Family and Divorce

What is the typical timeline for a divorce?
The entire process can take as little as several months to as long as several years depending on the couple, the complexity of their situation, and how quickly they are able to come to agreement about the terms of their divorce, custody issues, child support, and property distribution.
Michigan has a statutory cooling off period; if there are no minor children, the parties have to wait a minimum of sixty (60) days; if there are children then a minimum of six (6) months.
What happens to property and assets my spouse and I have accumulated during our marriage?
Most states follow the rules of “equitable distribution” which means the assets and earnings accumulated during marriage are divided equitably (fairly). In Michigan, an equitable division of property means the marital property shall be equal unless the court decides it should be unequal for a specific reason allowed by law. Equitable distribution rules apply to divorces in most states except those occurring in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico, where “community property” rules are followed. Divorce under community property rules means that property will be classified either as “community property” (to be divided among the spouses) or “separate property” (to be kept by the spouse who purchased it or owned it previous to the marriage).
How would I know whether divorce or dissolution is the best way to legally end my marriage?
Michigan does not recognize a “dissolution”; they recognize either a divorce, annulment or action for separate maintenance.
What happens if one spouse doesn’t want to get divorced?
Michigan is a no-fault state; if one spouse testifies as to the statutory basis that is sufficient for a divorce. One spouse cannot stop another from obtaining a divorce. Marriage counselors or divorce mediators may be able to help you come to an agreement about the best solution with your spouse. A family law attorney can advise you of your rights and options.
After divorce, I want to change my name back to my maiden name. How do I go about doing this?
In most states, a formal order requesting the name change can be made to the judge handling your divorce. The name change order can then be included in your divorce decree and certified copies of the order can be used to have your name changed on identification and personal records. If the divorce is already final and you’d like to change your name now, you may be able to make a formal request to have the decree modified to include the name change order after the fact. Name changes in Michigan can also be made through County Probate Court.
How do I prove paternity for my child’s father whom I would like to begin paying child support?
Paternity can be established voluntarily by both parents through an “Acknowledge of Paternity Affidavit” filled out at the hospital after birth or at a County Child Support Enforcement Agency. If you are not certain about who the father is or if the alleged father is contesting the paternity, a genetic test may be performed. The test is performed with a simple “buccal swab” or sponge-like swab swiped inside the cheek of the mother, the child, and the alleged father. The swabs are then sent out for DNA testing. Genetic tests will be paid for by the state in most cases and results are usually available within three weeks. Additional information about paternity establishment can be found through the County Child Support Enforcement Agency. See “Where to Read More” in the family law secton for links.
What happens if my health benefits were provided by my soon-to-be ex-spouse’s employer?
After divorce, you will no longer be able to remain part of the same policy but you will qualify for Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act or COBRA group coverage benefits, from your spouse’s employer, at your own expense, for up to 36 months. It can be expensive to pay for health benefits through COBRA; if health benefits are available through your current employer or through a future employer, they may be more affordable and worth investigating.
How do I get a marriage license in Michigan?
Marriage licenses in Michigan are typically obtained at the County clerk office in the county in which you want to be married. In Macomb County, licenses are obtained at the Macomb County Clerks Office at the 16th Circuit Court located at 40 N. Main St., Mt. Clemens, MI 48043.

For questions about Michigan marriage licenses or to arrange a civil ceremony, please call the Clerk's Office at (586) 469-5437 or visit

Marriage Licenses can be applied for online at: