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How to File for Divorce in Michigan

Law Office of Blake P. Lipman Jan. 23, 2024

Agreement prepared by lawyer signing decree of divorceGoing through a divorce is never a walk in the park. It's a period filled with emotional turmoil, stressful decisions, and life-changing choices. You might feel lost, overwhelmed, and unsure of the next steps to take. But remember, you are not alone in this journey. 

Attorney Blake P. Lipman and his dedicated team at the Law Office of Blake P. Lipman are here to guide you through every step of the divorce process. Based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, they serve clients in the Detroit Metropolitan Area and the Tri-County Area, including Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb. With a wealth of experience in family law, Attorney Blake P. Lipman is committed to providing empathetic support and dependable legal guidance to help you navigate this challenging time. 

Understanding Michigan's Residency Requirements for Divorce 

Before initiating the divorce process, it's crucial to understand the residency requirements in Michigan. You or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days before filing for divorce. Moreover, one spouse should have resided in the county where the complaint is to be filed for at least 10 days. There are exceptions to these rules in certain circumstances, such as when there's a risk of a spouse taking a minor child out of the United States. Attorney Lipman can provide more clarity on these requirements based on your specific situation. 

Knowing the Grounds for Divorce in Michigan 

Michigan operates under a "no-fault" divorce system. This means that you don't need to prove any misconduct or fault on the part of your spouse to file for divorce. The only ground for divorce recognized by Michigan courts is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. In other words, the marriage is beyond repair, and there's no reasonable chance of reconciliation. 

Uncontested Divorce vs. Contested Divorce 

In divorce law, it's important to understand the distinction between uncontested and contested divorces. This knowledge can help you navigate your situation more effectively. 

An uncontested divorce is characterized by: 

  • Mutual Agreement: Both spouses agree on all divorce-related matters such as division of property, child custody, and alimony. 

  • Speed: Given that there are no disputes to resolve, these cases typically move through the legal system faster. 

  • Lower Costs: With less legal wrangling, the cost of an uncontested divorce can be significantly lower than a contested one. 

  • Privacy: Details of the divorce agreement aren't made public, providing a level of privacy that contested divorces do not offer. 

  • Less Stress: An uncontested divorce can be less emotionally draining as it avoids drawn-out court battles. 

On the other hand, a contested divorce is defined by: 

  • Disagreement: Spouses disagree on at least one topic related to the divorce. This could include property distribution, child custody, or alimony. 

  • Court Intervention: Because of these disagreements, the court must intervene to decide on the issues in the divorce. 

  • Time-Consuming: The process can be lengthy due to negotiations, discovery, and court hearings. 

  • Higher Costs: Given the complexity and length of the process, contested divorces can be more expensive. 

  • Public Record: Unlike uncontested divorces, the details of a contested divorce are part of the public record. 

Attorney Blake P. Lipman and his team at the Law Office of Blake P. Lipman in Farmington Hills, Michigan, can provide guidance on whether an uncontested or contested divorce is suitable for your situation.  

Filing for Divorce in Michigan 

When filing for divorce in Michigan, there are several key steps to follow. Here's a simplified breakdown of the process: 

  • Check Residency Requirements: Before initiating the process, ensure that either you or your spouse has lived in Michigan for at least 180 days. This residency requirement is mandatory for filing for divorce in the state. 

  • Prepare the Necessary Documents: The next step is to prepare and file the necessary divorce papers. These typically include a Summons and Complaint for Divorce, which must be filed in the family division of the circuit court in the county where either spouse resides. 

  • Pay the Filing Fee: As of 2024, the filing fee for a divorce in Michigan is $175. Additional fees may apply if the case involves child custody or child support issues. Low-income individuals may qualify for reduced-fee or free legal aid services. 

  • Serve the Divorce Papers: Once the divorce papers are filed, they must be served to the other spouse. This can be done by having the spouse agree to accept them or by arranging for someone else to deliver them. 

  • Wait for the Mandatory Waiting Period: There is a mandatory waiting period of 60 days before the final divorce hearing. If minor children are involved, this period may be extended to six months. 

  • Attend the Hearing: If the divorce is uncontested, it can be finalized on the same day as the hearing. However, contested divorces can take longer, potentially up to a year or more. 

Understanding Filing Fees and Fee Waivers 

Filing for divorce comes with certain fees. As of 2024, the filing fee for a divorce in Michigan is $175. If the divorce involves minor children, additional fees may apply. Fees may vary based on county as well. If you're unable to afford these fees, you can request a fee waiver from the court. Attorney Lipman can provide guidance on how to navigate these financial aspects of the divorce process. 

Waiting Period and Final Divorce 

Michigan law mandates a waiting period of 60 days from the filing date before a divorce can be finalized. If minor children are involved, this period extends to six months. However, under certain circumstances, you may request a waiver of the extended waiting period. The duration it takes to get a final divorce judgment can vary based on the complexity of the case and the court's schedule. 

Divorce Mediation 

For couples willing to work together, divorce mediation can be a less contentious and potentially less expensive alternative to a contested divorce. A neutral third party, the mediator, facilitates communication and negotiation between the spouses. This process gives you more control over the outcome of your divorce. 

Seeking Legal Assistance 

Filing for divorce in Michigan can be a complex and emotionally draining process. But you don't have to go through it alone. Attorney Blake P. Lipman and his dedicated team are committed to providing compassionate support and effective legal representation. They understand the difficulties individuals face during this time and are ready to guide you every step of the way. Trust the Law Office of Blake P. Lipman to help you through this challenging journey toward a brighter future.