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Michigan Family Law Blog

Where Do I File for Divorce if I Live in Michigan?

Posted by Cameron Goulding | Jan 29, 2024 | 0 Comments

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Family law matters are considered to be within the purview of the State government as opposed to the Federal government.  To determine in which state and state circuit court you should file for a divorce is a question of jurisdiction and venue.  Jurisdiction for a divorce matter is what gives the circuit courts of a particular state (Michigan for instance) the ability, the authority and the power to issue orders that the parties must obey or risk sanctions including fines and even jail time.  Venue refers to which particular state circuit court; (The Oakland County Michigan Circuit Court for instance) the case should be filed.  If you have any questions about divorce or family law, please do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation either online or by calling (248) 608-4123.

How Do I Determine Which State is the One Where I Should File?

First, you must determine whether Michigan is the state that has jurisdiction.  Either the person filing for divorce or the person against whom the divorce is being filed must have resided in the State of Michigan for at least 180 days immediately preceding the date of the filing of the complaint for divorce.  Filing the complaint for divorce gets the divorce process started. 

Jurisdiction is fairly easy to determine if both parties are still residing in the same state at the time of filing for divorce.  It can be more complicated if one of the spouses has moved into a different state or moved from another state into Michigan.  In the case where one party has moved out of Michigan to another state, then jurisdiction might be appropriate in either state.  If the parties were married in another state, never lived together in Michigan and one spouse moved here after separation, then Michigan may not have jurisdiction over the party that has never resided in Michigan.  Consultation with an attorney in these instances is always a good idea before getting started with the divorce.

How Do I Determine Which State Circuit Court is the One Where I Should File?

Once it is determined which state has jurisdiction, then venue must be figured out.  Venue is established when one of the parties has resided in any particular county for at least 10 days.  If both parties still reside in the same county, then venue is clearly only appropriate in that county.  So for instance, if both parties lived in Oakland County during the marriage and are residing there at the time of the filing for divorce, then the only appropriate court would be the Oakland County Circuit Court. 

If one spouse has moved out of the county where the spouses resided during the marriage and the other spouse remained in the county where they resided together, then venue may be appropriate in either the county where they resided and the one spouse remains or in the county to which the other spouse has moved.  There is some debate as to whether one must file in the county where the defendant (the person against whom the divorce complaint is filed) resides or in either county.  As of the writing of this blog, it appears that the complaint can be filed in either county.  If a divorce appears imminent and your spouse has moved to another county, then it might be wise to file in the county that you would prefer to have the case proceed rather than waiting for your spouse to file first essentially allowing them to pick where the case will proceed.

This blog is intended to address the just the basics of jurisdiction and venue with regards to where you should file a complaint for divorce if you live in the State of Michigan.  If you have questions regarding your particular circumstances, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation either online or by calling (248) 608-4123. 

About the Author

Cameron Goulding

A native of Oakland County, Michigan, family lawyer Cameron C. Goulding has been providing counseling and legal services of the highest caliber to individuals and families in Southeastern Michigan for over 24 years. Mr. Goulding grew up in Oakland County, Michigan and graduated from Birmingham G...


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