Knowledgeable Divorce Attorney in Lansing & surrounding areas
So you are thinking about filing for divorce. This is usually something that is thought about for days, weeks, months and in some cases years. My experience in the last 40 years is that you think about divorce in the morning, during the day and at night. It reaches the point where you start realizing you need to do something to change your life. If there is any consolation to thinking about whether or not to file for divorce, deciding to file may be the single most difficult part of the decision.
Divorce, as you know, is not something to be taken lightly. You stood up in front of friends, family and the world and pronounced your love. At one point, both of you thought you would live happily ever after and that is now coming to a crashing halt. It makes people difficult to deal with and sometimes they are at their absolute worst and sometimes at their absolute best.
I subscribe to the 10-year plan. That means you want to make a decision about divorce, custody and property division based upon what you think will be best 10 years from now. Do not make a decision based upon what you want to do today, tonight or next weekend.
One of the most important considerations is to consider saving the marriage. Will counseling help? Will ministers, rabbis or spiritual advisors be of any help to you? Is there some way that the magic can come back and your marriage can continue?
Having met my wife in 1968, I would prefer to keep everybody married for as long as humanly possible. I once asked someone what we could do to save their marriage and he said not much because they had been separated for more than 10 years. So in some cases, it's absolutely best that a divorce occur; the two of you separate and you work out a reasonable resolution of all of your issues. Unfortunately, this advice is a lot like losing weight. It is very easy to give, but very difficult to do.
The birth of a child; marriage; and the death of a loved one, parent or child are the things that mark us for life. The dates of those marriages and divorces get marked in our psyches and we have to figure out a way to live with them forever. Therefore, reaching a good marital division of property and a good divorce is far better than years of battling attorney fees, aggravation and acrimony.
In most cases, you and your spouse can make the best decision on property division, child sharing and custody issues. No one will think about you, your case and your family more than you will. If you're unable to decide these issues, then courts will set up many barriers before you get to trial.
The first thing they will have you do is go to a friend of the court to help determine custody, support and parenting time issues. If you are not satisfied with the friend of the court opinion, then you can go to conciliation and ask a magistrate to help decide those issues. If that is not satisfactory to either of you, then you file a motion with the judge and the judge will hear your case as part of your divorce. As you can see, there are many things in place to help you reach a resolution before the judge has to decide your family’s fate.
Domestic Abuse & Personal Protection
In order to assist you with many of the difficult questions facing you, we have additional information here that will help you determine the following issues that you will want to know about. The first is domestic abuse, should there be a personal protection order filed to help protect one of the spouses from the other.
Child Custody & Support
The most important of all topics is custody. The law specifically states when evaluating child custody the “best interest of the child" is the standard to use in determining to whom custody will be granted. There are 12 factors that the friend of the court and the judge must go through them to determine what is best for that child. The child's opinion is only given consideration if they are “of sufficient age to express a preference” and the reasons for their preference. Therefore, the child's opinion is not determinative in the younger years but can be most determinative if they are 15 or 16 years of age.
Along with child custody is child support. That is determined by the friend of the court. They are going to evaluate your income and your spouse's income; a computer program will tell them how much each child should get per month. The general rule of child support is whatever you are receiving to support the child is not enough, and whatever you are having to pay to support your child is not going to be enough to adequately raise those children. You need to work together on those issues.
Remember, your children are watching – no matter how much you are telling them that they should be good people, they are waiting to see how you discuss the other parent. Are you treating them kindly? Are you treating them with respect? Are you doing what is best for the children? These are all things your child is watching to determine how they will become parents, when it is their turn to make these important decisions.
Alimony may also be a factor if it is a sufficiently long marriage, generally 15 or 20 years, and there is a disparity in income between the parties. The court is going to look toward putting both spouses in a reasonably equitable position.
Helping to divide the property equitably is most important and we suggest you and your spouse keep as much control over those issues as possible. We can assist you in determining values of property and whether or not pension should be put in what’s called a qualified domestic relations order to help support the other party long after the marriage is dissolved.
Bahrie Law is here to assist you in coming up with a reasonable and fair division of property and sharing of your children that works best for you and your family. No one has a better idea than the two of you. Therefore, keeping the lines of communication open during and after the divorce is absolutely crucial. We have had over 40 years’ experience in helping people reach resolutions that are reasonable and fair and that they can live with for a long, long time.
Most importantly, there is life after divorce and oftentimes people can reconnect with others, leading to a good and happy life in the future. Your children want to see how you and your spouse are treating each other and them. That will mark them forever, so remember that a short-term win may not be the best long-term solution.