If you're getting a divorce in Michigan, you'll need to know how the process works. You'll find answers to commonly asked questions about divorce in Michigan below. For all of our articles on Michigan divorce, see our Michigan Divorce and Family Law page.
How long does it take to get divorced in Michigan?
If there are no children involved, a divorce may be granted in 60 days. When children are involved, a divorce cannot be granted until six months have passed. However, these are minimum waiting periods; depending on the circumstances, a particular divorce case could take far longer.
Are there residency requirements to file for divorce?
Yes. Michigan law requires that the person filing the divorce petition must have been a state resident for at least 180 days immediately before filing. He or she must also have been a resident of the county in which the petition is filed for at least ten days, unless there's a risk of the other parent taking the children out of the U.S. and to another country of which the parent is a citizen or native.
What are the grounds for divorce in Michigan?
Michigan is a no-fault state. The only ground for divorce in Michigan is that there has been a "breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved." The court has the power to terminate the relationship between the parties regardless of who did what to whom. Fault does play a role however, in the court's determination of child custody, property rights and spousal support.
What if my spouse lives in another state?
No problem. Michigan's "long-arm" statute gives effect to service of the divorce papers even when served out of state. The out of state spouse is simply given a bit more time to respond to the Summons and Complaint.
Is there a trial in every case?
No. Most divorce cases settle out of court. There are many reasons for this. Cost is a factor. Mediation is often successful in bringing the parties to an agreement. And almost no one wants their future, the future of their children, and their property rights determined by a third party. It's far better for many couples to reach an agreement both can live with, whether through direct negotiations, mediation, or settlement discussions through their lawyers.
Before you decide you want a trial, go to the courthouse and watch how your divorce judge handles a divorce case. For most people, this is enough to convince them to return to the negotiating table and keep their case out of court.
Do I have a right to a jury trial?
No. Cases are heard by judges only, in specialized family law courts.
Do I need a lawyer to get a divorce in Michigan?
It depends on your situation. Some couples are able to handle their own divorces without involving attorneys, especially if they have no children. However, if your case involves a lot of property, you should hire a lawyer. Similarly, if you and your spouse cannot agree on issues like parenting and support, you should have a lawyer. Even if your case is relatively straightforward, it makes sense to consult with a lawyer, learn your rights, and make sure you are making the best decisions for your future.