Divorce and the Issues Presented in the Course of Litigation
Essentially, a divorce from the bonds of matrimony involves not only the dissolution of the marriage, but a division of assets, establishment of custody and parenting time for minor children, determination of spousal support (alimony), assignment of debt responsibility and all other related issues. In some cases, issues involving domestic violence must be addressed, and in most cases, the financial needs of the family during the divorce process may require attention at the beginning of the divorce process.
You may wonder how the bills will be paid during the divorce proceeding, and your attorney must be able to address these financial concerns and explain just how the process works. Attorney-client communication is therefore an important part of the divorce process.
At Michael W. Reeds, P.C., we can answer your questions, address your concerns and help you throughout the divorce process. Our attorneys have more than 38 years of experience handling divorces and other family law matters in Oakland County, Livingston County and throughout Michigan.
The Marital Estate
Because a divorce involves the distribution of marital assets, the first step in the process is to determine what comprises the marital estate. In some cases, pre-marital assets will not be included in the marital estate and be subject to division. In other cases, the parties may have commingled assets to such an extent that all assets are included in the marital estate. Some assets, like pensions earned during the term of the marriage, are automatically included in the marital estate, but usually only the marital portion. The division of pensions is accomplished through preparation of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), a document usually prepared by an accountant or actuary.
Equitable Division of Assets
Attorneys refer, in divorce cases, to the equitable division of assets. This really means that in certain situations, the assets might not be divided equally by the parties. The judge in a divorce case has considerable power to determine what constitutes an equitable division of the assets, and there are a great many factors that can affect this decision. The divorce lawyer must be aware of these many factors and how each can affect the division of the assets.
The division of assets necessarily involves the give and take associated with any negotiation process, and reaching agreement on how assets will be divided can involve a considerable amount of negotiation time. The family law lawyer must have the ability and skill required to negotiate an acceptable property division for the client.
The distribution and assignment of debt obligation is also a part of the asset division process. In most instances, the parties retaining an asset will assume the debt encumbering the asset, but not always!
Custody and Parenting Time
In custodial issues, the one, single guiding principle for every family court judge is the determination of what is in the “best interests of the minor children.” This may seem obvious, but some divorce litigants lose sight of this important consideration. Although there is no clear definition of what constitutes “best interests of the minor children,” the court will utilize specific factors in making the determination. These factors are listed in the Child Custody Act.
Parenting time and child support are integrally related. The more overnights the non-custodial parent has, the less child support will be required. Many courts, in conjunction with the Friend of Court offices, will utilize the Child Support Guidelines formula. Divorce lawyers will have this program on their computer and should be able to illustrate to the client how the calculations are made.
One thing that Michael W. Reeds, P.C., uses, in order to document behaviors and incidents supporting particular child custody act factors, is the diary system. Because the law involves proofs of facts, we usually will require the client to compile information relating to custody matters occurring prior to the divorce proceeding, and also to maintain a diary during the pendency of the case. We do this because the client may have difficulty establishing support for a particular position relating to custody and/or parenting time.
Contact Our Offices in Walled Lake, Royal Oak and Wyandotte
If you need help with a divorce, contact our divorce attorneys serving Oakland, Macomb, Wayne and Livingston Counties for a free consultation. We accept all major credit cards and payment plans are available where appropriate.