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The following is a brief description of a divorce case. There is no specific information available in this Self-Help Center to aid you with the entire legal process in a divorce case.  Online help is available from Michigan Legal Help to prepare forms through an automated interview process and to provide toolkits with legal articles, FAQs, procedure, and other resources for some divorce cases.  Because of the complexity of most divorce cases where children and property are involved, it may be advisable to contact an attorney.

At the conclusion of a divorce case, the judge enters an order dissolving the marriage. Some of the issues the judge must decide are custody of any children, including parenting time and child support; spousal support (formerly known as alimony); and division of property. For information about the law, see the Divorce Act.


Filing a Divorce Case Generally

If you are starting the divorce action, you are called the plaintiff and your spouse is the defendant. The plaintiff must file a complaint asking the court to grant a divorce. There is a filing fee for this action. The filing fee may be more if there are children of the marriage who are under the age of 18.


The family division of circuit court handles all divorce cases in Michigan. If you want to file for a divorce, one of the parties must have lived in Michigan for at least 180 days, and in the county where the case will be filed for at least 10 days before filing.


Processing Divorce Cases Generally

Most divorce cases are processed in the same manner. A complaint must be filed, fees must be paid, a summons must be issued, the parties must be served notice of the complaint, hearings must be scheduled and noticed, answers must be given, and hearings must be attended. The end result of the case will be entry of a judgment of divorce. General information about court forms, fees, service, hearings, finding legal information, and how the courts operate can be found under the link for general information to the left.


Minimum Requirements for Entry of a Divorce Judgment

In Michigan, a divorce can be granted even if one of the parties does not want the divorce.
If there are no minor children (children under the age of 18), there is a 60-day waiting period before a divorce can be granted.
In cases where there are minor children, the waiting period is generally six months. In these cases, the divorce judgment will address child custody, support, and parenting time. These cases may be referred to the friend of the court office for evaluation and recommendations regarding child support, custody, and parenting time.  See more details from the links on the left.

Before a divorce is granted, the court must find that there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the parties cannot live together as husband and wife. At least one of the parties must appear in court to show that this breakdown exists.


A divorce judgment can be changed if necessary. See details for changing a support order, parenting time order, or custody order from the links on the left.