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 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.
Decades of Experience in Divorce Settlements and Litigation
One of the first decisions in any divorce proceeding is determining where to file. In order to file for divorce in Michigan, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for 180 days or more. However, county residence requirements are much less stringent. To file in a particular county, a Michigan resident must have lived in that county for at least 10 days.
The spouse that files for divorce is commonly referred to as the plaintiff. The non-filing spouse is known as the defendant. To initiate the case, once the plaintiff files for divorce, the defendant must be served. Service is the legal method to notify the defendant that the plaintiff has filed a complaint to initiate his or her divorce.
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 we help our clients achieve amicable resolutions whenever possible, we never rule out the option of going to trial.
Fault vs. No-Fault: Does it Matter?
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.
Strategic Legal Representation for the Key Issues in Your Divorce
Michigan is an equitable property state. The division of property can be reached by agreement or ordered by the court after evidence is presented at trial. The Michigan courts apply a number of factors in deciding how to divide divorcing spouses’ marital property and they have wide discretion to reach a fair decision. Some of these factors include:
- The length of the marriage
- The needs of the parties
- The needs of the children
- The earning power of the parties
- The source of the property
- Where the contributions toward property acquisitions came from
- The cause of the divorce, including fault in the breakdown of the marriage
Property owned prior to the marriage remains the exclusive property of its original owner. However, several exceptions exist. For example, separate property may be subject to distribution in a divorce where:
- The non-owner spouse contributed to acquiring, improving or increasing the property, or;
- The marital estate is insufficient to provide for the support of a spouse without the separate property being included.
Property divisions are often contentious, and divorcing spouses must take a strategic approach to protecting the assets that matter most. From securing ownership and control of privately-owned businesses to ensuring access to retirement funds decades down the line, we work closely with our clients to make sure they are fully aware of the property implications of their divorce.
Alimony, also known as spousal support, is awarded to help cover the economic decline one party will experience after their divorce. The Michigan courts outline several options for entering an order for spousal support. Alimony can be awarded over time through periodic payments or in a lump sum, and the courts can award alimony on a temporary or permanent basis. Factors relevant to the determination of spousal support include:
- The behavior of each party during the marriage;
- How long the parties were married;
- The ability of each party to find gainful employment after the marriage;
- How the property of the marriage was equitably divided;
- The need of the party requesting alimony vs. the ability of the other party to pay;
- The age and health of the parties; and
- The standard of living the spouses enjoyed during the marriage.
For divorcing spouses with children, custody and visitation are among the most emotionally-charged aspects of the divorce process. The judge’s main concern in custody and visitation (or “parenting time”) matters is to protect the best interests of the children. This “best interest” standard should guide divorcing parents’ decision-making in amicable divorces as well. Our attorneys are experienced at guiding clients toward an amicable agreement and going to court to protect their relationship with their children. When we represent you, we will take the time to understand your situation and create a plan with you to secure your desired outcome. Our Grand Rapids divorce lawyers have handled countless custody matters during and after the divorce process, and we can help you achieve an outcome that is in the best interests of you and your children.
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 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.