How to File for Divorce in Wayne County, Michigan

By Christine Funk, J.D.

How to File for Divorce in Wayne County, Michigan

By Christine Funk, J.D.

If you are planning to file for divorce from your spouse, and you live in Wayne County, Michigan, there are several steps that you will have to follow. As with any divorce, there are standard steps that must taken, such as serving a divorce petition, filing applicable fees, and so on. However, each state—and county—has its own rules for successfully undergoing divorce proceedings.

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1. Establish residency.

In order to file for divorce in Michigan, at least one party to the divorce must be a resident of Michigan for at least the past 180 days. Additionally, in order to file for divorce in Wayne County, one party must be a resident of Wayne County, Michigan for at least the last 10 days.

2. File relevant paperwork.

In Michigan, there is an online center that assists parties in filing for divorce. The first step is filing a complaint with Wayne County Civil Court. This document identifies the parties and informs the court that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage and there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation.

3. Pay filing fees.

When filing for divorce, there is a required filing fee, as well as an electronic systems transaction fee. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can apply for a fee waiver, which is available online. It includes an affidavit that the parties must sign in the presence of a court clerk, who notarizes the document after reviewing the applicant's photo identification.

If you are filing for divorce without children, the case code used in Michigan is DO. If the divorce involves children under the age of 18, the code is DM.

4. Establish custody of the children.

If a couple has underage children, they should include a temporary custody order during the pendency of the divorce. It is a good idea for couples to discuss potential custody arrangements before filing a temporary custody order. If a couple cannot agree, a hearing can be held to determine custody during the pendency of the divorce.

5. Serve divorce papers.

In any legal proceeding, even if the parties agree to divorce, one party files the action and serves the other party. There are specific legal requirements that must be met for proper service. To assure compliance with these steps, it is a good idea to use a sheriff, court officer, or a process server to file the paperwork. Once the other party is served, they have 21 days to answer the complaint or allow the complaint to stand uncontested.

6. Go through discovery.

In cases where the divorce is contested, the divorce proceeds with discovery. This is a process wherein the parties disclose all assets and debts. All assets must be disclosed so that they can be divided in a fair and equitable manner.

7. Negotiate a settlement.

Ideally, a couple can negotiate their own settlement. However, in some cases, a mediator can assist. A mediator has no agenda, other than to assist the couple in coming to an agreement in the divorce. If mediation is unsuccessful, the parties go to trial and the judge determines the relevant issues—from property division to child custody and parenting time.

8. File the judgment.

Once the issues are settled, whether by joint agreement through negotiation, mediation, or by court order, the decisions are reduced to writing and signed by a Wayne County Judge. This is called the Judgment of Divorce. It is a public document filed with the court.

Filing a divorce can be a complex process, but if you and your spouse can agree on the terms of the divorce, you may be able to save time. Following these steps will help you get started with your divorce in Wayne County.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.