What are the requirements for filing for divorce in Michigan?

Understanding Divorce Requirements in Michigan

Divorce, the legal dissolution of a marriage, is a process governed by state law. In Michigan, as in other states, there are specific requirements that must be met before a court will grant a divorce. If you're considering filing for divorce in Michigan, it's important to understand these prerequisites to ensure your proceedings go as smoothly as possible.

Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in Michigan, one of the spouses must have been a resident of the state for at least 180 days immediately preceding the filing. Additionally, the person filing must have resided in the county where the divorce is filed for at least ten days prior to filing, unless there is a risk of the other spouse taking children out of state.

No-Fault Divorce State

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means that the only ground required for a divorce is an 'irretrievable breakdown' of the marriage. This negates the need to prove fault such as adultery or cruelty. The statement that there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved is sufficient.

Filing and Documentation

The primary document for initiating a divorce is the 'Complaint for Divorce,' which must be filed in the circuit court of the county where either party resides. The complaint should include all relevant information including names, dates, and details regarding children if applicable. Upon filing, the complaint must be served to the other spouse, providing them notice of the legal action.

Waiting Periods and Temporary Orders

After filing for divorce, there is a statutory waiting period before a divorce can be finalized. This period is 60 days if there are no minor children involved, and 180 days if there are minor children. However, in certain circumstances, this period may be shortened. During this time, the court may issue temporary orders regarding child custody, support, or use of marital property.

Division of Property and Debt

In Michigan, marital property and debt are divided according to principles of equitable distribution. This means that property acquired during the marriage will be divided fairly but not necessarily equally between both parties. Factors such as length of marriage, contributions to marital assets, and each party's economic circumstances are considered.

Child Custody and Support

When minor children are involved in a divorce, decisions about custody and support become paramount. Michigan courts focus on the best interests of children when determining custody arrangements. Both child support and spousal support (alimony) are determined based on specific guidelines that take into account income and needs of the parties involved.


Filing for divorce in Michigan requires careful attention to residency requirements, proper documentation submission, understanding of property division laws, and adherence to child custody guidelines if applicable. It's advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law to help navigate these complexities and advocate on your behalf throughout the process.