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One of the most common questions we receive is “how long do I have to wait until my divorce is final?” The statutory minimum for a divorce without minor children is sixty (60) days. The statutory minimum for a divorce with minor children is six (6) months.

That being said, the actual time that your particular case will conclude is dependent on numerous factors. One of the main factors is how disputed your case is. If you and your spouse do not agree on anything, then your case could continue on for at least a year. Another factor is the court’s schedule. Even if you have an agreement on all of the terms of your divorce, the judge may not have a hearing date available for several months.

Although the court cannot waive the sixty (60) day waiting period, the judge can waive the six (6) month waiting period, for good cause. Thus, if you have minor children, but you have an agreement on all of the issues, and it is in the best interest of the minor children, the judge can grant a divorce after sixty (60) days.

The Daily News has created a list of three (3) ways that parents can protect their children during a divorce.

1.) Assure the children that they have your unconditional love;

2.) Do not make children choose between parents; and

Below is a link to an article that discusses the mortgage ramifications of filing for divorce.  It is important to understand the difference between removing your name from the deed, and removing yourself from the liability of the mortgage.


Dealing with divorce: How to handle your mortgage when you split

For more information regarding dividing real property, contact our divorce attorneys at (586) 264-3756.

When you are considering filing for divorce, it is helpful to understand your financial situation  – both individually and as a couple. You will want to have a general idea of the marital assets and debts. This will allow you to consider the amount of the assets that are subject to division, and how much debt you may be liable for. You will also want to take note of which assets you believe are premarital, and thus, are not subject to division.

In addition, it is helpful to have a general understanding of your income and your spouse’s income. This will help you evaluate whether spousal support is an option, and will be helpful in determining child support.

By understanding the assets and incomes, you are in a better position to negotiate a favorable resolution of your case. If you do not have access to the marital financial information, it can be obtained by your attorney through the discovery process. For more information on preparing for a divorce, contact the attorneys at SMDA, P.C. at (586) 264-3756.

There are several case codes that you should be familiar with when filing a family law case. The court will require different standards of proof and different procedures, depending on which type of family case is filed.

DP – A DP case is a case to establish paternity. A paternity case can be filed by either party, who is looking to establish paternity, either to initiate child support or parenting time. A paternity case is not necessary if a father is on the birth certificate, or has signed an affidavit of parentage.

DC – A DC case is filed by unmarried parents, who are looking to establish custody and/or parenting time.

Individuals living in Grand Rapids, Zeeland, Holland or West Michigan that need assistance with divorce, custody, parenting time or child support cases now have options available to them through our office in downtown Zeeland, Michigan. We are pleased to bring our expertise in the family law arena to these areas. Too often, clients going through a divorce or custody battle do not have adequate representation or feel their choice of attorneys is limited. Now, we can handle your case with the care and attention you deserve. Importantly, we will work with our clients on payment plans and also offer free consultations.

If you live in the West Michigan area and are considering divorce or you have questions regarding your current custody arrangement or your child support payments, please contact us to make an appointment.

Lately, it seems like I have many clients who are trying to settle their divorce issues directly with their husband our wife in order to get the case over and ultimately, to save money. I certainly understand the desire to keep cost down in a divorce. But, you have to make sure you’re not rushing your own thought process because you might regret your decision later. I always tell my clients during the divorce, a client who says “I just want this over with” usually makes a bad decision. Take a deep breath and step back for a moment. At a minimum, a divorce with children is going to take 6 months so there’s no real rush.

The issues that husbands and wives usually try to settle between themselves are custody, parenting time and property issues. Whether you and your spouse can effectively work out your differences without your lawyers is a matter of dynamics. Certainly, if there’s any history of abuse, then I highly recommend that you do not engage in direct negotiation with your spouse. The same would be true when there are serious trust issues particularly if there has been financial manipulation or infidelity/cheating.

Nevertheless, if you and your husband or wife can talk rationally, it is certainly worth the two of you trying to talk things out. If you have children, even after you’re divorced, you’re going to have to communicate anyway so being civil during the divorce process is a good starting point for your “post divorce” life. However, if your husband or wife is simply being unreasonable and making demands that you know you will never agree to, then leave the negotiations to your lawyer. You should advise your lawyer as to any agreements that were made (hopefully your husband or wife won’t renege. . . that happens A LOT!) so that they can be reduced to writing and/or incorporated into a judgment of divorce.

Before the housing market crashed in 2008, it was very easy to deal with the marital home in a divorce. Usually, the party who earned more had a desire to keep the home but he/she had to buy out the other spouse’s interest in the equity. Then, he/she would have to refinance the house to take the other spouse’s name off the mortgage. We would typically give the spouse taking the home 30-60 days to refinance the mortgage after the divorce was final. When the market tanked, that all changed.

Now, many, if not most homes are upside down meaning the divorcing parties owe more than the house is worth. It is now not uncommon to allow the spouse who is taking the home to have 1 to 2 years to refinance. In addition, I have had many cases where the parties agree during or before the divorce to allow the home to go into foreclosure. Obviously, a foreclosure will damage your credit so you really need to make sure that you believe foreclosure is your best option. Short sales, deeds in lieu of foreclosure and other options should also be discussed with your divorce attorney. During the divorce, I will often consult with a realtor to get a better idea of the market my client’s home is located in so we can determine the best option. Obviously, there are many other property considerations to take into account and you will want to consult your divorce attorney.

If my client is the party not taking the home and we are going to allow the other party a significant period of time to refinance after the divorce, then I will include many protective provisions in the divorce judgment in case the other party defaults on the mortgage. Again, you should consult with a divorce attorney and I would be glad to talk to you and provide a free consultation.