Uncontested Divorce in Michigan
There are two options for a couple to end their marriage: contested and uncontested divorce.
- The couples unable to come to an agreement regarding at least one of the issues that concern their separation, usually file for a contested divorce. It happens when the spouses fail to work out the division of joint property and retirement accounts, custody over minor children, Michigan child support, alimony (spousal support), etc.
- An uncontested divorce implies that the spouses managed to settle all the existing issues amicably outside the court (either themselves or with the help of mediation). All their arrangements regarding finances, marital estate, spousal support, and parental responsibilities must be outlined in a marital Settlement Agreement. These terms come into legal force when the judge issues a final judgment of divorce.
An uncontested divorce can significantly shorten the litigation process and make the divorce simpler and cheaper. For couples with minor disagreements who are ready to seek divorce mediation to resolve their divorce-related issues, it is still an option.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
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You don’t have to worry about mistakes in your divorce forms or whether they will conform with Michigan laws. And along with the ready-to-sign divorce forms, you will also get a comprehensive filing guide.
With our online divorce service, you won’t have to deal with costly Michigan attorneys’ legal services. Our platform doesn’t sell blank forms or provide legal advice; all we do is assist clients in preparing the required divorce papers in a timely manner.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Michigan
An uncontested divorce process in Michigan follows several steps.
One of the spouses must be a resident of Michigan for at least 180 days prior to the divorce filing and a resident of a county where they file for a divorce for no less than 10 days. A person may bypass the 10-day requirement if one spouse was born in another country or if there are minor children in the marriage and the probability that the defendant may take the children to another country.
Since Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, the person filing for divorce only needs to state that the marriage has been irretrievably broken and is impossible to preserve. Thus, a spouse doesn't have to prove the fault of the other party. According to Michigan family law, there are no fault-based grounds for divorce. Thus adultery, cruelty, drug addiction, abandonment, and others cannot be considered in a no-fault divorce state.
The only valid ground for divorce in Michigan is irreconcilable differences meaning the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
The filing process is initiated by the plaintiff (the party initiating the case). They have to file the completed divorce forms with the Circuit Court in the county where either spouse resides.
Divorce papers in Michigan
Basic Michigan divorce forms to initiate the case typically include:
- Complaint for Divorce
- Marital Settlement Agreement
- Judgment of Divorce
- Summons and Complaint [MC-01 (3/06)]
- Notice of Hearing [FOC-7 (10/04)]
Other divorce forms required may include:
- Answer and Waiver
- Request for Certificate of Military Service Status
- Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act Affidavit [MC-416 (5/07)]
- Verified Statement and Application for IV-D Services [FOC-23 (9/06)]
- Motion and Verification for Alternative Service [MC-303 (3/06)]
- Order for Alternative Service [MC-304 (3/06)]
- Notice of Taking Records Deposition
The filing fee is paid when the plaintiff files divorce forms along with a divorce complaint. In Michigan, the filing fee is about $175 if there are no minor children in the marriage and about $255 otherwise. The fees may vary from county to county. To know the exact sum, the plaintiff can check with the Clerk of the Circuit Court government website.
If the spouses meet the requirements, there is a waiting period of 30 days before the divorce is granted. If there are minors in the marriage, the waiting period will be extended to 180 days. However, in cases of domestic violence or child abuse, the judge may shorten the waiting period to a minimum of 30 days. There is no possibility for a divorcing couple to avoid the waiting period in Michigan.
After the filing, the other spouse (the defendant or respondent) must be served with copies of the completed divorce papers.
The plaintiff must follow these steps:
- Hire a sheriff's deputy, process server, or use a non-party over the age of 18 to personally hand the papers to the spouse,
- Fill out and sign (in front of a notary) the Proof of Service on the back of one copy of the Summons form, and
- File the Proof of Service
- Registered or certified mail
If the respondent was personally served, they have 21 days to file a Response with the Circuit Clerk. If they were served by mail or outside of Michigan, they have 28 days to do so.
After a Response is filed, the court date can be set.
For uncontested divorces in Michigan, the hearing is fairly short.
The plaintiff needs to attend the hearing, while the defendant can choose not to appear if they are comfortable with the terms of the divorce settlement.
At the final hearing, the judge asks brief questions about the terms of the spouses’ Marital Settlement Agreement. This hearing tends to be short and formal after which the judge can sign and issue the final divorce decree.
Getting a Divorce With Children
In Michigan, all spouses with minor children in uncontested or contested divorces have to go through custody determination. Michigan courts will not grant the couple a divorce until the following issues are resolved:
- Type of child custody
- The main guardian selection
- Child support calculation.
According to Michigan law, to finalize a divorce process, both spouses must take a Parenting Class. In addition, divorcing spouses must decide custody-related issues such as a parenting plan, child support, and which parent will claim the child tax credit.
There are two types of child custody in Michigan: legal custody (the right to make important decisions about the children) and physical custody (with whom the child will live). Both legal and physical custody can be either sole or joint. The court awards either sole custody or joint custody, depending on the child’s best interest.
To make custody decision the judge has to consider various factors, including:
- Emotional ties between the parties involves and the child;
- The capacity and disposition to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue educating and raising the child in the child's religion;
- The capacity and disposition to fulfill the child’s needs recognized under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;
- The moral fitness of the parties involved;
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved;
- The child's home, school, and community record;
- The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents;
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child; and
- Any other factor the judge considers relevant.
As for child support, Michigan follows the "Income Shares" model, based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would receive if the parents haven't divorced. Michigan's Child Support Guideline considers both parents' incomes, the number of children, child-related expenses, and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent.
Child support typically continues until the child reaches 18 but can be extended until the child graduates from high school.
Filing for Divorce in Michigan Without a Lawyer
- If the couple meets all the requirements for an uncontested divorce, it can be arranged without legal advice.
- The Michigan divorce process does not require divorcing spouses to use the services of a law firm to handle their case. If both spouses agree on child-related issues, marital property division, spousal support, etc., they don’t have to deal with costly lawyers’ services.
- Online divorce services, such as DivorceOnline, assist spouses to deal with all the required divorce paperwork without an attorney and provide them with written instructions on how to independently file with a local court. This way, the divorce can be fast, cheap, and affordable.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Michigan
- A DIY divorce is a way to arrange a divorce case without an attorney. A do-it-yourself uncontested divorce implies that the parties submit their marital agreement to the court, and both sign other required papers. If the particular case is simple, a DIY divorce can be a beneficial solution to help a couple save money on the costly lawyer.
- DIY divorce implies that the parties act on their own behalf filling out Michigan uncontested divorce forms and completing the filing process. Therefore, they should be able to sort out their legal rights and obligations.
- Since divorce paperwork can be difficult to handle without legal assistance or some experience in the legal field, some couples may need help. DivorceOnline.com is specifically designed to help those couples in desperate need of paperwork assistance.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Typically, if there are no minor children of the marriage, divorce in Michigan takes from 60 days to 9 months. Otherwise, if there are children involved, the process may take from 6 months to a year.
These variations depend on the complexity of a divorce case. The shortest way to get a divorce decree is to file for an uncontested divorce and sort out all divorce-related issues before going to court. For example, property division and spousal maintenance are two common problems that divorcing couples must figure out even if no children are involved.
The average uncontested divorce takes from 60 days to 9 months, while it is not unusual for a contested divorce to last up to a year or more.
Because lots of factors influence the cost of divorce, it is impossible to predict the final amount.
The cheapest divorce is where amicable resolutions are made, and all the disputes are settled between the parties.
The average cost for an uncontested divorce, including court filing fees and other legal documents, is much lower than for a contested divorce. Other expenses such as legal fees, online divorce services fees, parenting classes costs, etc., must be considered as they may significantly change the overall divorce cost.
In Michigan and many other states, if a plaintiff is unable to pay filing fees, they can ask the court to waive the fees using a Fee Waiver Request form. In such a case, the court will take into consideration the applicant's financial situation to decide whether paying the fees will be unbearable for a person.
The legal forms that must be filed with the court include but are not limited to Complaint for Divorce, Marital Settlement Agreement, and Summons and Complaint [MC-01 (3/06)]. The list of forms may vary depending on the complexity of the case and attendant circumstances.