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Oakland County military divorce lawyerMichigan couples have to resolve several issues before they can finalize their divorce, and asset division is nearly always one of the most difficult of these issues. Spouses who have been married for many years typically share a diverse asset portfolio that is made up of equity in a marital home, savings accounts, and retirement accounts. When one or both spouses served in the United States Armed Forces, there may be military retirement benefits to divide in addition to other assets. 

Regardless of how large or small your marital asset portfolio is, Michigan divorce law requires the marital estate to be divided “fairly.” While fairly usually means each partner gets about half of everything, spouses may agree to other arrangements (such as one partner getting more assets but also more debt). If you are considering a divorce in Michigan and wondering what a fair division of assets could mean for your military retirement benefits, read on. 

Are Spouses of Military Members Automatically Entitled to Retirement Pay? 

Spouses are encouraged to decide how to split their marital property on their own, with the help of a mediator if necessary. If a couple cannot reach an agreement themselves, a judge may intervene and decide for them. There is no law or rule that obligates a Michigan court to award a spouse part of a current or former military member’s retirement pay or benefits, and a judge will only do so if it would be unfair not to. 

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Novi military child custody lawyerMembers of the United States Armed Forces face special challenges when it comes to nurturing their relationship with a child. Deployment can require a parent to be gone for long portions of a child’s life, during which a child may change significantly. For divorced military parents, these chunks of missing time can feel like an overwhelming loss. 

Fortunately, courts allow military parents some protection when dealing with issues of child custody. If you are going to be deployed and are wondering whether this will affect your relationship with your child, contact a Michigan military child custody attorney for help. 

Can a Deployment Be Used Against Me? 

Military parents often fear that their involuntary absence from their child’s life might be used against them in custodial proceedings. After all, if a very young child has not spent time with a parent for a year or more, that child’s relationship with the parent could become strained or almost nonexistent. 

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Michigan military divorce lawyerGetting a divorce is never easy, but it can be especially complicated when one or both spouses are active members of the United States Armed Forces. From filing a divorce to modifying a custody order, a spouse’s deployment can have a significant effect on the timing and outcome of the proceedings. 

In this blog, we will discuss how a spouse’s military deployment specifically affects the divorce proceedings - how and where divorce can be filed, what happens if a spouse is unable to attend court dates, and more. If you or your spouse are deployed and talking about getting a divorce, make sure you have help from a Michigan divorce attorney. 

Where Does a Couple File for Divorce During a Spouse’s Deployment? 

For a couple to file for divorce in a particular state, at least one spouse has to have residency in that state. Military members who move around frequently during their service may be unsure of whether they should file in their home state or the state in which they are currently deployed. 

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Novi divorce attorneyStudies suggest that having an attorney in a murder case significantly reduces the rate of conviction, the amount of time spent in jail, and the chance of a life sentence conviction. Perhaps in homicide cases, where the stakes are so high and there are questions of evidence, this is not surprising. But what about Michigan divorce cases? Does having a great lawyer matter then? And what if your attorney is not meeting your expectations - should you seek a new attorney or just wait it out, hoping things get better? If you find yourself in this situation, read on. 

The Right Lawyer Makes All the Difference

While everyone hopes to find the perfect attorney the first time around, this is not always possible. Most people getting divorced have never gone through the divorce process before and likely do not have experience choosing an attorney, including identifying red flags that could indicate an attorney is not the right fit. 

Even when an attorney has been well researched and carefully chosen, they are still people with personal problems and character flaws that may become apparent as a case goes on. An attorney who was responsive at first may become more and more difficult to contact; even the most organized lawyer may become a mess when dealing with a major health crisis or family problems. 

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Michigan divorce lawyerDivorce is a complex period for a couple in many ways. Financially, emotionally, and physically, a couple may feel worn down and discouraged before they reach the point of divorce. Making final decisions can be difficult, especially when both spouses feel as though their marriage may still have redeeming qualities. The decision to end a marriage may be so conflicted that some spouses may be determined to pursue a divorce, only to later change their minds. If this sounds familiar to you and you have already filed for divorce in Michigan, you may be wondering whether it is too late to stop the divorce process. 

Why Do Couples Change Their Minds During Divorce? 

People are complicated. Understanding someone’s motivations and reasoning can seem like a futile task, as a person’s perspective often changes from day to day. Spouses who suffer from mental illness, have a tendency towards compulsive behavior, or are simply indecisive may change their minds many times throughout the divorce process. 

Even the most reasonable spouses may have a change of heart partway through a divorce. They may realize the grass is not greener with another partner, that they still love their spouse, or that their personal or religious values prohibit them from getting a divorce after all. Some spouses realize that living in different households or bedrooms allows them to remain happily married. Whatever the reason, know that feeling conflicted about your divorce is very common and that, if you do decide to change your mind, you would be far from the first person to do so. 

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Novi divorce lawyerWhile some Michigan divorces can be resolved using alternative dispute resolution methods, the nature of others means that spouses are in for a high-conflict journey of collecting, presenting, and disputing evidence that supports each side’s claims. Especially in cases involving financial or custody disputes, gathering evidence can be a significant chunk of the divorce process. 

Sometimes, a case will require evidence beyond what spouses can present themselves. When it comes to expert testimony about real estate or hidden assets, witness testimony from neighbors or family members who have witnessed domestic abuse, or any other matter under dispute during a divorce, outside witnesses may be invaluable. 

Divorce Discovery Begins Long Before Trial

The process of gathering evidence starts long before a couple appears in a trial before a judge. Sometimes, the evidence is so compelling in favor of one party that the judge will successfully convince the other party to settle before litigating the matter in court. Whether a divorce goes to trial or not, discovery is an essential part of the overall process. 

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Novi divorce attorneyAdultery is the kind of behavior that has the potential to not only blow up a marriage but to destroy a person’s confidence and trust in the world around them as well. Unsurprisingly, many marriages fall apart after revelations of infidelity, adding the stress and chaos of divorce to the emotional fallout of a broken marriage. If you have been cheated on by your partner and are now going through a Michigan divorce, you may wonder whether the law has any remedies for you, especially when it comes to paying alimony

Can Cheating Be Grounds for Divorce? 

Although Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, the behavior of spouses during the marriage can have an impact on the outcome of certain issues in the divorce. When spouses are fighting over alimony and judges have to make alimony decisions, they can consider a number of factors, one of which is the past relations and conduct of the spouses. 

In combination with other factors, such as each spouse’s needs, resources, and mental and physical health, a judge can decide whether to award alimony, how much, and for how long. While the alimony award cannot be punitive, a spouse who cheated may receive less alimony than he or she may have otherwise. 

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Novi child custody lawyersIssues related to children are some of the most bitterly contested in all of Michigan family law. Parents are under stress and often act in uncharacteristic ways, especially if the custody matters have become a proxy for the interpersonal conflict parents have with each other. When custody disputes cannot be resolved peacefully using alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation, they may head to court. Here are three major mistakes to avoid during your custody dispute

Talking About it on Social Media

Even if the world at large is not interested in what you have to say on social media, you can be sure that your ex will be. Anything harmful your ex sees can and will be used against you; this is also true for friends of your ex who may be interested in helping them win the case. Be wary of saying anything on social media about your case, your kids, or your ex. Do not make threats toward anyone or rant about judges or the law. Do not even post pictures of yourself going out with friends. The best practice when it comes to social media and court battles is to avoid all social media completely. 

Texting and Calling Your Ex

You can expect to get angry during your custody hearing. Your ex may say unpleasant things about you that may not even be true. While it can be tempting to reach out to your ex, especially if you have had a drink or two, stay away. Avoid talking to each other directly, especially in ways that could be easily misconstrued. Do not leave voicemails or send angry text messages. If in doubt, you can always ignore the message or call. 

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Novi divorce attorneysJohn Gottman and his wife, Julie, are relationship researchers who have spent almost four decades trying to discover the secret sauce to making a marriage last. Along the way, they have studied thousands of couples and created a couple’s therapy program that proponents say is highly effective. Unfortunately, not every marriage is destined to last and during their research on the marriages that fail, the Gottmans discovered four communication styles that can predict the end of a relationship is near. If you recognize any of these styles in your marriage, it may be time to speak with a Michigan divorce attorney

Criticism

While even the most loving spouses must be open to receiving occasional criticism from each other as a way to grow and learn, the criticism the Gottmans identify as being existentially threatening to a relationship is the kind that targets a person’s innate character rather than a particular behavior. Pervasive criticism can be hard to stop and difficult to forgive, making the following behaviors more likely. 

Defensiveness

Every person who has ever been in a relationship is familiar with the behavior of preparing your rebuttal before the other person has a chance to finish what they are saying. This kind of defensiveness - seeking excuses, playing the victim, and ignoring a partner’s valid perspective - is counterproductive to genuine communication. Defensiveness seeks to place blame on the other partner rather than seeking understanding. 

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Oakland County divorce attorneysOne of the greatest factors that prevents people in unhappy marriages from leaving is the fear that they will not be able to afford a divorce. After all, the average cost of a divorce in 2020 was nearly $13,000 and nationwide inflation has increased the cost of goods and services substantially since then. 

However, there are ways to save money during divorce and knowing how the cost of divorce breaks down can help you know what to expect and look for places where you might be able to save money. Once you have read our list of the most common expenses in divorce, contact our Michigan divorce attorneys to get further answers to your questions. 

Your Lawyer

Unless you have a fairly straightforward divorce or you are the adventurous type who loves reading about complex new subjects, you will have an attorney to help you during your divorce. While divorce attorneys often get a bad rap, a good attorney can actually make your divorce go faster and cost less money by being responsive, accurate, and proactive. The time and complexity of divorces vary wildly and attorneys’ fees likewise vary, but you can talk to several attorneys to get ballpark estimates of how much you can expect to spend on legal representation. 

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Novi divorce lawyerDivorce is an incredibly stressful situation and it can be made even worse with a spouse who is determined not to follow the rules. Unfortunately, many people try to hide details to get a more favorable outcome in their Michigan divorce, making it difficult for judges to get an accurate picture of a couple’s life together in order to achieve a fair divorce decree. But lying under oath is illegal, and a spouse who does so can face serious consequences. Here are some tips about what to do if your spouse is lying in your divorce. 

What is Perjury? 

Courtroom dramas are famous for having scenes in which defendants agree to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But individuals, whether they are participating in a criminal or civil trial, are under a legal obligation to tell the truth as soon as they are involved in any legal proceedings. Doing otherwise is committing a crime known as perjury. For example, signing a financial affidavit that attests to containing a spouse’s full financial picture without disclosing a personal savings account would be considered lying under oath. Likewise, failing to answer a question honestly during a deposition could also be considered perjury. 

Civil judges in divorce cases can hold someone in contempt of court for lying under oath. Punishments generally include fines and, perhaps more seriously, skepticism on the part of the judge about a spouse’s claims in the future. When the perjury is serious enough, the judge may even refer the case to a prosecutor for criminal charges. 

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Novi family law attorneyOf all the difficult parts of a Michigan divorce, parental conflict has the greatest potential to hurt children. Unfortunately, due to the very nature of divorce, at least some parental conflict is all but inevitable. Even when parents feel as though they are working hard to shield their children from conflict, kids are adept at noticing when a parent is stressed and tend to take that stress upon themselves. In divorces involving underage children, a family therapist can be helpful for everyone involved. Here are three ways family counseling may benefit your family during divorce. 

Identifying Children’s Feelings

Children (and even adults) are often not very good at identifying and explaining their feelings. What is truly anger or sadness may manifest as depression or rebelliousness. Working through feelings can help children specify what they are feeling, as well as the causes behind their feelings, allowing them to communicate this to their parents and enabling everyone to find solutions. 

Helping Children Voice Their Feelings

Once children know what is bothering them, it can be helpful for a therapist to encourage the children to advocate for their needs and concerns. During a divorce, children are asked to make enormous changes, often with very little notice, and the people they depend on to support them are usually preoccupied and angry themselves. When parents can hear a child’s needs and concerns, finding effective solutions is much more likely. For example, a child may have a fear that they will move out of their neighborhood and never see their friends again. Parents who know this can reassure the child that they will do everything in their power to help a child stay connected to her friends, including planning visits far in advance. 

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Novi family law attorneyThe vast majority of people in Michigan will eventually get married, and, consequently, a significant number of these people will also get divorced. Because couples are now older before their first marriage, many are getting savvier about ways to protect themselves in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement is one of the best ways to do this - but before a prenup can be created and signed, a couple needs to know that they share priorities. Here are five important conversations to have before you create a prenup and get married in Michigan. 

Kids

Whether or not you want kids may not be foremost on your mind while you are wedding planning, but wanting children will change the way you plan for the future. How you manage your finances, the decisions you make about your career, and the places you choose to live are all influenced by this major decision. 

Finances

Couples often get divorced over their financial differences, which tend to be consistent throughout the course of a marriage. It is important to talk about your underlying values around money, such as whether you prefer to save or spend extra cash. This can influence your career discussions, too - whether you prioritize earning a higher income or having more free time can cause conflict between you and your spouse. 

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Novi divorce attorneyFor most parents who get divorced in Michigan and have children under the age of 18, finalizing the divorce is only the beginning of a serious amount of work regarding the children. While divorced parents no longer have to live in the same household and deal with each other’s idiosyncrasies on a day-to-day basis, they must still deal with each other as they transition children between households. This can present many opportunities for conflict for the parents and managing the transition between parents can be very difficult for children. If you are considering divorce or are going through a divorce already, here are three tips for helping your children adjust to living in two homes. 

Avoid Conflict

Because children have neither the experience nor the wisdom to understand adult conflict, fighting parents can put pressure on children to take a side or have an opinion about their parents’ fighting that interferes with the child’s emotional wellness. Take extra precautions to avoid conflict whenever your children might see or hear it. If you must discuss contentious topics, do it when the children are not present in either of your homes. Present a calm, peaceful demeanor when you interact in person during parenting time tradeoffs. 

Give the Kids Their Schedule Ahead of Time

Too many transitions happening at the same time can be very stressful, even for adults. For children, a constantly fluctuating schedule can be miserable. Give your children the information they need to anticipate what is happening next. A visible calendar, marked with easy-to-understand stickers or notes, can help even small children know when they will be with which parent. Try to avoid last-minute changes unless absolutely necessary. 

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Novi divorce attorneysThe vast majority of Michigan divorces are now settled outside of court. Trial litigation in a courtroom is reserved for the most difficult cases when couples absolutely cannot agree on important issues or when there is the presence of a serious problem like domestic violence or a spouse who lies on their financial disclosures. 

For all other cases, various alternative dispute resolution methods can be very helpful. One popular method is mediation, but arbitration is another viable strategy. Some couples include a mandate to resolve disputes using arbitration in their prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Other couples decide on arbitration when they begin talking about divorce, believing a neutral third party may make decisions better than they can. Whatever the method you eventually decide on for managing your divorce disagreements, knowing more about arbitration can help you determine whether it is right for you. 

How Does Arbitration Work? 

While arbitration shares a few similarities with mediation, the two are different in important ways. Arbitration actually functions more like a court hearing in front of a judge;  with the help of their attorneys, both spouses present their evidence and make their arguments to an arbitrator. Spouses may use expert testimony, cross-examine each other’s witnesses, and even make opening and closing statements. Like a trial judge, an arbitrator will make legally binding decisions, leaving spouses with far less flexibility to make decisions about their case than they have in mediation. For couples who struggle to compromise, this is not always a bad thing. 

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Novi child custody lawyerWhen a Michigan couple with minor children gets divorced, they must create an agreement about child support and child custody arrangements. While this sounds straightforward, in reality, issues regarding children are often the most challenging to address. Because each parent often feels as though they are the most qualified to care for the children, it is easy for parenting plan negotiations to devolve into power struggles that do not benefit anyone, least of all the children. 

But if parents can stay focused on the children’s best interests instead of their personal differences, they often find that there are many acceptable solutions that allow both parents to maximize parenting time with each child. One possible way to do this is by including a clause about a concept called the “right of first refusal.” To learn more about how this could benefit you, read on. 

What Does the Right of First Refusal Mean? 

When parents include the right of first refusal in their parenting plan, they obligate themselves to seek childcare from each other rather than third parties when they are unable to care for the children during their designated parenting time. Because the right of first refusal is not obligatory in Michigan parenting plans, parents can customize it however they want, coming up with specific details for how long each parent must be gone before the right of first refusal kicks in.

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Michigan divorce lawyerThe idea of a union between two people coming to an end has existed for as long as couples have formally paired together in front of friends and family. But, certain parts of divorce are in constant flux; Michigan state law can change, social mores can change, and even the types of property spouses accrue together can change. 

Cryptocurrency is a recent example of an asset that is so new, poorly understood, and minimally regulated that dividing it in a divorce can be quite complicated. Because more and more people are buying cryptocurrency every day, understanding how it is handled in a divorce may be essential for protecting your financial interests.

Understanding Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is digital currency secured by cryptography. Unlike dollar bills, which can be replicated and counterfeited, each cryptocurrency “coin” is verified with its own unique identification. Cryptocurrency is “mined” using blockchain technology on many computers, and because coins are not owned or created by just one person or organization, one of the attractive features of cryptocurrency is that it is not currently subject to governmental interference. 

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Novi divorce mediation lawyer Divorce is almost guaranteed to be a difficult process, but in recent years a highly effective method that helps ensure conflict between divorcing couples does not get out of hand has become popular. Divorce mediation has helped millions of divorcing couples all over the United States meet their priorities in their divorce, feel seen and heard, and still manage to effectively compromise. If you are interested in getting divorced in Michigan while minimizing conflict, saving money, and avoiding a long court battle, read on. 

What is a Mediator? 

A mediator is a trained third party who does not have any kind of relationship with you, your spouse, or your attorneys that could bias the mediator in any way. Mediators must remain neutral to be effective, so they cannot be your friend or neighbor, even if that person is a trained mediator. Michigan has rigorous training requirements for mediators, and they are often also attorneys with specific knowledge of and experience in Michigan divorce law. 

What Does a Mediator Do? 

A mediator works with spouses, on their schedule, to help them negotiate important issues in their divorce. Mediation meetings are solution-focused, meaning that while each spouse will get a chance to voice their concerns and express their priorities, the ultimate goal of mediation is to find a solution to the issues present in divorce. These includes, but are not limited to: 

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Michigan adoption lawyerFor many years, only married adults in heterosexual relationships could adopt in Michigan. To the tremendous benefit of children and adoptive parents alike, society’s notions of what constitutes a family have expanded significantly in recent years, along with legal protections that enshrine those notions. For single adults living in Michigan who are looking to adopt, the good news is that you can qualify to adopt just as a married couple could. However, it is important to consider whether you meet the criteria to adopt and how adoption and parenthood could change your life forever. 

What Do I Need to Do Before I Adopt a Child?  

The individual needs of each child will differ as they grow and develop, but certain criteria must be met before an adult can adopt a child of any age. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Being at least 18 years old
  • Completing an adoption licensing application
  • Completing background checks for yourself and any other adult who lives in your home
  • Providing medical statements for yourself and any other household member 
  • Passing an environmental inspection and on-site visits by a social worker
  • Providing three references 
  • Having adequate bedroom space, which can change depending on the age of the child 

Can I Adopt if I Am an Unmarried Parent? 

More and more, unmarried individuals who cannot or prefer not to seek a spouse are choosing to raise children on their own. For children without parents, this expanding conception of what family can look like means an increase in adoptions and placement in a forever home. Unmarried men and women who are already parents can add to the love in their homes by adopting another child. 

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Novi child custody lawyerMany Michigan couples get divorced because they have a significant difference in their parenting styles. These differences may not become apparent until a couple has been married for many years and already shares several children, and while these differences can be significant enough to trigger a divorce, getting divorced does not make them go away. Divorced parents must continue to co-parent as effectively as they can while navigating parenting styles that are often not only different but mutually incompatible. 

One way that these differences can manifest is through a parent’s levels of discipline or permissiveness. Some parents insist that their children eat well, exercise, and limit screen time. Other parents are very lax about some or all of these areas. While there is no magic formula to determine exactly how much junk food a kid can eat, there is no question that a regular diet of sugar and fast food can negatively impact a child’s development. This begs the question - if you are sharing custody of your child in Michigan, and your ex only feeds your child junk food, can you do anything about it? 

How Does Shared Custody Work? 

Joint legal custody is when both parents are responsible for making important decisions on behalf of the child. This includes the child’s healthcare and general welfare and parents who share legal custody need to consult with each other before making non-routine decisions. Physical custody, or parenting time, is the time that a child spends with each parent. Decisions about legal and physical custody are made according to the parents’ agreement and the best interests of the child.

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