Grand Rapids Divorce Lawyers
Navigate the End of Your Marriage With Compassion and Expertise from Our Grand Rapids Divorce Lawyers
Divorce can spin your entire life around. There is never a more pressing time to have an aggressive and knowledgeable law firm representing you. Everything you have acquired throughout your marriage – your assets, your children and, to a certain extent, your reputation – is on the line. Our Grand Rapids divorce lawyers have over 30 years of combined experience representing clients in complex and contentious divorces. We know each case is different, so we work closely with our clients to create a strategy that is designed bring about optimal results, whether that means negotiating an amicable resolution or going to trial.
The divorce process can be complicated and drawn out, especially for parents and high-net-worth individuals. Divorcing couples must take many steps to reach the final goal of separation. If you are seeking legal representation in your divorce, the Grand Rapids divorce lawyers at Kraayeveld Law can guide you through the process.
Fault vs. No-Fault: Does it Matter in Michigan?
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you do not need to have a reason, such as adultery or mental cruelty, to file for divorce. The only grounds required for obtaining a divorce in Michigan is “a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”
Still, allegations of fault can play a key role in other aspects of the divorce process. For instance, evidence of fault may be relevant when the court rules on issues such as division of property and alimony. If fault is a possible issue in your divorce, we encourage you to consult with one of our Grand Rapids divorce lawyers as soon as possible.
Understanding the Michigan Divorce Process
Getting divorced is often complicated and stressful. We are here to answer your questions, guide you through the process, and help you secure a favorable result. We provide full-service legal representation and serve as staunch and caring advocates from the planning stages through final dissolution. While our Grand Rapids divorce lawyers help our clients achieve amicable resolutions whenever possible, we never rule out the option of going to trial.
Is There a Residential Requirement When Filing for a Michigan Divorce?
In order to file for divorce in Michigan, you must have resided in the state for a minimum of 180 days and in the county in which you file your divorce claim for a minimum of 10 days.
A Complaint is the First Step to Your Divorce
A divorce action is initiated once a spouse decides to file a legal document petitioning to dissolve the marriage. This document is called a complaint. The spouse who files the complaint is considered the plaintiff in the case; the other spouse is considered the defendant. The complaint must be filed with the Family Division of the Circuit County in the county in which you reside. Your complaint must also clearly state some legal basis under which you are petitioning for a divorce. For example, your complaint might allege irreconcilable differences, infidelity or some other reason.
Once a spouse has filed the complaint and the summons is served to the defendant, a defendant has 21 to 28 days to file their response, depending on whether the defendant is served by mail or is located out of state. The answer must admit or deny each allegation contained within the complaint. If the defendant does not wish to deny any of the allegations put forth, the divorce is considered uncontested and it proceeds to its final state. However, defendants wishing to contest some of the complaint’s statements may wish to hire an attorney and proceed to court.
Your Grand Rapids Divorce Lawyers Will Then Assist with Your Discovery, Negotiations and Mediation
In a divorce claim, the discovery phase can be quite contentious. Generally, each party will be required to produce documents that attest to their net worth and outlines the assets acquired in their divorce. Witnesses may be called to testify in a deposition as to the ultimate facts contained within the complaint. Additionally, skilled Grand Rapids divorce lawyers will frequently call on appraisers, accountants, psychological professionals, and financial advisers to get a full picture of a couple’s assets.
Then, the negotiation and mediation phase will begin. This process can be as smooth or as contentious as the parties wish it to be. Generally, each party’s attorney will aggressively protect their client’s rights to their assets. The goal of mediation is to walk away from a marriage with your financial goals intact.
The Settlement Conference
After the parties have agreed on the terms of their divorce, the clients and their Grand Rapids divorce lawyers will appear in court for a settlement conference. This conference will address the terms of their agreement with the judge separately in an effort to obtain an informal decision. That decision is then placed on the record, meaning that the parties will be obliged to comply with the terms of that agreement. This, however, does not render a divorce final. The divorce is only finalized once the judge has signed a written order.
If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, then the case will proceed to trial.
How Long Will It Take for My Divorce to Become Finalized?
Unfortunately, Michigan requires a waiting period to be respected before a divorce is allowed to proceed beyond your ultimate divorce agreement. Couples without children will generally wait 60 days before the divorce becomes final; couples with children will need to wait 180 days before they can consider the marriage officially nullified.
What Your Grand Rapids Divorce Lawyers Want You to Know
Outside of the emotional strain that divorce places on the people going through the process, dealing with the legal field and the costs associated with divorce seem to pile on one after another. While a divorce can feel like running a marathon without training, there are several different things that you can do yourself to not only help lower the cost of your representation but also lower the stress of the legal process on everyone involved.
One of the best things you can do to get the most out of your legal representation is to take care of any task that does not necessarily have to been done by your attorney. Usually your Grand Rapids divorce attorneys will assign certain tasks to you, and it is important for you to complete these tasks as quickly as possible. If your attorney must follow up due to your inactivity, you will be spending attorney fees unnecessarily.
- One task that your attorney might ask you to perform is to look up the value of your assets, and you can start this process yourself. Collect account statements, look up Kelly Blue Book values for cars, and if you have valuable personal property, check the sales prices online. You can even take this idea a step further and organize all your known assets and debts to the best of your ability into an easy-to-read spreadsheet that you can then submit to your attorney. Not only will this save you money by not being charged an hourly rate of someone at the law firm to do this work, but it will also free up your attorney’s and the support staff’s time to focus on more important parts of your case such as formulating arguments for hearings or writing crucial motions that will have an impact on your matter. Tasks such as these are the ones truly worth your hard-earned money. By taking care of simpler tasks yourself, such as gathering documents or valuing personal property, you lessen the burden on not only your attorney but also your wallet.
- Another tip is to be completely honest with your Grand Rapids divorce lawyer, even if you believe that the information is harmful to you and your case. Doing this allows your attorney to be prepared when the opposing party argues this negative point at a hearing. This preparation will allow your divorce to portray you in a positive light or at least control the damage. If you attempt to hide information or seem as if you are, your image with the judge, referee or investigator will be negatively impacted, which, in turn, could negatively impact several aspects of your divorce, including child custody or parenting time.
While these two tips can help lower the stress and cost of your divorce, there will always be certain tasks that must be performed by your attorney. It is crucial to your divorce to consult with your attorney about what you can and cannot do to help lower the stress of your case and save yourself money.
Flat Fee Divorce Options at Kraayeveld
At Kraayeveld, we are leading the way in offering flat-fee divorce services to spouses in Grand Rapids. Whether you are interested in pursuing an uncontested divorce or you are expecting contentious divorce litigation, we can offer a flat-fee service structure that helps you manage the costs of your divorce.
Speak with One of Our Experienced Grand Rapids Divorce Lawyers Today
Are you considering filing or divorce? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation. To schedule an appointment with a divorce lawyer at our family law offices in Grand Rapids, please call (616) 285-0808 or send us a message online today.