Making the decision to end your marriage is a big step, and it is important that you think carefully about how to handle the divorce process. The decisions made as you dissolve your marriage will shape your life going forward. You need a knowledgeable and experienced advocate to represent your interests, to explain your legal rights and to help you to make smart choices during divorce.
A Michigan divorce lawyer at the Bloomfield Hills firm of Paul J. Tafelski, P.C., can work with you during this difficult time in your life. We will treat your case with compassion and sensitivity and we will use our legal knowledge and experience to help make your divorce as quick, painless and successful as possible. We strive to provide time-efficient, cost-effective and discrete legal representation that helps put you on the right track for your future.
Mediation often plays a role in our efforts. We believe this form of alternative dispute resolution can help our clients reach a harmonious resolution to a disagreement with the other spouse. However, if we cannot resolve your case through mediation, then we will work aggressively on your behalf in court to achieve a successful outcome in your divorce case.
Call (248) 451-2200 today or contact us online for legal advice in family law matters.
The Michigan Divorce Process
When you end your marriage in Michigan, you need to file for divorce with the appropriate family court. Typically, you will file for a no-fault divorce and list that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the bonds of matrimony can no longer be preserved as the reason for your divorce. You will then need to resolve all of the issues in your divorce related to custody, support, property and asset division.
There are two main ways that you can resolve the issues and come to a settlement agreement.
For example, you can:
- Litigate your divorce. A divorce lawyer will represent you in court and a judge will make all of the relevant decisions on issues that you and your spouse disagree on. The judge can decide spousal support (alimony), child support, asset division and child custody.
- Negotiate a divorce settlement. With the help of a Michigan divorce attorney, you and your spouse can negotiate a settlement agreement. This can be a more cost-effective and amicable way to end a marriage, and everyone involved may end up happier with the outcome. However, it relies on cooperation from both spouses and an understanding of your legal rights.
A Michigan divorce attorney can explain the pros and cons of litigating divorce issues or of resolving them through out-of-court negotiations. Your attorney can also help you understand options such as working with a mediator to negotiate a divorce or having your issues resolved by an arbitrator if it is important to you to keep your personal information away from the eyes of the courts.
Issues in a Michigan Divorce
There are certain issues that must be resolved in every divorce, such as:
- The division of marital property. All shared assets need to be divided. The courts use a rule called “equitable distribution” to divide property. This means that property is divided in a fair and equitable way, but not necessarily equally.
- The responsibility for marital debt. Responsibility for shared debts must also be divided. It is often best to refinance debts into the name of the spouse responsible for paying it. If you took on joint debt, a creditor could pursue both spouses regardless of what the divorce agreement says about who is liable to pay.
- The division of retirement accounts. Often, these cannot be divided immediately but both spouses are still entitled to a portion of the accounts’ value. Something called a “qualified domestic relations order” (QRDO) can be used to direct the administrator of the retirement plan to distribute a portion to each spouse once the account starts to pay out.
- Spousal support (alimony). While not appropriate in every divorce, alimony is ordered when there is an earning discrepancy between the two spouses. Alimony could be paid by a husband to a wife or by a wife to a husband. It can be temporary if one spouse just needs time to refresh job skills and reenter the workforce, or it can continue on a permanent basis until death or remarriage if the income disparity is going to persist. The length of the marriage, the earning power of each spouse and each spouse’s contribution to the marriage are all relevant in determining alimony.
- Child custody. The court uses a “best interests of the child” standard when asked to make a decision on custody. This means that the court considers a number of factors, such as who has been caring for the child, the child’s relationship to each parent, the parent’s willingness to keep the child connected to the community and extended family, and the home environment each parent can provide. Usually, some type of shared custody arrangement will be put into place to allow ongoing access for both parents.
- Child support. A standard formula is used to decide child support based on the number of children, the income of each parent, and the time the children spend in the physical custody of each parent.
- Attorneys’ fees. In some cases, the other spouse can be required to pay your attorney’s fees for the costs of the divorce.
The outcome of these decisions will affect how much money you have and how much time you have with your children. You need a Michigan divorce attorney to represent your interests and help ensure that your divorce has a favorable outcome.
How a Michigan Divorce Lawyer Can Help
A Michigan divorce attorney at the Bloomfield Hills law firm of Paul J. Tafelski, P.C., can assist you in many important ways during your divorce. From helping you file the papers and understand the divorce process to representing you in court or divorce settlement negotiations, our goal is to make sure your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.
If you are having problems in your marriage and think divorce may be the best solution, then contact our divorce lawyers online today for a confidential initial consultation. You can also reach us at (248) 451-2200.