DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW:
Divorce falls under the family law category. But family law can consist of a lot of intertwined areas and functions including:
- Property division
- Child custody
- Parenting time
- Child support
- Spousal support (alimony)
- Domestic violence
- Personal protection orders (PPO’s)
- Domestic Relation Orders (QDRO's and EDRO’s)
- Friend of the court including investigations, evidentiary hearings, etc
- Pre-Nuptial agreements
- Post-nuptial agreements
- Separate maintenance
- Interstate custody and support jurisdiction
Some of these functions occur prior to the filing of a legal case. Some occur during case pendancy. And some occur post judgment. Feel free to contact us for a free phone consultation. Attorney Matt Michaels has a wealth of experience with divorce, family law, and child-related matters.
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE:
Confusion exists regarding Michigan’s status as a “no fault” divorce state. Generally, when persons claim that Michigan is a “no fault” divorce state they mean that the only ground for divorce that a court must find to divorce people is “There has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.” So when filing a complaint for divorce one does not have to specify any fault by either party. And if the parties consent to a judgment, the court is highly unlikely to ask the reason for the divorce. On the other hand, ‘fault” which contributed to the martial breakdown is one of several factors that a court considers when determining custody, parenting time, spousal support, and property division percentages.
SPOUSAL SUPPORT FACTORS:
Spousal support (alimony) is a sum of money paid by one spouse to the other spouse for the support and maintenance during case pendancy and/or post judgement. Although some courts consider spousal support calculations performed with purchased software, the law requires the court to consider “the ability of either party to pay and the character and situation of the parties, and all the other circumstances of the case.” MCL 552.23(1). Factors considered include at least the following:
- the past relations and conduct of the parties (fault)
- the length of the marriage
- the ability of the parties to work and their respective incomes
- the source and amount of property awarded to the parties
- the ability of the parties to pay spousal support
- the present situation of the parties
- the needs of the parties
- the health of the parties
- the prior standard of living of the parties and whether either is responsible for the support of others
- the age and educational level of the person claiming spousal support
There are various circumstances causing spousal support duration and/or amount to be “permanent,” modifiable, non-modifiable, rehabilitative, or lump-sum. Spousal support awards can vary widely between courts, judges, and cases.
Unlike spousal support, child support is based on the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual (the “Guidelines”). It is a formula which considers multiple factual parametersincluding but not limited to party incomes and number of overnights the child(ren) stay with each party. Your family law attorney can estimate your child support with a good level of certainty based on input parameters of the case.
CHILD CUSTODY AND PARENTING TIME FACTORS:
The Michigan Child Custody Act demands the following “best interests of the child” factors be considered by the court when determining child custody and parenting time:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and continuation of the education and raising of the child in its religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of the medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
PROPERTY DIVISION FACTORS:
Property division in a divorce case can include everything that is “co-mingled marital property.” One can typically expect a division of real property, personal property, accounts, pensions, IRAs, etc., which were acquired and/or consequentially commingled during the course of the marriage. It is common for family law practitioners and courts to start with a presumption of a 50-50 property division and then move from there when needed via neegotiation, mediation, or litigation. The following factors are considered when determining property division issues:
- the length of the marriage
- the contributions of the parties to the marital estate
- the ages of the parties
- the health of the parties
- the life status of the parties
- the necessities and circumstances of the parties
- the earning abilities of the parties
- the past relations and conduct of the parties
- general principles of equity