A Summary of Michigan Divorce Laws

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Grounds for Divorce Under Michigan Divorce Laws

Divorce Laws Specifically for the State of Michigan

The only possible way to get divorced in the Wolverine State (where, ironically, there are no longer any living wolverines after the last one, found in 2004 in Huron County, died and was then promptly stuffed and mounted) is in the case of complete and total breakdown of your marriage with absolutely no chance of reconciliation between the spouses.

Simply put, your marriage is broken and nothing can be done to fix it (all attempts to fix it having been proven futile).

Residency Requirements

When filing for divorce in the State of Michigan, either one or both of you must have resided in the State for at least 180 days immediately prior to the filing of the complaint and must have resided in the county of filing for at least 10 days.  This requirement may be waived, however, if the defendant was born in or is a citizen of a foreign country and where there are minor children involved who are at risk of being taken out of the U.S.

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

The place where an action for divorce is filed is called the Circuit Court.  The name of the action initiating the divorce is the Complaint for Divorce. The name of the action granting the divorce is the Judgment of Divorce.  The person (either your or your spouse) filing for divorce is the Plaintiff and the other one of you is called the Defendant.

Legal Separation

A judgment of legal separation may be granted under Michigan divorce laws upon the same grounds as for a judgment of divorce.


Either party may be ordered to pay alimony to the other party in an amount and for a term that the court deems reasonable.

Distribution of Property

Property will be divided between the two parties by the court in a fair and equitable manner by considering the unique circumstances of your case. All of one spouse’s property is subject to division if the court determines that the other spouse contributed to the acquisition, improvement, or accumulation of the property.

Child Custody

Michigan divorce laws allow a court the ability to award custody after careful consideration of the following factors:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes
  • The moral fitness of the parties involved
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved
  • The home, school, and community record of the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference
  • 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
  • Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute

Child Support

The State of Michigan has enacted child support guidelines, which establish the amount of support to be paid.

The court may deviate from the guidelines however, upon a written finding that the application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate. In addition, if available, health care coverage must be obtained for the child/children. 

Name Change

Upon request, the court may restore the woman to the use of a former or maiden name in accordance with Michigan divorce laws.


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