Answers to frequently asked questions regarding filing for divorce:

1.) Do I need an attorney to file for divorce?

Answer: No. However, it is in your best interest to consult with an attorney when filing for divorce. Often times we hear from clients who have initiated the process themselves, and their case ends up getting dismissed. If you want to ensure that all of the documents are properly filed with the court, and that your divorce is wrapped up as quickly and seamlessly as possible, it is best to hire an attorney.

If you are a party to a divorce case in Oakland County, and you have minor children, you will receive notice of your Early Intervention Conference (EIC).

The EIC is the first hearing held on divorce cases involving minor children. The EIC is held at the Friend of the Court 56 days after the filing of the Complaint. The case is heard by the Referee assigned to the case. Both parties and attorneys must attend.

The EIC provides the Court with a summary of the case and status. If needed, your Referee may refer the matter of child support, custody, and/or parenting time for investigation and recommendation.

The Medical Marijuana Act states that a person shall not be denied custody or visitation of a minor for acting in accordance with the act, unless the person’s behavior is such that it creates an unreasonable danger to the minor that can be clearly articulated and substantiated. MCL 333.26424(c).

Thus, if you have concerns that your child is in unreasonable danger, you must have specific, identifiable, and admissible evidence that substantiates your claim. Keep in mind, that the court’s main objective is looking out for the best interest of the minor child(ren). The court must weigh the alleged danger to the child, with the need for the child to have a relationship with both parents.

If you are dealing with medical marijuana use in a child custody case, please contact the attorneys of Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. at (586) 264-3756.

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that same sex couples have a fundamental right to marry as guaranteed by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584; 192 L. Ed. 2d 609 (2015).

So, what does this mean for same-sex couples, who would like to divorce? Due to the fact that same-sex marriage has only been an option since June 2015, same sex divorces will differ from heterosexual divorces. One of the factors that is considered in terms of spousal support and property division, is the length of the marriage. Thus, a same-sex couple that has had a civil union or has been a couple for many years, will still have a fairly short length of marriage, which in turn, results in less support.

Because the issue of same-sex divorces is just beginning, the court may be persuaded to take a closer look at these issues, and consider arguments regarding the length of the relationship, rather than the length of the marriage. If you are considering your options for same-sex divorce, please contact the attorneys of Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. at (586) 264-3756.

Pursuant to MCL 552.605b, a court that orders child support may order support for a child, after the child reaches 18 years of age.

In order for the court to award support for a child over 18, the child must be regularly attending high school on a full-time basis, with a reasonable expectation of completing sufficient credits to graduate from high school while residing on a full-time basis with the recipient of support or at an institution, but in no case after the child reaches 19 years and 6 months of age.

If you believe you are entitled to support, for a child over the age of 18, please call the attorneys of Serafini, Michalowski, Derkacz & Associates, P.C. at (586) 264-3756.

Pursuant to MCR 3.206(C)(2), there are two independent bases for awarding attorney fees and expenses.

1.) The first is based upon a party’s need to prosecute or defend a claim and the other party has the ability to pay or contribute, and 2.) The second is based on a party’s behavior without reference to need or the ability to pay.

The court will consider the income of both parties, as well as, the overall distribution of property, and whether the property settlement adequately provides for the spouse in need.

It is important to comply with your parenting time order at all times. Please keep in mind that holiday parenting time differs from your regularly scheduled parenting time. Holiday parenting time will “trump” your regular parenting time schedule.

If the other parent is refusing to allow you to see your child, you have several options to enforce your parenting time order:

1.) Many police departments will tell you to deal with the situation though the court; however, some police officers will escort you to the other parent’s house, and ensure that the child is with the correct parent, pursuant to your court order, or 2.) You can file an emergency ex-parte order to show cause. A show cause hearing will require the non-cooperating parent to explain to the court why they should not be held in contempt of court, for failing to comply with the court order.

How much does it cost the average parent to rear three children from birth to age 18? Some sources say $1 million. However, Anne Dias Griffin, who had three children with hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin, thinks the number lands closer to $1 million per month.

Mrs. Griffin made headlines when she claimed that in order to keep up with the expenses of her three children, Mr. Griffin should be forced to pay a monthly six-figure sum in child support.
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Family debt as a percentage of disposable income has increased from 70 percent in 1980 to over 110 percent by 2011. With the rising amount of debt in American families, the need to plan for the division of these debts has become a major focus in divorce settlements.

Unsecured Debt Liabilities:
-File documentation and financial affidavits with the Court as quickly as possible on the balances of all debt – credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, and vehicle loans.
-Order and review the most recent credit reports.
-Cancel all joint credit cards as soon as possible, to reduce the risk of the other spouse running up credit card debt.
-Make the payment, and closing, of joint debt a priority during settlement agreements.
-Consider joining a credit reporting warning service to signal any new credit being initiated during and after the divorce proceedings.
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