Filing for Divorce
In order to file for divorce in Michigan one or both spouses must have lived in Michigan for at least 180 days (approximately 6 months) and in the county where they plan to file for at least 10 days. A divorce is a lawsuit that requires filing of certain paperwork (pleadings) with the court, payment of a filing fee, formal delivery of the pleadings to the other party (service) and following the court process to the end of the case (judgment of divorce).
Either side can ask the court to order temporary custody, child support or parenting time by filing a request (Motion) with the court. The court can also order things like use of the home and payment of bills until the case is final. Temporary orders last until the case is final.
If divorcing parties do not have children there is a 60 day (approximately 2 month) waiting period from the day the case is filed until the soonest a divorce can be final. If there are children born or conceived during the marriage, the waiting period is 180 days (approximately 6 months).
Grounds for Divorce: No Fault
In Michigan, there are no grounds for divorce other than the determination that the marriage has broken down and is unlikely to be preserved. This is referred to as no fault divorce. Even when one spouse does not want to divorce, the other spouse can get a divorce if that spouse believes and testifies that the marriage has broken down.
Court Filing Fees and Waiver of Filing Fees
The court filing fees for a divorce are currently $255 for a divorce with children and $175 for a divorce without children. There is also a $20 filing fee for motions (a request for the court to do something), including a motion to finalize the divorce. These court fees can be waived automatically when the person filing for divorce receives public benefits (has a DHS case number) or with permission of the court when the person filing for divorce applies to the court for a waiver and, based on their income and expenses, they cannot afford the filing fees. To have court fees waived you must file a fee waiver form.
After the divorce case is filed with the court and formally delivered to the other party (served), the spouse who receives the divorce court papers (pleadings) has a limited amount of time to respond. They can respond within that time limit by filing a written response (Answer) with the court. If they don’t file an Answer within the time allowed, they can be found to be in default.When a party is in default, the case goes on without them and the other party may conclude the case on their own. When a party is in default, they may lose their rights and ability to participate in the case.
Custody of Children
See Custody Page.
See Parenting Time Page.
See Child Support Page.
Finishing a Divorce Case
To finish a divorce case and get a final divorce order (Judgment of Divorce) decisions have to be made about dividing property and debt and concerning children. These decisions can be made by agreement of the divorcing parties (settlement) or by the court (trial). Resources are available to help the parties reach a settlement agreement including mediation and a settlement conference.
When the divorcing parties are able to reach a settlement, they will need to prepare a Judgment of Divorce that includes their agreement along with standard language required by the court. In addition, at least one party must appear to testify at a brief final divorce hearing called a Pro Con (Pro Confesso). At this hearing, one party must testify about the date and place of the marriage and the breakdown of the marriage and may also have to testify about the agreement reached by the parties including agreements concerning the children.
Forms & Case Packets
Download a FREE “Getting Started Checklists” for:
Other forms and case packets:
- Case Packets (forms & instructions) for Custody, Paternity, Divorce with Children and Divorce without Children are available at the Legal Assistance Center for $20. Cash only.
- Additional free and low cost forms, including free Motion forms, are available at the Legal Assistance Center.
- The Legal Assistance Center has a Child Support Formula computer program you can use for child support calculations.
- Michigan Legal Help offers articles and forms creation at no cost.
- The Grand Rapids Bar Association Lawyer Referral and Information Service offers a 30 minute conference with a lawyer for $25. Call (616) 855-0273 for an appointment.
- Visit or call the Legal Assistance Center.