The experienced divorce attorneys at Melissa Pearce & Associates have years of experience practicing family law. We have represented many clients seeking divorces, separations, prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, child custody and support, and many other matters. Our areas of practice include:
Divorce, the legal dissolution of a marriage, is increasingly common in the United States. According to the American Psychological Association, the divorce rate is estimated at 40-50%. We understand that divorce is much more than a statistic. Often, filing for divorce is one of the most difficult decisions a couple can make. It takes a huge emotional toll, not only on the spouses in the marriage but also on their children and loved ones. Our divorce attorneys help our clients understand the divorce process by guiding them through the process and explaining the legal, financial, and emotional implications of ending their marriage. We take care to ensure that the process is as amicable and peaceful as possible, with the goal of minimizing emotional strain on the parties, and especially their children.
Although separation is legally different from divorce, the emotional and psychological effects can still be severe. Legal separation, or “separate maintenance,” does not legally end the marriage, but rather it provides an arrangement for the spouses to live separately. Many couples choose to formally separate without ending their marriage, whether for family, religious, tax, or medical reasons. An experienced family lawyer may help you determine which path is right for you and your family and explain the legal effects of your decision.
We believe the well-being of children is one of the most important aspects of family law. Reaching a child custody agreement is rarely clear-cut, but our experienced lawyers want to help you negotiate a fair and satisfactory settlement. Parents may have either sole or joint custody, or custody may be divided into physical or legal custody. A child with reside with a parent awarded physical custody, while legal custody will entitle the parent to make decisions on behalf of the child.
Parents have the legal duty to financially support their children. Parents who are single or facing divorce or separation may need guidance on how to seek child support from their child’s other parent. In Michigan, the child support formula considers the parents’ income and the custody arrangement.
Spousal support, or alimony, are payments to one former spouse in the event of a divorce. The purpose of spousal support is usually to maintain the status quo. In other words, the spouse who was typically responsible for making certain payments may be required to continue making those payments. The recipient should be able to maintain their standard of living without sudden, unexpected financial burdens.
One of the most complicated parts of a divorce or separation is dividing property. When spouses obtain assets or liabilities during their marriage, they must be equitably divided and distributed upon divorce. For example, a couple who owned a house, business, trust, or other assets together during their marriage has to determine who gets to keep which property. Equitable division does not always mean a 50/50 split between the ex-spouses, however. Other factors may impact how assets are distributed, such as the length of the marriage and which spouse contributed the assets. An experienced divorce lawyer may negotiate on behalf of their client to protect their legal property rights in a divorce or separation agreement.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are contracts that lay out each spouse’s financial obligations should the couple decide to divorce. A prenuptial agreement is executed before the marriage, while postnuptial agreements are executed after the marriage. The goal of the agreement is typically to preemptively determine how assets will be divided during a divorce. Often, spouses sign these agreements to protect their own assets and avoid taking on the debts of their other spouse. Although nuptial agreements may avoid some challenges in the event of a divorce or separation, they must be done correctly for a court to find them enforceable. For example, agreements must not be the result of fraud, undue influence, mistake, or misrepresentation. When considering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement with a spouse, we recommend working closely with an experienced family lawyer to ensure the agreement is in your best interest.
Determining the legal status of a father can have significant financial and emotional results. Often, mothers bring a paternity action to establish the biological father of their child in order to seek child support. In other cases, engaged fathers may voluntarily establish fatherhood to pursue a child custody agreement. In either case, we understand there is much more to parenthood than legal status. Working toward the best interest of parents and children is our priority.
In family law matters, emotions can run high. Protective orders in Michigan are referred to as Personal Protection Orders (PPO), and are sometimes necessary to ensure the physical safety of spouses, domestic partners, and children. A PPO may be appropriate if a family member or domestic partner is facing threatening behavior. These include, but are not limited to stalking, harassment, or threats of physical abuse. Our experienced attorneys have supported many clients through the emotionally straining process of filing, or in some cases, being on the receiving end of a PPO. Protective orders are extremely serious matters that can have a harsh impact on family and child relationships, so the decision to file should not be taken lightly. Discuss your case with an experienced Michigan family lawyer to help determine the best path forward to resolving your conflict.
Trust the dedicated family law attorneys at Melissa Pearce & Associates to support you and your family during this difficult time. We understand the emotional, psychological, and financial toll that divorce, separation, and child custody and support can take on individuals. Contact our firm to schedule your pre-engagement meeting.