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Effect of Foreign Citizenship on Divorce Jurisdictional Requirements

A standard Complaint for Divorce alleges the complainant or defendant has resided in this state for 180 days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint and resided in the county in which the complaint is filed for 10 days immediately preceding the filing of the complaint. These allegations are made because a Judgment of Divorce shall not be granted by a court in Michigan in an action for divorce unless those two requirements are met. MCL 552.9(1); Stamadianos v Stamadianos, 425 Mich. 1 (1986). However, a complaint for divorce may be filed without meeting the 10-day county jurisdictional requirement if all of the following apply and are set forth in the complaint:

(a) The defendant was born in, or is a citizen of, a country other than the United States of America.

(b) The parties to the divorce action have a minor child or children.

(c) There is information that would allow the court to reasonably conclude that the minor child or children are at risk of being taken out of the United States of America and retained in another country by the defendant.

At the time of writing this article, this author has not found any appellate case law in Michigan to guide practitioners as to the type of evidence needed to allow the court to reasonably conclude that the minor child(ren) are at risk of being taken out of the United States of America and retained in another country. Potentially a foreign born/citizen spouse in possession of the child(ren)’s passport(s), intending to travel imminently to another county for an indefinite period of time and threatening not to return with the child(ren) may satisfy the invocation of this exception. Under such circumstances, having the ability to file in a county where neither party resided for 10 days (perhaps due to a recent move) may give a party the ability to obtain ex parte relief necessary to prevent children being taken to another country. As such, when time is of the essence, this statutory exception is something family law practitioners should keep in mind.

The information in this post is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Sterling Law or the individual author nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the reader’s licensing jurisdiction.


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