Family law attorney addresses five myths in Michigan divorce law

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Southfield, Mich. – June 27, 2013 –Attorney Jessica Woll, managing partner of Woll & Woll, P.C., a family law practice based in Southeast Michigan, aims to provide truth in five common myths in Michigan divorce law.

The first myth is that the party who files first will get a better settlement.

“In Michigan, judges do not care who files for divorce first. The law is not designed to reward one party for beating their spouse to the courthouse to file for divorce,” explained Woll. “A few items the judge does care about is whether the individual who files is afraid for his or her safety, the party feels their spouse is hiding marital assets or the wage earning spouse has cut the other off financially.”

The second myth is that because Michigan is a no-fault state, people cannot claim their spouse at fault for the breakdown of the marriage. “No-fault” in Michigan divorce law means individuals are allowed to obtain a divorce even if neither party caused the marriage to breakdown. Years ago, one would have to prove a spouse caused the marriage to deteriorate; nowadays one simply has to want a divorce to get one. However, while fault is not needed to obtain a divorce, fault is still a basis to ask for more than half of the marital assets and is still a consideration in property division, according to Woll.

The third myth relates to property titles and the erroneous belief that if a house title is only in one spouse’s name, the property is not considered a marital asset. In a divorce, title actually has little to do with whether or not an asset is marital. As a general rule, if the property in question, such as a home, was purchased during the marriage, it is considered a marital asset, regardless of whose name the property is on title.

The fourth myth involves attorney fees and which spouse is responsible for them. There is not one rule on how attorney fees will be paid. Typically, if one spouse accessed martial funds to pay fees, the other spouse should have equal access to marital funds to pay their attorney as well. Also, a spouse may be awarded a portion of attorney fees above equalization if the other spouse leaves the marriage in a better financial position due to income.

The fifth myth relates to joint custody and the misinterpretation that each spouse will have the children half of the time. However, this is not true in Michigan, where there are two types of custody.

“The first is legal custody where each spouse is required to mutually agree upon all issues concerning the child’s health, safety and welfare. If the parents cannot agree upon what is best for the child, the issues will be determined by a judge in family court. The second type of custody is physical custody, which deals with where the child will physically reside,” said Woll. “If a couple is awarded joint physical custody of a minor, it does not mean each parent will be granted 50 percent parenting time. Technically, the court is supposed to craft a parenting time schedule to reflect what is best for the child.”

About Woll & Woll, P.C.
Woll & Woll, P.C. specializes in family law, including legal separation, divorce, post-judgment of divorce matters, removal of domicile actions, stepparent adoption, custody, child support, paternity and other family issues. Founded by a family of attorneys, Woll & Woll, P.C. is committed to reaching out to families in crisis. Learn more here.

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