Headshot of Ryan Kelly a family law attorney
Legally Reviewed by: Ryan Kelly
Partner, Divorce Lawyer

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Divorce Lawyers in Michigan

Going through divorce is often a very emotional, and stressful experience. This experience becomes even more difficult when legal issues are involved. For example, legal issues may include: custodial disputes, asset disputes, and in some cases, domestic abuse/violence. During these times, it’s important to have your rights and interests protected by someone who understands the legal process within the state.

The divorce lawyers at Kelly & Kelly have over 30 year’s experience representing clients in family court. This knowledge and experience is required for defending your rights, and ensuring quality representation.

If you, or someone you know have concerns involving child custody or divorce, call our experienced family lawyers today.

Divorce Lawyer Ryan Kelly in The Media

How We Can Help

The family law firm of Kelly & Kelly P.C. has successfully represented many clients in a wide variety of Michigan divorce cases. This includes standard divorce proceedings as well as more complex legal matters such as:

  • Cases involving narcissistic personalities or mental health issues
  • Cases involving substance abuse
  • Legal disputes involving substantial assets or property

With over 30 years of trial experience, we’ve seen it all, and as a family based practice we understand the emotional nature of your case. When you hire us, you get an experienced team of dedicated lawyers who empathize with your situation while providing clear-headed and sound legal advice, and if necessary, aggressively advocate for you in court.

The divorce attorneys at Kelly & Kelly P.C. handle all aspects of divorce before, during, and after the proceedings. This includes but is not limited to the following,

Filing For Divorce in Michigan

Paper copy of a legal document that's titled Record of Divorce or Annulment from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state. In other words, you don’t have to prove anything in order to file for a divorce. With that said, there are several requirements to legally file for a divorce in Michigan, these include:

1. You or your spouse must have lived in the State of Michigan for at least 6 months prior to filing

2. The filing must take place in the local county circuit court where you or your spouse reside

3. At least one party must testify that there has been a “breakdown of the marriage” per Michigan Divorce Statute 552.6

After you file for divorce, your spouse will need to be served with the Summons and Complaint, and any additional documents filed with the court at the time of the initial filing. This is also known as being “served.” Service can be accomplished in a few different ways depending on your spouse’s level of cooperation, and whether or not he or she has retained counsel.

Our experienced lawyers handle divorce filings all over Michigan and are well-equipped to assist you with both the filing and represent you in the event any issues arise.

A chart that outlines Michigan's process for divorce. It starts with the first step of determining eligibility and ends with issuing the final judgement of divorce

Contested Divorces

When you hear the term “nasty divorce” that usually means at least one party is not cooperating with the divorce proceedings. Even worse, they may be acting in a combative or malevolent manner. If an agreement cannot be reached, the divorce will have to go to trial where each party will be represented by legal counsel and present their case to a judge in family court.

The experienced trial attorneys at Kelly & Kelly have decades of experience in Michigan family court and are well-equipped to represent your interests before, during, and after trial.

We have the knowledge, dedication, and experience to either negotiate an out-of-court settlement, or if necessary, aggressively pursue your case in court.

High Conflict Divorce – Our attorneys also have unique experience in highly volatile divorce cases known as high conflict divorces. These involve one or more of the following issues: substantial financial assets, domestic violence, PPO’s, firearms, extortion, fraud, etc.

These cases require extra care from a very experienced attorney. We also specialize in criminal defense, so we can advise you on whether or not a criminal activity is present. Many family lawyers are hesitant to take on high conflict divorce cases; however, we have the knowledge and experience to represent you through these frightening situations.

Appealing a Ruling

When it comes to family law in Michigan, there are two types of appeals, appeal by right and an appeal by leave. Appeal by right involves final orders such as divorce judgments and other post-divorce court orders. On the other hand, appeal by leave involves modifying or denying the modification of child support, parenting time, etc.

There’s a specific time limit on when you can file an appeal so you should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to determine if you have the ability to do so.

The following aspects of family law are modifiable and can be appealed in court.

  • Divorce Judgements
  • Child Custody
  • Parenting Time
  • Child Support

How Long Do Divorces Take?

The duration of a divorce in Michigan can vary widely based on several factors, including the complexity of the case, whether it’s contested or uncontested, and the court’s schedule. However, there are some general timelines and requirements to consider:

  • Waiting Periods:
    • For couples without minor children, Michigan requires a 60-day waiting period from the date the divorce complaint is filed to when the divorce can be finalized.
    • For couples with minor children, the waiting period is typically six months. However, this period can be shortened if the judge believes it’s in the best interest of the children.
  • Uncontested Divorces: If both parties agree on all terms of the divorce, including property division, child custody, and spousal support, the process can be relatively quick, especially if there are no children involved. After the waiting period, the court can finalize the divorce relatively swiftly, often within a few months.
  • Contested Divorces: If the parties disagree on one or more issues, the divorce can take longer, sometimes significantly so. The parties might go through discovery (gathering evidence), attend mediation, or even go to trial. This can extend the process to several months or even years, depending on the complexity of the issues and the court’s schedule.
  • Court Schedules: The caseload in the specific county where you file can also affect the divorce timeline. Some counties might process divorces faster than others simply due to a lighter or heavier caseload.
  • Additional Factors: The duration can also be influenced by how quickly both parties complete and exchange paperwork, whether expert evaluations (like custody evaluations or property appraisals) are needed, and how proactive the parties and their attorneys are in moving the case forward.

While these general timelines provide an overview, it’s crucial to consult with a Michigan divorce attorney to understand better how long a divorce might take in your specific circumstances.

Michigan Divorce Laws

Michigan divorce laws allow for a no-fault divorce, meaning that no proof of wrongdoing is required to initiate divorce proceedings. Here’s a general overview of the key aspects of Michigan’s divorce laws. If you’d like a more detailed overview, refer to our comprehensive article on Michigan divorces.

Eligibility and Filing Requirements:

Residency: Both spouses must have lived in Michigan for at least six months before filing.
Filing Location: The divorce must be filed in the local county circuit court where both spouses reside.

Grounds for Divorce: One or both spouses must testify that the marriage has irretrievably broken down to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there’s no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation, as per Michigan Divorce Statute 552.6.

Service of Summons and Complaint

After filing for divorce, the other spouse will be served with the Summons and Complaint and any other documents filed with the court. The manner of service depends on the cooperation level of the spouse and whether they have legal representation.
Divorce Proceedings:

Response Time: The defendant has 21 days (or 28 days if served out of state or by mail) to respond to the complaint.

Uncontested Divorce: If the defendant doesn’t respond, the divorce may proceed as uncontested, and a default order may be issued.

Temporary Orders: In cases with children, a Temporary Order may be issued concerning child custody, parenting time, and support.

Discovery Process

This process can be formal or informal and is used to gather information relevant to spousal support, child custody, property division, and more. It involves collecting data on incomes, work history, business valuations, property status, and retirement and investment accounts.
Negotiations and Settlement:

After discovery, negotiations occur between attorneys, possibly involving written proposals, mediation, etc. Parties will eventually appear in court to present their cases, where a settlement may be reached or a trial may ensue.

This process aims to ensure that all relevant information is considered, and fair agreements are reached in the interests of all parties, especially where children are involved. It’s important to note that specific cases may have unique aspects, and consulting with a legal professional is advised for personalized guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce is rarely something people think about until they have to; therefore, naturally, there are many questions relating to the issue. Below are answers to common divorce related questions. You can find additional questions and answers on our family law FAQ page.

What is spousal support?
Spousal Support which is often referred to as “alimony” involves a legal obligation to provide financial support to a spouse. This may occur before or after the divorce.

How are assets divided?
The division of property after a divorce settlement is a controversial topic. The state of Michigan follows the rule of “equitable distribution.” It’s important to note, this does not mean the division of property is always 50/50. The courts use a number of factors for the division of marital property.

How is the division of retirement accounts handled?
Retirement benefits are often the largest assets involved in a marriage. That is, these assets can provide financial benefit for the rest of someone’s life. As a result, the division of benefits after a divorce such as a pension, annuity, and other benefits are a major part of divorce proceedings. The division of retirement assets is a highly complex legal issue and varies depending on many factors. It’s advised to consult with an attorney for additional information.

When is a judgement of divorce granted?
A judgment of divorce must be granted if the court finds that “there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.

This judgment can be entered if the defendant fails to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint in Michigan if the parties come to a settlement agreement or after a trial.

All judgments must be put on the court record and there is a 60 day waiting period for divorces without children and 6 months if minor children are involved.

What’s involved in a divorce judgement?
Divorce judgments must contain provisions such as: pension, dower, insurance, annuity, retirement benefits, property division, spousal support and payment of support, notices regarding retroactive modification of support, a surcharge on past-due payments and the necessity to keep certain information updated with the Michigan Friend of the Court.

If minor children are involved in your divorce, additional provisions are required such as custody, parenting time, support, payment of support, arrearages, health care, moving the child’s residence out of state, and any changes to the child’s address.

The judgment can also contain provisions for payment of attorney fees, litigation fees, name change of a party, enforcements releases, injunction and tax exemptions.

How is a judgement enforced?
The divorce judgment is enforced by the court that handled the case even if all parties leave the State of Michigan. The court has the power to enforce the order, and the Michigan Friend of the Court must assist the parties in enforcing the support provisions outlined in the divorce judgment. Contempt of the court can be used to enforce support orders, and property settlements are enforced by methods such as garnishment, attachment and execution.

Can you challenge a divorce judgement?
In Michigan, a party may request relief from the divorce judgment by moving for a new trial/rehearing, amendment or correction of the judgment or a clarification. Motions to set aside must be brought within one year of the judgment.

Can a divorce judgement be modified?
Certain provisions of a divorce judgment can be modified such as custody, parenting time, child support and spousal support, but others such as property division and alimony in gross (lump sum payment to the other spouse – different than periodic payment) are not modifiable in a Michigan divorce.

What if a spouse dies during the divorce process?
In this unique situation, if the final divorce judgment has not been entered, the court is precluded from an entry of judgment of divorce, meaning there is no longer a relationship to dissolve by the court. The judgment must be in writing and signed; this is not accomplished at death, the parties are still married. There are certain limited exemptions to this rule, which you should speak to your Michigan divorce lawyer to see if these exemptions would apply to your case.

What is an alternative dispute resolution?
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is being used more and more for settling divorces. The purpose of this is to give the parties additional privacy, and speed up the process and long-term damage that may come from a traditional divorce proceeding. ADR is encouraged for all domestic relations issues.

How does alternative dispute resolution work?
The way this works is mediation is used until the parties reach a resolution or the parties realize that a resolution is not possible, and the parties return to the traditional divorce proceeding. If an agreement is reached between the parties, this agreement will be memorialized and handled like other traditional settlement agreements between the parties. The mediator in ADR can also draft his/her opinion on how unresolved issues should be handled, but this is not provided to the court.

Cost of a Divorce Lawyer

The cost of a divorce lawyer in Michigan can vary widely based on several factors, including the complexity of the case, the attorney’s experience and reputation, geographic location, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

Most divorce attorneys in Michigan charge an hourly rate for their services. This rate can range from $150 to $500 per hour or more.

After the initial consultation, if you decide to hire the attorney, you’ll likely need to pay a retainer fee. This is an upfront cost that essentially “retains” the lawyer’s services. It can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more, which the attorney then draws down as they work on your case.

In summary, the expense of hiring a divorce lawyer in Michigan can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the situation.

At Kelly & Kelly, our divorce attorneys offer a consultation where we can discuss your individual case including fees and payment arrangements transparently.

What is no Fault Divorce Law?

In Michigan, the term “no-fault” divorce indicates that neither spouse is legally required to prove that the other spouse did something wrong leading to the end of their marriage. Essentially, one doesn’t need to demonstrate any misconduct or assign blame to the other party to be granted a divorce.

The only justification needed to dissolve the marital union is to show that there has been a breakdown in the marital relationship to the extent that it cannot be preserved. While the divorce itself doesn’t consider fault, it’s worth noting that fault can still play a role in other aspects of the divorce process, such as property division and determining alimony.

Talk To a Divorce Lawyer

Kelly & Kelly P.C has decades of experience in most courts throughout the state and understands the ins-and-outs of the legal system. When you hire our firm, you get an entire team of experienced and passionate divorce lawyers working on your case.

If you, or someone you know has concerns involving child custody or divorce, call and schedule a confidential consultation today.

This page was legally reviewed by Ryan Kelly. Ryan has been a practicing family law and divorce lawyer for over a decade. Throughout this time she’s represented clients through various complex issues involving the family court system. This includes divorces, child custody, contested divorces, alimony, and more. She previously served as President for both the WLAM and the Women’s Bar Association and is recognized among the top 10 lawyers under 40 by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys. She also contributes regularly to the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) as a speaker on issues involving family law and child support.