Top Myths About Divorce in Michigan

When you're considering divorce, it's common for well-meaning friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to come forward with all sorts of "expert" advice. While these individuals may have personal experience with divorce - either directly or indirectly - the guidance they provide is no substitute for the legal training and background of a Michigan divorce attorney. In fact, their assistance may actually be a detriment if you find yourself believing and acting upon this information. Instead of relying on someone without legal experience, trust a qualified family law attorney to navigate these complicated proceedings and look out for some of the most common myths about divorce.

  • You Have an Advantage by Being First to File: There is little benefit to the spouse that "wins" the race to the courthouse under Michigan divorce law. Both spouses are entitled to equal treatment, rights, and obligations according to the statute. A divorce is unlike a typical civil court case with a plaintiff and defendant. The first spouse to file is the plaintiff or petitioner and the other is the defendant or respondent. There's only advantage to initiating divorce proceedings is if you want an immediate asset injunction or status quo order. There is no negative connotations for being the spouse on the other side of the "V" in the case title.

  • Assets are Split 5-50: In states that follow community property rules, there may be an equal split of assets to each spouse. However, in Michigan, the law only requires an equitable distribution of marital property. Judges turn to many different factors to determine what arrangement is equitable under the circumstances, including contribution to the marriage, total value of the assets, the duration of the marriage, and other issues.

  • Custody of Minor Children Goes to the Mother: Under Michigan law, parties are encouraged to agree upon custody and parenting time for minor children; however, a judge will make a determination if parents cannot compromise. A court uses the "best interests" standard in addressing needs of the minor child, applying multiple factors to decide upon care, custody, and support.

  • There Is No Spousal Support or Alimony in Michigan; or Spousal Maintenance is Final: Spousal support or alimony is available in Michigan. It's common for a Michigan court to award spousal maintenance, otherwise known as alimony, as part of a divorce decree. However, circumstances often change in the aftermath of a divorce, especially as they relate to former spouses' financial conditions. Either party can petition the court to make a post-judgment modification of spousal support if the situation warrants changing the terms of the arrangement.

No Myth: You Can Rely on a Skilled Michigan Divorce Lawyer

They may mean well, but a non-attorney who offers you advice on divorce in Michigan doesn't have the proper experience and knowledge to act as your legal counsel. Acting based upon any of these legal myths can be costly and time-consuming, and detrimental to your interests. Only a qualified lawyer has the background and skills necessary to protect your rights and represent you in court. Attorney Michael A. Robbins has years of experience assisting clients in divorce matters, and will advise you on your options under Michigan law. Please contact our Bloomfield Hills, MI office with questions about your case or to schedule a consultation.