Family Law Attorneys
Family law issues can be difficult and emotional for everyone involved. It is important to choose a law firm that understands the challenges that you and your family are about to face, even if the split is amicable and you are intending to have a collaborative divorce.
The most important part of any collaborative divorce involving children is to make sure that the best interests of the children are being considered throughout the entire process. Issues regarding custody can cause a lot of stress and grief in divorce cases. Michigan’s complicated laws governing child custody and parenting time make it difficult for clients to fight for their rights without the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Marriages are never entered with divorce in mind. However, the fact is that many marriages do end in divorce. In Michigan, including the Plymouth-Canton community, family law is a complex and lengthy process. It is always in your best interest to have an attorney by your side to help ensure that a civil, collaborative divorce can take place.
By hiring our office you will be represented by an attorney who will guide you through this complicated process and help you obtain the best possible result.
Thanks for tuning in. This video is going to be about divorce with and without children in Michigan. I’m Greg Demopoulos, partner at Bennett & Demopoulos, PLLC, located in Plymouth, Michigan. Our phone number is 734-453-7877. We offer free consultations on any divorce case, period. So this will be a nuts and bolts discussion about divorce.
The first thing we’ll talk about is: are you eligible to get a divorce? In Michigan, you have to be a resident of the state for 180 days and in a county of where you’re going to file your case for at least 10 days or where your spouse is residing for at least 10 days. If you have minor children, there is a 180-day waiting period from the day you file from which you can get a divorce. If there are no minor children, there is a 60-day waiting period.
Property division in a divorce
The first thing to talk about is property division. That’s your assets and liabilities: what you own and what you owe. Under the law, that’s supposed to be equitably divided. Equitably doesn’t necessarily mean equally, but that’s the rule of thumb. Equitably means fairly. So things like credit card debt, cars, houses, furniture – those things have to be divided fairly along with the debt. Some people have a lot of debt, and that also has to be divided.
Custody in a divorce
The next thing that a divorce has to take into account is what happens with the children. There’s two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the custody that is awarded a parent to make legal decisions pertaining to the child: medical decisions, enrolling a student in school, what school, or God forbid, life-altering decisions – serious illness, transplants, that type of thing. Most cases are resolved with joint legal custody, assuming both parents are responsible people and don’t have significant substance abuse or criminal issues.
What is more contested is physical custody. For physical custody, the court will look at what is in the best interest of the party’s minor children. There are several factors the court looks at: the ability to raise the child, care for the child, take the child to school, get them medical care, moral fitness, the community record of the child, the preference of the child if the child is old enough to state a preference, whether or not one party has perpetrated domestic violence on the other, especially in the presence of the child – there’s a host of factors a court will look at. The court, if you were to actually have a trial, almost keeps a scorecard. On each factor, does that favor mom or does that favor dad? And after going through each factor and taking testimony, the court will then decide: the custody belongs with mom primarily, or dad primarily, or both, having shared custody.
Child support in a divorce
The next thing to look at is child support. Child support is a function of mom and dad’s income and how many overnights the children spend with their parents. In an example, if there were joint physical custody where each parent had 182 overnights a year, and had the exact income, there would be zero child support. Under a situation where the parties have the same income, but one parent has substantially more overnights than the other, the non-custodial parent would pay child support. If parenting time is divided in more of a traditional way where one parent gets every other weekend and half the school breaks and a couple weeks in the summer, the other parent who has primary custody is going to get a more significant child support reward.
Division of retirement benefits in a divorce
The other thing that must be considered in any divorce is division of retirement benefits and pensions. Generally, the courts like to divide those benefits equally. Sometimes a party might want to keep all the 401(k) and not divide it equally, and that can be done by agreement, but it would normally require some other consideration equal to what the party is losing. For instance, more equity out of the house than what the other party is getting out of the 401(k), etc. The last thing to consider for any divorce is spousal support. Spousal support is the word(s) that replaced alimony, and currently spousal support is not deductible under the tax code – it used to be deductible until a few years ago.
There are spousal support guidelines which are just that – guidelines that take into account education, income, what the underlying child support is if any, and a few other factors. And then the software will make a recommendation. That is not binding on the courts. The software for child support is binding on the courts, absent some legal justification to deviate from the guidelines. The spousal support software is just a tool. The courts are supposed to look at things like prior standard of living, income of the parties, the (award of) properties awarded to the parties, how much was awarded to the parties, moral fitness, health, ability to work, prior standard of living – those are the things a court is supposed to look at when awarding spousal support. It should be noted that the longer the marriage, or the older the parties, or the greater disparity in income, or the greater disparity in education or ability to earn can increase a spouse’s chances of getting spousal support.
Free divorce consultation
We offer a free consultation. At the consultation, we will always provide a good ballpark estimate of child support and spousal support for you. We will also tell you, based on the information we have at the intake, what we think an equitable and achievable outcome will be for you. Our phone number is 734-453-7877 if you would like to call us to discuss your case further, we do offer a free consultation. Thank you for tuning in and we hope that this helps you.