Frequently Asked Questions
Grand Rapids Divorce & Family Law
Divorce and family law can be complicated. Below you will find answers
to some frequently asked questions regarding family law to help you better
understand your situation. We strongly encourage you to contact our firm
to schedule a free consultation with our divorce lawyer in Grand Rapids.
During this meeting, our experienced attorney can answer your questions
directly and help you figure out your next steps.
Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?
Like many legal matters, you do not need an attorney in order to file the
proceedings but is
strongly encouraged that you hire one for assistance. Divorce can get complicated
quickly, even if it seems amicable at first. Many couples who have good
relationships with each other even when they decide to end the marriage
get into disputes over property, child custody, and finances. These situations
can often get hostile if you do not have a lawyer representing you and
doing their part to protect your interests.
How is child custody determined?
When children are involved in a divorce, the court will decide custody
based on what is in the child’s best interests. Many different factors
are taken into account when making this decision:
- The financial situation of both parents
- The child’s mental and emotional state
- The child’s personal wishes
- The parents’ willingness to work with each other
- Finding a solution that will cause minimal disruption to the child’s life
Your attorney will act as your advocate in custody matters and make sure
that your feelings are presented to the court with a clear voice.
Do I need to have a reason to get divorced?
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the only explanation you
need to give when filing for divorce is that the marriage is no longer working.
What does “no-fault” mean?
Some states require that one spouse place blame on the other for the marriage’s
failure. Many states have begun changing this rule as it can create unnecessary
animosity between separated couples.
While a fault claim is not required to get divorced in Michigan, a spouse
can claim fault if they so choose. Many couples begin filing fault claims
when there is a dispute over how property should be divided. Courts usually
favor the partner that was not at-fault when overseeing the divorce.
What if my partner and I agree on how to divide property?
This is called an uncontested divorce. These are relatively simple proceedings
where both parties have come to a mutual decision on how to divide property.
Even if you believe you will have an uncontested divorce it is advised
that you speak with an attorney or at least have one in mind in case things
do not turn out as planned. There are many assets couples overlook when
making the initial separation agreement.
What are “ancillary issues?”
These are all the issues that must be resolved before a divorce is finalized.
They include factors like child custody, child support, alimony payments,
and division of property.
Is all of my property at risk of being taken away in a divorce?
No, only the property that was accumulated by you and your spouse during
the marriage will be divided in a divorce. Anything you owned before the
marriage, or was gifted or bequeathed to you and you alone, will remain yours.
I want to change my last name, how can I do that?
If you took your spouse’s last name or hyphenated your name then
you can have it legally changed back during the divorce proceedings. You
can change your name to something different than what you had before if
you so choose.
Call our Grand Rapids divorce attorney today at (616) 202-3988 if you would
like to learn more during a free consultation.