Michigan is a purely no-fault divorce state, meaning that there is no need to prove grounds (like adultery or impotence) in order to get a divorce. One must simply state that the marriage has been broken down to the extent that all the objects of matrimony have been destroyed. However, be aware that classic “fault grounds” can play a role in the court’s decision on child custody, property rights and spousal support. In the state of Michigan a divorce can be granted even if one of the parties does not want the divorce to occur. There is no need to be separated in order to get a divorce, in fact, couples can still live under the same roof, just not as husband and wife.

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Residency Requirements

The residency requirements of Michigan dictate that:

  • At least one of the spouses must have lived in Michigan for at least 6 months
  • The person seeking the divorce (the plaintiff) must file in the county in which he/she, or his/her spouse (the defendant), has lived in for the last 10 days.

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The plaintiff must pay a filing fee, and file a complaint within the family division of the circuit court asking to be granted a divorce from the defendant. Within the complaint, the plaintiff must identify the parties involved, and describe his or her grievances and how he or she is seeking remedy. After the filing, the court then issues a summons, and a copy of the complaint and the summons is served on the defendant, who then has 21 days to respond by filing an answer in the same circuit court. If the plaintiff fails to file an answer or responsive plea, than the court may enter a default judgment and rule in favor of the plaintiff.

If the parties have reached an agreement and they do not desire to proceed with a lengthy trial, they can use RocketLawyer’s easy interview process to complete a Divorce Settlement Agreement outlining the division of property, assets, debts and liabilities and settling matters of child support, custody and visitation.

Discovery and Pretrial Procedures

In the discovery phase of the divorce, there are various procedures that allow both parties access to the relevant information within their lawsuit. During this phase each party along with their attorneys will gather information regarding the marriage through interrogations, depositions and subpoenas. The goal with this phase is to get all the information about the couple’s marriage out into the open; things like debt, assets, and net worth are examined to help understand reasonable alimony claims and property divisions.

After the discovery phase has finished, the pre-trial procedures begin. These procedures include various meetings, evaluations and conferences. All of these exist to attempt to settle the divorce before going to trail.

Trial

In the state of Michigan a trial can occur before a judge, or before a jury. If a party wants a jury trial, the demand for a jury must be filed within a certain time frame, and a fee must also be paid. There are also a number of other procedures that must occur to handle things like selecting, impaneling and informing the jury of their responsibilities within the case.

The trial continues relatively the same with or without a jury. At the onset, each party explains the nature of the case, their evidence and the facts they hope to prove. Then each party presents their case, calls their witnesses and provides their evidence. After each party has had the opportunity to cross-examine the other’s witnesses and evidence, each party makes a final conclusion. After this the trial has ended, and the judge or jury will have to arrive at a verdict.

Verdict and Settlement

Once a settlement is reached, the verdict (or default if the defendant never answered the complaint) is entered. A judgment is prepared (usually by the prevailing party) and entered by the court. It might be necessary to hold a hearing to enter the order. To be complete and effective the judgment must be signed and dated by a judge; it must also be filed with the clerk of the court. 

After the verdict there is some time for the post-judgment procedures. During this time both parties have the chance to enforce a judgment or to appeal that judgment. This is also the time to assess the cost associated with the case. The case ends officially once both parties agree on the terms.

A Note about Forms

Unfortunately there are no forms available online other than the Divorce Settlement Agreement using Rocket Lawyer’s easy interview process. You should visit the Circuit Court in your or your spouse’s county of residence to attain the rest of the necessary forms. If you would like more help, you can also use Rocket Lawyer to Find a Lawyer who's right for you.

Get started Visit our Divorce Center Get divorce documents and ask a lawyer your questions.

Get started Visit our Divorce Center Get divorce documents and ask a lawyer your questions.