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Family Law Attorney In Grand Rapids, Michigan

Family is the most important relationship we have. In Michigan, family law issues are heard by the circuit courts, and counties have judges who hear only family law cases.

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that if one party wants a divorce the court will eventually grant it.

Each and every day our family law attorneys handle issues regarding:

For your initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys, complete our online form or dial 616-828-0687.

Custody And Parenting Time

It is the job of the court (meaning the judge of the family court) to determine and to make decisions in the best interests of the child. The friend of the court (FOC) is an administrative body that investigates the family relationship and makes recommendations to the family court judge. Michigan law, MCL 552.505(1)(g) states, “The friend of the court is to investigate all relevant facts and make a written report and recommendation to parents and to the court regarding child custody…” FOC investigators assist the judges in making recommendations regarding the amount of contact and decision-making authority parents will have with their children.

At Scozzari Law, PLLC, like other firms, we file divorce actions. However, we also maintain a vigorous motion practice on behalf of clients, who seek redress regarding the violation of family law court orders, and on behalf of victims of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence

For purposes of the Batterer Intervention Standards for the state of Michigan, domestic violence is defined as “… is a pattern of controlling behaviors, some of which are criminal, that includes but is not limited to physical assaults, sexual assaults, emotional abuse, isolation, economic coercion, threats, stalking and intimidation. These behaviors are used by the batterer in an effort to control the intimate partner. The behavior may be directed at others with the effect of controlling the intimate partner.”

For purposes of the Domestic Violence Prevention and Treatment Act, domestic violence is defined as follows: “Domestic violence means the occurrence of any of the following acts by a person that is not an act of self-defense: (i) Causing or attempting to cause physical or mental harm to a family or household member. (ii) Placing a family or household member in fear of physical or mental harm. (iii) Causing or attempting to cause a family or household member to engage in involuntary sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress.”

The Role Of The Lawyer

When it comes to family law questions, you might be wondering why a lawyer is even necessary. Many people think that they can just go to family court and take care of things all on their own. The reality of the situation, of course, is that this is not the best way to ensure that you receive the most favorable outcome. In fact, not hiring a family law attorney is a great way to find yourself in a world of hurt. The laws regarding the issues discussed above – things like adoption, custody, child support and even domestic violence disputes – can be complex, and often require the knowledge of an expert to be fully understood.

With the above in mind, we hope you are beginning to see how important it is to hire the best family attorney you possibly can. At Scozzari Law, PLLC, we are proud to offer you help from attorneys who have spent their careers helping other individuals just like yourself. We can help ensure that you receive the best outcome possible – indeed, that is our entire goal. We will work hard to make sure that your case is handled well.

Even more than that, however, we will work hard to try and make the confusing and frustrating experience of dealing with the law as quick and painless as possible for you. We can also ensure that you don’t miss any filing deadlines or court dates, both issues that could significantly negatively impact your case.

What Is Family Law?

Family law is a legal practice that focuses on family matters, including marriage, divorce, child custody, visitation, child support, property division, spousal support and other issues. Family law attorneys draft important legal documents (e.g., court petitions, property agreements, etc.) and represent clients in family court proceedings or negotiations.

Why Should I Hire A Family Law Attorney?

Family law issues are often extremely sensitive and life-altering, which is why you need a knowledgeable and skilled family law attorney to guide you through the complexities of the legal system and protect your rights and best interests during each step of the process. You want a lawyer who provides compassionate and personalized legal services, giving clients the attention and responsiveness they deserve.

The following are several factors to look for when hiring a family lawyer:

  • Years of experience handling family matters like yours
  • Respect from their peers
  • Awards and honors for their legal services
  • Encouraging you to talk freely while listening to your situation
  • Explaining what you can expect at each stage of the legal process
  • Communicating and providing updates on your case
  • Fighting for your rights and the rights of your children

Keep in mind, you will be working with your attorney for between 60 days or even over a year. That is why you need a lawyer you can trust and develop a strong relationship with.

What Does A No-Fault Divorce Mean?

Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means either spouse does not need to blame the other for causing the end of a marriage. Instead, they can cite that “irreconcilable differences” have caused a breakdown of the marital relationship without any likelihood that it can be repaired.

How Long Does A Divorce Take To Finalize?

If you and your spouse do not have children and both of you agree on all divorce-related issues, a divorce can be granted as soon as 60 days after you file the divorce paperwork. If you and your spouse have any minor children when you file for divorce, after you file the petition, you will be subject to a six-month statutory waiting period – unless you can show good cause to waive the waiting period.

If you and your spouse do not agree on at least one divorce-related issue and the divorce leads to court litigation, then it may take 12 months or more to finalize the divorce. Additionally, high-asset divorces can be more complex and take more time because of the amount of marital property.

Who Will Get Custody Of The Children?

If you and your spouse agree on custody and parenting time, the court will generally approve the agreement. In contrast, if the parents cannot agree on custody issues, the court will determine the custody arrangement and parenting schedule based on the child’s best interests.

Common factors a judge will consider when determining the best interests of a child include:

  • The love, affection and other emotional ties between the parties involved and the child
  • Each party’s ability to give the child love, affection and guidance
  • Each party’s ability to provide the child with food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable and satisfactory environment
  • The permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home(s)
  • Each party’s moral fitness
  • Each party’s mental and physical health
  • The child’s home, school and community record
  • The child’s reasonable preference (if mature enough)
  • Each party’s willingness to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship
  • History of domestic violence, if any
  • Other relevant factors

How Is Property Divided In Michigan?

Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state, which means the property is divided in a manner that is fair and reasonable. In community property states, property division is as close to a 50-50 split as possible.

To ensure a fair and equitable distribution of property, the court must know the value of the marital property. Assets such as bank accounts and savings accounts can be easily calculated. On the other hand, property such as real estate or even a business needs to go through valuation by a professional expert.

How long does the divorce process take?

In Michigan, there is a 60-day waiting period for a divorce if there are no children involved. With children, the waiting period is 180 days. However, those are waiting periods, not deadlines. Depending on how quickly you can come to an agreement on the various financial and personal matters of the divorce, it can be months or even years before your divorce is complete.

How is marital and personal property divided during a divorce?

In Michigan, the court divides marital property on an equitable distribution model. An equitable distribution is one where the court considers many factors in the fair distribution of the marital estate. It may not be equal, but each side can advocate for a fair share.

Which factors impact child custody arrangements in Michigan?

In Michigan, the most important factor that impacts child custody arrangement is your children’s best interests. The court will look at your child’s:

  • Living situation
  • Physical health
  • Emotional growth
  • Mental well-being
  • Educational opportunities

By closely reviewing all the above factors, the court will decide how the parents should share custody. Older children may have some input as well, but the decision ultimately belongs to the judge.

How is spousal support calculated in Michigan?

Michigan uses a complex calculation that accounts for both parties’ relative assets, income and resources. The final amount of spousal support you may have as part of the agreement can result from intense negotiation and advocacy during this process.

When can I request a modification to my child or spousal support arrangements?

You can request a modification whenever circumstances warrant it, such as losing a job or moving to a new area. Your divorce agreements shouldn’t leave you in an unlivable situation.

Contact An Experienced Family Law Attorney Today

Let Scozzari Law, PLLC help you understand how the family law legal process works.

Call 616-828-0687 or contact our firm online to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case in detail. Our experienced lawyers can help with any and all of your family law issues.