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Planning for Divorce Mediation in Michigan

Posted on in Divorce

Oakland County divorce mediation attorneysMediation is a commonly used term in many Michigan divorces because courts all over the state often compel people to take part in mediation to try and resolve certain disputes. Mediation is quite simply a settlement process that allows both parties to have input on possible solutions to issues and it will typically require both parties to come to an agreement for mediation to work.

Mediation does not solve all problems, and there can certainly be couples for whom mediation ends up being more of a waste of time than anything. For many other people, however, mediation provides an opportunity to try and address a wide range of issues and contemplate possible solutions that can prevent a court from having to render its own decision.

How Mediation Works

Mediation may be either voluntary or court-ordered in Michigan, but both parties will be working with a neutral third party known as a mediator. A mediator does not render any judgments or try to impose any requirements on either party. Instead, the mediator is simply there to try and help negotiate an agreement between the parties.


What You Should Know About Spousal Support

Posted on in Divorce

Novi alimony enforcement lawyerSpousal support awards, also known as alimony, are not terribly common in most divorces in Michigan, but they can occur, and people should be prepared to deal with them. While spousal support is never mandatory while spouses are separating and figuring out their new lives, it becomes mandatory as soon as there is a final court order, and a paying spouse will have to pay as ordered, regardless of their personal feelings.

Whether you are seeking spousal support payments or are being asked to pay spousal support, you will want to be sure that you hire an experienced attorney who will know how to negotiate the outcome that is most favorable to you. Michigan Compiled Law § 750.165 establishes that repeated failure to pay spousal support is a felony offense punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Obtaining Spousal Support from Non-Paying Spouses

It is not uncommon for one spouse to refuse to pay spousal support because they may already be paying a significant amount of child support. Whatever the reason for their issue might be, the law clearly stipulates that people who are ordered to pay spousal support must pay it on time without exception.


How Child Custody Works in Michigan

Posted on in Family Law

Novi child custody lawyerChild custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of each parent and child indicating the time a child will spend with a parent and each parent’s ability to render decisions on behalf of a child. Judges can structure child custody agreements to satisfy the unique schedules of both parents, as they typically seek to promote a strong bond between parents and children unless one parent endangers a child.

Custody agreements can be reached between spouses through various negotiations, including mediation, and judges will usually order those agreements. Cases in which parties cannot agree can still result in joint custody determinations, although how judges award parenting time in joint custody cases can vary widely.

Types of Child Custody

When it comes to descriptions of custody arrangements, there are typically the following kinds of agreements:


Novi divorce lawyerWhen a relationship has gone on for months or years, an abusive partner rarely thinks carefully about whether other people will be able to see evidence of their abuse and often leaves a trail of proof in written communication and even in voicemails.

However, whether such evidence can be brought to court in a divorce case is another question entirely. Criminal and civil cases sometimes handle evidence differently, and divorces are civil procedures. Even Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) are civil procedures, although the behavior they guard against may potentially be criminal in nature (such as physical abuse). If you want to divorce an abusive spouse - especially if you are hoping to keep your spouse away from your children - you will need to show evidence of the abuse. Read on to learn about how this can be done, and then contact a Michigan divorce attorney for a confidential consultation. 

How Can I Prove Abuse in My Michigan Divorce? 

It may seem unfair that, after years of enduring abuse at the hands of their partner, a spouse has to prove abuse to get relief from a court. But false accusations are common in divorce, and it is essential to back up any abuse claims with evidence, whether the alleged abuse is physical or emotional. 


Novi adoption lawyer Adoption can be a wonderfully rewarding experience for many people to bring a child into their home and begin providing a loving and caring environment for them to grow up in, but adoption can also be incredibly confusing to navigate. People who are trying to adopt in Michigan will want to be sure they retain legal counsel for help overcoming any and all obstacles that may arise.

Birth parents can work closely with adoptive parents in some cases, but there may be others in which these parties do not meet. Every adoption in Michigan will require certain steps to be followed.

Who Can Legally Adopt in Michigan?

A person who wants to adopt in Michigan must be at least 18 years of age, complete a licensing application, successfully complete all background clearances for themselves and all of their adult household members, provide medical statements for themselves and all of their household members, submit to an environmental inspection, provide three acceptable references, pass on-site visits to their home by a licensing worker, and attend training pertinent to foster care issues.


Oakland County divorce lawyerAlthough you may justifiably feel wronged by your spouse’s infidelity, you may be surprised to learn that cheating is not grounds for divorce in Michigan. This is not because your spouse did not do anything wrong; rather, this is because Michigan no longer allows “grounds” for divorce and someone can file for divorce without providing reasons at all. 

However, infidelity may still have an impact on the outcome of a divorce case. After all, infidelity rarely happens without accompanying bad behavior; spending money inappropriately, neglecting relationship responsibilities, and even endangering children are all behaviors that can come along with cheating. To learn more about how infidelity might affect your divorce, read on. 

How Can Alimony Affect a Michigan Divorce Case?

Adultery has the potential to affect a divorce case in several ways. The first is that infidelity may affect the payment of alimony (known as spousal maintenance). Judges can consider the behavior of the spouses towards each other and each spouse’s role in causing the divorce. One of the reasons for this is that infidelity often involves inappropriately spending money on reasons unrelated to the divorce, such as on dates or gifts for a new partner. Spousal maintenance may be used as a way to offset this, although there may also be another way. 


Oakland County child custody lawyerLegal cases involving questions about child custody and welfare have the potential to become very heated. Parents are often concerned that they will lose their right to see their child, and the child in question is often caught between a rock and a hard place as each parent vies for their attention and loyalty. In tense situations like these, it can be difficult for children to understand what is best or to give an honest opinion about their preferences. It can also be difficult for a judge to make decisions because the information coming from both parents is clearly so biased.

To protect children in situations like this, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to investigate and represent a child’s best interests. Finding out that a guardian ad litem (GAL) has been appointed to your case can be intimidating, but there is usually no need to be concerned. If you are doing your best to parent your child and telling the truth to the court, a GAL can confirm that your child’s best interests are being served by your actions. 

Remain Calm and Cooperate

A GAL has several responsibilities. Their first duty is to the child, and their relationship to the child is a combination of both an attorney and an investigator. A GAL will need to meet with a child several times and will monitor the child’s well-being during and even after a case has been finalized. 


Oakland County family law attorneyFinding out your spouse is responsible for a crime serious enough to send him or her to jail may be a terrible surprise. Even if you were not surprised by your spouse’s behavior, you may have finally had enough. A jailed spouse may add some complications to the divorce process, but having a spouse behind bars may present the perfect opportunity to end a relationship—especially if the relationship is dangerous or abusive. If your spouse is in jail and you want to end your marriage with a Michigan divorce, read on and then contact a divorce attorney who can help. 

Can Imprisoned Spouses Attend Divorce Hearings? 

People in Michigan jails and prisons still have certain rights, including the right to appear in legal proceedings in which they are involved. Although you may never want to see your spouse again, it is important to be prepared for the fact that he or she could still appear at court dates. 

Whether your spouse will choose to participate in the divorce can be difficult to know ahead of time. Luckily, serving him or her divorce papers is fairly straightforward, as your spouse’s location is known. Your spouse will need to respond to your initial filing within 21 or 28 days of receiving the divorce papers, depending on how they were received. Whether your spouse chooses to respond will define the remainder of the divorce proceedings. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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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