How to Do Your Own Divorce in Michigan
By Victoria McGrath
As a no-fault divorce state, Michigan grants your request for a divorce without the need to prove fault. The only required grounds for divorce that you must prove in your complaint is a breakdown of your marriage, beyond repair. If you and your spouse agree to a marital settlement agreement, the court does not raise the issue of fault. However, if you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement on property division or spousal support, the court uses fault as a determining factor to resolve those issue.
Verify that you meet the residency requirements to file in Michigan. You or your spouse must be a resident in the state for at least six months before you file for divorce.
Choose the appropriate county to file your divorce papers in, to determine exactly which court documents you need to complete. You can file in the county where you or your spouse lives, based on a minimum of ten days as a county resident.
File your divorce complaint and a summons at the appropriate county courthouse. The required forms vary based the type of divorce, such as a contested divorce with or without children or an uncontested divorce with or without children. State your grounds for divorce in the complaint.
Serve your spouse the divorce papers through certified mail or personal service, by a sheriff or other authorized person. Include a copy of the divorce complaint, the summons to appear in court and a blank answer form.
Proceed with the divorce based on your spouse's answer. If your spouse answers you complaint, your divorce proceeds as a contested divorce. If your spouse fails to answer your complaint, your divorce proceeds as an uncontested divorce. You can request a default judgment if your spouse fails to file an answer or to appear in court.
File a marital settlement agreement, if you and your spouse agree to settle property distribution, marital debt and other pertinent issues out-of-court. If you fail to reach a settlement, the court determines a fair distribution of marital property and debt.
Meet with a Friend of the Court or a mediator to negotiate parenting-time, child custody and child support. The court awards child custody based on the best interest of the child. It determines child support based on the Michigan's Child Support Formula.
Complete the waiting period of at least two months for a divorce without children, or at least six months for a divorce with children. Finalize your divorce, based on your negotiated agreement, mediated agreement or arbitrated agreement. Submit the agreement to the court for approval.
Proceed to trial, if you cannot reach an agreement on all pertinent issues. At trial, the judge decides all unresolved issues and issues a final judgment of divorce.
Items you will need
An online legal document service can provide forms and help with completing them.
Advise the court if domestic violence in your marriage prohibits safe negotiations between you and your spouse. The State Bar of Michigan provides resources for domestic violence, under the Family Law Section.
Based in Los Angeles, Victoria McGrath has been writing law-related articles since 2004. She specializes in intellectual property, copyright and trademark law. She earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Arizona, College of Law. McGrath pursued both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Fine Arts at University of California, Los Angeles, in film and television production. Her work has been published in the Daily Bruin and La Gente Newsmagazine.