The cost of a divorce depends on a lot of factors: the divorce process chosen, the number of issues, such as custody and spousal support, that are disputed, and the extent to which the parties are able to work together to resolve issues without court intervention. In general, the more fighting there is in a divorce, the more it will cost. (Think about this before spending $1000 in attorney fees fighting over a $100 item).
There are some costs in a divorce that are predictable. For instance, the filing fee to start a divorce case when the couple has no minor children in Macomb County or Oakland County is $175, but the filing fee for a divorce with children is $255.
A couple without children who have resolved all the issues in their divorce can be granted a divorce 60 days after the date that the divorce was filed. A divorce in which there are minor children may be granted 180 days after filing, but the judge can choose to shorten this period if there is a good reason to do so. In no case will a divorce be granted less than 60 days from filing.
Michigan is considered a "no-fault" divorce state, which means that a divorce can be granted simply because one or both parties believes there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship, and no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. While you do not need to prove fault in order to be granted a divorce, the court may decide to consider fault as one factor when dividing property or awarding spousal support.
If parents can agree on custody and parenting time, the court will usually sign off on their agreement. If parents can't reach an agreement, the court will decide custody and parenting time (formerly called visitation). Custody and parenting time are decided based on the best interests of the child. A court must consider twelve factors, including the home, school, and community record of the child; the willingness of each parent to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent; the mental and physical health of the parties; and the moral fitness of the parties. Courts generally consider it to be in a child's best interests to have strong relationships with both parents, so joint legal and physical custody are common.
In Michigan, child support is decided according to a formula that takes into account the number of children, each party's income, health care costs, child care costs, and how much time the children spend with each party. Parties cannot waive child support because it is an obligation the parents owe to the child, not to each other. Parents can agree on an amount of child support, but the court is not required to sign off on that agreement. Child support must be determined according to the formula, unless for some reason that amount would be inappropriate. Michigan child support is awarded until each child turns 18, or in some cases up to 19 1/2 if the child is still in high school.
Couples are free to agree on an amount and duration of alimony, typically called spousal support. They are also free to agree that there will be no spousal support. If they ask the court to decide, the court will consider a number of factors including the length of the marriage, the ages of the parties, the property settlement, the parties' needs and health, and whether either party is able to work, as well as general principles of fairness. If spousal support is awarded, the court retains the right to modify it later unless the parties agree that spousal support will not be modifiable.
Michigan is considered an "equitable distribution" state. That means courts will try to divide property fairly in a divorce, but the division may not be exactly equal. Property that is acquired during the marriage is considered marital property subject to division, with certain limited exceptions. Property that was owned by one party before the marriage, inheritances, and gifts may be considered "separate" property not subject to division. Some property may be considered partly separate and partly marital, like a retirement plan that was earned partially before marriage and partially afterward.
Yes. You can file for divorce, serve your spouse with divorce papers, and if he or she does not answer the complaint for divorce that you filed, you can obtain a default against him or her. This will allow you to proceed without your spouse's participation in the divorce.
If you have other questions about divorce in Michigan, we invite you to contact our law office to schedule a consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.