Labre Law Office | Family Law & Criminal Defense Lawyer | Edwardsburg, MI

How to File for Divorce in Michigan

August 1, 2023 – Rob LaBre

Filing for divorce can be complex and emotionally overwhelming. Are you considering ending your marriage? Understanding how to file for divorce in Michigan can help you navigate the divorce process and minimize stress.

As experienced Michigan family law attorneys, LaBre Law Office helps divorcing couples avoid unnecessary complications or costly delays during their journey toward a fresh start in life.

In this blog, we share the basics of the divorce process, including parenting time, joint custody, child support for minor children, uncontested divorces, contested divorces, divorce papers, and court costs.

Keep reading to learn more about divorce laws in Michigan, then contact us at (269) 431-2058 to schedule a consultation.

How Does Divorce Work in Michigan?

Michigan offers two options: contested and uncontested divorce. In a contested divorce, both parties disagree on the terms, such as the division of assets or custody arrangements; in an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all related issues.

When your marriage shows no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation, you initiate the process by filing a Complaint for Divorce with the court. This document states your divorce grounds and details requests about division of assets, child custody, and spousal support. You must have your spouse served with the Complaint within 90 days of filing.

After serving the Complaint, your spouse has 21 days to respond. Nonresponse allows you to continue with an uncontested divorce. If they respond, all divorce-related matters must be agreed upon before finalization.

Residency Requirements for Divorce in Michigan

To file the Complaint for Divorce, at least one spouse must have been a resident in the state for 180 days and in the filing county for 10 days. Exceptions apply if the spouse lives abroad and might leave the U.S. with your child.

If your spouse lives out of state, Michigan Statute 552.9f mandates either previous residency in Michigan as a couple or establishing residency a year prior to filing the Complaint.

Grounds for Divorce in Michigan

Michigan allows “no-fault” divorces, citing only an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage. However, fault can still affect marital property division, alimony awards, and custody decisions.

Additionally, past conduct or introducing a child to a new partner can influence custody and alimony.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Michigan?

Although the average divorce takes six to 12 months, multiple factors can affect the timeline such as:

  • Child Custody:  If both parties agree, they can submit their agreement to the court for approval in a process that usually takes four to six weeks. Disagreements or requests for hearings prolong this time.
  • Property and Asset Division: As an equitable distribution state, Michigan mandates fair division of marital assets. Agree about who gets what assets expedites the process. Disputes involving legal assistance extend it.
  • Spousal Support: Spousal support (alimony) is money one spouse pays to another during or after a divorce proceeding to maintain their standard of living post-divorce. Spousal support is contingent upon individual income, potential earnings, and financial obligations. Negotiation complications can extend your divorce timeline.
  • Legal Complexities: Filing paperwork incorrectly or missing deadlines set by the court can cause delays. Hiring experienced divorce lawyers in Michigan can streamline the process.

Who Gets the House in a Divorce in Michigan?

The court considers several factors when determining who will own the house after the breakdown of the marriage.

Separate vs. Marital Property

Separate property involves assets or debts obtained before marriage or via inheritance or gifts during the marriage. These remain with the initial owner post-divorce.

Marital property refers to assets acquired within the marriage and must be divided between the parties. This includes real estate, with the court assessing each party’s contribution to its acquisition or improvement.

Property and Debt

If the house has a mortgage, it must be paid off before either spouse can receive full ownership. The court evaluates which spouse has the means to clear the mortgage without accruing excessive debt.

Financial Situation

The court will consider each party’s income, assets, debts, and other financial obligations. It may also consider child support payments or alimony that one spouse must pay the other when the divorce is final.

Other Factors

Other factors include prenuptial or postnuptial agreements and other court-filed documents. Special situations like domestic violence or mental health concerns in the marriage relationship impacting a spouse’s post-divorce financial stability may also be taken into account.

Spousal Support (Alimony) in Michigan Divorces

Michigan provides two types of spousal support: periodic and lump sum payments. Periodic payments generally happen monthly, aiding the recipient until they become self-supporting. Lump sum payments are single payments for expenses like attorney’s fees.

When deciding on spousal support, courts examine each spouse’s income, assets, age, health, education, and marriage duration. Other factors, such as long-term unemployment due to childcare or marriage-related reasons, adultery or domestic violence, are also considered.

Spousal support orders are legally binding. Modifications are only possible in specific circumstances like:

  • Changes in either party’s income, health, or living situation
  • Significant changes in circumstances since the original order

Modification requests must be made through the court.

Factors Michigan Courts May Consider When Determining Child Custody Arrangements

According to the Child Custody Act of 1970, the court evaluates various factors to ascertain the child’s “best interests” such as:

  • Emotional ties and affection between parties and the child
  • Parties’ capacity to offer love, guidance, and continue the child’s education and religious upbringing
  • Parties’ ability to provide for the child’s basic needs
  • Time the child has spent in a stable environment and the need for continuity
  • Permanence of the existing/proposed family unit
  • Moral, mental, and physical fitness of parties involved
  • Child’s home, school, and community record
  • Child’s reasonable preference, considering the child’s age
  • Each party’s willingness to facilitate a parent-child relationship
  • Domestic violence, even if not directed at the child
  • Any other relevant factor

The court can adjust these arrangements if circumstances change.

How Much Does a Divorce Cost in Michigan?

To obtain a divorce In Michigan, you must pay filing fees ranging from $175 to $250, depending on the county. If the divorce involves minor children, additional fees of up to $295 may apply.

Other costs could include court fees, mediation fees, child support payments, alimony payments, and property division expenses.

Where Do I Get the Paperwork to File for Divorce in Michigan?

You can obtain the required documents from the court clerk’s office or online from the Michigan State Court Administrative Office.

LaBre Law Office: Excellence Is Our Standard

While it may be tempting to try and save money by opting for DIY divorce papers, divorce involves more than just paperwork. It’s an emotional process with potentially long-lasting financial and personal consequences.

Our Michigan family law attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of Michigan law and understand your rights and responsibilities.

Contact LaBre Law at (269) 431-2058 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation. At LaBre Law Office, excellence is our standard.

Copyright © 2023. LaBre Law Office. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

LaBre Law Office
68897 Cass St,
Edwardsburg, MI 49112
(269) 431-2058

how to file for divorce in Michigan

Contact Us

Every situation is different and requires personalized legal strategy and attention. Tell us about your current situation and we would be happy to discuss your legal options. We have the skills, experience and resources needed to provide you with compassionate legal service.

Contact Form

* Required Fields

We respect your privacy. The information you provide will be used to answer your question or to schedule an Appointment if requested.

Related Blog Posts

Please Enter Your Number For Callback

Request Callback