How to File for Divorce in Wayne County, Michigan
By Kay Lee
Michigan is one of 14 pure no-fault divorce states. This means that the only ground for divorce is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Most states allow an individual to file for divorce under no-fault grounds, but if the non-filing party contests the divorce, the party seeking the divorce must prove that there are grounds for the divorce under state law. Grounds for divorce vary from state to state. Divorce in Michigan can be finalized within six months provided a property settlement is achieved. The process for obtaining a divorce varies slightly if there are children involved in the marriage.
Establish your residency in the state of Michigan and in Wayne County, as it is required to file for divorce. Residency is established once you have lived in the state for at least 180 days. To file for divorce in Wayne County, you must have lived in the county for at least 10 days.
File the Complaint for Divorce and pay the filing fee at the Wayne County Civil Court. The complaint is the document in which the person seeking the divorce states her case. Simply assert that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage and there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation between the parties. The fee varies according to whether children are involved. An online legal document preparer can help with filling out the Complaint.
Execute a Verified Statement if you have minor children in the marriage that you are seeking to terminate. If you have children, you may also wish to file an Ex Parte Order seeking temporary custody while the divorce is being heard by the court and until a permanent child custody arrangement can be agreed upon or ordered by the court. Your spouse will have 14 days to file objections to an Ex Parte Order.
Have the divorce papers served on your spouse. These include a copy of the Complaint for Divorce as well as a Summons issued by the court clerk. It is advisable to use a process server, sheriff or court officer to ensure that the service of process meets all state laws. Wait 21 days to see if your spouse files an answer to the Complaint for Divorce. If your spouse does not respond, that is considered a default by the court and the issues raised in the complaint are deemed to be uncontested.
Disclose all of your assets and request the same of your spouse through the discovery process if your spouse responds to the Complaint for Divorce. This process allows the court to determine how to proceed with the property settlement, which the couple should be trying to negotiate on their own.
Attend the required mediation to reach a settlement without going to trial, if possible. If mediation does not produce a settlement, the parties will go to trial in order for the court to determine a settlement.
Wait for the Judgment of Divorce to be granted by the court. The Wayne County judge will issue a judgment either after a trial or once the parties have reached an agreement through mediation. The judgment officially terminates the marriage.
Proper service of process in Michigan means that an adult who is not a party to the case will deliver the Complaint for Divorce and the Summons issued by the Wayne County Clerk. Delivery can be done in person through an adult who is not a party to the case or by registered or certified mail with return receipt requested within 91 days from the date the Complaint for Divorce was filed.
- Wayne County Clerk: Civil Division
- The Michigan Lawyer: Divorce Lawyer in Michigan
- Pitler Family Law and Mediation, P.C.: Timeline for Michigan Divorce
- Michigan Legislature: Section 552.6, Complaint for divorce; filing; grounds; answer; judgment
- Michigan Courts: Serving Court Papers
- Michigan in Brief: Divorce
Kay Lee began freelance writing for Answerbag and eHow in 2010. She is an attorney in Washington, DC, practicing since 2006. Lee specializes in employee benefits and executive compensation. She holds a Juris Doctor from the Columbus School of Law and a Master of Laws from Georgetown University Law Center.