Your family is your foundation. Your family members provide love and support when you need it most. Your family also depends on you for financial and emotional security. When your family is faced with challenging times, it may feel like everything is falling apart. The security you once felt is replaced with fear and uncertainty about the future. The experienced family lawyers at Stimpson & Associates are here to help. We know the law and we work with families every day. Our lawyers can provide the support you need to get through these challenging times and look ahead to a brighter future.
Providing Support and Guidance in Divorce
Going through a divorce takes an emotional toll on the entire family. It is a long process that can involve complications and conflicts along the way, even under the best of circumstances. During this difficult time, you will want to protect yourself and ensure the well-being of your children. Our lawyers understand how stressful it can be for all parties. Although some cases can be settled amicably, there are other times when the parties simply cannot agree and will need to go to court. Regardless of your situation, our team of experienced family lawyers will provide expert legal advice and support.
Divorce in Michigan
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither party is held responsible for the failure of the marriage. A divorce can be granted even if one of the parties does not want the divorce to occur. You simply need to show that the marriage has broken down to the point that it cannot be repaired. Even if there are traditional “fault” grounds involved, such as adultery, mental illness or emotional abuse, those factors do not play a role in the determination of whether you can get a divorce. However, those factors can influence things like child custody, spousal support and property rights.
Michigan requires a six-month waiting period before you can get a divorce if minor children are involved. If you do not have children, the waiting period is two months. This waiting period begins when you file a complaint and ends with the final judgment of divorce.
There are five main issues involved in a divorce: division of property, spousal support, child custody, visitation and child support.
No matter where you are in the process, the experienced family lawyers at Stimpson & Associates can help. We can negotiate on your behalf to reach the best possible outcome.
Division of Property
One of the main components of a divorce proceeding is to divide the property and assets among the parties. Typically, this requires that both parties create an inventory of all property, including:
- Homes and real estate
- Bank accounts
- Insurance policies
- Pensions and retirement accounts
- Business holdings
- Gifts or inheritances
If you have assets or property that was in your name prior to the marriage, you may be able to protect those assets from being distributed to the other party. Our lawyers can help you to create an inventory of assets and gather any documentation you may need to support your position around the distribution of property.
Spousal support is also known as alimony and/or spousal maintenance. Spousal support is the financial support provided by one spouse to the other in order to maintain a similar lifestyle from the marriage. Not everyone qualifies for spousal support. Every situation is unique, but here are some common issues that the court may consider to determine whether to grant spousal support:
- Length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s income
- Each spouse’s abilities and/or disabilities
- Education level
- Work history
- Necessity and length of training to return to the workforce
- Career possibilities in the geographic area
- Domestic violence issues
Spousal support is a complicated issue and depends on many factors. Our experienced family lawyers can help you gather documentation to support your position on spousal support and ensure the best possible outcome for you.
There is no doubt that child custody is one of the most emotionally charged issues in any divorce. There are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the child’s living arrangements. Legal custody refers to each parent’s right to make important decisions related to the child’s welfare such as schooling, religious affiliation, and major medical decisions.
Custody can be awarded by the court as “sole” or “joint” and that decision may vary for the physical versus legal custody of the child. With “sole” custody, one parent has custody. With “joint” custody, the parents share custody. For example, a parent could be awarded sole physical custody of a child, but retain joint legal custody with the other parent.
When determining the custody of a child, the court considers what is in the best interests of the child. Some of the factors involved in the decision are:
- The love and affection between a parent and child.
- The ability of each parent to offer the child guidance and love in the continuation of the child’s education.
- The ability of each parent to provide food, clothing and medical care.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment and whether that environment may continue the permanence of the family unit in each home.
- The moral fitness of each parent.
- The mental and physical condition of each parent.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- If the child is older than 12, the preference of the child.
- The ability and willingness of each parent to foster a good relationship with the other parent.
- Any history of domestic violence in the family.
- Other relevant factors.
When you are involved in a divorce, you want to make sure to protect your rights as a parent and protect your child’s future. Our experienced family lawyers have helped many people resolve custody issues. We know the law and we will treat all parties with respect. We can help you negotiate the best possible outcome.
Another complex issue is related to parenting time, or visitation. If one parent has sole physical custody of the child, then the other parent will have visitation. Even in cases where there is joint physical custody, you will still need a schedule to determine when the child will stay at each parent’s house. Visitation can be broken down into days or weeks and may be different on weekdays versus weekends. There may also be special schedules for holidays and other important days, such as birthdays.
The court will consider the best interests of the child when determining visitation rights. It is critical for parents to work together to develop an arrangement that works best for the child and family, which is why a knowledgeable family lawyer is an essential part of this process. Over time, as your situation changes it may be necessary to make adjustments to the agreed upon visitation schedule. This is another reason you will want to have an experienced family lawyer on your side. Our team can analyze your situation, provide honest feedback, and help you negotiate to reach the best possible outcome.
Child support is an issue that arises in divorce cases, but it can also be an issue for unmarried couples. Child support is a necessary court-ordered payment to assist with the costs of raising a child. Both parents must provide financial support for their child. Even in cases where parental rights are terminated or one parent has diminished parenting time, the financial responsibility remains. The court considers the following factors when deciding child support:
- Income of each parent
- Parenting time arrangements
- Number of children that are supported
- Medical costs
- Childcare costs
- Other factors
Our experienced family lawyers can help you ensure your child is taken care of financially. Over time, as your situation changes, it may be necessary to make adjustments to the agreed upon child support payments. Our team can help you negotiate and reach the best possible outcome.
Protecting You and Your Children in Cases of Domestic Violence
If you’re being verbally, emotionally, or sexually abused, you may feel like you don’t have any options. But, you can begin the process of healing by taking a step forward and getting help. You can educate yourself about your rights and take action to protect yourself and those you love. Domestic violence can affect anyone. It can occur in any relationship, whether you are married, currently dating, formerly married or dating, members of the same family, or other household members. Our team of lawyers understands that fear and guilt can prevent you from speaking up about domestic violence. We can help you create a safety plan. We can also help to represent you in court and decide what evidence to present and who should testify on your behalf. We will be with you every step of the way as you take back control of your life and your future.
Helping You Attain a Personal Protection Order
Many people in abusive relationships do not know that Michigan law provides ways to escape such situations. You can obtain a Personal Protection Order, or PPO, to prevent the abuser or stalker from contacting you. It can feel overwhelming and scary to take action against an abuser or stalker. But the court order can protect you and your loved ones and give you peace of mind. Our team of lawyers works with these types of situations all the time. We can help you file the necessary paperwork and represent you in court. We can also assist you in the event that you feel the abuser or stalker is not respecting the terms of the personal protection order. It is not easy to speak up and make your voice heard. We are here to support you every step of the way.
Helping You Establish Paternity for Your Child
If you are unsure of the paternity of your child, it is important to take steps to sort things out. Establishing paternity is helpful for both parents, and it is in the best interests of your child. It can help unmarried mothers to receive necessary child support. It can also help unmarried fathers obtain parenting time. It also may assist in obtaining other benefits, such as health care coverage for your child. If you are in a situation where the father of your child does not want to be involved, you can still make sure that he provides financial support. In fact, he is legally required to do so.
There are many options for establishing paternity. You can name the father on your child’s birth certificate or you can ask him to sign an official paternity statement. If he refuses to sign a paternity statement, you can legally establish his paternity through a court order. If necessary, the court may order DNA testing to prove the paternity of your child. Our experienced family lawyers understand the laws related to paternity and child support and we can help you assert your rights and protect your child’s future.
Get Started Today
If you are looking for trusted and reliable legal advice for your family situation, call Stimpson & Associates for a complimentary consultation:
Tecumseh – (517) 227-5958
Ann Arbor – (734) 548-9898
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you help me with my divorce?
There are five main issues involved in a divorce: division of property, spousal support, child custody, visitation, and child support. Our experienced attorneys can help with all of these issues. Most divorce cases settle out of court due to the high costs associated with a court case. We can help you to reach an agreement both parties can live with, whether through direct negotiations, mediation, or settlement discussions. Our goal is to minimize legal fees and court costs and help you move on with your life.
What are my options for spousal support?
Spousal support is also known as alimony and/or spousal maintenance. Spousal support is the financial support provided by one spouse to the other in order to maintain a similar lifestyle from the marriage. Every situation is unique, and not everyone qualifies for spousal support. The court will look at many factors such as the length of the marriage, the income and educational level of each spouse, the opportunity for each spouse to find work, and any history of domestic violence in the relationship. Our experienced family lawyers can help you gather the necessary documentation to support your case and obtain the best possible outcome.
What is the difference between physical and legal custody for a child?
Physical custody refers to the child’s living arrangements. Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make important decisions related to the child’s welfare such as schooling, religious affiliation, and major medical decisions. Custody can be awarded by the court as “sole” or “joint” and that decision may vary for the physical versus legal custody of the child. With “sole” custody, one parent has custody. With “joint” custody, the parents share custody. For example, a parent could be awarded sole physical custody of a child, but retain joint legal custody with the other parent. Our experienced family lawyers can help you get the best possible outcome to protect your child’s future.
How are visitation rights determined?
The court considers the best interests of the child when determining visitation rights. The biggest challenge comes when there is a desire to change or modify the visitation rights. In that case, the court has a rule that at least 75 percent of the 12 factors used to determine a child’s best interest must be in your favor if you want to change the terms of the agreement. There must be a significant change in circumstances since the filing of the original agreement in order to make a change. Our team of lawyers understands the law and can review your situation to let you know your likelihood of success.
How do I get child support for my child?
Child support is an issue that arises in divorce cases, but it can also be an issue for unmarried couples. Child support is a necessary court-ordered payment to assist with the costs of raising a child. Both parents must provide financial support for their child. Even in cases where parental rights are terminated or one parent has diminished parenting time, the financial responsibility remains. If you have established paternity, you can file a request with the court to obtain child support. Our team of lawyers can help you through this process.
How can I obtain visitation for my child if I am not married to the mother?
If you are an unmarried father seeking visitation with your child, you must first establish paternity. That means the court recognizes you as the legal father of the child. If the child’s mother is married when the child is born, her husband is recognized as the legal father. If the mother is not married, the mother and father may establish paternity voluntarily, or through a court order, after the biological father is verified by DNA testing. Once you have established paternity, then you can request visitation rights. Our team of lawyers can help you through this process.
How can I become a guardian for a loved one?
You can request to be appointed as a guardian for a minor child, an adult, or an individual with a developmental disability. Guardianship gives you the power to make the best decisions for the well-being of that person. A guardianship in Michigan can be limited or full. It can be temporary or long-term, depending on the situation. All guardianship arrangements are subject to review by the court. Here are the general requirements for guardianship:
- Adult Guardianship: When an individual lacks sufficient understanding or the capacity to make or communicate informed decisions a guardian is appointed for that individual.
- Minor Guardianship: When a child or children do not have a legal custodial parent, a guardian is appointed by the court to make decisions for the child or children. The guardian has authority until he or she is removed or passes away. The guardianship ends if the minor passes away, gets married, becomes adopted, or reaches the age of majority.