Two Broken Golden Wedding Rings Divorce Decree Document

Common Misconceptions About Divorce in Michigan 

Bowden Law, PLLC Oct. 13, 2022

Anytime you go through a big change in life, you’ll likely experience a range of emotions in addition to all the practical matters you’re dealing with. And, when these changes involve divorce, child custody or child support, alimony, or adopting a new child into your family, it’s essential to understand how the legal aspects of these transitions factor in. So often, people will hear second-hand anecdotes about these issues, and if you’re not careful, you could end up with misinformation that can lead to legal trouble down the road. If you’re in the Clinton Township, Michigan area or the surrounding areas of Michigan, including Macomb County and Sterling Heights, and would like to speak with a family law attorney about any of these topics, reach out to me at Bowden Law, PLLC, for trusted legal direction. I can walk you through the process to ensure your best interests are valued. 

6 Common Misconceptions About Divorce in Michigan 

If the Other Parent Doesn’t Pay Child Support, I Can Withhold Visitation  

Neither parent is ever allowed to withhold child visitation rights from the other except in extreme cases where there is an immediate threat to the health and safety of the child. Even if one parent is short or behind on support payments, you should always take your complaints through the court instead of handling it on your own, as financial support and visitation rights are not connected to one another. If you do decide to withhold parental visitation rights, you could be jeopardizing your own child custody rights. 

It’s Possible For One of the Spouses to Deny the Divorce  

While it’s true that one spouse can contest the terms of a divorce that have been laid out by the other, no one (not even your spouse) can force you to stay married. If one spouse wants to negotiate on the terms of the divorce, they must respond to your order within 21 of receiving the papers, and while this can certainly delay your divorce, it can never stop it from happening. If they do not respond within this time, your divorce can proceed ahead without their consent. 

The Mother Is Always Awarded Primary Custody of the Children  

One of the biggest misconceptions about divorce with children is that the mother will be treated differently than the father. The reality is no parent is given custody preference over another during a divorce. In almost all cases, a judge will make every effort to ensure the child has meaningful and consistent time with both parents unless there is a compelling reason to limit one parent’s involvement. The child custody arrangement will always be made with the best interests of the child in mind, not the parents’. 

Alimony Is a Part of Any Divorce  

Alimony is never automatically awarded to one spouse after a divorce and instead will be considered on a case-by-case basis. However, if the couple decides between themselves that money should exchange hands, a judge will most likely approve it. In other cases, a judge may award one spouse temporary spousal support, especially if they weren’t able to earn a traditional income during the marriage (for example, if they were a stay-at-home-parent) or if the divorce would pose a financial burden and they may need time to find a new job or obtain training to get back into the workforce. 

Our Assets Will be Split 50/50  

Michigan follows an equitable distribution model during a divorce, which means that marital assets will be split fairly between the two spouses but not necessarily equally. In general, this means any property that was acquired during the marriage is considered “marital,” while anything that was acquired before the marriage is considered separate. There are important exceptions to these designations, and working with an experienced attorney can help you understand what you can expect during your divorce. 

The Children Get to Choose Who They Will Live With  

In most cases, the children will not get to decide which parent they live with. However, it is always up to the discretion of the judge whether to weigh the wishes of the children when deciding on a custody arrangement. This is especially true for older children in their teens who can adequately advocate for their needs. 

The Importance of Skilled Legal Counsel  

No matter what your specific situation is, it’s almost always a good idea to reach out to a family law attorney who can advise you on your best options and ensure you fully understand the legal agreements you’re entering. Even if you’re on relatively good terms with your spouse about your divorce, meeting with a lawyer can help give you peace of mind knowing that your best interests and rights are being adequately represented.   

From my offices in Clinton Township, Michigan, I’ve been representing clients for over two decades for all their family law needs. Call me at Bowden Law, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation. I have the experience, knowledge, and comprehensive skills to direct you towards a brighter future for you and your family.