At Thacker Sleight, we are family law lawyers, negotiators, litigators, and problem solvers. We have a reputation of being fearless, meticulous, and thorough in our approach of life’s unexpected challenges. We never stop, it’s how we work, and why we get results.
Guiding Spouses in St. Joseph, Kent County, Ottawa County, Montcalm County, and Beyond
Divorce is an important step toward the next phase of your life. It may feel like a challenging process to go through alone, but assembling a strategic, experienced team of divorce attorneys can provide the crucial guidance and support you need to make informed decisions and approach your future with greater confidence.
At Thacker Sleight, we can walk you through divorce confidently and strategically. From your initial call to our team’s responsiveness to our use of technology, we are with you at each step of the divorce process. The impact of divorce on your personal life is likely to be complicated, exploring issues of child custody, child support, and property division that could either improve or complicate your future. However, we are here to build a strong divorce case that will pave the way for greater security and flexibility.
Whether you are in the early stages of filing for divorce or have questions about divorce issues like child custody, child support, or spousal support, Thacker Sleight can help. Contact us to get started.
Filing for Divorce in Michigan
To be eligible for a divorce in Michigan, either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for 180 days immediately prior to filing the divorce complaint, and one of you must have resided in the county where the complaint is filed for at least 10 days prior to the filing date. If your spouse lives out of state but you still wish to file for divorce in Michigan, you must have previously lived in the state as a married couple or been a resident of the state for one year before filing.
There is no requirement to provide a reason (“grounds”) to obtain a divorce, as Michigan is a "no-fault" divorce state. However, you can still cite a ground in your divorce complaint (such as adultery) that the court may take into account when deciding on other divorce issues like property division.
Depending on whether you and your spouse mutually agree to separate or if only one of you is filing the complaint, you can pursue one of two types of divorce:
- Uncontested divorce: Both spouses agree on all the divorce-related issues, such as child custody, spousal support, and property division. We provide collaborative divorce services in such cases.
- Contested divorce: Spouses disagree on an element of the divorce and must consequently default to the court to decide these issues.
Determining Child Custody
One of the most contentious issues in a divorce involving children is child custody. Parents can be given legal custody (decision-making authority) and/or physical custody (whom the child will reside with). You can either negotiate this arrangement between yourselves with your attorneys, or you will have to proceed to court for the final decision if you cannot agree.
When deciding on child custody, the court will consider factors impacting the child’s best interests as outlined in Michigan’s Child Custody Act, including:
- The ability and willingness of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and meet their other material needs
- The ability and willingness of each parent to provide the child with the love, affection, and guidance they need
- The ability and willingness of each parent to support the child’s educational needs
- The love, affection, and emotional ties that exist between each parent and the child
- The moral fitness of each parent
- The desirability of maintaining continuity and stability for the child
- The child's home, school, and ties to the community
- The permanence of the family unit in the existing or proposed custodial home(s)
- The mental and physical health of each parent and the child
- The child's preference (if they are of mature age)
- Each parent's ability and willingness to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
- Any history of domestic violence, whether directed against or in the presence of the child
- Any other factor deemed relevant to child custody
Calculating Child Support
Child support will also be an important issue to resolve in a divorce. Michigan has a generic formula for calculating child support based on both parents’ net incomes and their parenting time. Typically, the noncustodial parent will pay child support, as the custodial parent is presumed to be paying their share of child support in their direct care of the child.
The court may be open to adjusting the amount of child support calculated by the Child Support Formula if doing so is in the child’s best interests.
Who Gets Spousal Support?
Spouses in Michigan who demonstrate a financial need may request spousal support (also called alimony) if the other spouse can afford to pay support. The purpose of spousal support is to help an under-earning spouse meet their financial obligations during and after the divorce process. Spouses can either agree on a spousal support arrangement on their own or defer to the court if they cannot reach an agreement.
Michigan offers four types of spousal support based on the situation:
- Temporary: Support awarded for the duration of the pending divorce process
- Periodic (rehabilitative): Rehabilitative short-term or long-term support to help a spouse become self-supporting, after which support will terminate
- Permanent: A rare form of support reserved for spouses who have been married for a long time or for situations where one spouse is unable to become financially self-supporting due to illness, old age, or disability
- Reimbursement: Designed to repay a spouse for specific expenses they paid for during the marriage, such as the cost of medical school for their spouse
Whatever divorce issues you are dealing with, Thacker Sleight is here to support you every step of the way. We take an assertive approach to divorce litigation and will be cognizant of your interests and goals to obtain as favorable an outcome as possible.
Schedule an initial consultation with Thacker Sleight today to get started.