Frequently Asked Questions
What Do I Have To Do To File For Divorce?
Filing consists of starting a lawsuit in the circuit court in the county in which you reside. You must have been a Michigan resident for at least 180 days and a resident of the county for at least 10 days immediately preceding the filing.
There are various pleadings (legal documents) and other assorted informational materials that must be correctly prepared and submitted to the court. There are NO “fill-in-the-blank forms” at a court house; original pleadings are prepared in each case. Properly prepared documents are important to attain the best results.
Does It Matter Who Files First?
Generally the circumstances in each case determines this answer. This decision is best made after consultation with an experienced legal counsel.
What Should I Do To Prepare For Divorce?
When the decision is made to end the marriage, individual counseling is very important in assisting with emotional issues. If children are involved, they likewise would benefit greatly from counseling. We are attorneys, not counselors or therapists.
Obtain a credit report to capture a snapshot of your current financial condition.
Gather all the financial information you can include:
- Checking and savings account statements
- 401k statements and retirement account statements
- Credit card statements
- Social Security statements
- Ownership documents (mortgages, deeds, land contracts, etc.)
- Inventory important personal property
How Is Custody Of Children Decided?
Most often, parents agree on a custody arrangement after consulting with their attorney. In the event they can’t, the court must do so after a court hearing.
Courts make a custody decision after examining the “Best Interest” factors found in Michigan’s Child Custody Act.
The “Best Interest” factors are:
- 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, 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 the 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;
- 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;
And any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
What Is Legal And Physical Custody? What Is Shared Or Joint Custody?
Legal custody concerns the decision making about major aspects of the child’s life, such as education, religious upbringing, and major medical decisions, etc.
Physical custody concerns which parent a child lives with on a day-to-day basis. Shared or joint custody means that the parents share either legal or physical custody, or both.
In a joint legal custody, the parents must consult one another on the major decisions affecting the child, and if they cannot agree, a court must make the decision.
In joint physical custody, the child spends equal or more equal time with each of the parents on a schedule that makes sense for the child.
What Is Parenting Time?
Parenting time is the time the non-physical custodial parent spends with the child. The frequency and amount of time depends on many factors involved in each individual case and there is no “one size fits all” formula or schedule.
Can The Other Parent Take My Child Out Of The State?
Either party can usually take a child out of the state for vacations or trips without the court’s permission. It is common courtesy to inform the other parent of the trip and to provide emergency phone numbers, etc.
A child’s permanent residence may not be removed from the state without the court’s permission. There is a specific standard the court must use to determine this when the issue arises.
How Is Child Support Decided?
The Michigan Legislature passed a law that requires courts to use the Michigan Child Support Formula, unless, the court finds good cause to deviate.
What Is Alimony/Spousal Support And How Is It Calculated?
Alimony and spousal support are the same. Alimony is often awarded to a spouse to assist that spouse with living or educational expenses. Awards are made after consideration of many factors. These factors include:
- The past relations and conduct of the parties;
- The length of the marriage;
- The abilities of the parties to work;
- The source and amount of property awarded to the parties;
- The parties’ ages;
- The abilities of the parties to pay support;
- The present situation of the parties;
- The needs of the parties;
- The parties’ health;
- The prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others;
- Contributions of the parties to the joint estate;
- A party’s fault in causing the divorce;
- The effect of cohabitation on a party’s financial status, and
- General principles of equity
What Is A Judgement Of Divorce?
A judgement of divorce is the final document that concludes the divorce. It contains the specific terms and conditions as either, negotiated and agreed upon by the parties or as is ordered by the court after a trial concerning all issues.
The following are usually included:
- Legal and Physical Custody;
- Parenting Time/Co-Parenting;
- Holiday, Vacation, and Summer Schedules;
- Transportation, Private Schools;
- Support, Medical Care, Child Care, Other Expenses;
- Moving, Both In-State and Out-Of-State;
- Spousal Support;
- Real Estate;
- Personal Property;
- Automobiles, Boats, Toys With A Title;
- Bank Accounts;
- Household Items, Tools, Collections, Etc.;
- Business Interests;
- Retirement Savings, Retirement Plans, Etc.;
- Life Insurance;
- Health Care/Insurance;
- Tax Provisions;
Do you have questions like these? You and many others have similar questions and many more. These are troubling issues to those who are not familiar with the legal process. Are you confused and don’t know what to do? Call us and we will give you the answers, and help you decide your course of action.
We will help you understand your rights and privileges, and carefully explain your duties and responsibilities. Call us at (810) 244-8480.
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