The Michigan Divorce Process in a Nutshell

Michigan is considered a no-fault divorce state. Basically, this means you do not have to give the court a reason for no longer wanting to be married. Whether your spouse is abusive or just refuses to pick up dirty socks, it doesn’t matter. It also doesn’t matter if you don’t want the divorce but your spouse does. If your spouse files for divorce and will not try to reconcile, the divorce will go through. It’s then time to face the facts and prepare to move on.

Fault is however one of several factors the court considers when dividing marital property, determining spousal support and analyzing the Best Interest Factors for child custody. Child support is calculated based on the income of the parties using a standardized state-wide formula.

The divorce process starts with the filing of a document called a “complaint for divorce” in the Circuit Court of the county where a person resides. The filing party is called the “Plaintiff.” It’s a common misconception that the person that files first has a great advantage over the other party. Generally, it does not matter.

Before filing for a divorce in Michigan, a person must be a resident of the state for at least 180 days and also a resident of the county for at least 10 days prior to filing the complaint.

For parties without minor children, the divorce can be final in 60 days. If minor children are involved, the court can not enter a judgment of divorce until six months has passed. The countdown starts when the complaint is filed.

Each Circuit Court varies on how judges are assigned and court dates established. Most judges will issue a case scheduling order that lists important deadlines for gathering and exchanging information between parties.

In Jackson County, the court requires that parents of minor children attend a two-hour program at the Friend of the Court called the SMILE program. This program explains to parents what their children may be going through and how to focus on what the children need.

Between the time of filing the complaint and the trial date, the parties try to negotiate a settlement which divides the parties’ assets and debts. Custody, parenting time and child support for the minor children is also determined. If the parties can not reach an agreement, the matter will proceed to trial and the judge will decide. The parties’ agreement or the judge’s ruling is memorialized in a Judgment of Divorce. The divorce is not final until the judge signs the Judgment of Divorce.

This publication is for general information only and is not intended as formal legal advice. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Curtis & Curtis, P.C.

Curtis & Curtis, P.C. is a full service law firm located in Jackson, Michigan providing superior legal services and advice to individuals, families and businesses throughout mid-Michigan since 1901.

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