Protecting What Matters Most
Divorce is often a highly contested area of family law. Not only does it have the potential to be emotionally challenging, but it can also be legally complex. For these reasons, its important you have a Macomb County divorce lawyer by your side who will represent and protect your interests. Our lawyer will work with you to create a strategy that best fits your needs and guide you through this legal action from your first consultation to the conclusion of your case.
For personalized information on how we can resolve your issue, call our office at (586) 333-3446 today.
Frequently Asked Divorce Questions
Traditionally, the divorce process takes place at court where the attorneys for both parties litigate each side of the case. While many of these divorces are settled before the couple need to go through a trial, they still follow the court’s process and schedule until they are settled, and a divorce judgment issued.
There are a number of reasons to choose litigation, such as a marriage that involves:
- One spouse who refuses to participate in or cooperate with the divorce
- Domestic violence
- Significant mental health issues
- Power imbalance between spouses
- Substance abuse
- One or both spouses who prefer the structure of the court process
- One or both spouses who prefer to have a third party making the decisions
If your spouse has already filed for divorce, your divorce will probably be completed through the court system, although you may be able incorporate aspects of out-of-court divorce (alternative dispute resolution, or ADR) into the process to make it easier and more productive.
The in-court divorce process in Michigan begins when one spouse goes to the county Circuit Court and files papers to begin the divorce, along with a filing fee. By filing these papers, that spouse becomes the Plaintiff in the case. The other spouse is the Defendant. The Plaintiff serves the papers on the Defendant (or the Defendant signs a document saying they received them) and the Defendant may have as few as 21 days in which to file an answer with the court.
Once this has been completed:
- The court sets dates for certain hearings or meetings to make sure the case is moving along appropriately. If there are minor children in the family, the Plaintiff and Defendant may have to meet with the Friend of the Court regarding issues affecting the children, like custody, parenting time, and child support.
- The case enters “discovery;” the Plaintiff and Defendant can ask each other for documents and information to help them prepare for trial or reach a settlement.
- If the parties do reach settlement before trial, their lawyers will prepare a written agreement for them to sign. One or both spouses will then appear in court, answer a few brief questions, and the judge will also sign the written agreement, making it a court order that finalizes the divorce.
Out-of-Court Divorce Processes
An out-of-court divorce is a legal action that helps parties end their marriage without stepping foot in a courtroom except to finalize the casee at the very end. This process is commonly more casual than traditional divorce and is usually settled between the two parties without intervention from a judge. An out-of-court divorce typically involves a process that falls under the umbrella of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
There are a number of ADR processes that can help you and your spouse have a less-stressful divorce on your terms while avoiding costly court litigation, which include:
- Facilitative Mediation: This process takes place early in the divorce process, perhaps even before the divorce is filed. It is voluntary, which means it continues only as long as you, your spouse, and the mediator feel it should. In facilitative divorce mediation, you and your spouse work with a neutral mediator. The mediator's job is not to make decisions in your divorce, but to listen to you and your spouse and help you identify issues that you need to resolve (such as how to arrange custody, parenting time support and dividing your assets and liabilites). The mediator then facilitates discussion so that you and your spouse can reach an agreement that works for you both.
- Collaborative Divorce: This a process involves a team: you, your spouse, and your attorneys. Each professional has a role for which he or she is best suited, so they can work effectively and efficiently, and clients are not paying a lawyer's hourly fee for something another professional can do better, more quickly, and at a lower cost. Participants often say that the lack of adversarial posturing makes the process much less stressful than they expected a divorce to be.
What Is An Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is a type of divorce where both spouses agree on all the key issues related to the termination of their marriage. This means that they are in agreement on matters such as:
- Division of Assets and Debts: How they will divide their property, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage.
- Child Custody and Visitation: If the couple has children, they have agreed on a custody arrangement that outlines where the children will live and how they will spend time with each parent.
- Child Support: The amount and manner in which one parent will provide financial support to the children.
- Spousal Support (Alimony): Whether one spouse will pay financial support to the other and, if so, the amount and duration of the payments.
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses typically work together to reach an agreement on these issues outside of court. Once they have reached an agreement, they can present it to the court for approval.
Since there is no dispute to resolve, uncontested divorces tend to be faster, less expensive, and less emotionally taxing than contested divorces, where the spouses cannot agree and need the court to make decisions for them.
Let Our Attorney Help You Resolve Your Divorce Issues
You can count on Paul S. Kowal, P.C. to always provide you with honest and comprehensive legal services. Our Macomb County divorce attorney is here for you to guide you through this legal process every step of the way.
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Contact our office by calling (586) 333-3446 or filling out our online contact form. We serve residents of Utica, Macomb Township, Shelby Township, Clinton Township, Sterling Heights, and the surrounding areas.
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Paul S. Kowal
"Attorney Paul S. Kowal has been practicing law in Michigan since 1981. He earned his J.D. at University of Detroit School of Law in Detroit, Michigan, and earned his A.B. at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Mr. Kowal founded Paul S. Kowal, PC in 2005 and has made it his goal to help families resolve any and all family law issues they may be dealing with."Read Full Bio
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