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Michigan Divorce Law


Each state has its own set of laws covering divorce, alimony, property distribution, child support, child custody and more. Michigan divorce law is complex and can depend on the circumstances of the divorce. Speak with a local Michigan divorce attorney to understand Michigan divorce law.

For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Michigan's divorce laws:

Michigan State Laws

  • Fault/No-Fault: No-Fault
  • Property Distribution: Equitable
  • ADR Available: Yes
  • Parenting Plan Required: Yes

Michigan Grounds for Divorce

In Michigan, couples can file for divorce under no fault grounds. The Michigan divorce court will grant a no fault divorce if both spouses agree or one spouse alleges there has been a breakdown in the marriage to the point that the marriage has been destroyed. There should remain no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.

During the divorce process, the couple will need to follow the Michigan divorce waiting periods to further confirm that reconciliation isn't possible. The couple will also need to meet the Michigan residency requirement before filing for divorce.

Michigan Residency Requirements

Before a couple can file for divorce, one of the spouses must meet the state residency requirement for divorce. In Michigan, the divorce court will not grant a divorce unless either the petitioner or respondent has lived in the state for 180 days before filing the divorce petition. Typically, divorce is filed for in the county where the petition lives. Michigan requires either the petitioner or respondent to have lived in the county where the divorce petition is filed for 10 days.

Michigan Divorce Waiting Period

In divorce, most states set divorce waiting periods throughout the process to make sure reconciliation between the couple isn't possible. Michigan divorce law doesn't have a waiting period before a couple files for divorce. As long as the couple meets the Michigan residency requirement, a spouse can file at any time.

In Michigan, the waiting period after filing for divorce is 60 days. The Michigan divorce court may extend the waiting period to six months if a minor child is involved. Michigan divorce law doesn't require either spouse to recognize a remarriage waiting period once the divorce decree is finalized.

Michigan Property Division

Michigan is an equitable distribution state in property division during divorce. This means the Michigan divorce court divides property by what it considers to be fair, not necessarily what's equal. When the couple cannot reach a settlement on property distribution, the Michigan divorce court will:

  • Go through a discovery process to classify property and debt
  • Assign a monetary value of the marital property and debt
  • Distribute the marital assets between the two spouses

Michigan Alimony

In Michigan divorce, the divorce court may require either spouse to pay alimony. The Michigan divorce court will assign alimony, if it's considered necessary to conserve property owned by the spouses. Alimony may also be assigned if it's considered necessary to enable the receiving party to continue a certain standard of living. There may also be several factors influencing the amount of the alimony award. A Michigan divorce lawyer could explain how the circumstances of your divorce may affect Michigan alimony.

The Michigan divorce court can stop an alimony award if the receiving party remarries, unless there's a contrary agreement between the spouses that is specifically stated in the divorce settlement to continue the alimony payments.

Michigan Child Custody

In divorce, Michigan uses several child custody considerations to help determine child custody. When establishing child custody, the Michigan divorce court will consider what's in the best interest of the child, as well as the following factors:

  • Emotional ties between the parents and child
  • Parents' ability to give love and guidance
  • Ability of the parents to continue the child's education and religion
  • Capacity of the parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and other material needs
  • Length of time the child has lived in a stable environment and the desire to maintain
  • Permanence of the existing custodial home
  • Moral fitness and health of the parties involved
  • Child's home, school and community record
  • Willingness of one parent to encourage a close relationship between the child and other parent
  • Evidence of domestic violence
  • Other relevant factors

Michigan Grandparent Visitation

In divorce, there aren't laws that automatically grant visitation rights for grandparents. In Michigan a grandparent may petition the Michigan divorce court to seek child visitation in the following circumstances:

  • A divorce, separate maintenance or Michigan annulment involving the child's parents is before the court
  • The child's parents are divorce, separated or had the marriage annulled
  • One of the parents is deceased
  • The child was born out of wedlock and paternity has been established but the parents don't live together
  • Legal child custody of the child has been given to a person other than the parent or the child is placed outside - except when the child is adopted by anyone other than a stepparent

Michigan Child Support

During divorce, Michigan divorce courts use the income share model to determine child support. Michigan child support is calculated by estimating the amount of support the child would have received if the family had stayed together. This estimate is divided proportionally according to each parent's income.

The Michigan divorce courts use a child support worksheet and the estimated incomes, substantiated by past pay stubs or W2s to help with diving the child support payments between the parents. Either parent may be ordered to provide child support.

Michigan also uses a child support formula as a guideline for determining child support. The formula is considered correct, unless the divorce court is shown there is an unjust or inappropriate reason to use the formula in the case. If this is the case, the Michigan divorce court will consider many child support factors to determine child support.

Michigan Child Support Enforcement

To make sure Michigan child support is paid, the state has penalties to help with child support enforcement. To collect unpaid child support, Michigan may enforce a variety of penalties, which can include issuing a warrant for arrest, fines, or having an employer withhold income.

Please understand that this information is provided for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. With the help of a local divorce attorney, you can learn how Michigan divorce law may affect your divorce and get legal advice about the divorce process. Get in touch today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a Michigan divorce case review form.

Case Evaluation

The above synopsis of Michigan divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Michigan divorce lawyer in your area.

This "Michigan Divorce Laws" page was last updated May 2009.

Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.