Michigan Divorce & Separation
UPDATED: June 19, 2018
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Like every other state in the U.S., Michigan has its own laws and rules governing the process of divorce. Peruse this page if you are interested in finding out what the requirements are for getting a Michigan divorce and/or legal separation; whether or not mediation will be required for your Michigan divorce; what the rules are for annulments in Michigan; and other answers to your questions regarding Michigan divorces.
Michigan Legal Separation:
In Michigan, a party may bring an action for separate maintenance (in their local Circuit Court) on the same grounds as an action for divorce, but it will only be granted if the other party does not submit a claim for divorce. In that event, the case is heard as a divorce case. Separate maintenance in Michigan does not make you single - only a divorce ends a marriage. For more information about the differences between divorce, separation and annulment, see Ending a Marriage or Taking a Break.
Grounds for Divorce/Fault - No Fault:
Michigan is a no-fault state. For more information about what that means, see The Divorce Process: From Separation to Final Judgment. Your complaint for divorce should use the statutory language 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." You should not list any other grounds or reasons for wanting a divorce in the document you file with the court, which is called a Complaint for Divorce and Judgment of Divorce. You file this with your local Circuit Court. Once the judge approves your divorce, you will become an unmarried person again.
Residency/Where to File for Divorce:
One of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of the state for 180 days and a resident of the county in which the petition is filed for 10 days preceding the filing. The 10-day requirement is waived and the complaint may be filed in any county if the defendant was born in another country, there are children involved, and there is evidence supporting a belief that the children may be taken out of the country by the defendant. The Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court will be managing your paperwork with the court.
Availability of Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures:
A procedure for uncontested divorce is available in Michigan if there are no children of the marriage under the age of 18 and the parties can agree on all other issues arising from the marriage, such as property division and spousal support. An uncontested divorce has a shorter waiting period of 60 days. (See Residency/Where to File, above).
Michigan Online Divorce Services:
Divorce Mediation in Michigan:
Mediation is an option that many divorcing couples choose when working out the specific terms of their settlement agreement. It's less expensive than hiring two lawyers, and perhaps more importantly for the long run, it can keep the parties from becoming adversaries. In Michigan, the court will make mediation available to parents who can't agree about custody or visitation issues, but no one will be required to meet with the mediators.
An annulment is when a court declares your marriage legally invalid. In other words, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, an annulment is a declaration that the marriage was never valid to begin with. A marriage can be annulled due to many factors, including bigamy; venereal disease, sterility, or impotence; mental incompetence; fraud; or a marriage entered into as a joke.
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