With society growing more mobile by the day, it is becoming far more likely that couples may have been married someplace other than where they live. Changes in employment, lifestyle, and many other reasons are carrying families over state lines. Whether you had a destination wedding, or are a recent Michigan transplant, you may now be wondering, “Can I get a divorce in Michigan?”
No matter where you lived when you got married, or where you filed your marriage certificate, your divorce should always happen in the place where you live. Some states will enter a Judgment of Divorce for non-residents. But if you or your spouse lives in Michigan, you won’t need to cross state lines to file for divorce.
Recognizing Out of State Marriages
A Michigan court can dissolve any marriage that was legal when and where it was performed. It doesn’t matter if that marriage was performed the next town over, or in another country. The court can even enter a Judgment of Divorce if the marriage would have been illegal had it been performed in Michigan. For example, some states allow marriages between first cousins, but Michigan does not. Even though a Michigan judge couldn’t perform a marriage for the cousins, he or she can enter the divorce to end that marriage.
This “Full Faith and Credit” requirement is especially important for LGBT couples who got married before the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide in Obergefell v Hodges in June 2015. For over a decade, since Massachusetts first legalized gay marriage in 2003, gay and lesbian couples have been traveling out of state to get a legal marriage. Obergefell ordered courts across the country to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. And because they must recognize the marriage, Michigan courts can enter a same-sex divorce.
The State of Michigan, like many other states, requires a person to have lived in the state for a certain amount of time before filing a complaint for divorce. In Michigan, that time is 180 days. 6 months. This date is calculated from the day the Complaint for Divorce is filed. So don’t count on including the time it takes to reach a settlement or take your case to trial. If you come to your family law attorney before you meet the residency requirement, you should expect to wait for a while before you file.
Even if you move within the state, you may still have to wait a little while before you make your move. Michigan law requires a complaint for divorce to be filed in the county where one of the parties lives. That party must have been in the county for at least 10 days before the Complaint for Divorce was filed.
Even if you can’t get your divorce started right away, you may be able to ask the court to intervene on your behalf in certain emergency situations. Generally, a court will not have “home state” jurisdiction over the children in a custody case until the kids have lived in the state for 180 days. But if there is an emergency – for example, if a spouse is fleeing a domestic violence situation – a judge can enter a temporary custody order and then converse with the home state court to decide where the case should proceed.
Your marriage didn’t need to happen in Michigan for you to be able to make use of the Michigan courts. As long as you have lived in the State of Michigan for 180 days, and the county where you file for at least 10 days before you file the Complaint for Divorce, Michigan judges will be able to enter an order and help you move on with your life.
Lisa J. Schmidt is a family lawyer at Schmidt Law Services, PLLC, in Ferndale, Michigan. She helps divorcing couples reach settlements to meet everyone’s needs. If you are considering filing a complaint for divorce, contact Schmidt Law Services for a free initial consultation.