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Michigan Divorce Laws

If you file for divorce in Michigan, you should know your state’s divorce laws. Just as there are statutory restrictions on marriage, so too are there for divorce.

State laws establish specific requirements for divorce. For example, you must meet Michigan’s residency requirements before filing for divorce. According to Michigan divorce law, you must live in-state for at least 180 days to file a complaint for divorce.

Most states also have a waiting period you must abide by. Michigan has a waiting period. The general waiting period is 60 days, but if you have children the waiting period is six months.

Here, we’ll discuss the divorce laws in Michigan. We will also provide helpful resources you can access if you want further information on the divorce process in Michigan.

Michigan Only Offers a No-Fault Divorce

All states, including the State of Michigan, allow for a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means you do not need to prove that your spouse was at fault or did anything wrong. Instead, you must certify that there has been a breakdown of the marriage. This is a legal way of saying that you and your spouse do not get along and cannot repair the marriage.

Unlike most states, Michigan does not offer a fault-based divorce. There are no grounds for divorce other than the one described above.

It’s worth noting that Michigan offers other options, such as annulment or legal separation.

Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce

When you file your divorce papers, you must state whether you’re filing a contested or uncontested divorce. The divorce proceedings will go more smoothly and much quicker with an uncontested divorce.

In a contested divorce, the parties disagree on many divorce terms. For example, they may be unable to agree on custody arrangements or fight over the equitable distribution of marital assets.

In an uncontested divorce, the parties agree to most or all divorce terms. They may have already negotiated a marital settlement agreement. In these cases, the parties ask the judge to issue a final judgment of divorce so they can move on.

Michigan Custody Laws

If you and your spouse have kids, you must determine which parent will have legal and primary physical custody of your minor children. Parents often negotiate a parenting agreement outlining where the children will live. This agreement will also include a parenting plan.

Whichever parent has physical custody of the children will receive child support from the other parent. The family court determines child support in Michigan based on the state’s child support guidelines. The judge will also consider the parenting time of each party when setting the amount of child support.

You and your spouse can agree on a different amount, but the judge has the right to reject your plan. Their primary concern is the best interests of the child. If one party isn’t paying sufficient support, they will calculate child support using the support guidelines.

Alimony and Spousal Support in Michigan

Aside from child custody, alimony is one of the most complex issues to negotiate. There is no guarantee that you’ll receive spousal support. If you and your spouse can't agree on alimony, the judge will determine whether the lower-earning spouse should receive spousal support.

In making this determination, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Duration of the marriage
  • Parties’ ability to work
  • The health of each party
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Whether one party supported the other during the marriage
  • Ability to pay spousal support
  • Needs of each party
  • Ages of each party
  • Education

The judge considers the totality of the circumstances before making their decision.

Property Division - Marital Property

Another issue in most divorce cases is the division of property. The court must divide the assets you and your spouse acquired during the marriage. This process is equitable distribution. The court will determine which assets and liabilities the parties will share.

Once you either negotiate these issues or have the judge rule, the judge will issue a court order. This court order is enforceable like any other court order. If your ex-spouse tries to sell or destroy marital assets, your divorce lawyer will notify the family law judge. The judge will then enforce the court order through its ability to hold the violating party in contempt and award damages.

Michigan Divorce Laws

The following table and links will help you better understand Michigan's divorce laws and divorce in general.

Michigan Divorce Code Section

§ 552.1 et seq. of the Michigan Compiled Laws

Residency Requirements

One party must have resided in Michigan for 180 days before filing and one party must have resided in the county where the complaint is filed for 10 days immediately preceding filing except in certain situations

Waiting Period

  • 60 days if the parties do not have children

  • Six months if the parties have children

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

Irretrievable breakdown

Defenses to a Divorce Filing

None, except that the responding spouse may not agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken

Other Grounds for Divorce


Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, higher court rulings, ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information, consult an attorney or conduct legal research to verify your state’s laws.

Need Help With a Michigan Divorce? Contact an Attorney

Navigating the divorce process is difficult and can be both an emotional and legal drain. If you have children together, the process is even more complicated. You may find that speaking with a legal professional about your case can make things easier.

If you have any questions or concerns about your divorce, consider getting in touch with a Michigan divorce attorney.

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