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What You Need to Get a Divorce in Michigan

By Jeffrey M. Salassa

Michigan couple being viewed by a Clinton Township divorce attorney

Many people contemplating divorce spend a lot of time pondering whether or not it is the right decision for the family. Actually filing for divorce has a mark of finality that prevents many people from doing so even if it is clearly the best course of action, especially if children are involved. In fact, the number of people divorcing in Michigan has decreased by more than 20 percent since 2000. However, sometimes divorce is the right option if the marriage is broken and irretrievable. If you have decided that divorce is the right decision based on your family circumstances, it is important to have a basic understanding of the steps involved so you can best assist your attorney represent you in a divorce case. A brief overview of the divorce process in Michigan will follow below.


To file for divorce in Michigan, at least one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before submitting a divorce complaint. Further, one of the spouses must also have been a resident of the county in Michigan where the complaint was filed for at least 10 days prior to filing for divorce. An exception to the 10-day county residency requirement may be granted if all of the following are present:

  • The defendant, or the person receiving the divorce complaint, was born or holds citizenship in another country;
  • The parties share minor children; and
  • The court has credible information that indicates the minor children will be taken out of the United States and held by the defendant in another country.


Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, so the complainant only needs to allege that there is a complete breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that then bonds of matrimony have been destroyed and the remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved..

Responding to a Divorce Complaint

Once a person is served by a sheriff, deputy, or process server with a copy of the divorce complaint, he or she has 21 days to respond if he or she lives in Michigan or 28 days if he or she lives outside the state. If the person served with the divorce complaint fails to respond within the allotted time period, the party who filed the complaint can ask the court to issue what is known as a Default Judgment. Provided the Court sees no legal reason preventing same, a Default Judgment will grant the petitioner the relief requested in their Complaint relative to property division, child custody, child support and alimony. Thus, it is very important to act quickly if you are served with divorce papers.

Minimum Length of Time to Obtain Divorce Decree

Submitting a divorce complaint to a court does not automatically mean the marriage will be terminated. Michigan law requires at least 60 days between the time a party filed the complaint and the divorce hearing where the parties are permitted to present testimony and evidence demonstrating the breakdown of the marriage.

Contact a Michigan Divorce Lawyer

If you are contemplating divorce, it is best to work with an experienced divorce attorneys who can address any questions or concerns you have. Additionally, every divorce is unique and should receive the “case-by-case” approach an experienced divorce lawyer can provide. The law firm of Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., located in Clinton Township, has almost 50 years of experience in family law matters and can assist you with your case. Contact them to schedule a free consultation today.

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