Money Matters in Divorce

How are retirement accounts divided during a divorce in Michigan?

Finances are generally the number one issue of contention in a divorce. When couples divorce, they will need to divide their hard earned assets. Some couples that have been married for years may own a home, vehicles, retirement accounts, a business, and savings accounts, among other assets. Dividing the property you accumulated during the marriage is rarely easy. With so much at stake when it comes to financial matters in a divorce, it is critical that divorcing spouses contact a divorce attorney for experienced legal assistance.

Michigan State Law on Property Division

Michigan law requires the fair and equitable division of marital property in a divorce. Per Michigan law, community property must be divided equitably, which may not be the same as equally. Community property is defined as property acquired during the marriage and will include items like a jointly purchased home, checking accounts, and savings. Excluded property could include money received through an inheritance or property owned before the marriage.

Dividing the Marital Home

In a typical divorce, one spouse will fight to keep the home so that they can remain living in it, while the other spouse will agree to take other assets in exchange for the home. While the division of the marital home in such a manner could be best for your situation, it is important that the spouse desiring to keep the home assess whether he or she will continue to be able to afford it. At times, the best option is to sell the home and divide the proceeds.

Retirement Accounts in Michigan

Retirement assets will be considered community property to the extent that one spouse contributed to the account during the marriage. Splitting retirement assets in a Michigan divorce can be complex. The spouse who owns the account will want to establish the number of funds that were in the account prior to the marriage. Further, retirement assets should only be distributed after approval from the judge to avoid tax penalties.

The Role of Prenuptial Agreements

If you and your spouse entered into a prenuptial agreement before getting married, then this agreement should largely govern the division of the marital assets. A prenuptial agreement will dictate who receives what assets and who will bear the burden of what debts. With prenuptial agreements becoming all the more common, it is more likely that divorces in the future will involve a prenup. Contact a family law lawyer for assistance with the financial matters related to your divorce today.

Why Might a Michigan Court Order Supervised Child Visitation?

Michigan family law judges will always strive to act in the best interests of the child.  Generally, it is considered in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with both parents.  At times, however, a judge may determine that the child’s visit with one parent should be solely supervised.  Supervised visitation may be necessary if a parent has an addiction problem, history of violence, mental illness, or another condition that could render unsupervised visits dangerous to the child.  Our Southfield, Michigan parenting time lawyers discuss the need for supervised visitation and types of supervised parenting time awards below.

Reasons for Supervised Visitation

Michigan courts will weigh the evidence presented in a custody hearing to reach a Parenting Time Order.  This order will dictate how much time the child will spend with each parent and under what circumstances.  The court may require that a parent’s visits with his or her child be supervised due to the following circumstances:

  • The judge believes the parent presents a risk of kidnapping the child;
  • The parent has a history of mental illness;
  • The parent was recently convicted or released from prison;
  • The child requested that visits be supervised;
  • A history of neglect or abuse is shown to the court;
  • The parent is totally estranged from the child;
  • A history of drug or alcohol addiction exists.

Types of Supervised Visitation

Should the court find any of the above circumstances to be present, or have other concerns about leaving the child in the sole care of a parent, then the court may order supervised visitation. There are several possibilities when it comes to the type of supervision that could be ordered. First, the court could authorize visits with a family or friend supervising.  This option will only be selected if the court feels the parent does not present an immediate danger to the child. With this option, the court can order that the supervisor remain in the room at all times or maintain visual contact during the entire visit.

Another option is agency supervision.  Agency supervision is the most restrictive, allowing the parent to spend time with the child only at a family services location.  The parent will be subjected to strict scrutiny, and only allowed physical contact should the child approach on his or her own. This option is reserved for cases where the parent presents a serious risk to the wellbeing of the child.

Alternatively, the court could order visitation take place at a therapist’s office.  There, the therapist can assist the parent and child to build on their relationship. Parents awarded only supervised visitation will have the ability to request modification of the order once they can show resolution of the circumstances that lead to the court’s decision.  A family law attorney can assist you in achieving the strongest parenting time arrangement possible.

How can a divorce attorney ease the stress of my divorce?

Divorce is a life changing experience. While none of us imagine getting divorced as we say our vows, the reality is that half of all marriages today end in divorce. Divorce can be a complex process, and while you are going through it, the end result may be hard to see. The reality is that you have the power to make your life post-divorce whatever you want it to be. Follow some simple tips to make the divorce process as pain free as possible so that you can start your life anew.

  1. Hire a divorce attorney you trust: Your divorce attorney will play the single most important role in lessening the pain of your divorce. Your attorney will serve as an intermediary, trusted advisor, and defender of your legal rights. A strong and experienced attorney will allow you to achieve the best divorce outcome possible, which will start your single life off on the right foot.
  2. Negotiate for what you really want: Negotiating for the division of your marital assets with your soon to be ex-spouse can be both stressful and painful. To ease the tension, it is wise to enter into negotiations with a clear sense of what you really want to achieve. Make a list of those assets you need to end up with post-divorce, those you want, and those you can do without. Having a clear visual of your divorce goals will empower you during negotiations.
  3. Take the emotion out of negotiations: Divorce often involves powerful emotions. It is important to acknowledge your emotions surrounding the divorce and allow yourself to talk to someone you trust about how you feel. However, setting emotion aside during the negotiation process can help you to achieve your goals with minimal stress. View negotiations as a business process and rely on your attorney to guide the legal proceedings.
  4. Keep the end result in mind: As you wade through the divorce process, keep sight of your ultimate end goal. Know that whatever divorce agreement you enter will continue to impact your finances and life for years to come. Never agree to something you are not comfortable with, and have your attorney closely review your divorce settlement agreement before signing.

Your next chapter starts today. Contact our Michigan divorce attorney for assistance with your divorce.

Does America need a divorce test?

Jiangsu, China’s eastern province, recently adopted a so-called “divorce test” through the civil affairs department. Divorcing spouses in the region must now complete a series of questions when they apply to divorce. The questions are aimed at gathering whether the couple may still have hope to continue the marriage. In adopting the divorce test, Jiangsu officials are hoping to stop the rising rates of divorce in the country.

Divorce Test Questions

China’s divorce test involves questions such as:

  • When is your anniversary?
  • When is your spouse’s birthday?
  • What is your spouse’s favorite food?
  • What is your best memory from the marriage?
  • How many times have you and your spouse traveled together?

The exam is scored, with those who receive a 60 or above deemed to still have hope. Couples scoring below 60 are told that the marriage is indeed about to break. The hope is that by reflecting on these questions, couples may take an additional moment to recall the good of the marriage and potentially reconsider the divorce. After internet criticism, the Chinese government clarified that the test is completely voluntary. Thus far, most couples have refused the test and the few who completed it continued with the divorce.

Rates of divorce in China have been on the rise since 1995. Last year, 3.4 million Chinese couples filed for divorce, up from one million in 1995 and just 319,000 in 1979. Chinese authorities have expressed concern over the breakup of the marital unit, and the divorce test is just the latest attempt of the country to quell rising divorce rates.

Should the Divorce Test Be Adopted in the U.S.?

Like China, America continues to grapple with relatively high divorce rates. While our divorce rate has remained fairly stable in the past few years, it continues to hover near 50 percent. Accordingly, some may wonder whether we need a divorce test or something like it. Judging from the poor response in China and lack of effectiveness of the test, the divorce test may not be the answer. One could surmise that once couples get to the point of filing for divorce, a set of questions is simply not enough to change the outcome.

Rather than attempting to stop a couple set on divorce from ending their marriage, perhaps couples should instead enter marriage with additional counseling. Marriage counseling can help couples to head off marital issues before they happen and effectively resolve marital disputes so that fewer marriages reach the point where one or both couples want out.