There are fewer experiences more challenging and stressful in life than a divorce. According to the 2014-2018 Community Survey, the overall divorce rate in Michigan is 9.0%, while the US divorce rate is 10.9%. Throw into the mix the custodial disputes, assets, and abuse, it becomes a complex emotional challenge for any individual. If you are wondering how to file for divorce in Michigan, here is what you need to know.

What Is Needed to Initiate Divorce Proceedings?

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This means there is no proof of wrongdoing or infidelity necessary to initiate divorce proceedings. One spouse needs to testify that there has been an irreconcilable breakdown in the marriage and there is no likelihood that this can be preserved to start divorce proceedings. While fault is not required to start the divorce proceedings, there is a myriad of considerations of the division of assets, settlements, and judgments relating to the personal circumstances. These are often attributed to behaviors such as blame or guilt. Therefore, consulting an attorney will ensure you both have the best outcome possible.


What Are the Requirements to File for Divorce?

While there is no need for proving wrongdoing to start divorce proceedings, there are three main legal requirements that need fulfilling:

  • Spouses must have been together and lived in the state of Michigan for at least six months.
  • The filing for divorce needs to take place in the local county circuit court where both parties reside.
  • One spouse or both must testify according to the Michigan divorce statute 552.6, 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.”

Once the initial divorce proceedings have been completed, the other spouse is served with the Summons and Complaint, as well as any additional documents filed with the court during the initial initiation, which is also known as being “served.”


Choosing the Right Type of Divorce

If you are wondering how to file for divorce in Michigan, you may consider the type of divorce that is best for you and your spouse. The types of divorce consist of:

Do-it-yourself divorce

This is where you don’t hire any professionals and attempt to resolve all your differences with your spouse. 

Online divorce

Using an online divorce platform can help you complete the forms while getting educated on the key legal issues in the process.


If you and your spouse can’t agree on the type of divorce for you both, litigation is the best approach. Litigation is an attorney-driven process, and the majority of cases usually settle before going to trial.


You and your spouse have a neutral professional, such as an attorney, to facilitate agreement. This can be beneficial as they help you brainstorm options, understand perspectives, and help make compromises to reach a resolution that you are both happy with.

Collaborative divorce

This is a structured process that takes a team of collaborative lawyers, a divorce coach, and a neutral financial specialist to remove the threat of litigation. The bottom line of this process is that everyone commits to not go to court.


Other Issues to Consider

If you are looking to file for divorce in Michigan it’s not always so straightforward. There can be other issues that you will have to determine at the same time. A prime example is children and child custody or child support orders. In addition to this, property or debt obtained during the marriage needs resolving during the divorce. You might also seek spousal support also known as alimony. While it is possible to work this out through mediation, a divorce issue can be decided by a judge, which takes it out of your hands. However, if you are unable to come to an agreement, this may be the best course of action, but the judge can also order mediation as part of the process.


What Happens With Contested Divorces?

There will be times when a divorce agreement cannot be reached between the two parties and goes to trial as a result. When this happens, both parties have their cases represented by legal counsel before a family court judge. The judge decides the best arrangement based on the evidence provided by each spouse. 


How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in Michigan?

The process depends on the nature of the divorce. For example, if the divorce goes uncontested, it can be granted in Michigan in as little as 60 days. But this is only if no children are involved. When children are part of the divorce proceedings, a divorce cannot be finalized until 6 months have passed. It’s also important to bear in mind that there will be potential delays due to disagreements or forms being filed incorrectly. 

If the divorce is contested or there are a multitude of negotiations taking place with regards to child support, alimony, custody, and dividing the assets, this will increase the time frame. While the duration depends on the individual circumstances, a divorce with high assets can take as long as 1 to 2 years, or potentially longer.


What Are Divorce Decrees and Divorce Certificates?

After going through the divorce process, a divorce decree is a legal document establishing proof that the divorce is final in the state of Michigan. Signed by a county clerk and a judge, this is a formal end to a marriage. It summarizes the responsibilities and rights of every party including the division of assets, child custody, and similar issues. If either party does not meet the requirements of the decree, the other party can take legal action. 

A divorce certificate is similar to a decree but holds less information. It usually names both spouses and the place and date of the divorce. This is proof that a couple is not married and can be used to instigate a name change on specific documents, such as a driving license or as proof that an individual is not married if they are seeking a marriage license. Divorce certificates are not available until at least 90 days after a divorce.



The divorce process can be long and complex. But this is why it is important to have legal counsel to help you every step of the way. If you trying to start the process for your own divorce, please reach out to us today.