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How much does a divorce cost in Michigan?

How much does a divorce cost in Michigan? Read on for everything to know about filing fees, court costs and what impacts the cost of divorce in Michigan.

evident Editorial Team
April 2, 2024
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One major source of stress for many individuals going through a divorce in Michigan is the uncertainty surrounding the cost of divorce. Questions like "How much does a divorce cost in Michigan?" often arise during this time.

While it's difficult to provide an exact cost estimate, several common factors influence divorce costs in Michigan. By understanding these factors, individuals can alleviate some of the stress and uncertainty associated with the divorce process.

In this article, we will explore the key factors that impact the cost of divorce in Michigan. We'll also provide data on the average cost of divorce in the state and highlight resources for lower-cost divorce options for individuals who may have financial constraints and cannot afford a Michigan divorce attorney.

Key Takeaways

The Average Cost of Divorce in Michigan

According to USA Today, the average cost of a divorce in Michigan is around $12,900 for cases without children and approximately $19,400 for divorces involving children. It's important, however, to understand that each divorce is unique. The actual cost of a divorce in Michigan can vary significantly depending on the context and individuals involved.

One significant factor that contributes to cost discrepancies is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. We’ll explore these types of divorce in greater detail below, but the quick takeaway is that uncontested divorces, where both parties are in agreement, often result in considerably lower costs compared to the reported averages.

It's crucial to consider the various factors that influence the overall cost of divorce to better understand how expensive your divorce might be. 

What affects the cost of divorce in Michigan?

So, how much is a divorce in Michigan? Several key factors dictate how expensive a divorce will be.

Those factors include concrete, knowable inputs such as:

  • Filing fees and court costs
  • Attorneys’ fees

Additionally, more thematic factors also affect how expensive divorce in Michigan might get, such as: 

  • How complicated your divorce is
  • How contentious your divorce is

Let’s begin by taking a look at some of the concrete numbers affecting Michigan divorce costs.

Michigan Divorce Filing Fees and Court Costs

Court filing fees for divorce in Michigan are about $175 - $255, but the fee varies depending on whether children are involved and may vary by county. 

For instance, here are divorce filing fees for a few Michigan counties:

  • Wayne County – the filing fee for divorce in Oakland County is $175 for cases without minor children and $255 for cases involving minor children.
  • Oakland County – the filing fee for divorce in Oakland County is also $175 for cases without minor children and $255 for cases with minor children.

There is also often a service fee for having the divorce papers served on your spouse. Service fees can be around $50-$100. 

There are other court costs for filing additional motions or divorce paperwork with the court. Note that those court fees can also vary by county, and you should confirm the filing fees and court costs in your county.

Fee waivers in Michigan

A fee waiver may be available if you cannot afford the Michigan divorce filing fees. 

You will need to file a Fee Waiver Request with the court. Michigan Legal Help has an online tool to help people fill out the fee waiver request. 

How much does a divorce lawyer cost in Michigan?

The fees charged by divorce lawyers can be one of the biggest factors affecting the cost of divorce in Michigan. 

To understand the cost of hiring a Michigan divorce attorney, it's important to first familiarize yourself with their fee structures.

Divorce Lawyer Fee Structures

Divorce lawyers in Michigan commonly use two primary fee structures: hourly rates or flat fees. 

If a divorce attorney charges an hourly rate, they will bill their client based on the time they spend working on the case. Attorneys who use hourly rates may also request a retainer fee upfront. 

Meanwhile, some divorce lawyers may charge a flat fee. With a flat fee, they will quote a predetermined amount for their assistance with the divorce case. 

divorce lawyer billing methods

Note that the details of your divorce could impact which fee structure makes more sense. For instance, flat fees are often more suitable for uncontested cases where divorce attorneys can more accurately predict how much time they will spend working on a case, whereas hourly rates generally make more sense for contested divorces.

Average Hourly Rates For Michigan Divorce Lawyers

The average hourly rate for Family Law attorneys in Michigan is approximately $313 per hour. (Note that divorce is a subsection of the legal practice area of Family Law). 

But remember, this is just an average, and actual hourly rates can vary based on numerous factors (e.g. the lawyer's experience, where they’re based, etc.). For example, big cities such as Detroit may have higher average costs for divorce lawyers than other parts of Michigan.

While understanding hourly rates is helpful, it's also important to consider the amount of time the lawyer will spend working on your case. After all, the amount of time a divorce lawyer spends working on your case can have a greater impact on the total cost of divorce in Michigan than their hourly rate. (I.e. compare $300 x 10 hours for $3,000 in attorney fees vs. $250 x 50 hours for $12,500).  

Thus, other crucial factors that affect the cost of divorce in Michigan, which we’ll turn to next, include the complexity and contentiousness of your divorce.

How Complicated Your Divorce Is

The complexity of a divorce case plays a significant role in its overall cost. Generally, the more complex the divorce, the higher the potential cost. 

One crucial distinction to consider is whether the divorce is uncontested or contested because uncontested divorces tend to be less complicated and, accordingly, less expensive than contested divorces.

It's worth noting that even within contested divorces, there is a wide range of possibilities, so we will explore the factors that contribute to a more complicated divorce process.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce in Michigan

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses mutually agree on all aspects related to the divorce, including alimony, child custody, child support, and property division. 

Uncontested divorces are typically faster, simpler, and less expensive, with the cost often limited to court costs and filing fees if the parties can collaborate and reach an agreement.

On the other hand, contested divorces involve unresolved issues and disputes between the parties. The number of unresolved issues and the intensity of disputes significantly impact the overall cost of divorce in Michigan. (For instance, is there a level-headed disagreement about how to share joint custody, or are you in a full-blown custody battle?).

What makes a Michigan divorce more complicated?

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Factors such as children, alimony, substantial marital assets, and complicated marital assets contribute to the complexity of the divorce process and can increase costs. 

Divorces involving minor children introduce additional complexity as issues related to child custody and child support must be resolved.

Divorces involving alimony (also called spousal support in Michigan) require an additional item of calculation (or negotiation) compared to those that do not.

Additionally, substantial or complex marital property, such as ownership interests in companies or partnerships, require additional considerations like appraisals and valuation, adding complexity.

These factors contribute to a more complicated divorce process and subsequently increase the overall cost in Michigan. Additionally, these issues can each be a source of disagreement, which brings us to our next factor affecting Michigan divorce costs.

How Contentious Your Michigan Divorce Is

Navigating a contentious divorce can be an emotionally draining and financially burdensome experience. While uncontested divorces are generally more cost-effective and streamlined, not all couples are able to reach such agreements. However, even in situations where an uncontested divorce is not possible, it is still beneficial to adopt a collaborative approach and strive for cooperation with your ex-spouse.

One effective method to mitigate the costs associated with a contentious divorce is through divorce mediation or other collaborative divorce processes. By engaging in mediation, you and your ex-spouse can work together with a neutral third-party mediator to facilitate negotiations and find mutually agreeable solutions. This approach can significantly reduce the need for lengthy court battles and excessive lawyer fees.

Although achieving complete amicability may not always be attainable, making genuine efforts to find common ground and work cooperatively can yield several benefits, including time and cost savings. While it may be challenging to set aside personal differences, focusing on the long-term benefits of a cooperative approach can ultimately lead to a more cost-effective and less contentious divorce process. 

Seeking the guidance of a qualified divorce attorney who specializes in collaborative methods can provide valuable insights and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout this journey.

Lower-Cost Options for Divorce in Michigan

money, profit, finance

If you're concerned about the cost of divorce in Michigan, there are resources available to help reduce legal expenses. These resources provide options for obtaining legal assistance without the need to hire a divorce lawyer for full representation.

Limited-scope representation is one such option where a divorce attorney can assist you with specific aspects of your case. For example, they can review your marital settlement agreement or accompany you to divorce mediation without representing you for the full scope of your divorce case. 

Legal Aid organizations are another valuable resource, offering free or low-cost legal services based on your income level. The Michigan Bar lists resources available by county through their website

Additionally, remember that fee waivers may be available if you're unable to afford Michigan divorce filing fees. 

By utilizing these lower-cost divorce options and resources, you can find affordable avenues for legal assistance during your divorce proceedings in Michigan.

FAQs About the Cost of Divorce in Michigan

How long does a divorce take in Michigan?

The timeline for a divorce in Michigan can vary depending on several factors. Generally, an uncontested divorce (where both parties agree on all aspects of the divorce) can be finalized more quickly, often within a few months. 

On the other hand, contested divorces that involve disputes and require court intervention can take significantly longer, including up to a year or more. 

The complexity of issues, court schedules, and the level of cooperation between the parties can all impact the duration of the divorce process. It's important to consult with a divorce attorney to get a better understanding of the specific circumstances and factors that may influence the timeline of your divorce in Michigan.

What is the easiest way to get a divorce in Michigan?

The easiest way to get a divorce in Michigan is through an uncontested divorce. If you and your ex-spouse agree on all divorce-related issues, you can submit a proposed marital settlement agreement to the court for its approval.

This process is generally faster, easier, and less expensive than contested divorces but only works if the divorcing couple can work together and reach an agreement.

What is the cost of an uncontested divorce in Michigan?

The cost of uncontested divorce in Michigan can often be limited to the filing fees and court costs, if the divorcing spouses are able to agree on all issues and avoid hiring lawyers.

If the divorcing couple is able to do this, the cost of uncontested divorce in Michigan may be less than $1,000, including the ~$200 divorce filing fee.

How much does it cost to get a divorce if both parties agree in Michigan?

If both parties agree to get a divorce and agree on all divorce-related issues, then they can file for an uncontested divorce. As mentioned, the cost of an uncontested divorce in Michigan can be well under $1,000.

But, if the divorcing spouses cannot agree on even one divorce-related issue, they must file for a contested divorce and the process will be more expensive and time consuming.

It is certainly still helpful if both parties agree to get the divorce. Cooperation and reaching amicable resolutions will help keep divorce costs down. But simply agreeing to pursue a divorce is not enough to pursue an uncontested divorce, which is what can really decrease the overall cost of divorce in Michigan.

The Final Word on the Cost of Divorce in Michigan

So, how much does a divorce cost in Michigan? Let’s recap the key takeaways. 

The average cost of divorce in Michigan is approximately $12,900 for cases without children and $19,400 for divorces involving children, but actual costs can vary greatly. 

Things such as filing fees, court costs, attorneys' fees, the complexity of your divorce, and the level of contention involved all play a role in determining the overall cost of divorce. 

Hiring an experienced Michigan divorce lawyer can provide invaluable expertise, but if cost concerns arise, there are alternative options available. Limited-scope representation and seeking assistance from Legal Aid can offer more affordable alternatives to hiring a divorce attorney. 

If you have other questions about the cost of divorce in Michigan, it is advisable to consult with a qualified divorce lawyer who can address your concerns and provide personalized guidance. During the initial consultation, be sure to ask these questions to evaluate whether the lawyer is the right fit for your specific situation.