Detroit Women's Guide to Divorce
The Ultimate Women’s Guide to Navigating Divorce with Confidence
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we believe that a key aspect of providing high-quality legal representation to women during divorce is giving them knowledge about their rights. We provide holistic support and will guide you through every step, giving you the tools you need to make informed choices that will impact your future.
The terms of your divorce decree will place legal obligations on both you and your ex-spouse, so your decisions, starting with your choice of representation, will have a big impact on your future.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we exclusively represent women, which gives us a unique ability to meet their needs. Every one of our divorce attorneys shares a passion for helping women through divorce and other family law matters so that they can move forward with their lives in confidence.
Every divorce case is different, and each poses its own unique challenges. However, there are common issues across all divorces. This Detroit women’s guide to divorce will provide you with the foundational knowledge you need. If you have any questions or are ready to seek the help of an experienced divorce lawyer, then do not hesitate to contact us. We offer a free consultation so that any women faced with family law issues can gain clarity on their next steps.
Contact us today and arrange a free consultation with a Michigan divorce attorney at 380-212-3731.
What Constitutes Eligibility for Divorce in Michigan?
In order to file for divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must be a resident, which means that you must have lived in the state for at least 180 days. You must file in the circuit court in the county where either of you has lived for ten days or more.
Even if you were married in another state or county, you can still file for divorce in Michigan so long as you meet the residency requirements.
What are Grounds For Divorce in Michigan?
Michigan is a no-fault state, which means that you do not have to establish fault in order to get a divorce. You do not need to be separated or living apart, and your spouse doesn’t have to agree. Instead, the filing spouse must testify that:
“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.”
This means that there has been a breakdown in the marriage that is unlikely to be resolved. Although all states have a no-fault divorce option, most also have a fault option. However, in Michigan, you cannot file for an at-fault divorce which means that you cannot accuse your spouse of wrongdoing in the initial divorce complaint.
However, that does not mean that your partner’s wrongdoing cannot be part of the divorce proceedings. If, for example, your spouse has been abusive towards you, then this can be raised in divorce hearings after the initial filing.
What Important Decisions Need to be Made During a Divorce?
There are some important decisions that need to be made in almost every divorce, such as those involving child custody, child support, property division, and spousal support. It is essential that these decisions are made with your future in mind, and an attorney will advocate on your behalf to make sure that happens.
Child Custody in Detroit, MI
If you have children, then they are probably your biggest concern. Hopefully, everyone wants to achieve an outcome that prioritizes their well-being. However, it is common for warring spouses to disagree about how to do that.
It is believed to be in a child’s best interests for both parents to remain involved in their life unless one parent poses a risk to their wellbeing. However, a balance needs to be found between keeping both parents in the child’s life and fostering stability for the child.
In Michigan, parents are awarded legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child, such as what medical care they receive and whether they participate in any religious practices. Legal custody could be shared, or it could be given to one parent.
Physical custody describes how much parenting time each parent is granted and is usually shared. Physical custody could be granted to each parent equally, or one parent could become the custodial parent who the child lives with for the majority of the time, while the other, noncustodial parent, is given visitation rights. This arrangement could help foster more stability for the child, especially if one parent has a demanding job and the other has historically taken on the majority of the parental responsibilities.
Physical custody involves a parenting plan which, once established, must be adhered to and facilitated by both parents. At Woodford Sathappan McGee we will help you come to an agreement using medication which will give you the opportunity to create a personalized arrangement that is in line with Michigan law and fits in with your schedule. If an agreement cannot be reached, then we will represent you in court.
If you believe you should have sole custody, which is only awarded in cases where one parent poses a risk to the child’s wellbeing, then we can help you to evidence your claims to a Judge. However, even if you can establish that your former spouse poses a risk to your child, they could still be awarded supervised visitation.
Property Division in Detroit, MI
Property division is one of the most complex matters that need to be addressed in a divorce, and the decisions which are made could have a big impact on your stability after divorce.
The first thing that your attorney will help you to do, is to divide your assets into separate and marital property:
- Separate Property – Separate property is anything that you or your spouse owned before you were married and any assets that either individual was gifted or inherited.
- Marital Property – Marital property is anything that you or your spouse obtained while you were married. Retirement accounts, real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, investments, and debts could all be considered marital property.
Michigan is an equitable distribution state, which means that while separate property remains separate and continues to belong to each individual after divorce, marital property is subjected to equitable distribution. Equitable distribution does not always mean an equal split. Instead, divorcing couples must find a just and fair way to divide their marital property.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we will fight to keep what’s important to you. We are highly skilled in property division, including high-asset and complex cases. We will advocate on your behalf and ensure that your rights are protected.
Important considerations when determining what a just and fair division of marital property looks like include:
- The financial contributions of each spouse.
- How long you were married.
- How much parenting time each spouse is granted.
- The needs of each spouse.
- The ability of each spouse to earn money.
- Whether one spouse sacrificed job opportunities to care for children.
- Whether one spouse was responsible for the marital debt.
- How much separate property each spouse owns.
Child Support in Detroit, MI
Parents have a legal responsibility to provide financially for their children. If one parent takes on the role of the custodial parent, which means that they take on the majority of the child’s day-to-day care, the other will be required to pay child support.
Child support payments are a lifeline for many mothers and ensure that they can provide for their children. Payments can contribute towards anything that relates to the child’s upbringing, such as shelter, food, clothes, and toys. In most cases, payments must be made until the child turns 18 or until they are 19.5 if they are still attending full-time education.
Spousal Support in Detroit, MI
Spousal support is a financial contribution that one spouse is ordered to give another. They are not awarded in every case, and if they are, it is usually to ensure that the receiving spouse can meet their financial needs during the divorce process or afterward.
Even in cases where spousal support is ordered, it is not usually a permanent solution. Instead, they allow the receiving spouse time to undergo education or find work so that they can become financially independent. Although a permanent spousal support order is possible, it is usually only awarded in cases where the divorcing couple was married for a long time and one spouse is incapable of becoming financially independent due to age, poor health, or disability.
What to Expect During The Divorce Process in Michigan
We recommend that women seek representation as early as possible so that you can work with a strategy in mind from the very beginning. Your attorney will also ensure that everything is filed correctly so that your divorce can move forward efficiently.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we offer a free consultation, so even if you are not ready to sign up for representation yet, you can have your questions answered by a divorce attorney.
Filing For Divorce
If you file for divorce, then you become the Plaintiff, and your former spouse becomes the Defendant. As the Plaintiff, you file the required divorce papers with the court, including a Summons and a Complaint. Your divorce attorney can help you complete the required divorce forms correctly.
When you file for divorce, you can also request provisional orders, which will give you and your former spouse temporary legal obligations on key issues such as child custody, support payments, and who remains in the family home. Provisional orders will usually be in place until other orders replace them, such as your child custody order or final divorce decree.
If your divorce is uncontested, meaning that you agree on all issues, then you can also file for divorce jointly. A divorce lawyer can help you with this process and will ensure that you have made decisions that are in line with Michigan law and protect your rights.
Once you file your forms, they must be served to the Defendant. Divorce forms are usually served by certified mail or via another person.
Once the Defendant has been served the divorce papers in person, they will have 21 days to file an Answer with the court and serve the Plaintiff a copy. If they were served by mail, then they will have 28 days.
The Answer is a document that responds to the Complaint for Divorce and should include what the Defendant agrees with and what they disagree with.
If the Defendant does not file an Answer, then the Plaintiff may file a Default Request, if they fail to do so, then the divorce case will be dismissed. If the clerk approves the Default Request, then the divorce case will proceed without the Defendants participation unless they ask the Judge to dismiss the default and they grant it.
If the case defaults, then the Plaintiff will set the terms of divorce. However, in order to be approved by the Judge, the terms must be in line with state law.
If you and your former spouse have children, there is usually a six-month waiting period before the divorce can be finalized, starting when you file for divorce. If there are contested issues, then the divorce could take longer.
The waiting period can be shortened by a Judge if you can evidence unusual hardship on you or your children. However, the waiting period cannot be less than 60 days.
Once you have filed for divorce, you may need to attend a pre-trial hearing to discuss your divorce terms. At this hearing, the Judge will want to know what you agree on and what you don’t. Unless you and your spouse agree on everything, the Judge will not usually make rulings at the pre-trial hearing.
The Discovery Process
The discovery process is a formal process that involves exchanging information such as evidence of assets, testimonies under oath, written answers to questions, and more.
During this process, you and your spouse may both have a divorce attorney. Your attorneys will help you to negotiate agreements on key issues. The court may also order a mediator who will act as a neutral third party.
If there is anything that you cannot agree on, then you will need to attend additional court proceedings so that your attorneys can present your case and the Judge will make final rulings.
Finalize The Divorce
If at any point you and your spouse decide to reconcile, then you can have the divorce case dismissed at any time.
Alternatively, once every issue has been resolved and approved by the Judge, the final judgment will be issued. Both spouses will receive copies of the divorce decree, and you can begin to move forward with your life.
What Are The Alternatives to Divorce in Michigan?
For some people, divorce is a particularly difficult decision. Perhaps you have certain religious beliefs about divorce, or you believe that you and your ex-spouse will reconcile. In either case, you may choose separate maintenance, which you may have heard referred to as legal separation.
In Michigan, separate maintenance allows you and your ex-spouse to arrive at decisions on all of the key issues relating to your divorce such as child custody and support payments. However, you will remain legally married and can reconcile at any time.
The decision to file for separate maintenance instead of divorce must be made with due care and consideration. It is important that you understand the implications and can make an informed choice.
An annulment is another alternative to divorce, however, in order to be eligible the court must rule that your marriage was never valid. For example, if your spouse used fraud or force to marry you. Other legal reasons include mental incompetence, age, the relationship of the parties, or bigamy.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we will advise you in a free consultation and can guide you through divorce, legal separation, or annulment.
How to Find the Best Detroit Women’s Divorce Lawyer
No Detroit women’s guide to divorce would be complete without some advice about finding an attorney. Choosing the right attorney is important as it can make a big difference in how long the process takes and the outcome of your divorce.
For many women, the divorce process is one of the most difficult times of their life. Therefore it is essential that you feel supported by an attorney who listens to and meets your needs. Although many of the best attorneys will have a full caseload, they should keep you informed throughout the process and should be prompt to answer your questions.
A free consultation is a great opportunity for you to decide if you feel confident in your potential attorney. You should feel comfortable speaking with them and feel positive about working with them.
It may be helpful to have some questions prepared for your free consultation, such as:
- How many years of experience do you have in family law?
- Do you have experience helping people in a similar position to me?
- Can I see testimonials from previous clients?
- Do you have trial experience?
- How will I contact you if I have questions, and how soon can I expect a response?
- How much is representation likely to cost?
Why Choose Woodford Sathappan McGee?
Woodford Sathappan McGee is dedicated to providing holistic support to women navigating divorce and other family law matters.
Our goal is for you to feel secure and confident about your future, and we believe that the best way to do that is to listen and adapt to your needs. We will always be prompt to answer your questions and will keep you informed and engaged at every stage.
We will help you and your ex-spouse come to amicable agreements where possible. This saves time and money on court proceedings and helps protect important family dynamics. However, we will advocate on your behalf in court if needed. We are skilled litigators and are uniquely prepared to help women through complex divorce cases such as those involving abuse, high assets, high conflict, physiological evaluations, cross-country parenting, and more.
Detroit Women’s Guide to Divorce FAQ
If you have suffered abuse from your spouse, then it is important to seek the help of an attorney. An abusive spouse may try to manipulate the situation to get what they want, and so you need representation from an experienced attorney who understands how to handle these types of cases.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we have created a safe and supportive space for women and have helped numerous women leave abusive marriages. We understand how difficult it is to take the first steps, but we will strive to protect you as much as possible by quickly filing for a protection order that places an obligation on your former spouse to stay away from you and your children. We will then help you evidence your claims to a Judge so that they are considered when all important decisions are made.
Most divorces have a mandatory waiting period of six months. However, divorces can take longer and the amount of time yours takes will largely depend on whether there are children involved or not and the number of contested issues.
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we are proud to be female-led. We understand that many women would prefer to have female representation and we are always happy to accommodate.
If you have health insurance through your spouses’ employer, then the court may order it to be maintained during the divorce process. Under a federal law referred to as COBRA, if your spouses’ employer has more than 20 employees, they must continue providing health insurance for you for three years after the divorce. However, you will be required to pay premiums that may rise once divorced.
No. Family law decisions must be made based on children’s best interests and in line with state and federal law, and mothers and fathers are treated equally.
Speak To an Experienced Detroit Divorce Lawyer for Women Today
At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we understand how daunting the divorce process can be. Divorce affects women in unique ways, and thanks to our dedication to women, our ability to meet their needs and provide dedicated representation is unmatched.
Women are often fearful for their children’s well-being, reactions from friends and family, and their financial stability. However, you should know that you have powerful constitutional rights, and with our help, you can prioritize your children’s best interests while securing an independent and secure life for yourself.
Contact us today at 380-212-3731 to arrange a free consultation.