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Don Rivard - Dearborn Lawyer Michigan
Dearborn Heights Attorney and Couselor Donald Rivard P.C.

Family Law

After thirty five years of handling divorces I try to negotiate the best outcome for my client. The entire system is designed to encourage the parties to resolve these issues among themselves. I can usually predict how a Judge would settle a particular issue and can advise my clients accordingly. Turning a divorce into a war is never in the clients’ best interests. In divorce law no one is punished or rewarded. I am a certified family mediator and have extensive experience in negotiating settlements.

Sometimes one side is unreasonable. In that case it will be necessary to actually go to trial. I have tried many custody and property cases and will do so again if necessary.

Here are some common questions I get asked:

My Spouse Wants a Divorce.
Does this mean I loose everything?

Divorce is the most traumatic event people go through other than serious illness.
Every Divorce is different. These are general statements.

There are three potential issues that must be resolved before a divorce becomes final:

Property: Michigan law only says that the Judge must make a fair and equitable division of all the marital assets. This does not require a fifty/fifty split, but it usually what happens. The key words are marital assets. This generally means all assets acquired during the course of the marriage. This means real estate, bank accounts, stock and investments and retirement benefits. No two divorces are the same. The lawyer’s job is to identify the assets, place a value on them and work out a division short of going to Court.

Spousal support in long term marriages (longer than ten years), the Court will consider spousal support. This is money one spouse pays to the other for the other’s support. The factors determining spousal support include: the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, the relative earning capacity of the parties, the education of each party and any other factor the Judge might find to be relevant. Spousal Support is not an automatic right, and there is no clear cut formula to determine it.

Child custody and support. This 0nly applies when there are minor children born as a result of the marriage. Support is determined by the State of Michigan’s Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines take into account each party’s income as well as the amount of overnights each child spends with each parent. In the event of a major custody battle, the Court must decide what is in the best interest of the child based on twelve factors spelled out in the Michigan Child Custody Act.

How long will it take for my divorce to become final?
A divorce is final when the parties or the Judge resolve all the issues above. The only rule is that a divorce without children cannot be entered sooner than sixty days from the date the divorce is filed. Divorces with minor children must wait at least six months.


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