Klug Law Firm has been helping individuals in Lansing, Michigan and neighboring communities in the areas of divorce and family law. Our attorneys have handled a broad range of family law issues from a simple divorce, separation or marital settlement agreements, pre and post-nuptial agreements, property settlements, enforcement of post-divorce judgments to complex business valuations and complicated custody disputes. We have the skills and experience to find an efficient, and effective solution to our clients’ legal needs.
Under Michigan law, divorces are based on the no-fault ground of irreconcilable differences. The legal issues dealing with most divorces are property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support (alimony). We ensure that our clients are fully aware in regards to all of the legal issues specific to their case and will make sure that our clients rights are protected. When the facts and circumstances of a case provide for the need to, our attorneys will file motions for exclusive use of the marital home, motions to freeze assets (bank accounts), and personal protection orders.
The division of marital property can be one of the most important and complicated issues when a couple dissolves their marriage. Michigan is a jurisdiction which promotes an equitable distribution of property. This means that at a minimum, the distribution of property must be fair. Michigan distinguishes between property acquired before marriage and property acquired during the marriage and applies the doctrine of non-invasion of separate property. Separate property generally includes property acquired before marriage. Marital property generally includes property acquired during the marriage. There are exceptions to the doctrine of non-invasion of separate property, if the other party substantially contributed to its acquisition or appreciation, or in some circumstances where the division of property would be insufficient. The division of property will include the parties assets (real estate, automobiles, bank accounts, stocks, pensions, CDs, bonds, interest in businesses, personal belongings) as well as debt (mortgages, credit cards, consumer and personal loans, liens). Our attorneys will properly inform our client in regards to all considerations in the distribution of property, including tax consequences and the present and future value of an asset or liability to benefit its client.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) may be necessary in divorces where the marital assets include retirement plans, pension or other types of deferred compensation such as a 401(k), or stock options. A QDRO will ensure that your benefits are properly divided and distributed pursuant to the parties settlement agreement and/or judgment of divorce. Our attorneys are experienced in drafting QDROs and working with plan administrators to ensure enforcement of our clients QDRO.
During some marriages, one spouse, or both spouse may own or share in a business interest. When these facts arise, the business(es) may be characterized as marital property, and therefore, the business(es) must be properly valued in the parties marital assets. KLF has used several different approaches in determining the value of a business for its clients in divorce. Whether it be a fair market value, income or cost replacement approach to value, or obtain an expert to render an opinion as to value our attorneys will make sure that your interest is properly accounted for. Attorney, Thomas A. Klug has also been hired as an expert in business valuations in divorce and property division disputes. Every case is different, and our attorneys will properly assess the facts of your case to determine which approach is in your best interest.
In Michigan, there are two types of custody that must be addressed in every case, Legal, and Physical Custody.
Legal Custody gives the parents the right to make legal decisions regarding their child. Legal decision include: religion, health care, education and general welfare. Both parents can share legal custody of their child (joint legal custody) which allows both parents to make everyday decisions regarding their child in regards to: religion, health care, education and general welfare. Or, one parent can have sole legal custody and therefore, is the only parent who can make any decision regarding the child’s religion, health care, education and general welfare.
Physical Custody is where the child is going to reside. Parents can either be granted sole physical custody of the child, or joint (shared) physical custody. In awarding sole custody to a parent the Court must consider the established custodial environment of the child (MCL 722.27(1), and must also consider the best interest of the child (MCL 722.23) as well.
Courts encourage both parents to be involved in their child’s life and upbringing. KLF also believes that it is in the best interest of a child to have both parents actively involved in their child’s life. KLF is experienced in both Legal and Physical Custody of a child and will properly inform and help our clients in regards to Child Custody Disputes.
In Michigan, both parents are obligated to support their child. A parent who is awarded or has sole physical custody of a parties child can file a complaint in circuit court, in the county where they reside to enforce the parent whom the child is not residing to pay child support. The parent whom a child is not living in the same household with has a statutory duty to provide financial support for their child (The Family Support Act, Act 138 of 1966, MCL 552.451). In some circumstances, a parent who has joint physical custody will be may be required to pay child support to the other parent. In making this determination a Court considers the amount of income each parent receives, and the number of overnight visits the child spends with each parent. A Court can Order Child Support for a parent who has a child under the age of eighteen (18), and up to nineteen and a half (19 1/2) years old if the child is a full time high school student. KLF is experienced in Child Support issues and will fully advise our clients in regards to all of their rights.
Spousal Support (Alimony)
In Michigan, the standard for awarding spousal support is provided in Berger v. Berger, 277 Mich App 700, 726; 747 NW2d 336 (2008). “The object in awarding spousal support is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties so that neither will be impoverished; spousal support is to be based on what is just and reasonable under the circumstances of the case.” Id. at 726. Michigan also provides a statutory basis for spousal support (alimony) in circumstances where the property awarded to a party are not sufficient to support them. Even though Michigan is a no-fault divorce jurisdiction of irreconcilable differences, the fault of a party in the breakdown of the marriage is a relevant factor in determining the award of spousal support. In Michigan, the fourteen (14) factors Courts consider in awarding spousal support are:
- past relations and conduct of the parties;
- length of marriage;
- age of the parties;
- ability of the parties to work (earning ability);
- source and amount of property awarded to each party;
- ability to pay spousal support;
- present situation of each party;
- needs of each party;
- each parties’ health;
- prior standard of living of each party and whether either party is responsible for the support of the other party;
- contributions of each party to the joint estate;
- fault in causing the divorce;
- effect of cohabitation on a party’s financial status; and
- Michigan’s general principle of equity (fairness)
See Berger v. Berger, 277 Mich App 700, 726-727; 747 NW2d 336 (2008).
Our attorney’s are experienced and knowledgeable to properly inform our client’s in regards to their entitlement or exposure to spousal support.
In Lansing and central Michigan, contact the Klug Law Firm for quality, professional assistance in areas of family law.