Divorce is a difficult and emotional process, but knowing how to file for divorce in Michigan can make the experience a little easier.
If you are considering filing for divorce in Michigan, it is important to understand the steps involved and the specific laws that apply in this state.
And that’s where we come in. We understand that not everybody is well-versed in marriage and divorce’s legalities, and we are here to help.
From start to finish, we’ll walk you through each stage, answering your questions and addressing your concerns.
Take control of your divorce proceedings and set yourself up for a smooth transition into your new chapter. Let’s get started!
What Are the Requirements Before Getting A Divorce In Michigan?
If you are considering divorce in Michigan, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the legal requirements surrounding this process.
1. Residency Requirement
One spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days to file for divorce in Michigan.
Furthermore, the divorce should be filed in the county’s circuit court where either spouse has lived for at least ten days.
This means that as long as one spouse meets the residency requirement, they can file for divorce regardless of whether or not they have been separated from their partner.
2. No-Fault Divorce
Michigan follows a “no-fault” divorce system, meaning couples do not need to prove any specific grounds for divorce.
Unlike other states, there is no requirement to show evidence of cheating, abandonment, or cruelty. Instead, at least one spouse must testify that the marriage has irreparably broken down.
This approach allows for a more streamlined and efficient process, focusing on the dissolution of the marriage rather than assigning blame or fault.
3. Impact of Behavior
While fault is not a mandatory consideration in obtaining a divorce, it can play a role in determining spousal support and property division.
The behavior exhibited by each spouse during the marriage can impact the outcome of the divorce settlement.
Therefore, it is important for individuals going through a divorce in Michigan to be mindful of their actions and how the court may perceive them.
4. Jurisdiction and Prior Cases
In Michigan, only one spouse needs to be a resident for the court to have jurisdiction over the divorce proceedings.
However, limited jurisdiction may apply if one spouse has never lived in Michigan. Certain aspects of the divorce case may be limited or restricted.
If you find yourself in this situation, it’s advisable to consult with a lawyer who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Additionally, if you or your spouse have had prior divorce cases with each other, those cases must be dismissed before filing a new case in Michigan.
5. Place of Marriage
Marriages from other states or countries are valid for divorce in Michigan if the residency requirements above are met.
This means that individuals who got married outside of Michigan can still file for divorce in the state as long as they meet the necessary residency criteria.
6. Citizenship and Common Law Marriage
It is important to note that U.S. citizenship is not a prerequisite for divorce in Michigan. As a result, individuals who are not U.S. citizens can still go through the divorce process in the state.
However, it’s crucial to seek legal advice if immigration status is a concern, as divorce may affect one’s immigration status.
Additionally, Michigan recognizes common law marriages entered into before 1957, whether established within the state or in other states that recognize common law marriage.
How To File For Divorce In Michigan: Step By Step Guide
1. Filling a complaint for divorce – You’ll need to provide essential information such as the parties’ names, dates of marriage, and a clear statement indicating the marriage breakdown.
Moreover, it is important to note that the parties must meet residency requirements, which include residing in Michigan for a minimum of 180 days and spending at least ten days in the county where the filing takes place.
2. Identification of parties – In legal action, the person initiating the lawsuit is the Plaintiff. The defendant is the opposing party.
3. Verified statements – If the divorce involves minor children, you must sign a verified statement.
The Verified Statement, submitted to the Friend of the Court, includes the parties’ names and addresses, details of their employers, and health care information about the minor children.
4. Ex parte orders – Ex Parte Orders are legal orders that the court grants based solely on the claims made by one spouse in a divorce case.
These orders are temporary and will only remain in effect if the other spouse does not raise objections within 14 days.
Ex Parte Orders are commonly used to address matters related to child custody, child support, parenting time, and other issues concerning the well-being of the children involved in the divorce.
These orders can also be used to prevent either party from dissipating assets or compel both parties to continue contributing to the maintenance of their shared marital home.
5. Service of complaint – In the divorce process, there are two ways for the spouse to be informed about the legal proceedings.
The first option is to have them sign an “Acknowledgement of Service,” which is highly recommended in cases where the divorce is amicable. The second method involves hiring a professional process server to deliver the necessary documents to the spouse.
6. Answer to complaint – When a defendant is served with a complaint, they must either admit or deny each allegation.
If the defendant neglects to file an answer, they will be deemed in default and will not have the legal standing to dispute any matters in the divorce.
However, in Michigan, the law mandates that the judge ascertain whether the property settlement in a divorce judgment is “fair and equitable.” This implies that even if a party defaults, they still retain the right to challenge a property settlement in a divorce.
7. Friends of the court appearance – In instances of divorce involving underage children, parties must attend an Early Intervention Conference (EIC) led by a Friend of the Court Referee.
This conference aims to resolve any temporary issues related to the children. Following the EIC, parties must participate in the SMILE program, which stands for Start Making It Livable for Everyone.
This program is specifically designed to assist parents in reducing the impact of divorce on their children.
During the SMILE session, a counselor from the Friend of the Court offers practical advice for approximately 45 minutes and presents a video featuring children whose parents have experienced a high-conflict divorce.
In Macomb County, parties involved in a divorce with minor children are also obligated to attend the SMILE program. However, they must attend the Kids First program in Wayne County instead.
Both counties offer multiple dates for the SMILE/Kids First programs, allowing parents to choose a convenient time. In Wayne County, parents also have the choice to view the SMILE program online for a nominal fee.
8. Discovery – Discovery entails complete asset disclosure via written Interrogatories, face-to-face Depositions, and legal subpoenas, ensuring transparency and comprehensive information exchange during the divorce proceedings.
9. Settlement attempts – Here, the parties try to find a mutual agreement to resolve divorce matters amicably. Attending mediation in Oakland, Macomb, and Wayne Counties is mandatory before the first trial date.
10. Drafting judgment of divorce – Attorneys will work to craft a comprehensive document that encompasses all the mutually agreed-upon provisions of the Divorce.
11. Waiting period – For divorces involving minor children, a 180-day waiting period from the filing date applies before the judgment can be entered. However, the Judge can waive this if both parties agree it’s in the children’s best interests.
12. Retirement benefits – If retirement benefits exist, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or Eligible Domestic Relations Order (EDRO) is required.
Federal law mandates a separate document, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) or an Eligible Domestic Relations Order (EDRO), for retirement benefits like pensions or 401(k)s.
These are typically finalized post-divorce. Due to varying plan requirements, attorneys often engage QDRO experts to ensure compliance and resolution of remaining divorce issues.
Also, Check out the following: How long it takes to get your tax refund in Michigan.
How Long Does a Divorce Process Take In Michigan?
The duration of a divorce process in Michigan is not set in stone and can vary depending on individual circumstances. Multiple factors come into play when determining the length of the process.
It is important to note that minimum requirements must be met. For instance, the minimum waiting period is 60 days if no children are involved.
However, if children are involved, the waiting period extends to six months. It’s worth mentioning that the clock starts ticking from the moment one party officially files for divorce.
Therefore, it is crucial to consider all these factors when estimating the timeline for a divorce in Michigan. Cooperation between both parties in a divorce expedites the process and fosters a more amicable resolution.
While issues like property division and spousal maintenance can be time-consuming to resolve, a collaborative approach can help streamline the proceedings.
The involvement of children further complicates matters, as custody and support decisions require careful consideration.
Typically, divorces without children take anywhere from 60 days to 9 months to finalize, depending on the complexity of the case.
However, when children are involved, the process usually lasts six months and a year. Experienced divorce attorneys may expedite the waiting period in the children’s best interest.
How Much Does It Cost To Divorce In Michigan? Cost Breakdown
If you’re planning a divorce in Michigan, you may wonder about the total cost you may incur. Check out our cost breakdown so that you can prepare financially.
1. Average Cost of Divorce in Michigan
The average cost of divorce in Michigan is $4,000, which includes various components such as court filing fees, lawyer fees, mediation or arbitration costs, and fees for certified experts.
The costs vary depending on whether children are involved, with expenses ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 without children and $14,000 to $18,000 with children.
2. Cost of Uncontested Divorce
An uncontested divorce in Michigan typically costs between $1,000 and $1,500. This includes the necessary filing fees, paper serving, and access to expert assistance if needed.
Compared to contested divorces, which can be much more expensive and time-consuming, opting for an uncontested divorce can save money and help expedite the process.
3. DIY Divorce Costs in Michigan
If you’re considering a DIY divorce in Michigan, you can save money on the process.
Along with court filing fees, document copying, and paper serving services, additional expenses must be considered.
However, it’s unlikely that these costs will exceed $800 unless you require expert assistance for compiling a parenting plan, which may result in slightly higher expenses.
4. Online Divorce Costs
Online divorce services can be a cost-effective option. The costs of these services vary depending on factors such as the online platform’s reputation and the service provider’s location.
However, they are generally more affordable than hiring a traditional lawyer for divorce proceedings.
5. Lawyer Fees
In Michigan, the cost of lawyer fees can vary depending on the location and experience of the attorney. Hourly rates typically range from $300 to $500, but it’s important to note that total costs can exceed $10,000 depending on the case’s complexity.
6. Filling Fees
Filing costs $175 for couples without minor children, while those with minor children will be charged $255. However, the state does offer fee waivers for low-income individuals who may struggle to afford these costs.
Now you know how to file for divorce in Michigan. Filing for divorce in Michigan requires meeting certain requirements, such as residency and no-fault divorce laws.
While fault may not be necessary for the divorce, it can affect matters like spousal support and property division. Jurisdiction, prior cases, place of marriage, and citizenship also play a role in the process.
Following a step-by-step guide, including filling a complaint, identifying parties, submitting verified statements, and obtaining ex parte orders, can help navigate the divorce process in Michigan.
It’s also important to seek legal advice and consider the implications on immigration status if applicable.