FAQ’s for Family Law in Michigan
What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Michigan?
You are required to be a resident of the State of Michigan for at least 180 days (six months) before you can file for divorce.
You must be a resident of the county in which you file for divorce for at least 10 days before you file.
Where do I file for divorce in Michigan?
Divorces are filed with the Circuit Court
Michigan is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that the court cannot look at fault to determine why there is a divorce. Even though a court cannot consider fault for the reason for the divorce, a court can consider fault when determining how the assets and debts will be divided and in determining alimony/spousal support.
What is the general process of a divorce?
A divorce begins when one spouse (called the “Plaintiff”) files a Summons and Complaint, and a Complaint for Divorce with the proper circuit court.
The Summons and Complaint, and Complaint for Divorce, and any other paperwork filed with the court are then served on the other spouse (called the “Defendant.”)
The Defendant has 21 days from the date he or she receives the Summons and Complaint to file a response with the court.
What is the Friend of the Court (FOC)?
The Friend of the Court (FOC) is part of the family division of the circuit court in each county. It is governed by state and federal laws, but each county in Michigan has their own FOC. The FOC does not become involved until an action is filed with the circuit court.
FOC handles the collection, enforcement, and investigation duties in domestic relations cases.
FOC is responsible for enforcing court orders, including orders for child support, medical support, alimony/spousal support, custody, and parenting time.
Parties may elect to opt out of the services provided by the FOC. Whether you should consider opting out of the FOC services is a personal decision that should be determined on a case-by-case basis.
Alimony, also called spousal support, is a payment to a dependent spouse or former spouse to provide for the ongoing needs of that person. Alimony can be paid to either a husband or a wife, depending on the circumstances of the parties.
There are several factors that are used by the court to determine alimony awards in Michigan:
1. Past relations and conduct of the parties;
2. Length of the marriage;
3. Ability of the parties to work;
4. Source and amount of property awarded to the parties;
5. Age of the parties;
6. Ability of the parties to pay alimony;
7. Present situation of the parties;
8. Needs of the parties;
9. Health of the parties;
10. Prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others; and
11. General principles of equity.
For tax purposes, alimony is usually deductible to the party that is paying it. There are additional requirements that must be met in order for the IRS to allow it to be deductible. Alimony is included as income to the party who receives the payments.
How long do I have to wait for my divorce to be final?
If you do not have minor children there is a two month waiting period before a Judgment of Divorce can be entered with the court.
If you have minor children, there is a six month waiting period before a Judgment of Divorce can be entered with the court.
The waiting period begins on the date the Summons and Complaint is filed with the court.
Child support is a financial obligation that both parents have for their child. It applies to any situation where there is a child – divorce, paternity and other cases.
Child support continues until the minor child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later, but under no circumstances beyond the age of 19 ½ years.
In Michigan, it is presumed that it is in the best interest of the child(ren) for there to be joint legal and joint physical custody. Every decision made regarding the child(ren) is made with the concept of “what is in the best interests of the child(ren).”
Why should I hire an attorney to handle my divorce when there are websites with free legal forms?
There are thousands of websites that claim that you can file and handle your own divorce. They provide legal forms for free or minimal charge and many will assist you with completing and filing the forms. These are “one size fits all” websites.
However, you and your family law issues are unique. You have your own challenges facing you. A website cannot appropriately help you navigate all of the nuances that you are faced with. You need an experienced, well-versed attorney that can help you through the maze of forms, legal terminology, procedures, and questions.