Residency Requirements

Residency Requirements

When you can file for divorce: Michigan’s residency requirement


In order to file for divorce in Michigan, there are certain residency requirements that you must meet. Michigan law says that in order to file for divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have:

  • lived in Michigan for at least 180 days before the filing date, and
  • need to have resided in the county where the divorce complaint is filed for 10 days before the filing of the divorce.


The only ways to get around the 10-day county requirements are as follows:

  • if the defendant is not a citizen of the United States, or
  • there are minor children involved and there is evidence that shows that these minor children are at risk of being removed from the United States by the defendant.


Why Michigan has a residency requirement


Michigan requires that at least one of the two people in the couple getting divorced are residents of Michigan, for a reason. This is because the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over residents of other states and would not be able to enforce any of the court orders made during the course of the divorce, like custody arrangements, as well as child support and spousal support payments. Subject matter jurisdiction is a requirement set forth in the Constitution of the United States and must be present for any court to have authority to decide a case.


For this reason, the court requires that residency be verified when filing for divorce in Michigan. Experienced family law attorneys are familiar with this residency requirement as well as all of the other requirements that are stated in Michigan law.


An example of how the residency requirement can affect a divorce


It is important for people living in Michigan to understand how the residency requirement can affect the outcome of their divorce plans. A decision issued by the Michigan Court of Appeals further explains this residency requirement very clearly.


The case was called Kar v. Nanda, and dealt with a couple who were natives of India and married there in 2007. They traveled to the United States so that the wife could attend a university in Michigan. She had a student visa which would expire in 2012, and she lived near the university, while the husband traveled for work and did not have a fixed residence anywhere in the United States for very long.


In 2009, the husband filed for divorce in Washtenaw County, which is where the wife lived for school. The wife objected to the divorce on the grounds that the court didn’t have subject matter jurisdiction over her and her husband. She reasoned that she couldn’t be a Michigan resident if her intent was to return to India. But the Michigan Court of Appeals held that her lack of intent to remain in Michigan permanently did not negate her current residency in Michigan and the court allowed the divorce to continue.


How experienced is your divorce attorney?


The Michigan residency requirement is only one of many small details that need to be taken into account by divorce attorneys here in Michigan. A good divorce attorney is intimately acquainted with every aspect of our state’s family / divorce / custody / property division laws as they pertains to family law. Our family law team regularly invests time in reading, researching and attending seminars to remain current and updated about the frequent changes in the law.


If you are considering filing for divorce or if your spouse has filed for divorce against you in Mid-Michigan, you should team up with a seasoned divorce attorney. The divorce process is  daunting and confusing, made even more difficult because of some many variables. For instance, each Friend of the Court office is different, each county is different, each judge is different with different thoughts and procedures, and each opposing attorney is different. Our divorce lawyers have handled thousands of divorce cases over the decades and we understand how each of these variables will play into your particular case.  


Another important variable in your case is the professional reputation of your lawyer. Not all lawyers are viewed the same way by the judges. Each judge has an opinion about a lawyer’s competence, professionalism, ethics, honesty and credibility. For that reason, our firm adheres to the strictest ethical standards. Further, when we walk into a courtroom, we strive to meet the judge’s expectation of being prepared and well versed in the law. We keep your confidential information confidential. Our attorneys and staff will always maintain professionalism. Our family law attorneys are well known and respected throughout the area.


Our family law practice covers Ingham County and Lansing, Eaton County, Clinton County, Jackson County, Ionia County and Gratiot County. However, our attorneys will consider more complex cases in other areas of Michigan.


When hiring a divorce or custody attorney, make sure you and the lawyer will make a good team. We offer you the opportunity to meet with one of our family law / divorce attorneys for a free initial consultation. This is your chance to learn about us and how we can help you with your divorce case and for us to think about whether we’re a good fit for one another.


Call us today! Our phone number is (517) 886-1000 and we can be reached 24 hours per day! Our main office is conveniently located at 420 S. Waverly Road in Lansing, Michigan. We also maintain our Metro Detroit office in Farmington Hills, MI. 


I hired Stephanie Service to handle what I thought was going to be a messy divorce. Not only was Stephanie, and Alesha, great to deal with, but they answered every question I had, handled the case very professionally, and even worked hard to find another judge even it looked like the case was going to get postponed with less than an hour before the scheduled court time. Thanks for all the help