The State of Michigan has some of the most confusing family law statutes and rules in the entire country. The types of Michigan family law matters that a person may encounter include: prenuptial agreements, divorce, and child custody, child support, and father’s rights. Lawyers specializing in these areas must take a delicate approach because these issues are sensitive. At the same time, experienced Michigan family law attorneys must not be afraid to fight for the rights of their clients when justified.
Family lawyers practicing in Michigan must be well-versed in state law and understand how the court system works. Retaining an experienced Michigan family law attorney could mean the difference between retaining assets and continuing to build relationships with children or losing everything. Individuals dealing with family law issues should seriously consider working with a legal professional.
Michigan Divorce Help and Advice
Even if their marriages are unhappy, few people truly want to get divorced. Dissolution of a marriage is an emotional process that can be very stressful. Getting quality Michigan family law help works toward reducing the stress involved and keep discussions as objective as possible. Having this legal expert on your side can make the divorce process tolerable and may help spouses part amicably.
Before filing for divorce in Michigan, a married individual must have lived in the state for six months or longer. Michigan, along with all states in the country, are what are termed “no fault” divorce states. This means that grounds, such as adultery, abandonment, or abuse do not have to be proven to obtain a divorce. This saves individuals years of time, and in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars. A no fault divorce in Michigan means that the marriage has become irretrievably broken and that there is no likelihood of reconciling the marriage. A judge typically will not enter a divorce judgment until six months after a divorce complaint is filed, however, it is possible to request that the judge approve the shortening of the term.
Property Distribution in a Michigan Divorce
Property division in a Michigan divorce can be confusing because the distinction between marital property and nonmarital property is not as simple as it seems. When dividing marital assets and debts in a Michigan divorce, Michigan courts follow what is known as “equitable distribution laws.” Spouses each receive an amount of property considered fair and reasonable – this does not mean a 50/50 split of the property, which is why the laws are confusing. This may mean that one spouse receives more of the property acquired during the marriage, called marital property. A family court judge strives to provide each spouse with some marital property, provided that it is what they consider to be an “equitable distribution.”
Alimony in Michigan
Either divorcing spouse may be required to pay the other party alimony. Attorney fees may be factored into this amount and alimony should be enough to permit the recipient to maintain a household, in some instances, a similar standard of living as existed during the marriage. The payor or the recipient may even be able to request a change in payment amount due to a significant change in circumstances in some situations. This is common when the payor spouse loses her/his job or the recipient spouse becomes injured or disabled shortly after an award of alimony is made in court. Michigan family law experts ensure that divorcing individuals are able to obtain the rights that they deserve.
Michigan Child Custody Help
Michigan courts follow the belief that custody and visitation decisions should be made based on a standard known as the “best interests of the child.” Like courts in many other states, Michigan supports the possibility of shared parental custody of children; known as joint custody. Parents may come to an agreement regarding child custody or visitation without going to court. Michigan family law judges attempt to get parents to enter into a Parenting Plan, which details Michigan child custody, visitation, holiday schedules, extracurricular activities of the children, and so much more. If a parenting plan can be worked out and agreed on between the parents and if the judge believes that the proposed plan is in the best interests of the child, the plan is likely to be approved. When parents cannot agree on custody or visitation, the case must be ultimately decided by a judge at trial.
Courts consider several factors when determining what is in the best interests of the child. Included in this detailed analysis are the following: the ability of each parent to provide for the well-being of the child from physical, emotional, and mental standpoints and the relationship the child has established at school, home, and within the community. Health, safety, and emotional needs of the child rank high on the consideration list as well. When considering or expecting a child custody battle, it is essential to begin preparing your life to meet these minimal basics.
Also assessed under Michigan’s best interests of the child standard is the willingness and ability of each parent to encourage a relationship between the other parent and the child. Therefore, parents should cooperate and reach mutually agreeable decisions as often as possible. This is the whole point of joint custody in the first place – the ability to co-parent. Co-parenting is best for a child as it allows the child to view both parents as integral people in the child’s life. While rare, and usually only after a child is in his or her mid-teens, when making a custody decision, a judge may also consider the wishes of a child if he or she has expressed preference. This is not given nearly as much weight as the other factors and, in many cases, Michigan judges will not allow either parent to even ask the child which parent they would prefer to live with as it is unfair to the minor child.
Issues of morality may be considered when making a child custody decision, to the extent that these influence fitness as parents. This means that verbal abuse, substance abuse, and illegal behavior can affect child custody decisions. The judge will decide on both legal custody that encompasses major decisions affecting the child and physical custody that pertains to where the child spends the majority of their time sleeping. When issues like child custody are involved in a person life, simply showing up at the courthouse on your own is terrible idea. Working with either an experienced Michigan child custody attorney or another family law professional is the only way to ensure that you get the rights you deserve.
Michigan Child Support Help
In Michigan, as in many other states, child custody and child support are separate issues. Child support is financial support provided by one parent to another and may be awarded even if the parents never married each other. Michigan follows a rather confusing model called “Income Shares” is used when calculating child support in Michigan. This estimates the total amount spent on the child if the parents lived together. The estimate is then divided proportionally between both parents based on each individual’s income.
Even when using available state manuals and supplementary reading material, it can be difficult to accurately calculate child support. Multiple steps are involved and just one mistake may drastically alter the result. Michigan family law attorneys assist with calculations and help parent’s petition courts for the proper child support orders.
If using the state child support formula would have an unfair outcome, a court may deviate from this formula. In general, deviations may include educational expenses outside of the normal range or costs to attend to special needs children. Michigan child support obligations typically end when the child turns 18 and has graduated from high school. A child support award may be revised if the petitioning parent can show that circumstances have changed significantly, either upward or downward. This is done through filing a petition to modify child support.
Michigan Father’s Rights Help
Father’s deserve the same rights as a mother. Whether going through a divorce or being involved in a parentage matter (where both parents were never married to begin with), a father must work out child custody or visitation issues. Getting the right Michigan family law help can assist a father in fighting for and winning the right to spend the desired amount of time with his child. Michigan father’s rights attorneys also ensure that the male parent pays no more child support than justified or is on the receiving end of this support if entitled.
Michigan law does not reflect preference for the sex of one parent over another but a court sometimes applies the law in favor of the mother of the child. For decades it was a foregone conclusion that a mother would automatically retain custody of the children when either a married couple splits up or an unmarried couple breaks up. This is no longer the case and Michigan laws are changing to give fathers the same rights as mothers. It is up to the father of the child to fight for his rights to continue parenting. A Michigan fathers rights lawyer can help to prepare a strong case illustrating that the father is an excellent caregiver. The goal is to make the court see that the continued role of the father is in the best interests of the child – this is the most important standard involved in father’s rights cases.
The Next Step
Getting the Michigan family law help you deserve has never been easier than it is right now. We have a team of Michigan family law experts waiting to work with you and help guide you through your family law matter. There is no reason to do this alone – working with a legal professional is essential to obtaining the rights you deserve. Michigan family laws are confusing – don’t let a mistake hurt your chances, speak with a professional today.
Contact us today for a FREE Confidential Consultation from a Local Attorney.