Divorce and Family Law

Wedding Rings and Gavel — Divorce Lawyers in Mount Clemens, MI
Susan Chrzanowski is committed to helping you preserve your rights while laying the foundation for a favorable outcome in divorce matters. Her primary concerns include your financial and emotional security. She will work with you to devise a strategy focused on enabling you to be more confident about your future and your ability to take charge of your destiny.

Divorce Process

Every divorce case follows the same basic procedure, in the state of Michigan. However, not every case will proceed to trial. Most cases settle before a trial is necessary and a settlement is placed on the record at or before the time of trial. Much of the essential work that goes on in the early stages of divorce involves helping you understand your legal rights and responsibilities in practical terms. Once you get a solid grasp of what's realistic under Michigan law, you can then make goals for yourself and your children. She will then go to work toward achieving the desired outcome.
1) Complaint for Divorce is filed – Complaint is filed, setting out the facts and circumstances of the case and typically several Orders will be submitted for approval by the assigned Judge.
2) Service of Process – The Plaintiff must provide notice to the Defendant that a Complaint for Divorce has been filed. This is accomplished by having the Defendant served with the papers. Service can be obtained personally by a process server or by certified mail, restricted delivery. Personal service is the preferred method; however, there are other options available if your spouse is avoiding service.
3) Answer to the Complaint – Within 21 days of being served, the defendant must file a formal answer. A failure to answer the Complaint timely can result in a negative outcome for the Defendant, such as loss of property, custody or a money judgment. If you are a Defendant, always protect your rights by contacting an attorney immediately after receiving notice of a legal proceeding.
4) Discovery - During a divorce proceeding, discovery is a process by which the parties exchange information to verify facts and discover information about each other.
5) Early Intervention Conference - If your case involves minor children, the first court appearance is followed by an Early Intervention Conference in some counties. The purpose of this conference is to meet with the Friend of the Court Referee assigned to your case and schedule dates and potential referrals regarding custody, parenting time and support.
6) SMILE (Start Making it Livable for Everyone) Program - (this step only applies to cases in Oakland and Macomb Counties). After the EIC the parties are required to attend a class which will be hosted by one of the Family Court Judges and a psychologist. This presentation takes approximately 1 1/2 hours.
7) Mediation - Mediation is a non-binding informal process with a third, neutral attorney who listens to both parties' positions and attempts to facilitate a settlement. Mediation is helpful in many cases to resolve the issues in less costly, time-saving, manner.
8) Settlement Conference - If mediation is not successful the court will schedule a settlement conference before the Judge in an attempt to see if the parties can settle the case. If mediation is successful, typically the settlement conference date will serve as the date your case is finalized and a Judgment of Divorce entered.
9) Trial/Arbitration - If a case proceeds to trial the Judge will make a determination regarding the disputed issues after both sides present their arguments. Sometimes, in lieu of going to trial before a Judge, the parties will agree to go to voluntary binding arbitration. The Arbitrator will act as the Judge and make a final determination regarding all issues submitted to binding arbitration. It is very important to note that arbitration is binding with limited rights to appeal a bad decision. However, most cases, but not all, settle before going to trial or arbitration.

Child Custody, Support, and Parenting Time

There are two types of custody: legal and physical.
When most people think of custody, they think of physical custody. This is who the child will reside with. It is the court's general opinion that it is in the child's best interest to have a good relationship with both parents. It is impossible to know the likelihood that a parent may be granted sole or joint physical custody.
There is also legal custody. It is very rare for a parent to get sole legal custody absent extraordinary circumstances. Joint legal custody simply means that both parents have input in major life decisions for the child. Examples are medical surgery, school selection, religion, and etc.

Child Support

Child support is calculated based on each parent's income, how much time the children spend with each parent, and how many children the parent supports. After the court has ruled on child support, the paying parent can make online payments through Michigan State Disbursement Unit. The child support is then paid to the other parent.

Spousal Support and Asset Division

There are two types of property classifications to consider during divorce. They are separate and marital property. Separate property includes property acquired before the marriage. It can also be obtained during the marriage as a gift or inheritance given strictly to one spouse. In Michigan, all property not classified as “separate” is considered “marital property” and will be divided equitably (which isn't necessarily equally).
Under certain conditions, the court will order alimony (also known as spousal support or maintenance) to be paid by one spouse to the other. Several factors, including the length of the marriage, each spouse's financial situation, and earning capacity, determine the amount and length of the support awarded.

Schedule an Initial Divorce Consultation

Susan Chrzanowski will provide you with an accurate case evaluation and knowledgeable counsel. Schedule an initial consultation and case evaluation by calling (586) 801-3558 to provide you with strong solutions!