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Michigan Divorce Laws

The state of Michigan has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.

We are providing this online divorce information to you as an easy divorce reference guide to help you while you are doing your own divorce.

Residency Requirements: In order to file for a divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:

A judgment of divorce shall not be granted by a court in this state in an action for divorce unless the complainant or defendant has resided in this state for 180 days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint, the complainant or defendant has resided in the county in which the complaint is filed for 10 days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint.

The divorce is typically filed with in county in which the filing spouse lives. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.9)

No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Michigan the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:

A complaint for divorce may be filed in the circuit court upon the allegation 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. In the complaint the plaintiff shall make no other explanation of the grounds for divorce than by the use of the statutory language. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.6)

Filing Party Name: The Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Complaint for Divorce with the county court.

Non-Filing Party Name: The Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.

Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: State of Michigan, __________ Judicial Circuit, __________ County. All divorce cases in the state of Michigan are facilitated through this court for that particular county.

Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Michigan clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: Office of the Clerk of the County Circuit Court.

Property and Debt Division: Michigan is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.

The circuit court of this state may include in any decree of divorce or of separate maintenance entered in the circuit court appropriate provisions awarding to a party all or a portion of the property, either real or personal, owned by his or her spouse, as appears to the court to be equitable under all the circumstances of the case, if it appears from the evidence in the case that the party contributed to the acquisition, improvement, or accumulation of the property. The decree, upon becoming final, shall have the same force and effect as a quitclaim deed of the real estate, if any, or a bill of sale of the personal property, if any, given by the party's spouse to the party. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.19, 552.101 and 552.401)

Changing Name: The circuit courts of this state, whenever a decree of divorce is granted, may, at the instance of the woman, whether complainant or defendant, decree to restore to her her birth name, or the surname she legally bore prior to her marriage to the husband in the divorce action, or allow her to adopt another surname if the change is not sought with any fraudulent or evil intent. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.391)

Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.

Upon entry of a judgment of divorce or separate maintenance, if the estate and effects awarded to either party are insufficient for the suitable support and maintenance of either party and any children of the marriage as are committed to the care and custody of either party, the court may further award to either party the part of the real and personal estate of either party and spousal support out of the real and personal estate, to be paid to either party in gross or otherwise as the court considers just and reasonable, after considering the ability of either party to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances of the case. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.13, 552.23 and 552.452)

Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Michigan courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.

The following factors to be considered, evaluated, and used by the court to determine what is in the "best interests" of the children when establishing a child custody order: (1) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child. (2) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any. (3) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs. (4) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity. (5) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes. (6) The moral fitness of the parties involved. (7) The mental and physical health of the parties involved. (8) The home, school, and community record of the child. (9) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference. (10) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents. (11) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child. (l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.16 and 722.23)

Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Michigan child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.

A formula is used in establishing and modifying a child support amount and health care obligation. The formula is based upon the needs of the child and the actual resources of each parent. The formula establishes a minimum threshold for modification of a child support amount. The formula considers the child care and dependent health care coverage costs of each parent. The formula includes guidelines for setting and administratively adjusting the amount of periodic payments for overdue support, including guidelines for adjustment of arrearage payment schedules when the current support obligation for a child terminates and the payer owes overdue support.

A child support order shall provide that payment shall be made to the friend of the court or the state disbursement unit. If the parent complained of opposes the entry of the order upon the ground that he or she is without sufficient financial ability to provide necessary shelter, food, care, clothing, and other support for his or her child or children, the burden of proving this lack of ability is on the parent against whom the complaint is made. (Michigan Compiled Laws - Section: 552.15. 552.16, 552.452)

Copyright Notice: These Michigan divorce laws above are copyrighted by 3 Step Solutions, LLC. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.

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