Filing for Divorce in Michigan

Filing for Divorce in Michigan

Getting a Divorce in Michigan? Divorce Law Cheat Sheet for the State of Michigan

1. What are the residency requirements for filing for divorce in Michigan?

To file for a divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days before filing; in addition, you or your spouse must have lived in the county where you are filing for at least 10 days.

There is an exception to the 10-day rule: You can file for a divorce in any county in Michigan if your spouse was born in or is a citizen of another country, you have children together, and there is reason to believe your spouse might take your children out of the country.

If your spouse is not living in Michigan at the time that you file for divorce, you must prove to the court that you lived there as husband and wife, or that you have been a resident of the state for at least a year before filing.

2. Does Michigan have a waiting period?

Yes. The court will not hear your case until at least 60 days after you file. If you and your spouse have children younger than 18, the court will not take action until at least six months after you file, unless you can prove to the court that there is an urgent need to hear your case sooner. Even then, you will have to wait 60 days after filing.

3. Does the state have grounds for divorce?

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Michigan only has one no-fault ground for divorce. You must show that there has been a breakdown in your marriage, and that there is no reasonable hope it can be saved.

4. How does Michigan determine the division of property?

You and your spouse are encouraged to come up with a settlement on your own and present it to the court. If you can’t agree, the court will divide your property for you.

In doing so, the court will consider what is equitable, or fair. The court may award a piece of property to you or to your spouse; grant each of you ownership of a portion of a piece of property; or order you to sell a piece of property and divide the proceeds.

Vested pension, annuity or retirement benefits accrued while you were married become marital property. Unvested pension, annuity or retirement benefits accrued while you were married may become marital property, if the court decides that is fair.

If one of you contributed toward the improvement of the other’s property while you were married, that property may be considered marital property and divided between you.

5. Does Michigan require mediation before a divorce is granted?

No, mediation is not a requirement for a divorce in Michigan.

6. How does the state determine child custody?

Legal custody and physical custody are two different things. Legal custody outlines how involved each parent is in the major decisions of a child’s life  where a child goes to school, what faith he or she is raised in and other biggies.

Physical custody addresses where a child will live and with whom. Visitation is then negotiated based your physical custody arrangement.

If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement about custody, the court will consider what is in the best interest of your child. To determine what that is, the court will take into account:

  • The love, affection and other emotional ties your child shares with each of you.
  • You and your spouse’s abilities to give your child love, affection and guidance, continue his or her education and raise your child in his or her religion.
  • You and your spouse’s abilities to give your child food, clothing and medical care and fulfill other material needs.
  • How long your child has lived in a stable environment and whether it’s best to continue that situation.
  • The permanence of the family structure in the child’s current or proposed home.
  • You and your spouse’s moral fitness.
  • You and your spouse’s mental and physical health.
  • Your child’s history at home, in school and in the community.
  • Your child’s wishes, if the court decides he or she is old enough to have a preference.
  • You and your spouse’s willingness and abilities to encourage a close relationship between your child and the other parent.
  • Any evidence of domestic violence.
  • Any other factor the court decides is relevant.

Before granting joint custody, the court will further evaluate whether you and your spouse will be able to cooperate concerning important decisions affecting your child. If you and your spouse agree on joint custody, the court will award joint custody unless it determines that joint custody is not in the best interest of your child.Parenting time also is determined by what is in the best interest of your child. The court tries to structure parenting time in whatever way will promote a strong relationship between your child and each of you. If you and your spouse agree on parenting time terms, the court will order those parenting time terms, unless the court determines they are not in the best interest of your child””there is clear and convincing evidence that it would endanger your child’s physical, mental or emotional health.

The court will look at these factors specifically when weighing parenting time frequency, duration and type:

  • Any special needs your child might have.
  • If your child is younger than 1 and breastfeeding.
  • The likelihood of abuse or neglect of your child during parenting time.
  • The likelihood you or your spouse risk abuse with parenting time.
  • The effects on your child of traveling for parenting time.
  • Whether you and your spouse can be expected to exercise parenting time according to the court order.
  • Whether you or your spouse frequently failed to take advantage of parenting time.
  • Any threats by one parent to keep your child from the other.
  • Any other factors the court considers relevant.

A parenting time order may be very specific, if it helps maintain the peace between you and your spouse. It might include any of the following:

  • A division of the responsibility to transport your child.
  • A division of the cost of transporting your child.
  • Restrictions on the presence of outside people during parenting time.
  • Requirements that your child be ready for parenting time at a specific time.
  • Requirements that you or your spouse pick your child up at a specific time and return him or her at a specific time.
  • Requirements that parenting time take place in the presence of a third person or an agency.
  • Requirements that you or your spouse post a bond to assure compliance with a parenting time order.
  • Requirements of reasonable notice when parenting time will not occur.
  • Any other reasonable condition the court determines is appropriate in your case.

In Michigan, the court even spells out opportunities for grandparents to seek grandparenting time when you and your spouse are divorcing or are divorced. If the court finds that it is in the best interest of your child to enter a grandparenting time order, the court will enter an order for reasonable grandparenting time. In determining your child’s best interest in this case, the court will take into account the following:

  • The love, affection and other emotional ties between the grandparent and your child.
  • The length and quality of the prior relationship between your child and the grandparent, the role the grandparent held in his or her life, and the emotional ties between your child and the grandparent.
  • The grandparent’s moral fitness.
  • The grandparent’s mental and physical health.
  • Your child’s wishes, if the court thinks he or she is old enough to express a preference.
  • The effect on your child of any hostility between the grandparent and you or your spouse.
  • The willingness of the grandparent, except in the case of abuse or neglect, to encourage a close relationship between your child and you and your spouse.
  • Any history of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect of any child by the grandparent.
  • Whether you or your spouse’s decision to deny grandparenting time is related to your child’s well-being or is for some other unrelated reason.
  • Any other factor relevant to the physical and psychological well-being of your child.

7. How does the state calculate child support?

Child support in Michigan is awarded according to state guidelines. The state uses a formula that totals you and your spouse’s net incomes, compares that sum with a chart to find the basic support amount, then divides that support amount between you and your spouse based on each parent’s percentage of family income.

Health care coverage; ordinary and extraordinary health care expenses; and work-related child care expenses are divided between you and your spouse based on those same percentages, unless your physical custody arrangements differ from the standard.

The court may order child support past the age of 18 if your child is attending high school full time with the expectation of graduating.

8. How does the state determine and calculate alimony?

Alimony is not a standard part of a divorce, but you or your spouse may request it. The court will look at you and your spouse’s situations and that of your children. If, after considering your finances and the division of property, the court decides that one of you cannot support him- or herself, it will order the other to provide property or monetary support. In considering alimony, the court will consider you and your spouse’s characters and situations and all other circumstances in your case.

Alimony ends when the person receiving it remarries, unless an agreement specifies otherwise.

9. Is there a waiting period before remarriage in Michigan?

No, you are free to remarry after the court delivers the final judgment ending your marriage.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

The state statutes on divorce can be found here.

Michigan offers a child support calculator and manual online here.

The state’s parenting time guidelines also are online here.

Please note: Local and state laws change constantly, therefore this information is for educational purposes only. We do our best to keep state-specific information up-to-date, but please contact us to discuss your unique situation.

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