Divorce – Divorce is probably one of the worst times in a person’s life. Kimberly A. Grover, PLLC has extensive experience handling divorce cases in southeastern Michigan. There are a variety of issues that must be resolved including child custody, parenting time, child support, property settlement and spousal support. While divorce in Michigan is no-fault, meaning anyone who wants a divorce can get one without any grounds whatsoever, fault does come in to play when determining a property settlement, spousal support or custody.
Kimberly A. Grover, PLLC tries to settle each case keeping in mind that after the divorce is over, if there are children involved, you will still need to communicate with one another for the rest of your children’s lives. Generally it is better to come to a settlement agreement that is best for your family. However, there are times when it is necessary to fight for your rights. When that happens we are ready to defend your rights and make sure you get the results that you deserve.
The process for divorce can be complicated. You must first file a complaint in Circuit Court and then serve it on your spouse within 90 days of the summons being issued. The rules for service are very specific and must be followed or your complaint could be dismissed. Your spouse (the defendant) has a certain period of time to file an answer, depending on how service was effected. Generally, while the divorce is pending, you and your spouse must maintain the marital homestead just the way you have always done. This means bills must be paid, children must be shared, and marital assets should not be wasted.
If you are worried your spouse may take some of the marital assets before the divorce is filed a protective order can be requested. If you are worried your spouse won’t contribute to the household expenses an order for the status quo can also be requested. Generally both parties are allowed to continue to live in the marital home until the divorce is final. If your situation is too toxic or violent it is possible to get an order giving one party exclusive use of the marital home. Generally you should continue to parent your children the way you have always done. If there are issues that may harm the children, such as an involvement with drugs, alcohol, or an unrelated romantic partner, an interim order for custody and parenting time may be warranted. All of these issues will be discussed at your first initial consultation and a plan put in place that will help you get through the divorce process with as little worry as possible.
In Michigan, the process of divorce is a minimum of 60 days for couples without children and six months for couples with children. It is possible to get a waiver of the six months if there are unusual circumstances or a compelling reason. If the parties are able to come to an amicable agreement the process should not take any longer than those time frames. If either party is unreasonable and wants to fight about every tea cup in the house, the process could take a year or longer.
We charge very reasonable rates. How much your divorce costs is really up to you and your spouse. If you are able to come to an agreement fairly quickly the cost will be lower. If many motions are required and each issue needs to be resolved by the court the costs will escalate very quickly.
Paternity – Paternity cases may be initiated by the mother, the father or the State. The State of Michigan will prosecute a father for paternity if the mother receives services from the State, such as health care, cash assistance or food stamps. The first step in these cases is to establish paternity through a paternity test. Once paternity is established, custody, parenting time and child support will be determined. If the parents cannot agree on custody and parenting time, the Friend of the Court will do an investigation and make a recommendation to the court. The Court will make a determination based on the twelve best interest factors. Once parenting time is determined child support will be set according to the State’s child support guidelines. Factors that determine what child support will be are the incomes of both parents, the overnights each parent has, if there is any day care expenses, and how much each party pays for health care.
Child Custody – There are two types of custody, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody involves the decision making ability of both parents regarding health care, education, religion and other major decisions that must be made on behalf of the child. In most instances parties share joint legal custody as long as they can communicate well enough to make most major decisions together. Physical custody is generally with the parent the child spends most of their time. Physical custody can be with one parent or it could be jointly held by both parents. After an initial child custody determination, a change of custody can only be made if there is some change in circumstance that affects the best interest of the child.
Child Support – Michigan has child support guidelines which are determined by statute. Child support is calculated using both parents’ income and takes into account how many overnights the child spends with each parent. Other factors to consider is the tax status of each parent, if either parent has another family, how much day care is paid, how much either party pays for health care on behalf of the child, and whether or not either parent has deductions from their paycheck required by their employer. After an initial order is entered, parties may petition the court for a review if there is a change of circumstances such as a job loss or reduction in pay or hours, or once every three years.
Parenting Time – After an initial order for custody, paternity or divorce there could be issues that crop up that warrant a change in parenting time. Parenting time may be changed based on an agreement between the parties or upon filing a motion that shows a change in circumstances or proper cause.
Step-Parent Adoptions – In order to petition the court for a step-parent adoption, the non-custodial parent must be notified and their parental rights must be terminated. In order for the non-custodial parent’s parental rights to be terminated there must have been no contact or support from the non-custodial parent for two years prior to the petition. The custodial parent must join in the step-parent adoption and the minor child must have lived in the home with the custodial parent and the step-parent for a minimum of six months prior to filing the petition. The step-parent must be able to pass a background check with the department of human services.
Powers of Attorney for Health Care – It is very important that you put these in place before something happens to you. In the State of Michigan, your attorney in fact cannot make decisions regarding your health care unless two doctors have decided you are no longer able to make those decisions. There are many things to consider when determining what decisions your patient advocate should make when you are no longer able to make those decisions for yourself. In the event of your death do you want your patient advocate to donate any of your body parts? Under what conditions do you want life-sustaining treatment? When you are in a coma or persistent vegetative state? When you are terminally ill and life sustaining procedures would only artificially delay your death? Do you want your patient advocate to make the decision when the medical personnel have differing opinions? There are many things to consider and you should make sure that the person you choose to be your patient advocate, and their replacement, will follow your wishes.
Powers of Attorney for Financial Matters – These directives give the person you choose complete authority to make financial decisions whether or not you are able to make those decisions for yourself. They allow your designee to do the same things that you can do, such as buy or sell as house, do your banking, cash checks, etc. Before you give someone these powers you need to evaluate your position very carefully. Sometimes a limited power of attorney for a certain transaction would make more sense than to give someone a durable power of attorney, giving them complete access to all of your financial matters.
Lady Bird Deeds – these are deeds that allow the homeowner to do whatever they like with their property, including mortgage or sell the property while they are alive, but transfers the property to their designee upon their death. This is one tool that can be used to help avoid probating an estate when the grantor has very little in the estate.
Wills – It is always a good idea to make out a will, especially if you have children. Even if you think you have properly disposed of all of your property and it will pass outside of probate, there will invariably be something you forgot about. Your will can let your loved ones know what type of funeral arrangements you would prefer, whether or not you want to be cremated, and dispose of your property according to your wishes. If you have young children you can even designate a guardian for them, ensuring that you find the proper person to raise your children and don’t leave that decision up to a stranger. You can appoint a personal representative, you can allow them to serve without bond, or with bond as the case may be. Even if you think that you have sufficiently planned for your estate to pass without going through probate things happen that might complicate your estate plans, such as a beneficiary could die or a divorce severs rights. Don’t wait until it is too late!
Trusts- Trusts are private documents that help you plan what will happen to your estate when you can no longer manage it. A trust can help you pass your property on to your heirs without going through probate. Most property that you own can be titled to the trust, including real property, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, etc. Trusts can be set up to pay a steady stream of income to your heirs and can protect your heirs from creditors. These documents can be very creative so call us to discuss your needs and that of your family.
Guardianships – do you have a minor living in your home but no legal right to make decisions? Or, do you have a mentally disabled adult who needs someone to make decisions for them? The Probate Court grants guardianships in these instances. Come talk to us about your individual situation so that we can help you determine what the right type of guardianship would be in your particular case. Or, did you let your children stay with someone without giving them a limited guardianship and now they are trying to get a guardianship, or trying to get custody of your children? These can be tough cases and you should have an attorney who understands not only guardianship issues but custody issues as well.
Conservatorships – Whether a minor has inherited a lot of money or there is an elderly person who is no longer able to handle their finances, we can help you obtain a conservatorship to help these individuals manage their resources. Keep in mind that in most instances you must file a bond to protect the estate and you must be able to be bonded. That means you have relatively good credit and no criminal history.
Probate an Estate – Whether your loved one died with a will or without a will, unless they managed to dispose of all their property by placing beneficiaries on everything or changing titles, you will probably need to open up an estate. If there is a home that needs to be sold, or bank accounts without a beneficiary, or a safe deposit box, or a 401(k), bonds, etc., in order to get access to those things you will need to open up an estate and petition for a personal representative. Probate can be full of forms and relatively complicated. Call us and we will try to make one of the most difficult times in your life just a little bit easier.