Family Law: Divorce, Custody, and Support Issues
If you have lived in Michigan for at least 180 days, you are eligible to file
for a divorce in Michigan. You must live in the county where you wish to
file the divorce for at least 10 days.
Important note: If you are considering a divorce, it is important that you
contact an attorney before you notify anyone else, especially your current
spouse. An attorney can confidentially advise you on how best to protect
yourself, your family, and your assets. Even if you believe you and your
spouse can reconcile, it is always wise to be prepared. Although many
believe their divorce will happen without much trouble - this rarely turns
out to be true.
Custody and Parenting Time:
There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody
concerns the decision making of medical care, child care, overall welfare,
and education of the child. This type of custody is almost always joint
because the courts want both parties to be involved in making these
decisions for their minor children. Physical custody is where the children
reside the majority of the time. Physical custody can be sole, joint, or split.
It should be noted that children born out of wedlock, meaning between
parties who are unmarried, is a different situation, but many of the same
issues are addressed as mentioned above.
In determining issues of custody and parenting time, the court will
determine what is in the child's best interest. In doing so, the court will
take into account the following factors:
Sec. 3. "Best interest of the child" means the sum total of the following factors to
be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved
and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love,
affection, and guidance and continuation of the educating and raising of the child
in its religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with
food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted
under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and
the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of
sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a
close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child
The court has broad discretion in determining which factors are the most
Spousal support is another factor that must be determined in a divorce.
Formerly called "alimony", spousal support is not given in every case.
Unlike child support (discussed below), which is always provided to the
party who has custody of the minor children, spousal support is more
subjective. Great discretion is given to the court in allowing spousal
support. Different judges have different policies, beliefs and theories in
that regard. Spousal support is viewed as compensation for the party in
the action who would be financially harmed by the divorce. This is
rationalized by the fact that many people who enter a marriage give up a
career, education, or other financially beneficial endeavors in furtherance
of the marriage or to raise children. A court will generally use the
following factors in determining if spousal support should be awarded:
- The past relations and conduct of the parties;
- The length of the marriage;
- The ability of the parties to work;
- The source of an amount of property awarded to the parties;
- The age of the parties;
- The ability of the parties to pay alimony;
- The present situation of the parties;
- The needs of the parties;
- The health of the parties;
- The prior standard of living of the parties and whether either
is responsible for the support of others; and
- General principles of equity.
Child support is money paid by a non-custodial parent to the custodial
parent for the support of a minor child. In determining the amount of child
support, Michigan has adopted a Statewide Child Support Guideline. The
Guideline considers the incomes of both parents and the needs of the
child based on national statistics showing what it costs to raise a child in
a typical family of a similar income level.
Child support is modifiable upon a showing of "changed circumstances."
Support is usually ordered until the minor child reaches the age of
eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs last. Unless
otherwise agreed, child support will be paid through the offices of the
county Friend of the Court. This allows for accurate record keeping and
prompt and in-expensive enforcement if an arrearage accrues.
Child support obligations are not dischargeable in bankruptcy and are
given priority over all other debts except federal income tax liens.
Michigan has one of the best records in the nation for collection and
enforcement of child support.
We Provide You With:
Cassandra A. Zaas, Esq., is the lead attorney for the firm's Family Law
cases. You will not, and should never be, handed off to an inexperienced
associate. Family Law cases involve issues that are too important to be
handled without experience and diligence. Please see more about her in
our "About Us" section of this site. Contact her at: (248) 544-8000 ext.102.
GORMAN LAW GROUP, P.C.
Call: (248) 544-8000
Costs and Fees:
The court costs and attorney
fees can range from $750.00
to $10,000.00+, depending on
the number of issues to be
resolved, and the level of
cooperation between the
If you are a "stay-at-home"
spouse, the employed spouse
can be ordered to pay your
attorney fees and costs.
Cases handled in Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, Washtenaw
County, Livingston County, Ingham County, Genesee County, and Lapeer County.