Getting divorced is never an easy process. While residents of Caledonia often know someone who has gone through the divorce process in Michigan, it is difficult to understand just how complicated and contentious divorce can be until you have experienced it yourself. Whether you are facing an uncontested or a contested divorce, it is essential to work with an experienced Caledonia divorce attorney who can advocate for you before the court. In particular, when there are disputes surrounding the distribution of marital property, or issues of child custody, it is extremely important that your voice gets heard.
At Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we know that the facts of each divorce case are distinct. We are committed to providing each of our clients with personalized representation and developing a plan to help you get the outcome you desire.
In order to start the divorce process, you will need to file a complaint for divorce. Most aspects of divorces in Caledonia are governed by Chapter 552 of the Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL). To be eligible to file for divorce, you must live in Michigan for at least 180 days (six months) and in Kent County for at least 10 days before filing your complaint for divorce. After you meet the residency requirements, you only need to state that there has been a breakdown of the marriage. Michigan is a “no fault” divorce state, which means that neither party must be found at fault in order for a couple to get divorced.
One of the first phases of a divorce process in Michigan is the division of marital property. Marital property includes both assets and debts of the marriage. Under MCL Section 552.401, marital property is divided according to a theory of “equitable distribution,” or what is fair to both parties. In some situations, it may be fair to divide property equally, but equitable does not always mean equal.
Separate property is not eligible for distribution. What constitutes separate property? For instance, if you have property you acquired before the marriage or after the date of separation, or if you received an inheritance during the marriage that was designated as your property only, such assets will not be divisible. However, separate property often gets commingled with marital property, especially when the marriage has lasted for a long time. It is very important to seek advice from a Caledonia divorce lawyer about listing and classifying your property for the court.
In Michigan, child custody guidelines emphasize that the court encourages parents to come to their own agreement about child custody arrangements and what is best for the family. However, when parents cannot reach an agreement, the court will award child custody based on what it finds to be in the best interests of the child. Factors for making this determination are found in the Child Custody Act and include but are not limited to: