Divorce and Custody Disputes

 

To begin the process of divorce in Michigan either you or your spouse  must have lived in Michigan for at  least six months before you file.  Michigan has “no-fault” divorce; which  means that you don’t have to  prove a reason to get a divorce. Your spouse  doesn't have to agree to  give you a divorce. You can get a divorce even if you  are the person  who did something that made your marriage end.


There  are several issues that will be decided in a  divorce action.  The following is a brief summary of some of  the major  issues decided in divorce:


Property and Debt Division: Your  marital property will be divided fairly.  Your  marital debt will also  be divided fairly. Marital property and debt are those items  of  property and debt incurred during your marriage.  While whose fault the  divorce is will not  prevent a divorce, the court may weigh fault when  it considers property  division.

Spousal Support (Alimony): The court  will also decide if you or your spouse will pay  spousal support  (alimony).  Awards of  alimony are unusual, if both parties have a work  history and are able to work,  particularly where marriages are of short  duration.
 
Children: If you and your spouse have  (minor) children together, the  court will decide who they will live  with, what the parenting time arrangements  will be, who makes the  decisions about the children’s lives, and how much  financial support  each parent will provide.
 
Custody: Child  custody refers to both  legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody means  the right to  make important decisions about your children, like where they go  to  school, what religion they are, and non-emergency medical decisions.   Physical custody refers to who your children live with. Both legal  custody and  physical custody can be sole or joint. Sole custody means  only one parent has  that type of custody. Joint custody means the  parents share that type of  custody.
 
Child Support: Child  support is  awarded using Michigan’s Child Support Formula. The formula is based  on  the income of both parents, the number of children, and how often the   children stay with each parent. Child support is usually ordered until a  child  is 18. However, it can continue until the child is 19 ½ if the  child is in high  school full time and is likely to graduate.
 
Friend of the Court: While  your  divorce is pending you and your spouse might be referred to the Friend  of  the Court to meet with an evaluator. The Friend of the Court  evaluator may try  to help you and your spouse reach an agreement about  custody, parenting time  and child support. If you can't reach an  agreement, the Friend of the Court  will probably make a recommendation  to the court. The recommendation is not a  court order and will not  become a court order unless a judge signs it.
 
Facilitation and Trial: There is no  right to a trial by jury in a divorce  case – the judge the case is  assigned to will decide the issues of custody,  support, alimony,  property division, debt division, and all other issues in the  divorce.   You are entitled to a trial, to  present evidence and witnesses, and  have the judge decide all issues in your  divorce case.  Many courts use  a  facilitation services, where the parties and their attorneys meet  with a  mediator who tries to assist the parties to reach a settlement  and avoid a  trial.  If a settlement can be reached,  you will be saved  the attorney fees associated with trial preparation and  trial.  Your  issues will be decided in a  final divorce judgment that dissolves your  marriage

Modification of Your Divorce Judgment Later: Many  decisions made by the court  or agreed to in your settlement in a  divorce case are final decisions – such as  the dissolution of your  marriage, the division of your property or debts, or  whether alimony is  to be paid by anyone.   However, decisions regarding your children –  where they live, who  controls their lives, the amount of support paid –  are capable of being  modified until your children reach the age of 18  (or 19 1/2).  Alimony can be reserved in your divorce  judgment and  revisited at a later time.

 

Suzan Gabbara is the attorney at Frank D. Eaman  PLLC who  handles our divorce and custody cases.   Our firm will ensure that your  rights are protected from the beginning  of your divorce case until the  judgment of divorce is entered.  We will represent you and protect your   interests in every step of the divorce process to achieve the best  possible  outcome in your case.