Divorce in Michigan

Domestic Relations, or Family Law, is the cornerstone of Longton Law Offices. Through the years, Longton Law Offices has emerged as the number one family attorney in Southeast Michigan because of our courteous and dedicated service.

While there are a lot of resources to help one going through the different aspects of family law, the laws are governed by the State but the procedure and expectations in each county can vary. Longton Law Offices’ years of experience will help you navigate this process so you can focus on moving forward.

Family Law is about more than divorce. There are a lot of different aspects that can be covered under “Domestic Relations.” At Longton Law Offices, we understand that there are many people involved in the process, and that it can be stressful and difficult for you.

What happens during a divorce?


Scott J Longton Working At Desk

In Michigan, a divorce is started when one party files a Complaint for Divorce. This document summarizes the situation, asks the court for a divorce, and identifies any other types of relief requested, such as spousal support, child support, etc. While there are many templates online for someone to do this themselves, there are certain things that must be included in Michigan, so it’s important to talk to an attorney to make sure you are covered properly.

Once the Complaint for Divorce is filed, the person who files it is now the Plaintiff and the other party is the Defendant. The Plaintiff must then serve the Complaint for Divorce on the Defendant. Again, this is a very specific process to ensure the Defendant knows that an action has been started.

Once served, the Defendant has a specific period of time to file an Answer, that length of time is determined by how they were served. If the Defendant fails to answer the complaint, then the Plaintiff can put them in Default, which can lead to a Default Judgment of Divorce. If the Defendant files an answer, then the process takes shape based mostly on what, if anything, is contested, if there are children involved, etc.

The State of Michigan has a 60 day mandatory waiting period for all divorces, whether you both agree to the divorce or not. This waiting period is put in place to give the parties time to reflect and decide if they want to reconcile. Most divorces take longer than this period of time anyway, but none can be done faster. When children are involved, the waiting period is extended to 180 days, but that can be waived upon approval by the court.

Things that can happen through the divorce process include discovery, where subpoenas may be sent, depositions taken, etc., mediation where the parties meet to find out what they can agree on, motions and hearings to have the court weigh in on different issues, and more.

A divorce ends when the court issues a Judgment of Divorce which outlines exactly how assets are divided, custody/support issues for any children involved, and how other concerns are finalized. It also awards the divorce itself.

There is no such thing as an “easy” divorce and it can be a very difficult process to navigate on your own. Longton Law Offices is prepared to advocate for you and can provide same-day service to help you through this difficult time.

Alimony & Spousal Support


Spousal support is one issue that is determined through the process of a divorce. Spousal support is a form of relief that requires one party to pay a certain amount a month to help support the other party. This is usually done for a specific period of time, such as until the divorce is final, or a set date. However, it can also be found in the form of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, QDRO, where one spouse will receive payments from the other spouse’s pension or retirement plan for many years. Longton Law Offices can help you understand these options and decide on the right one for you.

Divorce with Children


If you and your spouse have children under the age of 18, the decisions made during divorce litigation can and will have an impact on all children involved.  It is important to seek an experienced lawyer to help you navigate this difficult and frustrating process.

During a divorce, a judge will decide the following issues:

Custody & Parenting Time

In Michigan, there are 2 types of custody when it comes to divorce and children: physical and legal.  Physical custody refers to who the children will live.  Legal custody refers to who will make important life decisions for the children, such as education, health care, and religion.

Each type of custody is also divided into the terms sole and joint custody.  Sole custody means one parent is fully responsible whereas joint custody means both parents are equally responsible.

Once custody has been decided, a parenting time agreement will need to be made.  Parenting time refers to when a child will be in the care of each parent and for how long.  It is recommended that parents come to a mutual agreement between each other or else they risk having a judge decide this for them.

Here are some resources for determine appropriate parenting time guidelines:

Child Support

Child Support is a parents court ordered payment to either the State of Michigan or to the other parent to help with the costs of raising children and typically lasts until the age of 18.

The Michigan Child Support Formula is the determining factor when it comes to who pays and how much.  Several things play a factor in the calculation including:

  • How many nights per year (“overnights”) the children spend with each parent.
  • Each parents’ income.
  • Child and healthcare costs.
  • How many children are being supported.

If you want to calculate how much child support would be awarded in a particular case, you can use the free MiChildSupport Calculator to calculate an amount based on values you input.

Divorce without Children


A divorce that doesn’t involve minor children carries its own complexities and should be entered into with the help of an experienced divorce lawyer by your side.  One of the benefits of a divorce without children is that the cost is generally less than that of a divorce with children.  But, a divorce without children is generally expected to take longer to resolve in court than that of one with children.

A few reasons why a divorce without children takes longer are because of the additional factors that need to be weighed in by a judge including but not limited to:

  • Property and debt division
  • Spousal support (“alimony”)
  • Business assets

For more information, please read the following resources:

Uncontested Divorce


In Michigan, an uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree to all terms set fourth by the other.  These terms must include:

  • child custody, child support, and parenting time, if applicable.
  • tax exemptions and tax deducations
  • division of marital assets (property, debt, etc…)
  • spousal support (alimony)
  • any other disputes involving the marriage

Failure to agree on these terms will result in a contested divorce and will send your case to trial where a judge will make the final decision regarding the above items.

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