divorce attorney

Many married couples purchase houses and build a life in the home, especially for any children they may have. If you decide to get divorced, you may expect to lose some of your possessions, though will you have to lose your house? The answer to this question is different for each divorcing couple, and you should discuss the details of your situation with a divorce attorney in Michigan. In the meantime, the following is some brief information about how divorce can affect a family home in Michigan.

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divorce requirements

When many people want to end their marriage, they may want it to happen right away. Unfortunately, there are a number of legal issues you must first sort through, as well as divorce requirements you must meet to obtain a divorce under Michigan law. The following are only some requirements for a Michigan divorce -to discuss your specific situation, contact our divorce lawyers today.

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Will I receive alimony if I am a divorced stay-at-home mom?

Stay-at-home parents make the noble choice of leaving their careers to be home with their children during their formative years.  Any stay-at-home parent or spouse of a stay-at-home parent knows that raising children is perhaps the most challenging job of all.  While most stay-at-home parents would not trade their time with their children for anything, the stay-at-home parent is particularly vulnerable in the event of a divorce.  Stay-at-home parents, who are generally women, may not find it easy to enter the workplace after such a long absence and evolving divorce laws have made it far harder for stay-at-home parents to receive alimony.  Our Southfield, Michigan divorce lawyers discuss the unique issues facing stay-at-home parents during a divorce below.

Seeking Alimony as a Stay-at-Home Parent

Perhaps the greatest concern for divorcing stay-at-home parents is finances.  As a stay-at-home parent, you have sacrificed your own career advancement for your family.  While the decision to have one parent leave the workforce is a mutual one, it is the stay-at-home parent that ends up at risk of financial struggles after a divorce.  Traditionally, alimony has been used as a means of evening the playing field for the stay-at-home parent post-divorce.

Alimony consists of payments made from the payor spouse to the recipient spouse.  Alimony can be agreed to in divorce settlements or ordered by the court. While alimony used to be awarded as a matter of course to the lesser earning spouse, now it has become harder to receive an award of alimony.  

Michigan courts will weigh several factors to determine whether a spouse is entitled to spousal support. Relevant factors include: 

  • The length of the marriage
  • The conduct of the parties and past relations
  • The abilities of the parties to work
  • The ability of the parties to pay alimony
  • What property each spouse will receive in the divorce
  • The health and needs of the parties
  • The prior standard of living of the parties
  • General equity principals 

Even if you are awarded spousal support, the award will rarely be permanent.  A Michigan divorce judge has the discretion to limit the length of the alimony award.  Further, alimony can be terminated at any time that the other spouse can demonstrate a showing of change of circumstances.  For these reasons, it is critical that stay-at-home parents retain the assistance of an aggressive divorce lawyer who will fight for their award of spousal support and fair division of property.

What factors will a judge consider in awarding custody of a pet in a divorce?

Up until now, pets in California, as in most states, were considered property and judges often struggled to determine who should keep the beloved family pet in a divorce. Where both parties wanted to keep the pet, judges would often consider who purchased the pet in awarding ownership.  With few laws governing the division of pets, judges were left to their own devices when it came to pet division.  Now, California has passed a new law that gives judge’s discretion to award custody of the pet after consideration of several factors, like who feeds the pet, who walks, and the like.  Pet division in the state will now be more akin to child custody cases.  Our Southfield, Michigan divorce lawyers discuss the new pet division law in California and Michigan’s pet division laws below.

California’s New Law on Pet Division

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that outlines the state’s stance on pets during a divorce.  Per the law, pets will remain as community property, but judges are given express discretion to weigh pertinent factors when awarding custody of the pet.  Factors that may be considered include who traditionally cared for the pet, walked the pet, feed it, took it to the vet, and the like. 

Before passage of the law, judges each developed their own approach to determining who should keep a beloved family pet.  Some judges even had the pet brought into court and placed between the owners to determine who the pet supposedly liked best.  Now, pet division will function much like child custody, and hopefully the end result will be the fair award of custody of the family pet.

Pets in Michigan Divorces

Michigan law provides that pets are property in the event of a divorce.  As property, judges are required to assign ownership of the pet to just one of the divorcing spouses.  When two spouses cannot agree on who will keep the pet, judges will apply the laws of equitable division to determine who should keep the pet.

California has now joined the ranks of a few other states who have taken the approach that pets should not be treated the same as other types of property.  Time will tell whether Michigan lawmakers file suit and amend pet division laws in the state in the future.


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