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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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Oakland County divorce attorney parental relocation

After completing your divorce, it is likely that your life will change at some point. If you are looking to pursue job opportunities or live closer to your family members, you may be considering moving to a home in a new city. However, if you share custody of your children with your ex-spouse, you will need to understand how Michigan’s parental relocation laws will apply to your situation. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to receive approval from either your ex or the court where your divorce case was heard before you can relocate.

Parental Relocation in Michigan

If you have sole legal custody of your child, you usually will not need to seek approval for relocation, although you may need to get court approval if you will be moving outside the state of Michigan. However, if you share legal custody with your child’s other parent, you will need to receive approval if you will be moving at least 100 miles away from your current home or to another state. If you already live more than 100 miles away from the other parent, or if your planned move will place you closer to the other parent’s home, you will not need to receive approval for relocation.

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Oakland County divorce attorney asset division

When you get divorced, you and your spouse will need to divide your property and assets. During the property division process, you will need to identify all of your assets, determine their value, and reach a fair and equitable agreement for how these assets should be distributed between the two of you. Unfortunately, this process can become more difficult if one party tries to unfairly influence the results by hiding or concealing assets. If you suspect that your spouse has hidden assets from you, you will want to understand how you can uncover this activity and the steps you can take to ensure that your property is divided fairly and equitably.

Methods of Hiding Assets

There are a variety of ways that spouses may attempt to conceal assets that they do not want to divide with their spouse, including:

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Novi contested divorce attorneyUPDATE: The information below continues to apply to many divorcing spouses. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional delays in divorce cases. Spouses who are going through the divorce process should be aware that since the beginning of the health crisis, many courts have closed or have restricted the types of cases that are handled through in-person court appearances. In many cases, courts will only hold in-person hearings to address emergency matters. Spouses should check with their attorney and their local court if they need to address these types of emergencies, which may include petitions for orders of protection in situations involving domestic violence or requests for emergency child custody or parenting time orders that address children's safety and well-being. For non-emergency matters, courts may hold virtual hearings or conferences, allowing spouses to address other divorce-related issues without unreasonable delays. As more people become vaccinated, and the risks of infection decrease, courts will likely begin reopening for in-person proceedings, and spouses can work with their attorneys to determine the best ways to approach their case and address any delays.


Most 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.  

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Oakland County divorce attorney spousal support

If you have not worked outside of the home in some time and you are considering divorce, you may have concerns about how you will make ends meet without your spouse’s financial contributions. The prospect of reentering the workforce after being a homemaker or stay-at-home parent for many years can be daunting. You may worry that you do not have the job skills or education needed to gain suitable employment. You may also worry about being forced to place your children in childcare when you would rather stay home and raise them yourself. Alimony, or spousal support, may offer financial assistance for divorcing spouses who are not the primary wage-earner, but alimony is not awarded in every Michigan divorce.

When Is Alimony Awarded in Michigan?

There are several avenues through which alimony is awarded in Michigan. You may be entitled to alimony if you and your spouse signed a valid prenuptial agreement or other marital agreement that gives you the right to alimony. You may also receive alimony if you and your spouse can agree to a spousal support arrangement and the court approves of your agreement. Your lawyer may be able to help you negotiate a spousal support agreement or you may reach an agreement through an alternative resolution method like mediation or collaborative law. Unfortunately, many spouses find that getting the other spouse to agree to reasonable spousal support terms is nearly impossible. In this case, you would need to petition the court for a spousal support order.

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Oakland County collaborative divorce attorney

The words “collaborative” and “divorce” may seem like opposites. However, many divorcing couples find that it is possible to have a divorce that is respectful and rooted in cooperation. To end your marriage, you will likely need to address several complicated issues including the division of assets and debt, child-related concerns, and alimony. During a collaborative divorce, spouses work with a collaborative team to reach an agreement regarding these issues. Collaborative divorce is not right for everyone, but there are several advantages to using this strategy to end your marriage.   

Using Collaborative Law to Resolve Divorce Issues in Michigan

The purpose of the collaborative divorce process is to reach an agreement about unresolved divorce issues in a manner that is cooperative rather than antagonistic. Spouses begin the process by hiring lawyers to represent them. It is crucial to hire an attorney who is experienced in collaborative divorce. You and your attorney will discuss your questions, concerns, and goals regarding the divorce. Next, each spouse and his or her lawyer hold a series of meetings during which they discuss the divorce issues. Your lawyer is there to protect your rights and provide legal guidance so that you can make informed decisions.

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Oakland County divorce attorney property division

The division of marital property is often one of the most important considerations in a Michigan divorce. For many divorcing spouses, one of the top questions is, “Who gets the house?” You and your spouse may be able to reach an agreement about what to do with your house. Mediation and collaborative law are two alternative resolution methods that have helped countless divorcing couples reach property division settlements. If you cannot reach an agreement, the decision regarding possession of the marital home will be left to the court.

Options for Dividing the Marital Home

You and your spouse have several options when it comes to the marital home. You may decide to sell the home and then divide the profits. If one spouse wishes to retain possession of the home, you may decide on a property division arrangement in which the spouse who gets the home “buys out” the other spouse. This is usually accomplished by one spouse retaining possession of the home and the other spouse retaining possession of the marital property of an approximately equal value.

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Oakland County divorce attorney child custody

The state of Michigan presumes that it is best for children to have both of their parents involved in their lives. Save for situations involving abuse and other issues that could endanger the child, Michigan courts usually favor child custody arrangements that allow parents to share custody. Life is full of unexpected changes, and consequently, parents may need to modify an existing child custody order. Whether you are a divorced parent or an unmarried parent, you can change your child custody arrangement in Michigan but only in certain circumstances.

You Must Show a Significant Change in Circumstances

Child custody is broken down into physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child actually lives while legal custody refers to a parent’s decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing. Michigan courts know that change is hard on children, so you can only modify your child custody order for a very good reason. Typically, the court requires there to be a major change in circumstances to even hear a motion to modify child custody.  

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Oakland County divorce attorney

If the relationship between you and your spouse has broken down, you may be considering ending your marriage. However, even if you believe that divorce is what is best for your family, you may be unsure about what will happen during the divorce process. One question that many spouses have is whether being the first to file for divorce will provide them with any advantages. By understanding the divorce laws in Michigan and the type of divorce you are planning to pursue, you can determine whether you should file for divorce sooner rather than later.

Filing for Divorce in Michigan

The divorce process begins when one spouse files a divorce complaint in their county’s circuit court. Since Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, the complaint will not need to specify specific grounds for divorce or a reason your marriage ended. Instead, you will simply need to allege that your marital relationship has broken down “to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed” and that it is not likely that you will be able to preserve your marriage. Since a divorce complaint will not blame either spouse for the end of the marriage, this may eliminate the need to be the first to file, since neither of you will need to show that the other is at fault for your divorce.

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Oakland County family law attorney child support

All parents are required to provide financial support for their children. When parents are married or cohabitating with each other, they will work together to meet their family’s needs and cover ongoing expenses related to their children. However, when parents are divorced or separated,  they will usually need to make arrangements to ensure that they are both contributing to their children’s needs. Child support orders will set a monthly amount that parents will be required to pay, and in most cases, the non-custodial parent will make payments to the custodial parent. If a parent has failed to meet their obligations to pay child support, the other parent will want to be sure to understand how they can enforce the court’s orders and receive the support their children need.

Child Support Enforcement Methods

Parents are required to make all child support payments as ordered by the court. Any missed payments will continue to be owed, and interest may apply until past-due amounts are fully paid. A parent who receives child support may take legal action to enforce the other parent’s obligations. The court may use a variety of methods to collect the amount owed, including:

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Farmington Hills collaborative divorce lawyer

Getting a divorce can be a complex, difficult process, but fortunately, couples have a number of options for how they can approach the decisions they will need to make and the disputes they will need to resolve. While litigating a divorce in court is always a possibility, this is often the last resort since a divorce trial can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally draining. In most cases, couples will work to negotiate a divorce settlement, allowing them to complete the divorce process without fighting battles in the courtroom. Mediation is one way of doing so, but collaborative divorce is an increasingly popular option for ending your marriage in Michigan.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

During a collaborative divorce, spouses will work together to create a divorce settlement, and they will each be represented by an attorney who has been trained in collaborative law. At the beginning of the collaborative process, the spouses and their attorneys will sign an agreement stating that they will be honest with each other, negotiate in good faith, and provide any information requested by the other party. To foster the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, the attorneys will agree to withdraw from the case if the couple cannot reach a settlement, and the spouses will need to find new attorneys to represent them during divorce litigation.

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney spousal support

If you are getting divorced, you will likely have a variety of financial concerns, ranging from your ability to cover court costs and attorney’s fees, to how your marital assets and debts will be divided, to whether you will be able to support yourself once your marriage has ended. Depending on the income you and your spouse earn, one of you may be required to provide financial support to the other after your divorce. By understanding when spousal support (which is commonly known as alimony) is appropriate and how the amount and duration of payments are determined, you can prepare a post-divorce budget that will allow you to meet your ongoing needs.

Factors That May Affect a Spousal Support Award

Typically, spousal support is awarded if one spouse earns a significantly higher income than the other, and its purpose is to ensure that both spouses can continue living at the standard they became accustomed to during their marriage. In some cases, spouses may agree in their divorce settlement on the amount of support that will be paid, as well as the length of time that payments will last. Couples may also use a prenuptial agreement to specify whether alimony will or will not be paid in the case of divorce.

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Oakland County divorce attorney child custody

Whether they are planning to get a divorce, are unmarried, or wish to make changes to existing arrangements, parents will need to address a variety of legal issues during a child custody case in Michigan. When making decisions about these matters, a family court will consider what is in a child’s best interests, and multiple different factors may also be taken into consideration. One of the most important of these factors is the child’s “established custodial environment,” which will affect whether changes should be made to existing child custody arrangements.

Established Custodial Environment Under Michigan Law

When creating a new child custody order or determining whether to make modifications to an existing order, a court will look at any existing factors that affect a child’s environment and his or her relationship with parents or others who serve in a parental capacity. A custodial environment may be established if, over an “appreciable” amount of time, the child has developed a relationship with a parent or another person in which he or she looks to the custodian for guidance and support and receives discipline and instruction, and the custodian provides for his or her needs and offers “parental comfort.” 

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Oakland County divorce attorney tax implications

When getting a divorce in Michigan, you will need to consider multiple types of financial issues. As you work to address legal fees and other costs, determine whether you will pay or receive child support or spousal support, and create a new budget that will allow you to cover your ongoing expenses, you should also be sure to understand how your divorce will affect your taxes. Having a thorough understanding of this financial aspect can help you better prepare for the future. 

Tax Implications After Legally Ending Your Marriage

Once your Michigan divorce is finalized, you may need to deal with a variety of tax issues, including:

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Oakland County divorce attorney mediation

If your relationship with your spouse has broken down, you may feel that ending your marriage is the best choice for you and your family. However, you may also be worried about a contentious, adversarial divorce and the effects that this process may have on you, your finances, and your children. Fortunately, you do not have to take this approach, and instead, you may wish to use methods such as mediation to reach a settlement that both you and your spouse can be satisfied with. If you are weighing your divorce options, you should be sure to understand how the mediation process will work to determine whether it is right for you.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Mediation will allow you and your spouse to work together to end your marriage without the need to resolve disputes in the courtroom. The two of you will meet together with a mediator, who will be a neutral advisor rather than a legal representative for either of you. The mediator will help you understand the issues that you will need to address while guiding you toward decisions that you can both agree on.

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Oakland County divorce attorney parental alienation

Getting through the divorce process can be difficult, even in the best of situations. Unfortunately, divorces have the potential to turn ugly, and disagreements between spouses can become contentious legal battles. This can be especially true when a couple has children, and parents can sometimes take extreme steps to try to gain an advantage in child custody disputes. Parental alienation, in which one parent tries to negatively influence his or her children’s attitudes toward the other, can be especially problematic. A divorcing parent should be sure to understand the signs that his or her former partner is taking these types of improper actions.

Recognizing Parental Alienation

In some cases, parental alienation may involve one parent having a negative attitude toward the other, and their children may pick up on these feelings and begin to mimic them. This type of behavior should be avoided, and a parent should try to make sure their children can maintain a good relationship with the other parent. However, in some cases, parental alienation can be more insidious or overt. A spouse may actively attempt to harm his or her children’s relationship with the other parent in hopes of influencing decisions about child custody by convincing children that they do not want to spend time with one parent.

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney mediation

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have had to get used to new ways of doing things. Whether this means working remotely, helping children attend school virtually, staying home whenever possible, practicing social distancing, or meeting up with people online rather than in person, things have changed significantly in many people’s lives. In some cases, these changes may have caused relationships between married couples to deteriorate, leading them to consider divorce. However, the same factors that led to this situation may also make the divorce process more difficult. Concerns about infection may affect court proceedings, and reaching a resolution on divorce-related issues can be tricky when the parties and their attorneys are maintaining social distancing. Fortunately, virtual divorce mediation is one solution that can help spouses resolve their differences and complete their divorce during this uncertain time.

How Does Virtual Mediation Work?

During divorce mediation, spouses will typically sit down together in the same room as a mediator, and they will go over all of the issues that need to be resolved before they can legally end their marriage. The mediator will act as a neutral third party, helping the spouses understand how the law applies to their situation and offering suggestions on how they can reach mutually acceptable agreements on issues such as asset division, child custody, and spousal support.

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Oakland County divorce attorney parental relocation

No matter how smoothly you and your spouse feel your divorce may be panning out, it is only natural to experience some bumps in the road somewhere along the separation journey. Even the most civil, peaceful partings can stir up feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, and resentment. This is especially true for the children in the family, who may understandably feel confused or threatened by the sudden changes in the household. 

Studies show that children of all ages tend to struggle with changes in routine, and they typically do best emotionally and mentally when they know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Young adults in particular struggle with the transition, but even younger children can experience significant anxiety when their parents’ marriage ends. 

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney parenting time

Regardless of opinions on the matter, the law in Michigan states that substance abuse issues are not enough, in and of themselves, to disqualify a parent from retaining the rights to their children. It generally takes a showing of substance abuse and demonstrable consequences stemming from the problem in order to bring up questions of terminating parental rights. 

Parental Rights During a Divorce

As with any case where parental fitness is at issue, a Michigan court will determine the child’s future based on the consideration of a list of factors intended to pinpoint the best interests of the child. Parental fitness is only one of those factors, though it is an important one. If someone has a substance abuse issue but is seeking help with it, or if someone is mentally ill and in treatment, that is different in many respects from someone who denies the issue altogether. 

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney asset division

When a couple is getting divorced, property division is often the most contentious and time-consuming aspect of the process. It can feel insurmountable to have to divide every asset you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have between you. However, there is one other thing that must be divided upon the occasion of divorce: the debt that both of you hold. Both must be divided equitably in Michigan.

Dividing Assets

There are several factors that a Michigan judge will consider when determining how assets are divided, but equity is the prevailing focus. Many people confuse equity and equality; equity is a legal term meaning fairness in all respects, while equality is more of a colloquial concept. A judge will weigh a list of factors and determine the fairness of the proposed distribution. Some of these factors include:

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