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oakland county divorce lawyerMost divorcing couples know that taking their divorce case to trial should be used as a last resort. In many cases, a trial takes away the freedom of decision for many couples, leaving that decision to be made by the judge presiding over the case. Michigan encourages couples to try to work things out amongst themselves before seeking help. If a couple is unable to cooperate to make decisions pertaining to the divorce, the judge will likely order the couple to attend mediation services before they can proceed to trial. Mediation can be a beneficial tool for many couples who experience adversity from one another, but there are also other ways you can proceed with divorce in Michigan, including arbitration.

Understanding Divorce Mediation

Unlike other states, Michigan does not require couples to attend mediation before they can take their case to trial. Either spouse can ask the judge to order mediation or the judge can independently order a couple to attend mediation to settle their differences. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that may help couples come to an agreement about divorce terms. During mediation, the mediator conducts the session by helping couples stay on topic during conversation and by suggesting solutions when necessary. Mediators, however, cannot make any final decisions for the couple. Mediation itself is also not a legal process and is sometimes used in conjunction with litigation.

Arbitration is an Option

Arbitration is similar to litigation, as the process during litigation is typically very similar to a court hearing, though it does not usually take place in a courtroom. During arbitration, both spouses attend, ideally with their attorneys, and hash out issues through a process similar to that used in court. Each side will get the chance to present evidence, call witnesses and convey arguments in a less formal setting than in court. Arbitration provides less flexibility for couples when deciding issues, as the arbitrator will have the power to make decisions for the couple and those decisions will be legally binding.

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Novi legal and physical child custody attorneyChild custody is one of the most important and consequential legal issues that families may need to address. During the divorce process, parents will need to determine how they will share custody of their children. Unmarried couples may also need to address this issue and ensure that both parents will be able to maintain a close, ongoing relationship with their children. When determining how to handle custody-related matters, it is important for parents to understand the different types of custody and how these cases are handled in Michigan’s family courts.

Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

Child custody issues generally fall into two categories. The first category, which is commonly known as “legal custody,” involves the authority to make important decisions affecting the welfare of the child. Legal custody generally involves the right to make major decisions about how children will be raised. This may include medical decisions such as which doctors children will visit and what treatments they will receive or educational decisions such as where they will go to school. Legal custody may also address decisions about children’s practice of religion or what activities they will participate in.

The second category is commonly known as “physical custody,” and it is referred to as parenting time in Michigan. This refers to the time that children will spend with each parent, including the days that they will live in each parent’s home during the school year and during holidays and school vacations, as well as any other times they will be in the care of a parent.

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Novi, MI divorce lawyer for affairs and infidelityThere are many reasons that married couples choose to get divorced, and infidelity is one of the most common issues that can lead to the breakdown of a relationship. Because the actions of a spouse who had an affair may be the primary reason for the end of the couple’s marriage, many people assume that this will play a role in the divorce process. However, this is not always the case, and in many divorces, infidelity does not affect the decisions made. If adultery is a reason that you are getting divorced, you will want to understand how it may be addressed during your case.

Grounds for Divorce

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This means that when you or your spouse file a divorce petition, you will not need to give a reason for why your marriage is ending. The only legal grounds for divorce that are recognized is “irreconcilable differences.” Your divorce petition will simply make the claim that your marital relationship has broken down beyond repair, and there is no reasonable likelihood that you will be able to preserve the relationship.

Property Division, Spousal Support, and Child Custody

Infidelity may or may not be a factor in the decisions made during your divorce, and in many cases, this issue will only be raised if it has had a significant impact on your finances or your ability to care for your children. When determining how to divide your marital property, these decisions will be based on what is fair and equitable, and most of the time, a person cannot be denied an equitable share of their marital estate as punishment for having an affair. However, if a spouse dissipated marital assets during their marriage, such as by spending money to buy gifts for a lover, this issue may be addressed by awarding the other spouse a greater share of the marital property.

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney for family businesses and professional practicesEnding your marriage through divorce will involve multiple types of financial considerations. Determining how to divide your marital assets can often be a complex process, and this is especially true if you are a business owner. A family business or professional practice may be one of your most valuable assets, and it may also be your primary source of income. Ensuring that you can continue to own and operate your business will likely be one of your most important goals during your divorce, so you will want to make sure you understand how to approach this issue.

Is a Family Business Considered Marital Property?

Before determining how ownership of business assets will be handled, you will need to understand whether your business or practice is considered marital property. In general, if the business was founded during your marriage, it will be considered a marital asset, but if you owned the business before getting married, it will be considered separate property. However, even if your business is not a marital asset, you may need to address any increase in value of the business during your marriage. If your spouse contributed to the business, such as by helping manage operations or by investing marital funds in the company, you may be required to reimburse your spouse for these contributions.

Asset Division and Business Interests

If your business is a marital asset, it will need to be considered during the division of marital property. In some cases, spouses choose to sell a family business during their divorce and divide the profits earned. However, this may not be an option for you, so you may need to make other arrangements as you determine how to divide this and other marital assets.

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney mediation

If you are considering divorce or are in the midst of the divorce process, you may be worried about how you will deal with your spouse as you work to legally dissolve your marriage. Since your relationship has broken down beyond repair, it is understandable if the two of you have trouble getting along, but you may want to try to avoid serious conflict and resolve matters as peaceably as possible. Fortunately, your divorce does not have to be an extended legal battle in the courtroom, and you may be able to get through the process more easily by using mediation.

Reducing Conflict Through the Mediation Process

When you use mediation, you and your spouse will meet together with a mediator, who will act as a neutral third party who will help you work together to reach a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. The mediation sessions will consist of informal meetings where the two of you can identify the issues that need to be resolved, discuss your concerns, and reach compromises that you will both be satisfied with. The mediator does not make any decisions but instead will guide you toward compromises while making sure you understand how the law applies to your situation.

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