:

Focus Area Organization Website
Divorce Professionals National Association of Divorce Professionals (NADP) TheNADP.com
Divorce Coach Certified Divorced Coaches (CDC) CertifiedDivorceCoach.com
Financial Planners Association of Divorce Financial Planners (ADFP) DivorceAndFinance.org
Lawyer Avvo Avvo.com

Legal Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. Consult with an attorney for more information regarding your individual situation.

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