When efforts to preserve the marriage have failed, divorce becomes necessary. Each case is unique, but all issues in each pertaining to children, property settlement, division of responsibility for marital debts, and spousal support (alimony) where appropriate must be resolved.
Where possible, both contested and uncontested divorces should be resolved fairly in a way that does not impoverish either party, which allows fit parents to be involved in making important decisions affecting the children, and which establishes a workable division of parenting time to allow each parent to maintain a close and continuing relationship with the children. All can and should be achieved.
Separate Maintenance (Legal Separation)
In some situations, the parties are not ready for or do not wish to divorce, but need legal assistance to arrange a temporary or long-term separation by making appropriate and fair financial arrangements to allow the parties to maintain separate households. In some cases, actually dividing property and establishing child support or spousal support (alimony) can also be accomplished without a final divorce.
Michigan has adopted a Child Support Formula to determine how much child support is to be paid, based on the earnings of each parent, the number of children, and several other factors. Especially where one or both parties are self-employed, unemployed, employed on a part-time basis, or have income that varies as a result of overtime pay, bonuses, etc., it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with all aspects of the support formula and experienced in helping the court to determine the fair and appropriate level of support.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
In situations where one spouse’s earnings are significantly greater than the other’s, especially in longer-term marriages or where one party has health or other problems which limit his or her ability to be economically self-sufficient, the court may order spousal support, either permanently or for a period of years or months. Like child support, the court order provides that the payor spouse’s employer withholds the ordered amount from the payor’s paycheck and sends it directly to a court agency, which in turn sends it to the receipient of support. There are no strict rules or guidelines to determine exactly how much alimony is to be paid, which means that having an attorney who is a skilled and knowledgeable advocate can be critical to achieve a just level of support.
Modifications of Divorce Judgments
Issues pertaining to children such as custody, child support, child care costs, and division of responsibility for health care expenses are subject to change until the children reach adulthood. Child support and health care costs are paid until each child reaches the age of 18, or graduates from high school, whichever is later (but not beyond the age of 19 ½). If there has been a significant change in circumstances since the time of your divorce, including changes in incomes of the parties, you may be eligible to have the court re-visit these issues and order a change in the court order. Where the parties agree to a change in custody or parenting time, your attorney can help prepare a written order which the Judge will most often approve, so that attorney fees can be kept to a minimum.
Ms. Cohen assists with all appeals regarding divorce, child custody, parenting time, and spousal support issues.
Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreements
A pre-nuptial agreement is a written agreement made between persons who are engaged to be married whereby the parties agree in advance as to how some or all issues such as division of property or spousal support (alimony) will be resolved in the event that either party dies or the parties divorce. Such agreements must be prepared by an attorney who is experienced with the law governing such agreements to be sure that the agreement will be enforced by the Court. If you signed such an agreement and are divorcing, it is important that your lawyer be knowledgeable about such agreements since they may or may not be valid and binding. If you signed such an agreement after you were married (Post-Nuptial) agreement, it also may be considered valid or invalid depending on the circumstances and wording of the agreement.
Change of Domicile
In cases involving minor children, once a court action has been filed, parties wishing to move more than one hundred miles from their previous residence or out of state must obtain court permission or the permission of the other parent. Ms. Cohen handled one of the first appeals in Michigan which established the guidelines by which such decisions to permit or deny the move were announced. These guidelines have changed over time. Your attorney should be familiar with the law as to changes in domicile so that he or she can assist you if you wish to move far from your current residence, or if you wish to oppose the other parent’s attempt to do so. It is very important to seek legal counsel quickly if you suspect that the other parent has plans to move without your permission.
Parenting time, or visitation rights, is another issue that sometimes must be mediated between two parents. Ms. Cohen will help you in making arrangements for visitation and parenting time. If an agreement cannot be reach by both parties, a judge will come up with parenting time arrangements instead.
Domestic Partnership Agreements and Dissolutions
Ms. Cohen has performed services in negotiating break-ups, child custody and visitation, real estate and or personal property division and buy-outs between domestic partners.