Michigan Divorce Basics

Get started here to learn basics about divorce laws in Michigan.

This article explains how to get a divorce in Michigan.          

Grounds for Divorce

You may get a divorce in Michigan if your marriage is irretrievably broken and there is no likelihood of reconciliation. This is considered a no fault divorce, and you do not have to prove any other grounds to get divorced.

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

You must be a Michigan resident for at least six months to file for divorce in the state. You or your spouse must also live in the county in which you file your divorce complaint for at least ten days before filing the complaint. The judge can enter a judgment for divorce no sooner than six months after you file the complaint unless the judge approves a request to shorten the waiting period.  

Property Division

Michigan is an equitable distribution state for the division of marital property and debts. This means that the court may award all or any part of the marital estate to either spouse based on what is just and reasonable, but the division doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly equal. Marital property is any property that you acquired during the marriage, such as your home, personal possessions, and your income. The judge's goal in dividing property is to divide property so that each spouse maintains some assets from the marriage.

Alimony

Michigan courts may order either spouse to pay alimony to the other. The alimony amount may also include an amount for attorney fees to complete the divorce. The amount should be sufficient so that the receiving spouse can maintain a home. The obligation to pay alimony ends when either party dies, or when the person receiving alimony remarries. Unless the court orders otherwise, you may request a change to the order if you or your spouse's circumstances change significantly.    

Child Support

Both parents are required to financially support their children until each child finishes high school or reaches age 19 and a half. In deciding an amount of child support, the court will use a state formula as a starting point, but may also consider extra expenses such as child care, health insurance, and education. All child support orders include an income withholding order, so the monthly amount is automatically deducted from the paying parent’s paycheck. You can calculate your  child support payment  here. To modify a child support order, a parent must show a substantial change in circumstances or demonstrate that the support order deviates from the established child support guidelines. In Michigan, the  Department of Human Services  enforces child support orders.    

Child Custody

Michigan courts encourage parents to share joint custody of their children. If parents can agree on a custody and visitation schedule, the court is likely to adopt the plan if it is in the child's best interest. If the parents cannot agree, the court will determine what is in the child's best interest based on factors such as the emotional ties between each parent and the child, each parent's ability to provide for the child's mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing, the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment, and the child's relationship to home, school, and community. A judge may also consider the parent's wishes and child's wishes if the child is old enough to express a preference. Courts will generally order a schedule that ensures that the child has frequent contact with both parents. An order for custody and visitation may be modified if circumstances change and the order is in the child's best interest.

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