The prospect of a divorce, even when it feels like the right thing to do, can be daunting. For you, it’s an emotionally challenging period, one that signifies a significant life change. Yet the act of filing for divorce can feel impersonal, seemingly focused on paperwork and legal processes more than the people going through it.

To help demystify the process, we’ve answered four of the common questions people ask about divorce. By knowing the answers, you can stop worrying so much about what’s to come and instead focus on supporting yourself and your family.

1. Do I need to have a reason for getting a divorce?

Michigan is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce. That means one spouse does not have to prove the other did something wrong. In fact, all one has to do is explain there has been “a breakdown of the marriage relationship,” and that there is no chance it can be fixed. This is generally sufficient grounds for a divorce.

2. Do I have to serve papers to my spouse?

A key component of the law is the right to due process. Part of that means providing notice to anyone involved in a legal case. Divorce is no exception, and there are a few rules to keep in mind if you’re the one filing:

  • Your spouse must be served with a copy of the summons and complaint, as well as any other documents you filed with the court
  • You have to do this within 91 days of filing for divorce
  • You can’t serve these papers yourself – it must be an adult that isn’t a party to your case

3. Do we have to be residents of Michigan?

There are some residency requirements in order to file for divorce in Michigan. You and your spouse must have been living in the state for at least 180 days immediately prior to the filing. In addition, you and your spouse generally must have lived in the county in which you will file for divorce for at least 10 days.

There are some exceptions to the latter, however, including: If your spouse was born in another country, if you have a minor child together, or if a judge believes your child might be taken outside the U.S.

4. How long does it take to get a divorce?

It’s impossible to give an exact answer for how long it might take to get a divorce. Some cases may be more complex than others, for a variety of reasons, which can result in the process taking far longer than anticipated. However, there is a baseline to keep in mind.

If you and your spouse did not have a child during the marriage, and you’re not expecting a child together, there is a 60-day waiting period. If you did have a child together or are expecting, there is a 180-day waiting period (with some exceptions that can reduce it to 60 days). That means it will take at least this long to finalize a divorce.

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