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MI divorce lawyersWhen most couples are married, their finances and their assets become intertwined, which typically can make things easier - unless you get divorced. When you get divorced, everything must be separated again, which can make for a confusing process. You and your spouse might own things together, like a home, other real estate, cars, furniture, and other household items. The things that you and your spouse jointly own is called marital property. Usually, if you own things like real estate or a car, you typically have debt, too. Any debt that you have together, like a mortgage, credit card debt or auto loans must also be considered when you divorce. Like marital property, marital debt must be divided. In Michigan, marital property is divided equitably, which does not always mean equally. Here are some suggestions on how to divide certain assets during your Michigan divorce:

The Family Home

The easiest way to deal with your home when you are getting a divorce is to sell it and then split the proceeds. This only works, however, if you have equity in your home. If you do not have equity in your home, you might have to sell your home at a loss and then determine who will be responsible for paying the rest of the mortgage. If one of you wants to keep the home, then you can pay the other spouse what their half of the home is worth. Either way, the first thing you should do is determine what your house is currently worth and go from there.

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MI family lawyerDivorcing with children brings about many different types of issues that couples divorcing without children do not have to deal with. One of the things that must be determined when you are getting divorced is how you will parent your child where your child will be spending their time. Typically, Michigan courts prefer the parents to try to make their own determinations about child custody and parenting time before they turn to the court to make these decisions for them. There is a better chance that orders will be followed when parents are involved in making these decisions. When a court is called in to help determine parenting time, many different factors must be considered before a final order is issued.

Michigan Courts and Making Decisions About Parenting Time

Like many states in the U.S., Michigan makes determinations about parenting time based on the best interests of the child. It is assumed that it is in the best interest of every child to have a secure relationship with both parents. Michigan courts also believe that every child has a right to spend time with each parent unless the court finds that it would severely harm the child’s mental, physical or emotional health. The court will examine a variety of factors when making decisions about parenting time, including:

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MI mediation lawyerMany couples still think that the only way they can get a divorce is by going the traditional way of litigating the divorce. Traditional divorce involves both spouses getting their own attorneys who argue for them on their behalf about various topics like child support, property division and even who gets to keep the dog. This can cause much stress for both spouses and their kids, which is why many couples have been looking at forms of alternative dispute resolution, one of them being mediation. Because it is a fairly new and accepted practice in the legal community, people still have their misconceptions about the divorce mediation process. Here are three common myths about divorce mediation and the truths behind them.

Mediation Does Not Work if You Both Cannot Get Along

Divorce mediation can actually help couples who are combative. The mediator is there to help keep you and your soon-to-be ex on track when you are discussing and making decisions about important issues. It is the mediator’s job to steer you and your ex in the right direction when conversing - rather than letting you and your ex hash it out, they will make suggestions on possible solutions for your arguments.

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MI divorce lawyerSo you have finally made the decision that you and your spouse are going to get a divorce. You may feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest, this is only the beginning. Now, you must decide what type of divorce would be the best fit for your family. There are many options you can choose from, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. You can go the traditional route and get a litigated divorce, or you could choose an alternative route by getting a mediated or collaborative divorce . Many couples are not often aware that there are choices other than litigation which offer many benefits, especially if you are divorcing with children.

Litigated Divorce

This type of divorce is considered the traditional divorce and the majority of couples still choose this way to separate. Most of the time, divorces are adversarial situations in which one spouse wants to divorce from the other. A litigated divorce does not necessarily mean that you will be going to court. In fact, most divorce cases are settled outside of the courtroom. Typically, a litigated divorce is chosen because a mediated or collaborative divorce is out of the question because both methods rely on full cooperation and a willingness to work together.

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MI family lawyerMany people say that the hardest thing about their divorce was seeing how it affected their children. Children often have different reactions to divorce, ranging from anger and fury to depression and guilt. Though the range of emotions felt by children of divorce is vast, there is one thing that most can agree on - divorce is hard on children. Because of this issue, an increase in unusual custody arrangements has been observed across the county - nesting arrangements. These kinds of arrangements can be beneficial to both parents and children as they transition from their normal life to one in which parents are divorced.

What Is a Nesting Arrangement?

As the name of the arrangement implies, a nesting arrangement is one in which the family home is the “nest” where the children live and the parents take turns staying at the home to spend time with the children. Traditional split custody arrangements consist of the parents each having their separate homes and the children moving between those homes after a set length of time. In a nesting arrangement, some parents will have their own designated living quarters in the family home, but more often, parents will live outside of the family home when they are not in charge of the children.

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IL divorce lawyerFace it - divorce is stressful no matter what way you look at it. Even if you and your spouse made the mutual decision to end your relationship, there are many things you must think of when it comes time to begin the process of divorcing. You have got to figure out who is getting what, how you will divide your finances, who will pay back which debts and how you will raise your children as parents who are no longer a couple. Although the weight of divorce can be overwhelming, what matters is how you respond to that stress and the steps you take to make sure you are taking care of yourself along the way.

  1. Allow Yourself to Grieve the Loss of Your Relationship

Even though divorce is a legal process, it means you are ending your relationship. No matter the circumstances, there is always a little bit of grief that comes along with the ending of something as substantial as a marriage. It is important for you to understand that it is OK to grieve the end of your relationship, even when the divorce is occurring for the better. The sooner you allow yourself to grieve, the sooner you can begin the process of healing.

  1. Take Care of Yourself Physically

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Posted on in Divorce

MI divorce lawyerAny divorce is not going to be easy to prepare for. In some ways, a mediated divorce can be even more difficult to prepare for. Because of the cooperative nature of divorce mediation, you have to put your feelings aside so that you can effectively work with your soon-to-be-ex to come to a divorce agreement that you both are comfortable with. Divorce mediation has many benefits that come with it, but that does not mean it is easier to do. Here are a few ways you can prepare for your divorce mediation:

Gather All of Your Important Documents

Like most things, being prepared will serve you well. When you come to your mediation sessions, be sure to have copies or originals of all of your important documents, which can include:

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MI family lawyerSometimes, when parents remarry, they want their new spouse to become the legal parent of their child. Though stepparent adoption can come with many benefits, under Michigan law, a child can only have a maximum of two legal parents at one time. This means if you want your new spouse to legally adopt your child, you must first have your child’s biological parent relinquish their parental rights or have them revoked by the court, which can only happen in certain situations. Stepparent adoption can be a tricky process to navigate, but it does not have to be.

  1. Contact the Courthouse

The first step in the stepparent adoption process is to contact the courthouse in the county in which you reside. The will be able to tell you the specific steps you need to take when proceeding with the adoption process. You will also be able to get the forms you need to fill out to file for adoption.

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MI custody lawyerTraditionally, when a couple got divorced, the child was thought to be better off living with its mother for the majority of the time, rather than with its father. Because of that, sole custody was typically granted to the mother and the father was allowed visitation rights. In today’s age, it’s generally thought that joint custody is the ideal situation for children. The Michigan Child Custody Act states that it is important for a child to have a relationship with both of his or her parents, if possible. Child custody can be a hot topic when it comes to divorce, but custody arrangements are always determined with the child’s best interests in mind.

Deciding Factors for Custody Arrangements

Parents are urged to come to a custody agreement on their own, but in the event that they cannot agree, the court must step in and determine the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. Michigan courts consider the following factors when determining a child’s best interest in custody cases:

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Posted on in Divorce

MI divorce lawyerWe all know what happens in a traditional divorce - the husband and wife spend months on end arguing about who gets the house, where the kids will live and how their property will be split between the two. A litigated divorce can be stressful for you, hard on your wallet and traumatizing to the kids. It is important to understand that you do have other options. Divorce mediation is one of those options and has become an increasingly popular route for many divorcing couples because of the multitude of benefits it offers.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Many people do not actually know what divorce mediation is and therefore, do not know of its benefits. Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves a neutral, third-party - often a lawyer - who helps the couple make decisions about their own divorce. Unlike divorce litigation, there is only one mediator for both spouses, but the key to mediation is that the mediator is not able to advocate for one party over the other. The mediator is simply there to bring light to issues that need to be settled and guide conversations to keep them civil and productive.

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MI custody lawyerGenerally speaking, Michigan law holds that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain continuous relationships with both parents after a divorce. But what if you suspect that your ex is using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol or prescription medications? For example, your ex might appear drunk or high when the children are picked up or dropped off, or the children might tell you that they have seen drug use or excessive drinking.

When the safety of your children is at risk, and you are unable to work out a satisfactory solution with your ex directly, you may need to take legal action. Your attorney can file a motion with the family court requesting specific actions or changes to your parenting time arrangements to protect the best interests of the children. Here are some of your options.

Request Testing and/or Investigation for Substance Abuse

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MI divorce lawyerWhen one or both parties to a divorce suffer from alcohol use disorder (the latest medical term for alcoholism) or drug addiction, the divorce process can become significantly more complicated.

For one thing, settlement discussions can be much more difficult. Long-term drug use or alcohol abuse can actually cause brain damage, reducing a person’s ability to think logically, make decisions, and control their behavior. There are emotional effects as well: an estimated 30-40 percent of alcoholics also suffer from some type of depression. Bottom line, it is likely to take longer to reach a settlement and get the divorce finalized when you or your spouse abuses drugs or alcohol.

From a strictly legal point of view, a spouse’s drug or alcohol use can impact decisions regarding the division of assets, spousal support, child custody, and parenting time.

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MI family attorneyWhen two adults divorce, you have to make a lot of changes in a relatively short period of time: where you live, who you live with, how you manage your money, who your friends are, and so on. As hard as it is to deal with all of these changes as an adult, imagine how much more difficult it can be for a child who has no control over custody and parenting time decisions.

What can you do to keep your children healthy and happy despite the divorce? Here is some simple advice compiled by the Oakland County Friend of the Court agency with input from professionals who have helped hundreds of divorcing families.

1. Stick to a routine.

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MI divorce lawyerWith our lives running on Internet time — in minutes, not months — you may well wonder why there is a two- to six-month minimum waiting period between the initial filing and the finalization of a Michigan divorce.

Here are four good reasons the law requires these waiting periods and how they can actually benefit you.

1. Opportunity for Reconciliation

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney property divisionThe wedding ring handed down from your husband’s grandmother. The antiques from your wife’s family that were inherited during your marriage. Expensive purses and jewelry given by a husband’s mother to his wife as Christmas gifts. These are all examples of items that have both sentimental and financial value which can become bones of contention during a divorce. How do Michigan courts typically divide such items?

Engagement Rings

Michigan courts have ruled that if a couple breaks off their engagement prior to the wedding ceremony, the giver (purchaser) gets the ring back. Fault is not a factor here; that is, it does not matter who broke off the engagement or if one person was more to blame than the other.

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Novi contested divorce attorneyMost people, once they have concluded that divorce is inevitable, want the whole process to be over and done with as quickly as possible. But what happens if one spouse tries to unreasonably delay the legal process? 

One spouse can definitely drag out divorce proceedings by contesting the divorce and endlessly dickering over settlement terms. But ultimately, they cannot stop a Michigan divorce from happening.  

Why a Spouse Might Try to Delay Divorce Proceedings

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Farmington Hills stepparent adoption lawyerIf you have been helping to raise your spouse’s children for some time now, you probably consider them “your” children already, even if they are not “yours” biologically and legally. Obviously, you cannot do anything about the biological part. But have you thought about legally adopting your stepchildren

Benefits of Stepparent Adoption

You might choose to adopt your spouse’s child for any or all of these reasons:

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Novi, MI divorce attorneyAre you thinking about a divorce, but are unsure if you want to be the one to actually start the legal process? This might tip you into action: The spouse who files for divorce first has several advantages over the other spouse.

1. Choosing the Court Location

When you file for divorce, you must do it in the state and county where you currently live. Suppose that you currently live in Oakland County, Michigan, and the person you are divorcing has recently moved to Illinois. If you file first, your divorce will be handled in the Oakland County court. But if your spouse files first, your divorce will be handled by a court in Illinois, which could prove very inconvenient for you. 

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Farmington Hills divorce process attorneyIn the rom-com movie “Sweet Home Alabama,” Melanie (played by Reese Witherspoon) wants a divorce, but Jake (Josh Lucas) has refused to sign the papers for seven years. While Hollywood movies are not always known for their realism, this particular plot point may leave many wondering: could a resistant spouse really hold up a divorce proceeding for that long, just by refusing to sign a piece of paper?

In Michigan, you may be relieved to know, the short answer is “no.” If one spouse wants a divorce, the other spouse cannot prevent it. If your spouse refuses to participate in the process, your divorce can be finalized within a matter of months. 

Signatures Required for a Michigan Divorce

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Novi, MI divorce lawyer answering divorce summonsMost married people naturally assume that they will have some warning of marital problems--a discussion about marriage counseling, perhaps, or mention of a trial separation--before anyone actually takes legal action. Yet quite a few people are completely surprised when they are served with divorce papers. 

What should you do if your spouse files for divorce unexpectedly? Here are three things you can do after being served with Michigan divorce papers:

1. Give Yourself a Little Breathing Space

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