As long as you and your spouse have a certain level of trust and agree to cooperate, an uncontested divorce is the easiest and cheapest way to get a divorce in Michigan.
In this guide, we’ll show you what you need to do, step-by-step, in an uncontested divorce, allowing you to take the quickest route to move on with your life.
Armed with accurate information, you’ll be able to overcome any concerns or doubts as you work together towards an amicable divorce.
Here’s what you need to know.
- What is an Uncontested Divorce in Michigan?
- Steps to an Uncontested Divorce in Michigan
- How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take?
- How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?
- Do I Have to go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce?
- Answers to Common Questions About Uncontested Divorce in Michigan
What is an Uncontested Divorce in Michigan?
An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree on all the issues of a divorce. This includes potentially contentious things like child custody and visitation, child support, alimony, a division of assets and debts, tax issues, and any other issue involving your marriage.
When you can reach an agreement on your own, you often avoid much of the cost and time burdens associated with using attorneys, going to court, and giving up control of the outcome.
This makes it the quickest and easiest path to divorce, allowing you both to move on as peacefully as possible to the next parts of your lives.
Steps to an Uncontested Divorce in Michigan
Here are the steps you’ll need to follow in an uncontested divorce in Michigan:
Meet Residency Requirements
Before you can file for divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days. Also, one spouse must have lived in the county where the divorce papers are filed for at least ten days. In rare circumstances, you may be able to have the 10-day county residence requirement waived when you meet specific requirements.
You may need certain supporting information to complete child support, alimony, custody, parenting plan, asset and debt division, and other related negotiations. The more thorough you are in advance, the smoother these discussions should go as you drill down to the details.
Complete the Initial Paperwork
The forms you will need to submit to the court will vary by your circumstances. If you have children, want alimony, or are dividing assets such as a home or retirement accounts, you may need to submit supporting documentation along with your petition. At the very least, you will need to file a summons and a complaint.
File Your Paperwork with the Court
Determine the right Michigan circuit court, and then one spouse will need to file the complaint and related paperwork. The court will be able to advise you on what specific forms you’ll need. Some people choose to work with an online service to help them. These experts will ensure your forms are filled out the right way, expediting the process on your behalf.
Pay Your Filing Fees
When you file, you’ll also need to pay a filing fee. This will vary by county, starting at $150 and up. You will also need to pay a small fee to have your spouse served with a copy of the paperwork. In some cases, if you qualify, you may be able to have these fees waived.
Serve Your Spouse
Your spouse must officially receive a copy of the paperwork. You can’t simply give this information to your spouse, who is now considered the defendant. You must hire another person to deliver the paperwork. This is usually done through a process server or a sheriff’s deputy.
Paperwork can also be sent by certified mail. Your spouse may also agree to accept service of the papers by filing a written waiver. However this is completed, you must make sure a written affidavit of service is signed and submitted to the courthouse before your case can move forward.
Filing a Response
A spouse has the right to file a response to the complaint within 21 days (28 days if served by mail), explaining what parts of the complaint they disagree with. If a spouse agrees with everything in a complaint or has signed a waiver, no response is required.
Both spouses can also file paperwork together when the divorce is uncontested and a written settlement is in place.
In these cases, a judge may sign off on the divorce, or when there is no response, the judge may enter a default judgment against the spouse, granting the other everything they asked for in the original complaint.
Complete and Exchange Financial Disclosures
The Michigan courts require you to provide full disclosure of your financial situation. This includes information on your income, expenses, assets and debts. You and your spouse must each complete the Domestic Relations Verified Financial Information Form which must be signed under penalty of perjury.
Negotiate an Agreement with Your Spouse
The key to an uncontested divorce is to do the hard work of making divorce-related decisions upfront. Talk with your spouse and decide how you will handle all the issues related to your break-up. Begin drafting an agreement that you can present to the court to prove that your divorce will be amicable.
Go Through the Waiting Period
If you and your spouse do not have children together, there is a two-month waiting period before the court will finalize your divorce. If you do have children together, there is a six-month waiting period. A judge can waive the six-month waiting period in some cases if hardship is involved.
This waiting period begins when your spouse files the divorce, even if you and your spouse were separated before that time.
Attend a Hearing
A final hearing will be scheduled. At that time, the judge will review your agreement, ensure the terms of the divorce are fair, and the judge will sign a judgment of divorce. In a default, if you agree with all the terms as a defendant, you can sign the Judgment, and the judge will enter it by consent, meaning you don’t have to attend the hearing.
Read More: How to File For a Divorce in Michigan
How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in Michigan?
At a minimum, it will take at least three months for an uncontested divorce in Michigan. This assumes one spouse files paperwork and has paperwork served, which starts the 20-day response period, and there are no children in the marriage, triggering a two-month waiting period.
You’ll need to add at least another four months to the process with children, assuming no waivers are enacted.
The other variable is that court schedules are often impacted, meaning that there could be issues with backlogs, final hearing scheduling issues, or other administrative processes.
It generally takes about 4-6 weeks to finalize uncontested divorces in Florida. Part of this process has to do with a mandatory 20-day waiting period, court backlogs, final hearing scheduling issues, and other administrative processes.
How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost in Michigan?
Exact costs may vary by county. For example, to file for a divorce in Oakland County or Wayne County, the fee for a divorce with no minor children is $175. With minor children, the fee is $255. Check with the court where you’re going to file if you want an exact cost.
You can also use an online service to assist you with completing forms for as little as under $150.
If you qualify, you can use the Do-It-Yourself Fee Waiver tool to prepare a Fee Waiver Request.
The clerk of the court must automatically approve your fee waiver if:
- You receive means-tested public assistance
- You are represented by a legal services program that receives funding from the Legal Services Corporation or the Michigan State Bar Foundation
- You are represented by a law school clinic based on having a low income.
If the fee waiver is denied, you do have the option of appealing the decision. You have 14 days to request a hearing. To request a hearing, file a Request for Review of Denied Fee Waiver.
Do I Have to go to Court for an Uncontested Divorce in Michigan?
If you are the plaintiff, then you will need to attend. If you are the defendant and are comfortable with the terms of the divorce settlement, it’s unnecessary to attend.
At the final hearing, the judge will have some brief questions about the terms of your settlement. If the settlement is fair and just, the judge will sign and issue the final divorce decree.
Read More: How to Prepare for a Divorce Hearing
Answers to Common Questions About Uncontested Divorce in Michigan
What are the grounds for divorce in Michigan?
Michigan is a no-fault state. This means you do not need to cite any specific reasons for a divorce other than a breakdown in the marriage, and there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.
Fault can play a role in a court determining some elements of a divorce, such as child custody, a division of assets, and alimony. However, in an uncontested divorce, you work these elements out ahead of time, so they should not be a problem going forward.
Do I need an attorney to get a divorce in Michigan?
No. There are many resources available to help you complete the divorce process on your own, especially in an uncontested divorce.
However, if you have questions or run into problems, don’t hesitate to retain an attorney’s services to protect your rights.
Can I file for divorce using an online service in Michigan?
Yes, and in many cases, it’s a smart move on your part.
Online services have deep resources to help figure out what forms you need to complete, how to file your documents, and most have a resource library to answer many of your common divorce-related legal questions.
It’s a great way to expedite the process, saving time and money while lessening the uncertainty that you’re doing the right things in the proper order.
There are lots of online divorce services, but not all are created equal. We’ve done a lot of the legwork to help you figure out the best ones to use for your situation. You can read our full review here.
If you want to cut to the chase, our top recommendation is 3 Step Divorce. Here’s why:
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Can I get divorced in Michigan if I was married in another state or my spouse lives in another state?
As long as you meet Michigan’s residency requirements, you can file for divorce in Michigan even if you were married somewhere else.
If your spouse lives in another state, you can have them served with papers no matter where they live. The only difference is that they will have a longer time to respond to the Summons and Complaint if they want.
Do I need to keep living in Michigan until my divorce is finalized?
After you file for divorce in Michigan, your case will remain active, even if you decide to move to another state or country.
How are assets and debts typically divided in a divorce?
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse are free to divide assets as you want. You may choose to give up one thing to keep another. For example, if you have children, you may want to keep the family home to ensure minimal disruption in their lives. But you may have to give up your interests in cars, retirement accounts, or other valuable assets.
If the courts decide, they will do so based on the principle of equitable distribution. This means a judge will divide property fairly, but not always in a 50/50 split. Each case is different, and the division is based on several factors such as income, health, length of the marriage, etc.
What if I reconcile with my spouse?
If you resolve your differences and no longer want to get divorced, you can ask for a dismissal of your case with the court. In some cases, this happens during the mandatory waiting period.
After your divorce has been finalized, it can’t be reversed. If you want to remain married, you’ll have to get married again.