Residency Requirements

Why does Michigan have a residency requirement?

The Michigan flagMichigan’s residency requirement was created to ensure that Michigan has jurisdiction over you and your divorce.

Michigan does not have jurisdiction over residents of other states and cannot enforce most court orders over non-Michigan residents.

This would mean that subjects such as custody arrangements, child support, and spousal support payments could not be legally enforced if the divorcing couple does not have at least one Michigan resident.

Subject matter jurisdiction is a requirement in the Constitution of the United States and in Michigan’s own Constitution. It is one of two kinds of jurisdictional requirements. The other one is personal jurisdiction. The topic of jurisdiction is long and complex.

But for now, it’s enough for you to know it is required that Michigan have subject matter jurisdiction over your divorce and personal jurisdiction over one of the spouses to a divorce case that is filed in our state. 

To make sure court orders are enforced, Michigan has to have a residency requirement. Our skilled family law attorneys are experts on all the requirements of divorce in Michigan, from the residency requirement and beyond.

Filing for divorce: Michigan’s Residency Requirement

According to Michigan law, to file for divorce in Michigan, you must meet certain residency requirements. This means that you or your spouse must have:

  1. Lived in Michigan for at least 180 days before the filing date, and
  2. Resided in the county where the divorce complaint is filed for 10 days before the filing of the divorce.

There are only two ways to get out of the 10-day requirement:

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

How can the Residency Requirement affect a divorce?

The supreme courtIt is crucial for those living in Michigan to understand how the residency requirement can affect the outcome of their divorce plans.

To help you understand the effects of the residency requirement, we can look at a decision issued by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

A case called Kar v. Nanda involved a couple from India. They also married in India. The couple moved to Michigan so that the wife could pursue her education at the University of Michigan. The husband traveled back and forth between the United States and India. The wife had a student visa, which would expire in 2012, while the husband never held a fixed residency anywhere in the United States for very long.

Then, two years after the wife began her schooling, the husband decided to file for divorce in Washtenaw County, Michigan (Ann Arbor) which is where the wife was living. The wife objected, stating that the court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over her and her husband. She explained that she could not be a Michigan resident if she was planning on returning to India as soon as she was done with school.

Our Michigan Court of Appeals stood their ground. They explained that just because she did not plan to stay in Michigan permanently did not negate the fact that she was still currently a Michigan resident. The court decided to allow the divorce to continue because Michigan courts did have jurisdiction over the wife.

How experienced is your divorce attorney?

Scrabble letters spelling the word divorceIn Michigan, there are so many intricate details that divorce attorneys must consider. The residency requirement is just one of many.

A good divorce attorney has thorough knowledge of every aspect of our state’s family / divorce / custody / property division laws as they pertain to family law. Often, one aspect of a divorce case has a significant effect on a different aspect of that case.

Our family law lawyers always stay up to date with changes in the Michigan law. They are constantly reading, researching, and attending seminars to expand their expertise. Interestingly, there are also a few parts of the federal law that also apply to Michigan divorce law. 

If you or your spouse are considering divorce, it is vital that you have a seasoned divorce attorney on your side. Getting a divorce can be daunting and confusing, made even more difficult by the many variables of the process. Each Friend of the Court office is different, each county is different, each judge is different with unique thoughts and procedures, and each opposing attorney is different.

You need an experienced lawyer who is never phased by these differences. Our divorce lawyers have successfully handled thousands of divorce cases in Michigan over the decades and we know how to play the variables to your advantage. Strategy can often be key in divorce planning. 

We have a reputation of excellence in mid-Michigan

A judge's gavel and legal scalesWhen thinking about your case, you must also consider the professional reputation of your lawyer.

Judges do not have equal views on all lawyers. Each judge evaluates a lawyer’s competence, professionalism, ethics, experience, honesty, and credibility.

Because of this, our firm observes only the strictest ethical standards. When we walk into the courtroom, we show the judge our utmost level of preparedness and our extensive knowledge of Michigan family law.

We are lawyers you can trust. We keep your confidential information confidential, we are not judgmental, and we always strive for the highest level of professionalism. Our family law attorneys have a reputation for excellence throughout the entire Mid Michigan area and beyond.

Our family law practice covers Ingham County, 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.

We’re here to help you

A man holding a cell phoneIt is also important to make sure that you and your divorce attorney make a good team. We offer free initial consultations for you to speak to one of our divorce attorneys.

During this discussion, we can discuss whether we’re a good fit for one another so we can help you with your divorce case.

This is also an opportunity for us to briefly talk about goals and strategy for your case. So call us today! Our phone number is (517) 886-1000 and we can be reached 24 hours a day. Our main office is conveniently located at 420 S. Waverly Road in Lansing, Michigan. That’s right off exit 3 of I-496. We also maintain a Metro Detroit / Oakland County office in Farmington Hills, MI.