When a marriage ends, the legal process surrounding the divorce may feel overwhelming. Understanding what to expect can ease some of your anxiety and fear about taking those next steps.

These are some answers to common questions about the divorce process in Michigan.

How is fault determined in divorce?

Michigan is a no-fault state. The state family court can dissolve a marriage for any reason at the request of one or both parties. You do not have to prove anything in court to receive a divorce. Either spouse can file for divorce whether or not you are living separately.

Where do I file for divorce?

To file in Michigan, you must live in the state for at least 180 days before submitting your divorce petition. File your petition with the county where you live or where your spouse lives, as long as you have lived there for at least 10 days. If your spouse lives in another state, you can still file in Michigan.

How long will it take to finalize the divorce?

Simple divorces with no minor children involved can take about 60 days. Contested divorces and cases involving child custody and support can take several months or longer depending on the circumstances.

How is property divided?

Michigan requires couples to fairly divide marital property and debts. This includes any assets and debts accrued during the marriage. It does not include property or debt you owned before the marriage or a gift or inheritance given to only one spouse during the marriage.

Who will have child custody?

If you cannot agree on a custody arrangement, the judge will decide based on the child’s best interest. Legal custody means the right to make important decisions about your child’s upbringing. Physical custody indicates which parent the child lives with. Both types of custody can be sole or joint.

Will the court decide my divorce?

Ideally, you and your spouse will reach agreement on property division, child custody and other key aspects of the divorce. You can seek professional mediation to negotiate a divorce agreement that addresses both parties’ interests. If this is unsuccessful, your divorce will go to trial and the judge will make a determination on contentious issues.

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