Michigan Divorce Laws

Many people have numerous inquiries with regard to the divorce laws in Michigan. Even though each divorce case in Michigan has distinct features, methodically most divorce cases of Michigan follow the similar common procedure. The aim of this writing is to familiarize you with the basic rules of Michigan divorce laws and facts concerning the Michigan divorce legal procedures, furnished by divorce lawyers in Michigan.

Residency Requirements

Under the residency requirements, to be eligible for filing a divorce suit in Michigan, a person must be a resident of Michigan for a minimum period of 180 days before the complaint for Divorce is filed. A person must also be a resident of the county where he/she plans to file for divorce for a minimum period of 10 days before the complaint for divorce is filed. This rule has some exceptions for the serving military personnel. Furthermore, if the divorce seeking spouses have minor child/children of their marriage, such minor child/children must have resided in Michigan for a minimum period of six months before the spouses can file a legal action with regard to the minor child/children here.

Consent of spouse is not necessary

A divorce in Michigan will be allowed even if one of the spouses is not interested in the divorce; it is not necessary that both the spouses will seek divorce. A Michigan Judge may enter a Default Judgment of Divorce even in a situation where one of the spouses never participated in the divorce proceedings if that spouse is appropriately served in the suit for Divorce.

Grounds for divorce in Michigan

Since Michigan is a no-fault state, the sole ground for a divorce in Michigan is a breakdown of the marital relationship to the scale that the purposes of marriage have been spoiled and there is no sensible possibility that the marriage may be continued. The court can terminate a marriage relationship without reference to a spouse did something wrong to the other spouse. However, fault is considered in the determination of spousal support, Michigan child support, child custody and property division by the court.

You must go to the court

You will have to appear before a judge in Court to enter your Judgment of Divorce even if you and your spouse assent to all stipulations of the divorce including property division, spousal support or alimonychild support, child custody and parenting time. A Judge needs to “take the proofs” in open Court prior to a divorce judgment is awarded in Michigan. However, some judges currently authorize parties to appear by phone on this point.

Beginning and succeeding steps of a divorce case

With the filing of a complaint for divorce by a spouse, a Michigan divorce case commences. The spouse who files the Complaint is known as the “Plaintiff”, the other spouse is known as the “Defendant”. After serving the complaint to the Defendant, he/she needs to file an Answer to the Complaint within a stipulated period. The Plaintiff may request the court to enter a “default” if the Defendant fails to file an Answer to the Court within the stipulated time. A default is a situation in which the Court authorizes a Judgment to be entered without Defendant’s consent, for the Defendant has not filed answer to a complaint. If the spouses have no minor children together, a Judgment of Divorce may be entered after passing of at least sixty days from the date of filing of a Complaint to the Court. This is known as mandatory waiting period. Mandatory waiting period is one hundred and eighty days if the spouses have minor children together. If both the spouses consent to all the conditions of the divorce, including spousal support or alimony, child custody, child support, and property division, a “Consent Judgment of Divorce” may be entered with the Court after the passing of appropriate waiting period. Contact child custody lawyers in Michigan for additional information.


If the spouses do not reach to a consensus on the quantity and values of the assets and debts of the marriage, then discovery is necessary. In the discovery process, information is obtained by means of interrogatories, depositions or subpoenas. The aim of discovery for a spouse is to obtain information of assets and debts of the other spouse.

Property distribution

Since Michigan is an equitable distribution state, marital assets and properties are divided in a way that will enable both the spouses to get as equal a share as practicable, but not inevitably a fifty-fifty division. Many factors are considered by a court in determining the way of dividing properties and assets, such as the duration of the marriage, property brought into the marriage by each spouse, and the earning capacity and contribution to the marriage by each spouse etc.

Spousal support or alimony

In every lawsuit for a divorce in Michigan, the court may ask for any of the spouses to pay Michigan divorce alimony for the appropriate maintenance of the spouse who is in an adverse position. Such sums as shall be as much as deemed justified and necessary to protect any real or personal property owned by the spouses or either of them, and to pay any amounts necessary to make the adverse spouse able to defend or conduct the suit, during the pendency of the suit.

Child custody and support

In divorce suits where there are disputes about child custody, joint custody will be encouraged. In cases of disputes over custody, custody placement of the child will be resolved on the basis of the best betterment of the child, that includes the love, affection, and other emotional ties prevailing between the spouses involved and the child, the capacity and temperament of the spouses involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child, the capacity and temperament of the spouses involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and any other factor deemed by the court to be pertinent to a certain child custody dispute. The amount of MI child support will be ascertained by the application of the Michigan Child Support Formula which is developed by the state friend of the court bureau.

Mediation and Arbitration

If the spouses do not agree on settlement of disputes, they will be required to attend mediation. In the mediation process, a neutral attorney is nominated to hear both the spouses and make recommendations for a resolution. A mediator is appointed on the basis of consensus of the Plaintiff’s attorney and the Defendant’s attorney. If the attorneys do not agree in selecting a mediator, then a mediator will be appointed by the judge. The mediator will try for a resolution of the case on the basis of consensus of the parties. The mediator will provide a recommendation if a resolution is not made. The matter is moved to the arbitration or trial if the parties do not consent to the recommendation. Arbitration is almost alike mediation; in arbitration, the facts are presented by both parties before an arbitrator, who can be another attorney or a retired judge. The arbitrator makes a final decision, which is known as award and is legally binding on the parties.

Trial and Judgment

Since most of the divorce cases in Michigan are settled at mediation, only a few of them actually go to trial. If a divorce case moves to trial, it may be costly and time consuming. In a trial, all matters which are contested will have to be placed into evidence. Once the judge gives ruling it is then converted to a written Judgment, which is entered with the Court.

No-Fault Divorce

What does a no-fault divorce state mean? It simply means that fault is not required to make a divorce happen. Either party can file for divorce at any time. As long as the jurisdictional requirements have been met, a divorce will be granted. However, fault may play a role when it comes to dividing marital assets and debts and awarding spousal support.

Jurisdictional Requirements

One party must be a resident of the state of Michigan for at least 180 days prior to the complaint being filed. The party must also be a resident in the county filed in for at least 10 days prior to filing. The final requirement is that “there is a breakdown in the marital relationship to the extent that the bonds of matrimony have been destroyed, and that there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”

How Long Will This Take?

For parties who do not have minor children with one another, the divorce process takes only 60 days. Where the parties share minor children, a six month wait period is required. This six month wait period may be shortened only where the court determines that waiting six months is inappropriate due to “unusual hardship or compelling necessity.”

What Happens Throughout This Process?

Usually the longer the marriage lasts, the more likely it is that there will be multiple or complex issues that need to be dealt with. Appearances with the friend of the court will be necessary should minor children be involved. If the parties cannot agree on major issues, mediation or arbitration may come into play. One should often expect that their attorneys will file appropriate motions and make numerous court appearances on their behalf throughout this process, so getting a divorce could end up becoming an expensive affair.