Lansing Divorce & Family Attorneys Serving All of Michigan

Helping Families Throughout Okemos, Lansing, East Lansing, and All of Mid-Michigan

Divorce is a very difficult and emotional experience that causes people to run through all the emotions one can experience. Statistically, other than a death of a loved one, there is no other experience that is so impactful upon a person’s life. Because a break up of a marriage is such an emotional experience for your entire family, it is necessary to have the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney to guide you through the complicated process and advocate for the best possible outcome.  Everyone hopes that their divorce will not be “messy” or “uncontested” and that it will be a “simple divorce”. Even when everyone seems to want the divorce to be uncontested, many times it is just not possible.  Even when an amicable agreement is possible, the issues need to be addressed with care and experience to preserve the agreement you believe is fair.

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There are a multitude of issues that are not easily resolved. Issues such as custody and child support can be very divisive and complicated when the facts of your case intersect with the law and the Friend of the Court. Then there are issues of property; how to divide the house, who is going to be responsible for the mortgage, how to divide the personal property and automobiles who is going to pay the debt on the cars, credit card debt, student loans, business property, retirement accounts, 401-k accounts, sick days, state and local taxes and alimony. Each one of the above issues is a section of law in and to itself.

The State of Michigan Enacted a No-Fault Divorce Law

Michigan is a No Fault state, what does that mean. In the days before no fault a person could not even get a divorce from their spouse unless they were able to prove in court that the other party was at fault for the breakup of the marriage. The grounds for fault could be many but the usual grounds for fault were one of the following: infidelity, physical cruelty, mental cruelty, chronic intoxication and abandonment. Under the no fault divorce a party can now get a divorce from his or her spouse by simply alleging that there has been a breakdown in the marital relationship such that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there is no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. In Michigan only one party need make this allegation for a divorce to be granted. However, fault can still be a factor to be considered by the court in determining property settlement, alimony, and custody.

Personalized Representation For Custody & Visitation

Custody is often the most heartbreaking and emotional aspects of divorce. There is nothing that is more precious than our children and time with our children is the most import times of our lives. Thus the reality of divorce comes into conflict with our most heartfelt desires. The law states that custody is to be decided upon what is in the best interest of the children. There are factors that are to be weighed in deciding what is the in the best interest of the children in a custody and parenting time dispute. It must be remembered that even though all the factors are weighed all the separate factors are not necessarily weighed the same.

For instance the preference of a child is not take very seriously until the child is considered to be of a sufficient age to form a preference and to articulate the preference. It is important to know that all judges are different and it is important to have an attorney that knows the not only the law but who is familiar with the friend of the court. The judge assigned to your case will weigh the facts and decide what weight it believes should be given to each separate factor in making the ultimate decision of parenting time, custody and support if there is a dispute that the parties cannot agree upon. Each Friend of the Court and Judge is different.

Factors Taken Into Consideration For Child Custody
  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  • The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  • The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
  • Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  • Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

There are several types of custody arrangements in Michigan; there is sole physical custody, primary physical custody, joint physical custody, sole legal custody, joint legal custody and many forms of parenting time. Each form of custody provides for a different legal relationship between the parties.

Sole physical custody generally denotes that one party or the other will have most if not all the parenting time with the children. Joint physical custody means generally that the parties are sharing the parenting time with the minor children, but not necessarily 50/50. Sole legal custody means that one parent has the ability to solely make decisions for the minors well-being, and if there is no parenting time order in place (where the parties or not married) the party with sole legal custody can even move from the state without the permission of the other. Most orders of filiation entered or issued upon the birth of child, where the parents are not married, gives the mother sole physical custody, so if the father wants to change that he must file a petition to order a change as quickly as possible.

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Child Support is decided by using the Child Support guidelines, these are guidelines developed by the state to attempt to make support orders uniform. Support is calculated by the amount of money each party makes and the number of days that the respective parties have the children. Days are calculated as overnight parenting time, so a half day or partial day does not count as a day for child support purposes. Other factors such as health insurance and child care expenses are also calculated into the final child support guideline. It is important to have run the guidelines prior to meeting with the friend of the court so there are no big surprises. An experienced attorney can make sure that all the time and additions or subtractions to the support calculation is factored correctly.

Assisting With The Complexities of Property Division and Asset Distribution

Michigan is an equitable division state, which means the court is supposed to make its decisions on property division on fairness and can take into consideration many factors. The property and debts to be divided is that property or debts that were acquired by the parties during the course of the marriage. If a party has property from prior to the marriage and that property has not been co-mingled and remained separate from the other party it can be considered “separate property” and not be subject to division by the court.

ALL PROPERTY AND ALL DEBTS acquired during the course of the marriage regardless whose name is on the property can be divisible, so even if the HOUSE, CAR, RETIREMENT or credit card is in the name on only one party, if acquired during the course of the marriage the property or debt is subject to the courts decisions as to which party gets what property and which party is responsible for the debt and in what percentages. Again this division of property will be final and you will need the guidance of an attorney to protect your interests, as they will affect you for the rest of your life and many have sever tax consequences.

What factors go into to what is equitable or too numerous to list, and very in degrees with each judge, but the biggest factors are generally the length of the marriage, relative earing of the parties, and fault. Again the need for an attorney goes up exponentially with the length of the marriage and amount of property or debt.

Critical Factors When Awarding Spousal Support

Alimony many years ago was routinely awarded and when no fault was first adopted routinely not awarded. Times change and so do the attitude of the courts concerning alimony. Alimony is now award on a case by case basis again with each different judge having a different approach on it use. Again the length of the marriage, relative wealth of the parties, earning capacity of the parties is taken into consideration. The amount of alimony ordered, whether it is permanent or in gross, temporary or rehabilitative is a product of many factors and have many tax ramifications.

Some forms of alimony may be changed by proving a substantial change in circumstances and other types of alimony cannot be changed even if there is a change in circumstance. A change in circumstance generally is the wage of one part or the other goes up or down substantially since the inception of the alimony order. Alimony typical ends with the death or remarriage of the spouse receiving the alimony, but again there are forms of alimony that would still be payable upon death. Do to the complex nature of alimony, for instance it is not dis-chargeable in bankruptcy, the need to have seasoned legal advice is a must.

The Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Michigan Divorce Lawyer

Some divorce cases are settled amicably, but it is simply not the case in the majority of situations.  For this reason alone, it is recommended to have an experienced divorce attorney that can represent you while protecting yourself and your children.  We understand the confusion and difficulties that divorce cases entail.  We provide all our clients with a working knowledge of Michigan divorce law, clear communication, and the personal attention that they are seeking and deserve.  We value our clients and will advocate for the best solution to your case.

If you are facing a divorce or fighting for your children, call us right away for a free case evaluation at 517-347-6900.  One of our attorneys will talk to you immediately about your case and help you understand the process including your available options and how to make this difficult time easier for your entire family.

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