No two marriages are the same, which is why every divorce is unique. Melissa Pearce & Associates has been representing clients in family law matters since 2009, and we have made it our mission to change the way people look at divorce. We pride ourselves on our ability to diligently handle the legal issues in the case while keeping our clients – and any children involved – top of mind. If you are considering a divorce in Detroit, Grosse Pointe or Cherry Hill, Michigan, contact us for your pre-engagement meeting with an experienced Wayne County divorce attorney.
Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state. Under Michigan Statutes Section 552.6, the only ground to obtain a divorce is to show that the marriage has been a breakdown in the marriage such that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and that the marriage is not likely to be preserved. In some states, a spouse can establish “fault” grounds for divorce under certain conditions, such as if their spouse committed adultery or abandoned the household. Michigan law, however, recognizes that divorce is common, and by establishing “no-fault” divorces, helps to eliminate some of the blame and contention that comes with the divorce process. With that in mind, bad behavior by one of the spouses may still weigh heavily on the judge’s decisions with regard to the division of assets, spousal support, and possibly even child custody.
The process to obtain a divorce in Wayne County is essentially the same as the rest of Michigan. There is a residency requirement, which provides that either or both spouses must have lived in Michigan for six months prior to filing for divorce in Michigan. Similarly, if you want to file for divorce in Wayne County, at least one of the parties generally must have been a resident of Wayne County for the last ten days before filing.
To initiate a divorce proceeding, one spouse must file a complaint and summons, as well as any other necessary paperwork with the Wayne County Civil Court. The initiating party also has to serve these documents on the other party, which involves a sheriff or a process server delivering the divorce papers to the other spouse. This typically involves paying filing fees or applying for a fee waiver. Although many people try to handle their divorce without the help of a lawyer, we recommend speaking with an experienced Wayne County divorce attorney to ensure all of the documents are properly filed and served.
Michigan enforces a waiting period before the divorce can be finalized. Couples must wait two months if they have no minor children, or six months if they do have minor children.
After the other spouse responds to the complaint or leaves it uncontested, the spouses must disclose all of their financial assets and debts. The parties must also agree to a settlement that addresses issues like division of assets, parenting time schedules, and spousal support. If the parties cannot agree to a settlement, the court will decide.
Divorce is challenging enough, but all of the downstream effects of divorce tend to be the most complicated part for many of our clients.
One of the hardest things about going through a divorce is not only that the family is broken up, but sometimes people lose other important parts of their lives. Part of a divorce means dividing up all of the marital assets, and Melissa Pearce & Associates negotiates on our clients’ behalf to keep their hard-earned property. While some couples have very little marital property, others have family homes, businesses, cars, savings, and countless items of shared personal property to divide. We work closely with our clients to help them keep what belongs to them.
Spousal support can also be a challenging aspect of divorce. When both members of a couple have similar income and earning capacity, spousal support may not be necessary. However, this is not always the reality. In marriages where one spouse is the primary caretaker for minor children or elderly relatives, for example, that spouse may be at a financial disadvantage when their marriage is dissolved. On the other hand, it may be difficult or disheartening to have to contribute a significant portion of income to an ex-spouse. Spousal support is intended to allow both ex-spouses to maintain the quality of life they were accustomed to during the marriage, but we fight to ensure that the arrangement is fair and equitable.
Ideally, our clients will be willing to work with their ex-spouse to mutually establish a child custody plan that works for everyone, especially the child or children. Parenting time schedules are important not only after the divorce is finalized, but also during the pendency of the divorce. Divorce is disruptive to children’s routines, so it is important to establish as much normalcy and predictability as possible while the spouses are undergoing divorce proceedings.
A final divorce decree is rarely final. As circumstances change, court orders may need to be adapted as well. As children grow, employment opportunities change, and health declines, child custody and spousal support arrangements often need to be modified. We continue to support our clients long after the divorce is finalized to help ensure the arrangement meets everybody’s needs.
We believe divorce does not need to tear a family apart. Divorce is an opportunity to redefine your family and allow both spouses and children to achieve their goals. When a marriage breaks down, it is important to have an experienced attorney by your side to provide legal advice and look out for your interests. Contact Melissa Pearce & Associates or call (248) 397-9606 to schedule your pre-engagement meeting with a Wayne County divorce attorney.