Farmington Hills Divorce Lawyer
Legal Advocacy You Can Trust in Oakland County
Ending a marriage is rarely an easy decision for couples to make. More often than not, those who tie the knot don’t enter into marriage with the expectation that it will end, which is one of many reasons why divorce can be so difficult.
Our compassionate Oakland County divorce attorney understands how emotionally devastating it can be to file for divorce, not to mention how confusing it can be to navigate the complexities of family law on your own. While preparing for divorce proceedings can be daunting, you don’t have to take this journey alone. Seeking legal counsel from an experienced family lawyer can help you obtain the legal outcome you desire in court.
The stakes of divorce can be high, as the ultimate result of your case can impose lifelong consequences and change the course of your future. Don’t risk losing what matters most by failing to seek dependable legal representation. With over two decades of legal experience serving families in Michigan, our firm is here to help you take the first step toward a better tomorrow.
If you’re filing for divorce in Oakland County, it’s crucial to turn to a trusted divorce attorney. We offer free consultations and are available 24/7 to best serve you. Call (248) 599-0054 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.
Grounds for Divorce in Michigan
Each state has its own unique laws for divorce, which can make it all the more challenging to understand legal proceedings in family court. First and foremost, it's necessary to understand the grounds for divorce in Michigan.
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This means that couples aren’t required to provide a specific reason for the dissolution of marriage; rather, either spouse can request a divorce with or without the other spouse’s permission on the basis of “irreconcilable differences.” This is considered an acceptable “ground” to get divorced in Michigan.
Unlike some states who permit at-fault divorces, Michigan does not require spouses to assign and prove blame (such as adultery or abuse) to end a marriage. As you can imagine, the opportunity to file for a no-fault divorce can drastically limit unnecessary drama and conflict, and ultimately prevent the courtroom from becoming a warzone.
Types of Divorces in Oakland County
There are various approaches to obtaining a divorce in Michigan. The right path forward will likely depend on your individual circumstances and personal needs. Again, it’s best to consult with a trusted divorce attorney who can guide your steps accordingly according to their legal skills and comprehensive knowledge of family law.
Generally, there are two types of divorces:
#1. Contested Divorces
Commonly referred to as a “traditional” divorce, a contested divorce entails a couple who cannot agree on every divorce-related issue on their own and require court intervention to reach a final settlement. The judge has the final say on all divorce decisions in a contested divorce.
A contested divorce is often the more costly and time-consuming approach to marriage dissolution, as it can require extensive litigation and costs to both parties to reach an agreement.
#2. Uncontested Divorces
Contrarily to contested divorces, an uncontested divorce entails a couple who fully agrees on every divorce-related issue. While many couples prefer an uncontested divorce over a contested divorce, keep in mind that reaching a total agreement on all divorce-related terms is often easier said than done.
Not every couple is eligible for an uncontested divorce. Even spouses who initially believe they’ve reached a comprehensive agreement may be disappointed to learn that they disagree on something at some point during the negotiation, as even the smallest and seemingly trivial detail can derail a couple’s chance of obtaining an uncontested divorce.
There are several perceived advantages to an uncontested divorce, including:
- Less time-consuming. Due to the absence of divorce litigation, an uncontested divorce often takes less time to resolve than a traditional (contested) divorce.
- Less costly. As you can probably guess, less time in court typically equates to fewer legal expenses and court costs, meaning that couples may save money by pursuing an uncontested divorce.
- More privacy. Uncontested divorces tend to offer families more privacy, as it allows couples to work through their differences away from the scrutiny of a judge and a courtroom full of strangers. The privacy of uncontested divorces can also make legal proceedings less stressful for children, if applicable.
- Potential for lasting amicable relations. If a couple can successfully resolve their differences and reach a settlement without the court’s help, there is often a greater possibility of lasting civility in their relationship post-divorce. This can be especially beneficial for children who may spend years in the alternating company of both coparents.
What Is Divorce Mediation?
A mediated divorce is an alternative means of divorce that entails settling divorce issues outside of court, like couples would in an uncontested divorce. However, instead of having to reach a settlement on their own, couples in a mediated divorce negotiate divorce terms in the presence of a neutral third-party mediator.
What Does a Mediator Do?
A mediator is a trained family law professional who functions as an unbiased third party during a mediated divorce. Their role is to guide discussions, keep couples on task, and facilitate conversation that is constructive and civil to the matter at hand.
While it's fairly common for mediators to also be certified attorneys, this is not a requirement in all states. In Michigan, however, state laws require court-approved mediators to have a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree or graduate degree in conflict resolution, in addition to at least 40 hours of mediation experience.
Regardless of their individual qualifications, the mediator’s role is the same in any mediated divorce: to empower spouses to make informed decisions and achieve resolution without the need for extensive (and often costly) litigation in the courtroom.
A mediator’s role isn’t to advise couples on decision-making; rather, they are there to explain legal concepts, clarify legal processes and terms, and create a constructive environment for couples to resolve issues on their own.
It's essential to understand that a mediated divorce is not an uncontested divorce, nor is it a form of counseling. The end result is the same as any other divorce: dissolution of marriage. A mediated divorce can be an excellent option for couples who don’t fully agree on all divorce terms, but are hoping to avoid the emotional and financial costs of divorce litigation in the courtroom.
The path to divorce can be confusing. Turning to a trusted Oakland County divorce lawyer can equip you with necessary insight to make informed decisions for your future. Call (248) 599-0054 to request your free consultation.
How Is Property Divided in a Michigan Divorce?
When it comes to asset and property division during a divorce, each U.S. state is classified under one of the following categories: community property states or equitable distribution states. Keep reading to learn more about property division in a Michigan divorce and other equitable distribution states.
Community Property States
Community property states consider all assets acquired during the course of the marriage to be community (marital) property. Put simply, the courts attempt to divide community property equally between spouses.
In the event that an asset can be classified in both categories, such as a retirement account that was opened prior to marriage but accrued more value during the marriage, then the non-owner spouse will likely be entitled to a partial amount of those funds.
While a 50/50 split is never guaranteed in a community property state, you’re more likely to see a roughly even division in these states.
Equitable Distribution States
Unlike community property states, Michigan and other equitable distribution states seek to divide a couple's property as equitably as possible. Note that equitable isn’t the same as equal. In essence, equitable distribution states view spouses’ assets as their own unless the couple explicitly agrees to share them.
Unlike the courts in community property states, the Michigan courts may take a wide range of extenuating factors into account when dividing property in a divorce, including (but not limited to):
- Each spouse’s employability, gross income, and earning power
- Each spouse’s outstanding debts and financial history
- Any history of abuse or domestic violence
- Each spouse’s age and health
- Any history of mental illness or substance abuse
- How long the marriage lasted
- Each spouse’s spending and saving habits
Rest assured that Michigan and other equitable distribution states seek to distribute a couple’s assets as fairly as possible in a divorce, even if this doesn’t necessarily equate to an equal split.
For example, if a divorce in a community property state entails a longstanding history of infidelity, the chance of this impacting property division is relatively small. In an equitable distribution state, however, a history of adultery on part of one spouse is more likely to affect asset distribution.
For instance, if the unfaithful spouse showered a significant other with expensive gifts for an extended period of time, the court may decide to award the non-offending a larger share of the assets.
How to File for Divorce in Michigan
To successfully obtain a divorce, it’s important to follow the legal processes and procedures as meticulously as possible. Consider the following steps that couples should take to get divorced in Michigan:
- Verify that you meet state residency requirements. In Michigan, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 180 days prior to filing for divorce.
- Establish the appropriate ground for divorce. As a no-fault divorce state, simply stating an “irretrievable breakdown in the marriage” is an acceptable ground for divorce in Michigan. This also means that a spouse doesn’t need the other spouse’s consent to file for divorce.
- Complete and file the required paperwork. You’ll need to file the mandatory paperwork with the family division of the circuit court in your county of residence. You can check with your local court to see if there is an electronic filing option and/or ensure you’ve completed any additional paperwork required in your specific county, as mandatory forms can vary by jurisdiction.
- Serve your spouse. While you have the option to serve your spouse yourself, you can also hire a third party to assist you with serving the divorce papers. Make sure you make enough copies of the papers for yourself, your spouse, your attorney, and any other involved party that may require them. Keep in mind that papers must be served within 90 days of filing for a divorce.
- Wait for your spouse to respond. The opposing party will have 21 days to file a response, or 28 days if the papers were served via mail or delivered out of state. Keep in mind that regardless of whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, a final court hearing is required to finalize the dissolution of the marriage.
From there, it’s best to consult with a trusted divorce attorney who can help you prepare for the upcoming legal proceedings and ensure that you are both on the same page going forward.
Our Farmington Hills Divorce Lawyer Is Available 24/7 to Serve You
While divorce can be an emotional and stressful experience, it can also be the first step toward a fulfilling new chapter. Our firm has helped thousands of clients in Oakland County and the surrounding areas protect their families and future. We take pride in delivering high-quality legal representation tailored to each client’s personal needs.
Our compassionate team understands that no marriage is alike, which is why we invest time and effort to adequately prepare for the unique circumstances of each case. When you partner with our Farmington Hills divorce lawyer, you're partnering with an experienced legal advocate who will ensure that our goals align with yours from start to finish.
Daniel D. Hajji, Attorney at Law is committed to providing exceptional and personalized legal services to our clients in Farmington Hills, Bloomfield, Troy, Southfield, Rochester Hills, Pontiac, Royal Oak, Novi, and all surrounding areas.
If you’re filing for divorce, it’s essential to have the right legal team in your corner. We offer free consultations to best serve our clients in Oakland County. Call (248) 599-0054 to request an appointment.