Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

39555 Orchard Hill Place, Suite 215, Novi, MI 48375

How Can Coronavirus Quarantines Lead to Divorce in Michigan?Millions of people around the world have been impacted by the novel (new) coronavirus, either by being infected or being ordered to stay home. In the U.S., states such as Michigan have temporarily closed schools, restaurants, and non-essential businesses. Depending on the industry, this has also led to many layoffs and citizens seeking unemployment benefits. Families are being told to stay home as much as possible to help slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. Parents are working from home if they can and children are participating in e-learning programs through their schools. There is no doubt these are stressful times. With families sequestered for an indefinite amount of time, can this lead to divorce

The Pros and Cons of Social Distancing/Isolation 

Many American cities and states are being told to “shelter in place,” which means they are allowed to leave their homes only for essential activities, such as going to the grocery store, bank, and gas station. Health and government officials are advising everyone to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Weddings, funerals, graduations, and sporting events have been canceled or postponed. People with elderly or sick family members who are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities are prohibited from visiting in an attempt to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases.  

Social distancing is defined as a series of actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease or infection. Thanks to modern technology, many people can take part in “virtual visits” through FaceTime on their iPhones or programs such as Skype on their computers. However, being quarantined and isolated at home can lead to feelings of anxiety, anger, and fear among family members. Too much togetherness can sometimes make or break a relationship. With the absence of other distractions, a couple may have time to reflect on troubles from their past or recent transgressions. A job loss can significantly impact a family financially, leading to resentment and bitterness. 

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Mediation in a Michigan Divorce?With all the stress that already accompanies a divorce, the addition of painful, heated courtroom drama can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, mediation might be an appropriate option if you and your spouse are willing to work together to come to a more satisfactory settlement for both you and your children. Although the positive aspects of mediation are appealing at first, it is important to consider several factors before choosing to take this route over litigation. 

The Pros

First, consider everything good that can come from mediation. This process differs greatly from a court hearing in several ways as shown by the following scenarios:

  • A Collaborative Solution: If you and your spouse were to take your divorce to court, the terms of your separation would be subject to harsh legal interpretations of your relationship. This can affect the division of property and assets, child support, or parenting time and often leads to one or both parties unhappy with the result. If this is one of your primary concerns, mediate so that you can cooperate and compromise in a way that benefits you both.
  • Less Expensive: Mediation involves you, your spouse, and a mediator with the appropriate training from the state. Although this will still cost you, it will only be a fraction of what you would both end up paying in legal fees for your attorneys.
  • Neutrality: Per state law, the mediator is not allowed to pass judgments on either you or your spouse and cannot take sides in any way, allowing both of you to work out a solution as amicably as possible. With lawyers at play, the heated discussions could ruin the chances of you and your spouse maintaining any sort of positive relationship after the divorce proceedings.

The Cons

Although mediation can do a lot of good, it can pose a few risks in certain situations. Consider the following before you decide to begin your divorce with mediation:

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How Can I Enforce a Spousal Support Order in My Michigan Divorce?The thought of ending your marriage can be very intimidating in many ways. In some cases, you may be afraid to leave for financial reasons. Imagining how you will survive on one income may be daunting, especially if you stayed home to raise your children. However, you may be entitled to spousal support (alimony) if you get a divorce in Michigan. Each situation is unique, and the court will evaluate different factors when calculating this type of support. If you are awarded spousal support benefits, your ex-spouse is responsible for making these payments in a timely manner. However, things may not work as planned if your ex does not follow the rules. An experienced divorce attorney can assist you with enforcing spousal support or child support to ensure your financial security so you can move on with the rest of your life.   

Factors Considered by the Court 

According to Michigan divorce law, spousal support is not always awarded in a divorce case. If a couple cannot come to an agreement on how to divide assets or property and one spouse requests support, the court must determine if spousal support is appropriate. Below are a few of the relevant circumstances the court will review when making that decision:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Each party’s contributions to the marriage
  • Economic resources of each spouse
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Property received in the divorce settlement
  • Whether one spouse was financially dependent on the other 

Steps For Enforcing an Order 

If your ex-spouse is not making his or her legally required spousal support payments, you need to take decisive action to enforce the payments:

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What Documentation Do I Need Before Filing for Divorce in Michigan?For some couples, the end of a marriage may have been a long time coming. Regardless if spouses procrastinated with the decision to divorce or made it rather hastily, they must all follow the proper legal procedure to finalize it. Michigan is a no-fault state, which means couples do not have to prove that either party is to blame to obtain a divorce, just that the marriage is beyond repair. The dissolution of a marriage involves many issues that need to be resolved, including the division of assets or property, child custody, and child support. Determining who gets what in a divorce may require providing proof of finances, property, income, and more.

The Importance of Keeping Accurate Records

Computers and online storage systems can provide efficient ways of saving and organizing important forms, but sometimes it is helpful to retain hard copies, too. Although it may be cumbersome to hold onto a lot of paperwork, saving certain documents can benefit you in the long run. A few of the main areas in which you may be required to provide documentation throughout your divorce proceedings include:

  • Proof of residency: Utility bills or rental agreements with your name and address
  • Income: W-2 forms or paycheck stubs, plus tax returns you and your spouse filed jointly or separately within the last year
  • Debt: Any outstanding credit card balances, student or car loans, and medical bills
  • Assets: An itemized list of your marital and nonmarital assets, which can include vehicles, furniture, artwork, jewelry, and other personal items
  • Real estate property: A mortgage statement or deed, as well as any documents related to rental properties you or your spouse may own
  • Bank accounts: Checking or savings account statements in your names
  • Retirement/Investment plans: Data on 401(k) or pensions to which either you or your spouse contributed throughout the marriage, in addition to mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and IRAs in either spouse’s name
  • Life insurance: Information on any life insurance policies that were taken out
  • Health issues: Medical records showing health history for all involved family members, including any children you have together
  • Education/Childcare: If your children attend private school or daycare, bills showing the cost of these expenses

Contact a Farmington Hills Divorce Lawyer

The divorce process may seem daunting, especially to those who have never been through it before. There are many decisions that will need to be made, which often requires spouses to provide personal documents. It is important to be organized and prepared before filing for divorce. Speaking with an Oakland County asset division attorney can alleviate some of the stress you may feel about the necessary legal steps to terminate your marriage. Call the accomplished law firm of Elkouri Heath, PLC, today at 248-344-9700 to schedule your free consultation.

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How Is the Dissipation of Assets Handled in a Michigan Divorce?The end of a marriage can be difficult on many levels. The breakdown of a relationship can affect more than just spouses. If a couple had children together, they will likely be devastated to see their family unit split apart. In addition, breaking up can cause financial hardship for one or both parties. Michigan, like many other states, is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to dividing assets or property in a divorce. This means any marital property will be divided in a fair way, but not necessarily 50/50. In some cases, one spouse may have made secret purchases with marital assets. The legal term for this deception is “dissipation of assets,” and an experienced divorce attorney can help discover it. 

Uncovering Hidden Expenditures

Dissipation is defined as spending marital money, or using any marital asset, for something that benefits only one spouse, not the marriage as a whole. Since funds are leaving the marital estate, the combined value of the assets being divided in the divorce settlement will be lower. Examples of dissipation can be gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, money spent on an extramarital affair, or any extravagant purchases made by one spouse.

It may be challenging to prove the dissipation of assets, but that is where a skilled attorney, as well as a forensic accountant, can help. They know where to look and how to reveal dissipated assets. Carefully reviewing financial records and documentation is essential in providing evidence that one party was siphoning off money for him or herself. In certain situations, one spouse could be guilty of filtering money or expenses through a business that they own.

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