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Divorce

How should I prepare for a divorce? 

You have already done the first step: researching online and reviewing the material on this site. In addition, you should consider the following steps:If you have joint accounts, you should withdraw half of the money from those accounts and put it in a separate account that you control. This way, you will be able to support yourself through the divorce process.

If you are considering moving out of the family house, you will need to find a place to live. Divorce is expensive. The added cost of setting up an entirely separate household can literally "break the bank." To save money, you could live with a relative for a period of time until you figure out what will happen with your finances.

Gather all of your important documents together and make copies of them so that your spouse can have them as well. These documents include all financial documents, bank statements, credit card statements, brokerage account statements, or any other document related to your finances. This would include insurance policies. Courts require you to submit tax returns, so make sure that you have copies of your tax returns going back at least two years, preferably five. Some courts also require proof of income, so you may want to make copies of your most recent pay stubs.

If you have a will, you should revise it to reflect that you may not want certain assets to go to your ex or their family. We do this as a free service to all of our clients.

Finally, close all of your joint credit cards in writing. This will prevent your spouse from running up huge credit card balances while you are going through the divorce process.

What affect will divorce have on my kids?

Divorce is often a difficult transition process. One great resource available in many counties is a parenting class. The parenting class will help all members of the family, husband, wife, and kids, understand and cope with the divorce process. We have found these parenting classes to be a fantastic resource and very helpful especially to the children in coping with the divorce process. We strongly recommend that our clients attend these parenting classes. The instructors will explain to the children that the divorce is not their fault. This is the primary thing you want your children to know: it’s not their fault. It will be more helpful coming from an authoritative figure, such as a teacher, rather than from the parents themselves. 

Should I let my spouse visit the kids before getting a court order?

This is a very common question. Our answer is that it is best for both parties to work together and make the divorce process, including visitation, as easy for the children as possible. Remember, the courts are putting the kids first. Your concerns as a spouse are inconsequential compared to the welfare of your children. What this means is that it is best for you as a spouse to work with your partner with regards to visitation. Be reasonable. We know that there are often very strong emotions involved. You might not want to talk to your spouse, you might not want to see your spouse, and you certainly don’t want to do anything to make your spouse’s life easier. But for the sake of your children, you need to put this aside. We all know that it is very important for children to have a relationship with both their father and their mother. Accordingly, go out of your way to do what you can and encourage a relationship between your kids and your spouse. If this means letting your spouse have visitation before the court decides what the arrangements are going to be, so be it. Remember, put your kids first. 

Now, there is one exception to this rule. If you have a legitimate, real fear that your spouse might abuse your children, you need to seek a protective order immediately. There are very few true emergencies in divorce cases, but this is one of them. Either you by yourself or with the assistance of an attorney should petition the court and ask for a restraining order prohibiting your spouse from seeing the kids. Know that you need strong grounds for this protective order.

Can my spouse take my kids away?

The basic answer to this question is, unless you are abusive or a pedophile, no. We can’t tell you how often a husband who is emotionally abusive to a wife, and who also earns all of the income in the family, will threaten his wife with taking the kids away. The husband will say that the courts will look at his income and say that the kids are better off with him, because he earns more money. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Courts are smarter than this. They realize that kids need love and affection, not money. So who earns the most income in the family, who the breadwinner is, is really irrelevant in the court’s decision as to who the kids should stay with. In fact, courts most often like the parents to share custody. This shared custody can take any number of forms. For example, the wife could have the kids Monday and Tuesday, the husband could have the kids Wednesday and Thursday, and the parents could split alternate weekends. If the husband works a lot, the wife might have the kids during the week, and the husband would have weekend visitation. The variation on this visitation schedule is vast. Typically, the parties try to agree on this and make sure that it is best for everybody. If the parties cannot agree on it, the court will listen to everybody and try to do the right thing. But the bottom line is, unless you are a really bad person, your spouse cannot take your kids away.

Can I get a divorce if my spouse lives in another state?

The bottom line answer to this is you can. Michigan law allows any of its residents to get a divorce in Michigan. To be a resident of Michigan really depends upon your intent. This means that if you can show that you have lived in Michigan for any period of time (even a few months is sometimes long enough), you can show that you vote in Michigan, if you have a driver’s license, and other similar proof, then you can get a divorce in Michigan. Your spouse cannot prevent the Michigan divorce by arguing that they've never set foot in Michigan. It really doesn’t matter to Michigan courts. The marriage goes with either spouse. So if you reside in Michigan, then the marriage is in Michigan and your spouse can get a divorce here.

What is the process?

It starts by filing a summons and complaint for divorce. This document tells the court what you want. It will also contain facts, such as when you were married, whether you had kids, how old the kids are, and when you separated. You also have to ask for what you want in the divorce. For example, if you want spousal support, you need to ask for it. If you want child support, you need to ask for it. If you want a certain type of visitation or custody, you need to ask for that as well. All this document does is put the court on notice of the fact that you want a divorce and the other issues involved in the case. 

After you file your petition, the court will take numerous steps to decide the issue set forth in your petition. Often, the court will set a date for a pre-trial conference and a settlement conference. That helps set dates by which all parts of the case must be completed.Both sides work to discuss and narrow the issues. The court may order mediation, a Friend of the Court referee hearing, or other interventions to help resolve your case. Importantly, each side must prepare a verified personal financial statement that is presented to the court.

If the parties cannot agree, either party can set the matter for trial before the assigned judge. At the end of the trial, the judge will issue an opinion, which is then reduced to a written judgment by the attorneys for the parties.

Another issue that will have to be decided is the property settlement. This can be done a number of ways. The parties can agree on how to divide the property. Or, the parties can ask the court to decide. As with most things, it is better if the parties can agree on this amongst themselves.

Divorce terminates the marriage between two individuals. Once divorced, your right to marry someone else is restored. In Michigan, this process also involves the division of marital assets and debts and determines the care and custody of the children.

Michigan allows for no-fault divorce in which the spouses are not required to prove that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage. This means that either you or your spouse may obtain a divorce, even if one of you does not consent to the divorce.