Everything to Know About the Divorce Process in Michigan

In Michigan, divorce is legally finalized through the process of filing a Complaint for Divorce and serving it to the other spouse. Michigan follows a no-fault divorce approach.

After filing, a Temporary Order outlines temporary arrangements for minor children child custody, support, parenting time, and use of the marital property. A summons informs each spouse of the divorce complaint hearing. Both spouses exchange finances before the hearing. At the hearing, each spouse presents their case to the judge who makes rulings.

The court's ruling on the marriage relationship is binding unless circumstances change. The divorce decree must be final and approved by the court before remarriage. There may be an appeals process if one spouse disagrees.

Seek legal support from Clarity Family Law during this challenging time. Call us at (313) 513-1919 to schedule a free consultation with a Dearborn divorce attorney.

Divorce Residency Requirements

According to Michigan state law, at least one party must have been a resident for 180 days before filing for divorce, and the spouse who initiates the divorce papers filing process must have resided in the county for at least 10 days before filing.

If either party fails to meet these requirements, they still have the option under divorce law to file for divorce in Michigan if the filing spouse can provide evidence that Michigan is the appropriate venue for the divorce.

Which Type of Divorce is the Most Suitable for Your Situation?

When getting a divorce in Michigan, it's crucial to know the two main types available.: contested and uncontested divorces.

In a contested divorce, both spouses have differing opinions on matters such as division of property, distribution of objects of matrimony, and physical custody of minor children, which may require negotiation or resolution through a court trial.

divorce forms and a cutout of a husband and wife on a desk

An uncontested divorce or an amicable divorce happens when both spouses agree on the terms of the divorce proceedings, making the process quicker and cheaper, taking less than six months to complete.

Contested vs. Uncontested

In Michigan, couples can choose between an uncontested or contested divorce. An uncontested divorce occurs when both parties agree on all terms and don't need court intervention. It's a faster and less expensive process without a trial.

A contested divorce happens when one or both parties disagree on terms and need court involvement. It usually involves negotiation on legal issues and may require a trial to resolve.

The Divorce Process

Divorce in Michigan can be a stressful and emotional process. It's important to understand the steps involved.

  • First, you need to file a Complaint for Divorce with the courts. This document states the reasons for the divorce and asks the court to approve it.
  • Next, you must serve the Complaint on the other party within 45 days. They will then have 21 days to file a response. The court will schedule a case conference to review all the documents and agreements. If there are no unresolved issues, a judgment of divorce will be granted. However, if there are still unresolved matters, a trial date will be set.
  • During the trial, the judge will make decisions on these unresolved issues. After a judgment is entered, you have the option to file an appeal if you are not satisfied.
  • Once all the necessary paperwork is approved, both parties will sign and file the documents to officially end the marriage. At that point, the divorce is considered final.

Find a Divorce Lawyer

Finding a divorce lawyer in Michigan is crucial. They can represent you and get the best outcome. Steps to find a divorce attorney:

  • Ask friends and family for referrals
  • Search Michigan State Bar Association's lawyer directory
  • Meet with multiple attorneys, discuss expectations, concerns, and experience
  • Talk about divorce attorney fees and costs
  • Inquire about alimony and child support
a woman meeting with an attorney to discuss a divorce

Providing Documents to the Court

To start the divorce process in Michigan, file your documents with the court. Choose between a complaint for divorce or a joint divorce petition. If filing a complaint, complete forms stating your desire for a divorce and the reasons. For a joint petition, both parties must sign and agree on all divorce-related issues.

If Your Spouse Submits a Response

When your spouse files an answer to divorce paperwork, it means they want to contest the terms of the divorce, stating their position on the issues presented in the complaint, including objections to financial support and custody arrangements.

If the Spouse Does Not Submit a Response

If a spouse is served with a Complaint for Divorce and doesn't respond, the court can give a default judgment. This means the court assumes the facts in the Complaint are true. Proof of service is required. After that, the court will enter a default judgment of divorce and grant all requested terms.

Waiting Period

In Michigan, the divorce waiting period is 180 days. It starts when the complaint is filed. Both parties must meet divorce requirements, like sharing financial info, completing an Affidavit of Separation, and attending mediation. The waiting period allows couples to settle disagreements and reach an agreement before finalizing the divorce.


In Michigan, a divorce can be dismissed if both parties agree. This means the case is withdrawn and no further proceedings happen. Dismissals in Michigan usually occur when spouses agree outside of court on a settlement agreement or when one spouse decides not to proceed with the divorce.

To file for dismissal, both spouses must complete and sign a Motion. This document must be filed with the court. If approved, the court will send both spouses a dismissal order, officially ending the divorce case.

Finalizing the Divorce

Finalizing a divorce in Michigan is the last step. First, file for divorce. Then, go through mediation or litigation. Reach an agreement on all divorce-related issues. Submit paperwork to the court. Couples in Michigan must file a Judgment of Divorce. This document includes information about the discussed and agreed-upon issues. After filing, both spouses are legally divorced and can move on.

A woman signing a divorce form

Judgment of Divorce

A Judgment of Divorce is issued by the Michigan court to formally end a marriage after resolving all parties' issues. It includes names, grounds for divorce, custody arrangements, property division, and other orders. Once the court has approved, both parties are officially divorced.

Grounds for Divorce

In Michigan, couples must prove that their marriage is beyond repair to get a divorce. This is called the "irrecoverable differences" basis for divorce. To be eligible, at least one party must have lived in Michigan for 180 days before filing the petition. Besides irreconcilable differences, other reasons for divorce in Michigan include adultery, abandonment, severe cruelty, and mental illness.

Clarity Family Law Michigan Divorce Lawyers Can Help You Through the Process

Divorce can be difficult and emotional. Clarity Family Law Michigan Divorce Lawyers can help handle your divorce efficiently and effectively.

The team of experienced family law attorneys at Clarity is dedicated to assisting clients with the complex divorce process in Michigan. Their divorce attorneys have extensive knowledge of Michigan's divorce laws. Whether you want a contested or uncontested divorce, Clarity will ensure your needs are met and the process goes smoothly.

Contact Clarity Family Law today for a consultation and more information about their assistance in Michigan divorce proceedings.

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