Family Law

The Family Law Practice Group serves husbands, wives, mothers and fathers by helping them successfully navigate through the legal process involving divorce, custody, child support and other family related matters.   At Kreis Enderle, we recognize that the dissolution of a marriage is never easy and we are prepared to guide you through each step of these life changes.  We recognize that there is nothing more important to a parent than his or her children and we provide you with the tools necessary to untangle these difficult, family relationships.  We also pride ourselves on having the expertise to address the ancillary legal issues that naturally occur as a consequence of a divorce or custody proceeding.

For over fifty years, Southwest Michigan families have relied upon our confident, qualified and compassionate representation during family related legal proceedings.  Kreis Enderle attorneys participate, and hold leadership rolls, in the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, West Michigan Legal Aid, a variety of local bar associations, and we embrace continuing education in order to be up to date on new legal developments within this practice area.

Areas of Concentration:

  • Divorce
  • Custody & Parenting Arrangements
  • Child Support
  • Alimony
  • Pre-nuptial and Domestic Partnership Agreements
  • Step-parent Adoptions
  • Indian Child Welfare Act Child Protection Matters

The ancillary issues which often arise as a consequence of a divorce action include real estate, retirement planning, and estate planning.   A divorce will naturally have consequences regarding not only assets and debts but also cash flow and estate planning objectives.  Furthermore, real estate which was owned by the parties during the marriage often needs to be retitled so as to reflect the change in the status quo.

At Kreis Enderle, we recognize the impact that a divorce or custody action has on an individual’s life.  We further recognize that often times the interaction with a family law lawyer is the first occasion an individual may have to employ legal counsel. As a consequence, every aspect of our representation is mindful of and respects the interests of our clients.

FAQs:

Does it matter who files first in a Michigan divorce proceeding?

No, it generally does not matter who files first, however, there are instances, where strategic decisions are necessary relating to the timing of a divorce filing.

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, what does this mean?

In Michigan, as in most states, it is not necessary for one party or the other to prove the other is at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.  As long as the party filing for the divorce establishes, through testimony, that the marriage relationship is broken to the extent that that the foundation of the marriage is destroyed and cannot be repaired, the Court will grant a divorce.  However, fault may come in to play as it relates to alimony (spousal support), the proportionate division of assets awarded to each party, as well as various child related issues.

How are assets divided in Michigan in a divorce?

Initially, the parties are free to divide their assets pursuant to their own agreement, however, if they do not agree, the Court is generally bound to determine an equitable division of the marital estate.  Equitable does not necessarily meaning equal, however, as a starting point, it is helpful to identify those assets which were acquired during the marriage.  In Michigan, with a few exceptions, most parties are able to maintain their separate or non-marital property.

How do courts in Michigan decide who gets custody of children?

In Michigan there are two types of custody: legal and physical.  Legal custody focuses on important decisions impacting the children whereas physical custody and the parenting time schedule impact the amount of time that the children spend with each individual parent.  Custody in Michigan is decided based upon multiple statutory factors which the Judge is mandated to be apply to each individual custody dispute.

Is Mediation required in Divorce/Family Law cases?

With some rare exception, yes. Before the Court will schedule a trial, the parties are typically required to mediate the dispute. Mediation occurs following an extended period of ”discovery” which allows the parties access to information within the control of the other party.

Specifically, how is child support determined?

Child support is based upon income, earning capacity, amount of overnight time the children spend with each parent, child care expenses incurred by either party, as well as the out-of-pocket expense associated with maintaining health insurance for the children.  In Michigan, there are Child Support Guidelines which are applied in most cases.

Are my retirement benefits included as property to be divided in a divorce?

Yes, the portion of retirement benefits where there is a defined dedicated benefit plan (pension) or an employee contribution plan (401k or IRA), is considered a marital asset to the extent that it was earned during the marriage.  It is important to identify that portion of the retirement which was accrued or earned prior to the marriage date.

Does my child’s biological parent have to consent to a step-parent adoption?

Not necessarily. While gaining the consent of the noncustodial biological parent makes the process much faster, the law does allow for an involuntary termination of rights. In order to accomplish an involuntary termination, the noncustodial parent must have either failed to support or abandoned the child for a period of at least two years.

Are Indian Child Welfare proceedings required to take place in tribal court?

No. Tribes, and therefore their courts, have discretion with regard to accepting jurisdiction. Likewise, parents can seek a transfer to tribal court, or request that the proceeding take place in state court. However, regardless of where the proceeding takes place a tribal representative, usually a tribal ICWA attorney, will be present to ensure ICWA compliance and to represent the tribal interest.

 

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