Divorce in Michigan: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated March 22, 2024by Unbiased team

Learn more about the process and costs associated with going through a divorce in the state of Michigan.

Summary

  • Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don’t have to prove your spouse did something wrong to end the marriage.

  • The median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, but this can vary hugely depending on your situation.  

  • To file for divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days and in the county where you file for at least 10 days.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

What are the different types of divorce in Michigan?

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means that you do not have to prove that your spouse did something wrong to end the marriage.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your

You only have to state that the marriage has broken down and there is no reasonable chance of reconciliation.

Additionally, a divorce in Michigan can be either uncontested or contested.

An uncontested divorce means that both spouses agree on all the terms of the divorce, such as custody, support, property division, and alimony. It is also usually faster, cheaper, and less stressful than a contested divorce.

A contested divorce means that the spouses disagree on some or all of the terms of the divorce, and they need the court to resolve their disputes. It can be lengthy, expensive, and contentious.

How much does a divorce cost in Michigan?

According to USA Today, the average cost of a divorce in Michigan is around $12,900 for cases without children and approximately $19,400 for divorces involving children. 

The cost of a divorce in Michigan varies depending on the type and complexity of the divorce, as well as the fees of the court and the attorneys.

The cost of filing for divorce is between $175 and $255, depending on your county

Attorney fees depend on the attorney's experience and reputation, as well as the amount of work and time they spend on your case.

The average hourly rate for a divorce attorney in Michigan is $250, but it can range from $100 to $500 or more.

A simple, uncontested divorce may cost you a few thousand dollars, while a complex, contested divorce may cost you tens of thousands of dollars or more.

The total cost of a divorce in Michigan also depends on other factors, such as:

  • The value and division of your marital property

  • The amount and duration of alimony

  • The number and needs of your children

  • The level of cooperation and conflict between you and your spouse

The more you can agree on the terms of the divorce, the less you will have to spend on court hearings, mediation, discovery, and litigation.

How do you file for divorce in Michigan?

To file for divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days and in the county where you file for at least 10 days.

You must also file the appropriate paperwork with the court, pay the filing fees, and serve the papers on your spouse. The paperwork you need to file depends on the type of divorce you are seeking.

For an uncontested divorce, you need to file:

  • A complaint that states the grounds for divorce and the relief you are seeking, such as custody, support, property division, and alimony

  • A judgment of divorce is a proposed order that reflects the terms of the divorce

  • A verified statement that lists your income, expenses, assets, and debts

  • A uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act affidavit, which provides information about your children and their residence history (if you have minor children)

For a contested divorce, you need to file:

  • A complaint and a summons, which notifies your spouse that you are suing for divorce and gives them 21 days to respond

  • An answer or a counterclaim that agrees or disagrees with the allegations in the complaint and makes your own allegations and requests (if your spouse responds)

  • A verified statement and a uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act affidavit (if applicable)

Your spouse has 21 days to respond to the papers, either by filing an answer or a counterclaim.

If your spouse does not respond, you may request a default judgment, which grants you the divorce based on your terms.

How do you split assets in a divorce in Michigan?

Michigan is an equitable distribution state, which means that the court will divide the marital property fairly and reasonably, but not necessarily in a 50/50 split.

The court will consider various factors, such as:

  • The length of the marriage

  • The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or improvement of the property

  • The income and earning potential of each spouse

  • The age and health of each spouse

  • The needs and circumstances of each spouse

  • The conduct of each spouse during the marriage

Marital property includes all the assets and debts that were acquired or incurred during the marriage, regardless of whose name they are in. This may consist of real estate, personal property, and financial assets such as retirement accounts and investments.

To split the assets in a divorce in Michigan, you and your spouse can either:

  • Agree on how to divide the property and submit a property settlement agreement to the court for approval

  • Disagree on how to divide the property, and let the court decide for you after a trial or a hearing

How does alimony work in Michigan?

Alimony is not automatic in Michigan, and the court has considerable discretion in deciding whether to award it, how much to award, and for how long.

The court will consider various factors, such as:

  • The ability of each spouse to pay for and support themselves

  • The past relations and conduct of each spouse

  • The length of the marriage

  • The age and health of each spouse

  • The needs and circumstances of each spouse

  • The education and training of each spouse

  • The property and income of each spouse

Alimony can be either temporary or permanent.

Temporary alimony is granted during the divorce process to help the lower-earning spouse with their living expenses until the divorce is final.

Permanent alimony is granted after the divorce is final, and it can last for a fixed period or indefinitely, depending on the circumstances.

Courts can also award a lump sum payment to a spouse following a divorce.

What happens to children during a divorce in Michigan?

Children are often the most affected by a divorce, and the court will always try to protect their best interests and welfare.

The court will decide on two main issues regarding the children: custody and support.

  • Child Custody: Custody entails the legal and physical rights and responsibilities of parents towards their children. Legal custody grants the authority to make significant decisions for the children, such as those concerning education, healthcare, religion, and extracurricular activities. Physical custody denotes the right for children to reside with a parent. Custody arrangements may be joint or sole, determined by the court based on the children's best interests.

  • Child Support: Support refers to the financial obligation of parents to contribute to their children's care and upbringing. The Michigan Child Support Formula determines support payments, considering factors such as each parent's income, the number of children, custody arrangements, healthcare, childcare expenses, and the children's educational and special needs.

How can I protect my finances when going through a divorce in Michigan?

Experiencing a divorce can bring about stress, especially regarding financial matters.

Here are some steps to help protect your finances during this challenging time:

  • Get organized: Before initiating divorce proceedings, gather all important financial information and documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills, and retirement accounts. Create a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities, including both marital and non-marital assets. This preparation will assist in negotiating a fair distribution of property and debts with your spouse.

  • Consider mediation: Mediation offers a less adversarial approach to resolving divorce-related issues, such as property division, alimony, child custody, and support. Working with a neutral third party can often be less time-consuming, less expensive, and less stressful than going to court. Additionally, mediation can help maintain a cooperative relationship with your spouse after the divorce.

  • Explore Social Security benefits: If your marriage lasted for at least 10 years, you may be eligible to receive Social Security benefits based on your ex-spouse’s record. This additional income can be particularly valuable during retirement, especially if your ex-spouse earned more than you. However, specific criteria must be met to qualify for this benefit.

  • Seek professional guidance: Divorce can have a significant impact on your financial situation. Consider consulting with a financial advisor specializing in divorce to help you navigate these changes and plan for your future. Their expertise can provide valuable insight and assistance in managing your finances during this transition.

Get expert financial advice

A financial advisor can help you assess your current financial status, create a post-divorce budget, and develop a long-term financial plan that aligns with your needs and goals.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.

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Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your