Toughness and Support When You Need It Most

How long does it take to get a divorce in Michigan?

If you don't have children, and you and your spouse have reached an agreement, a divorce can take as little as sixty days, though in practice, most take longer. If you do have children, Michigan courts will not grant a divorce for six months after the divorce was filed, except in certain limited circumstances.

How does the judge decide who should have custody of the children in a divorce?

In Michigan custody is decided based on the best interests of the child or children. There are twelve "best interests" factors in the Michigan Compiled Laws that outline the things a court must consider when deciding custody. Of course, parents can always reach an agreement on custody and parenting time; the court will almost always honor such an agreement.

Can my spouse and I agree not to pay child support?

Sorry, but no. Child support is a duty that parents owe to their child, not to each other, and as such, they cannot waive the obligation to pay child support.

How is child support calculated?

Michigan child support is calculated according to a formula that takes into account both parents' income, how much time the child spends with each, and how much each parent pays for child care and health insurance. In theory, each parent pays child support to the other for the time that the child is with the other parent. In practice, the two amounts are offset against each other, with the parent who owes more paying the other parent the difference.

Does alimony still exist in Michigan?

Yes. Now called spousal support, it is still awarded in some divorces. Spousal support is intended to support the party receiving it until he or she gets the training or experience needed to become self-supporting. In general, the longer the marriage, and the less likely that one spouse is going to be able to support him- or herself, the more likely spousal support awarded by a judge is to be of long duration, perhaps even permanent. Parties can also agree on whether to pay spousal support, how much, for how long, and whether the award can be modified in the future.

Do I really need an estate plan? I'm single, with not much in assets.

Yes. A simple estate plan directs exactly how you want your assets, however many or few, to be distributed. Otherwise, they are distributed according to state law, which may not be how you wish. In addition, an estate plan contains documents that state who can make medical and financial decisions for you if you are unable to (powers of attorney), and what you would want them to authorize or not authorize for your health care (living will). For adults who are married with minor children, an estate plan is even more important.

I was injured in a car accident, but the other driver's insurance company is offering a settlement. Do I still need a lawyer?

Emphatically, yes. The insurance company does not work for you. Their job is to minimize the amount they have to pay out on claims and thereby maximize their profits. They may pressure you to accept a settlement, but you should never do so without talking to an attorney. By accepting a settlement, you are cutting off your right to recover more later if it's discovered your damages are worse than you thought. No matter what the insurance company tells you, you do have the right and the time to speak with a lawyer.

I'm being investigated, or have been charged with a crime--what should I do?

Many people, especially if they believe they're innocent of a crime, think that the best thing to do is to simply tell their side of things to the authorities and get everything straightened out. Unfortunately, if you're being investigated or have been arrested or charged, your words are more likely to be used against you. The best policy is to say the words, "I won't answer any questions until I speak to my lawyer." The police are obligated to stop questioning you. Then contact Carol Jones Dwyer immediately.
If you have further questions about these or other areas of Michigan law, please contact our office at 269-945-5050 or via our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.

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