A party must reside in Michigan for at least 180 days and in the county where the suit is started for at least 10 days prior to filing. There are some limited exceptions to the residency requirement.
Proofs may not be taken in a divorce case involving minor children until six months after the complaint is filed. For a case in which no minor children are involved, proofs may be taken 90 days after the complaint is filed. There are exceptions that enable parties to expedite the divorce process.
A divorce must be completed within 12 months after the complaint is filed.


The initial filing of a divorce case may (but will not always) include these documents:

  1. Summons. The summons notifies the other spouse that he or she has been sued and tells him or her where and when to answer and that a default may be entered if he or she does not file an answer to the complaint.
  2. Complaint. The complaint begins the divorce action. It states the facts of the case and the relief that the plaintiff wants (for example, custody of the minor children, child support and fair share of the property).
  3. Affidavit of service / return of service. This document shows that the defendant has been served, that is, given the papers filed with the court.
  4. Verified Statement. This statement lists the minor children’s residences during the past five years and states that no custody action involving the children is pending (it is only needed when minor children are involved).
  5. Record of divorce. This document is a statistical record required by the Michigan Department of Health.
  6. Injunctions. An injunction orders a party not to do something, such as sell, dispose of, or hide assets as well as change the beneficiary on life insurance policies.
  7. Personal protection order. This order is an injunction that orders the party not to assault or threaten violence to the spouse or children or that prohibits stalking.
  8. Ex parte orders. Ex-parte orders are issued without prior notice to the defendant. The order must be served on the other party, who may then file objections to it.
  9. Affidavit for ex parte order. This sworn statement affirms that the facts stated to obtain the ex-parte order are true.
  10. Circuit court filing fee. Currently the filing fee for divorce with no children is $150.00, and for divorce with children is $230.00.
  11. Notice of hearing, praecipe, motion, and filing fee. These are required for any motion that requires a hearing. A motion is a request to the court for some type of relief. A praecipe asks that the matter be set for hearing, and the notice of hearing says where and when the hearing will be held.

Who’s Who and What They Do

The plaintiff is the party who starts the lawsuit. The defendant is the person sued. The divorce is resolved by the circuit court. The Friend of the Court is an office of the circuit court that investigates and makes recommendations about spousal support, child support, child custody, and parenting rights, collects and distributes support payments, and may request the enforcement of court orders for support and parenting time.

Contested and Uncontested Cases

After the complaint and summons are filed and served, the defendant has 21 days (28 if served by mail or out of state) to file an answer admitting or denying each paragraph in the complaint. The defendant may also file a counterclaim, to which the plaintiff must file an answer.

If the defendant does not file an answer, an order of default may be entered against him/her.

No divorce, whether contested or uncontested, is granted without a court hearing to determine the truth of the statements made in the complaint for divorce.

Temporary Orders

Temporary orders may be requested at any time after your case is started and before a judgment of divorce is entered. Child support, custody and some injunctions may be granted to the plaintiff without a hearing (ex parte), typically, if the matter is urgent, and before the defendant is served. Other orders require a hearing or mutual consent.

The court may award temporary attorney fees to a party who can show need.