Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce In Michigan

What Is The Biggest Misconception People Have When Filing For Divorce And Does One Really Need An Attorney To Go Through A Divorce In Michigan?

The biggest misconception people have when filing for divorce in Michigan is whether to hire a divorce attorney or not. In such a case, they will call and say, “Well, we really don’t have anything to fight about”, and the truth is that they often have not fought through the entire process in the sense that they may have a couple of small kids, aged 10 and 8 or 6 and 4 and this judgment that they’re ultimately going to reach is going to be the foundation of how their parenting time and custody is going to be arranged and going forward until these kids are 18. That is always subject to change but only when there has been a significant change in circumstances, which is a fairly significant legal hurdle that has to be met in order to modify the original judgment of divorce.

At times people are only thinking about this moment in time as to whether there is anything to fight about and they are not thoroughly thinking about the future in the next few years or the next several years. Also, a lot of times with assets, things are more complicated than people realize such as when both people have their name on the mortgage to the house and one person’s going to keep it but maybe they can’t refinance and so the person who lose their name on the mortgage is going to be facing some consequences when they go to get their own loan.

So, there are just a lot of details with regard to the divorce process especially when there are children involved that people would not know to think about without someone who has been through at many times explaining things. So, the biggest misconception is just that a lot of people don’t understand why they need an attorney but the process is more complicated than they think.

Would It Be Safe To Say That Even If Someone Isn’t Initially Starting Out With Some Huge Ugly Divorce, Both Have Separate Attorneys?

Yes. Clients who have substantial estates or a private business or already have a heated custody issue, know they need lawyers and they want their own lawyers, that goes without saying. This includes people that think they don’t have these obvious issues that need help. A lot of times, people call an attorney and ask, “Well, look! We really would like to use one lawyer. Can we use one lawyer?”

And the answer to that question is both people cannot be represented by one lawyer. If you stop and think about it, there is an obvious conflict of interest there. So, if a lawyer is speaking to you and giving you advice about what you should do or what your interests and rights are, and then the lawyer talks to your husband and tells him what he should do and what he should work out, these are working and these are not consistent goals and objectives. In this case, the information that the lawyer has now learnt about one individual can be applied to the advice that is given to the second individual or vice versa. So, it’s just no way for one attorney to ethically represent two clients.

Having said that, Attorney Tafelski has had many cases where he was the only attorney involved. In such cases, he makes it clear to one client or the other that he is their attorney. The other party is then what is called “Improper”, which means representing themselves. They can call the attorney and say, “What do we have to do next”, and the attorney procedurally leads the way on the case. However, in such cases, it is always made clear that the attorney will only represent the interests of one party. That way, the lawyer prepares all the paperwork in a professional manner and it’s all done properly with all of the required language and all of the statutory requirements that the court insists upon and all of the issues are covered and not forgotten or left out and that works in many cases. The real issue with that is just to make sure that the one party who is not represented is comfortable handling things on their own because the attorney cannot give them legal advice.

What Is The Estimated Timeline For The Required Waiting Period In A Typical Divorce Case?

For people who don’t have minor children, if everything goes smooth, the case can be over in two months after filing. After two months, it just depends on you how long it takes to resolve it. When minor children are involved, the waiting period is 6 months but it can be waived. Generally, you’re not going to get most judges to waive it until about 4 months or so. Usually those cases will take 4 to 6 months to resolve. On the long-end of things, it may get close to a year where there is a lot of trouble but the judges will try their best to keep all the cases less than a year because that’s how they’re being graded by the Supreme Court, whether or not they finish their cases in under a year. So, they keep an eye on that one year mark but most people want to get it over with sooner than that. So, it’s usually 4 to 6 months for people with children.

How Is A Successful Outcome In A Divorce Case Defined?

There are certain barebones financial interests that have to be taken care of for the client. In other words, they cannot be cheated or manipulated financially to their disadvantage, so that has to be protected always. But beyond that, Tafelski tells his clients that if you’re getting a divorce, the point of it is that you decide that you want to be happy and you couldn’t be happy in that marriage, and therefore, your perspective should be looking to the future and not to the past.

If the attorney can help the client achieve an outcome where they are protected financially and they are set up where they can move forward and not be bogged down with the past and they have a good attitude and they are happy with the settlement, then it is considered a good settlement. A lot of it is based on the client’s intuition or the client’s goals going forward. The law office of Paul Tafelski really works to get them started on the next chapter with their life feeling like everything turned out in a good and reasonable way under the circumstances.

Does One Need A Valid Reason To File For Divorce In Michigan?

You really don’t need a valid reason as long as the court determines that there has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the bonds of matrimony can no longer be preserved, then a court would grant the divorce. Basically, if one party insists that they will not continue living together as husband and wife, the court will grant the divorce. So, there is no real way to stop the divorce if the other side clearly wants it.

What Are The Most Common Reasons To File For Divorce In Michigan?

The reasons for filing for divorce are all across the board. It’s a very personal decision and the one thing a lawyer will try to talk about in the initial meetings is to make sure that they have made up their mind and that they are ready to move forward. Usually, people think of situations such as infidelity or drug abuse or alcohol problems, gambling issues etc. that lead to reconcilable differences but there could be many other reasons such as if they haven’t wanted to be married for many years and they just can’t take it anymore or their children have grown up and they just don’t want to be with that person anymore, they’ve grown apart, all kinds of reasons; one maybe wants to live somewhere else and the other one doesn’t. There are a number of reasons that people have and it’s a very personal decision and the client is the one who knows it when they feel it.

Another thing commonly seen is a lot of people who really want a divorce and know they want a divorce and know they’re not going to change their mind but just can’t push themselves to pull the trigger and start the process because it never seems like the time is right. Usually what happens in those cases is they come back in a year or two or three years later and then they’re finally ready to do it when they realize that there never is going to be the perfect time to do it.

Is There A Required Period Of Separation Before Being Able To File A Divorce In Michigan?

No, you don’t have to be separated. In fact, many people like to live together even for a period of time after the divorce is complete while they’re trying to sell the marital home and things like that but the court will look at separation in determining whether or not to grant the divorce at that time. So, in other words, if you don’t have any minor children, you must wait at least 60 days from the time the complaint for divorce is filed and when the judgment of divorce is to be entered.

If you have minor children, the statutory waiting period is 180 days or 6 months. However, that statutory waiting period can be waived if the judge finds that there is good cause and that it’s in the best interest of the children to waive that waiting period and let the divorce be granted sooner. It’ll never be granted sooner than 60 days but it could be granted sooner than 6 months if the judge is convinced that it’s in the best interest of the children. One of the factors they would look at in that circumstance is whether or not the parties have already been separated and living apart and whether the kids are used to that and the adjustment period has occurred.

Are There Any Benefits To Filing For Divorce Before Your Spouse?

Usually, there are no advantages to being the first one to file. However, cases where one party has truly raced to the courthouse to file before the other party and gained a custody advantage with their children by making spurious allegations against the other party in order to get what’s called an ex parte or without a hearing order of temporary custody issued, it can create all sorts of problems for the other side because now one party is fighting an uphill battle when the case has just started.

In other instances, it makes it different who files first but probably 9 times out of 10 or 95 times out of a 100 it really won’t make a difference who files first but there are occasions and that’s the kind of thing you really want to speak to a lawyer about to try to understand the particular facts of your case to make sure that it is being handled properly because each one of these cases is a little bit unique and they have their own set of facts or circumstances that might make a decision on what to do in your case different from a decision to do in your sister’s case, for example.

At What Point Should Someone Be Talking To An Attorney?

Most attorneys in the area of divorce law will offer a free initial consultation. So, the answer would be as soon as you start thinking that you might want a divorce, you should reach out and have a consultation and get some guidance related specifically to your circumstance.

What Should Someone Do To Prepare For A Divorce Or Separation In Financial Terms?

As mentioned previously, every case is a little bit different and what might end up being the significant part of your divorce could be different for somebody else. Generally, you want to make sure that you’re very familiar and informed with all of the financial aspects of your case. If you think there are things like infidelity going on, you’d like to try to get some proof and some evidence; if you think there is financial mismanagement going on, then you’d like to try to get some proof and some evidence because as soon as the case starts, the battle lines will be drawn and people will be taking steps to protect their own interests. So just try to make sure you are as absolutely informed as possible with regard to what is going on and where all the information is that would become pertinent during your case.

If you have any questions regarding Divorce in Michigan, call the law office of Attorney Paul Tafelski for a free initial consultation at (248) 451-2200 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.

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