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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce mediation lawyerAfter you have made the decision to pursue a divorce, it is not uncommon to feel uneasy about airing your marriage history in open court. To avoid this, many couples find mediation to be a more effective and far less stressful and expensive way to settle the outstanding issues in their divorce. In addition to working with a resourceful family law attorney, it is critical to understand what is necessary to prepare for a mediation session. 

What You Need To Do To Get Ready

Mediation is often considered the low-key route to divorce, the process still has the ability to make people nervous, and this understandable. No matter what you call it, the end result is still the same, and to many, the end of one’s marriage can be nerve-wracking and emotional. Here are a few tips to consider when preparing for mediation sessions:

  • Get all your financial files in order. Spend time in advance of mediation making sure you have copies of bank records, statements, receipts, and records of all debts, loans, and assets that hold financial value to both you and your spouse. 
  • Make sure your emotions are in check. While mediation is supposed to be a less stressful path to divorce, depending on your relationship with your spouse, it is not uncommon for emotions to bubble to the surface. Do your best to control yourself and avoid outbursts, as they can be quite counterproductive.
  • Be ready to negotiate. You should enter mediation with the mindset of someone who wants to work toward a compromise, not argue. A little give and take will go a long way in resolving things quickly. 
  • Prepare a budget. Know your income and expenses, and enter mediation with a budget that accounts for your financial needs. Be realistic, but be sure to account for everything you (and your children) will require on a monthly basis. 

A Good Thing To Know In Advance

If, during the course of the mediation session, you have a question or concern you wish to share with your attorney, it is perfectly acceptable to ask to speak privately with your lawyer. Do not wait to ask questions and fully understand the legal ramifications of your decisions until it is too late. 

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Michigan Considers Shared Parenting for Divorced Parents

When parents decide to end their marriage, they often disagree about custody arrangements for their children, and battles over who will retain primary custody can be an especially contentious part of divorce proceedings. The children are often the ones who suffer the most in these types of conflicts, and in order to provide a better environment for children following divorce, the Michigan House of Representatives is currently considering legislation which would give equal parenting time to divorced parents.

Proposed Changes to Michigan Law

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are around 26,000 children in Michigan every year whose parents get divorced. In many of these cases, family courts award primary custody to one parent. However, polls have shown that there is overwhelming support for divorcing parents to have joint custody and equal parenting time, with 84% of registered voters believing that this is in the best interests of children, as long as a parent does not have a history of abuse, substance addiction, or mental illness.

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How Are Custody Decisions Reversed After a Divorce Ruling?

Once the judge rules on a case, it may seem there is no possibility for the judge to reverse their decision. Fortunately, for those who are not in favor the court's ruling, there is a way to have the court reconsider their initial ruling. A spouse has an opportunity to challenge the judge's so called “final” decision by appealing. If the spouse wants to change the custody rights or other obligations set by the judge, as child custody attorneys, we can provide experienced legal assistance.

Either spouse has the right to appeal the judge's divorce judgment to an appeals court. While it is not neither guaranteed or highly likely the appeal court will overturn a judge's ruling, spouses still have a chance and opportunity to reverse the ruling. An appeal begins by an attorney filing a written brief, which includes the legal argument and support from case law. The appeals court will also turn to the record of the trial court for further analysis. Typically, new evidence cannot be introduced during an appeal. Once all the information is submitted, both parties can make an oral case just for the divorce ruling.

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What Rights Do Custodial Parents Have?

In some Michigan divorces, sole custody is granted to one parent, rather than splitting parenting time between the two. The parent with custody is referred to as the custodial parent, and he or she has certain rights that the other parent does not. When sole custody is granted, the custodial parent has complete authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, such as medical care, education, and where to live.

While it's not the most common decision, it's not unusual for a judge to grant sole child custody to one parent. The courts generally maintain the opinion that it is in the best interest of the child to spend time with both parents, but a variety of factors can lead a judge to decide that one parent deserves full control over the welfare of the child. Judges may grant sole custody if the other parent is incapable of caring for the child, has a history of making poor decisions, or would likely make decisions that would put the child in danger.

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How Do Michigan Courts Decide Who Gets Child Custody?

Divorce is always stressful and emotionally draining. When children are involved, the stress and emotional strain is even greater. Judges who handle divorce cases regularly will tell you that determining child custody cases is very difficult, as they must consider a multitude of factors. Michigan has a prescribed guideline for the courts to reference when making child custody decisions. While the guideline is helpful to judges in making determinations about custody, there are a variety of other factors judges consider when making custody decisions.

Judges will often consider factors such as a child's age, the parent's ability to care for the child, parent's criminal record, etc. Sometimes, Michigan judges will talk with children during divorce proceedings to ask for their opinion regarding custodial matters. In these cases, judges typically assure the child that their opinion is important, but that the decision will be made from the bench, relieving the child from feeling like they betrayed one parent.

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How Is Alimony Determined in a Michigan Divorce?

Spousal support, or alimony, is money that one party gives to the other as one of the terms of the divorce. Michigan Law recognizes the need for alimony, but does not consist of explicit language outlining the terms of spousal support in Michigan. However, there are multiple factors that courts consider when determining whether one party is in need of alimony.

Factors such as the ages of the parties, their respective income, their behavior during the marriage, and the length of the marriage are considered by the court when determining whether one party is entitled to alimony.

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