The Family Law Leader

Blog

Welcome to my blog!

On this page I will share thoughts and answer frequently asked questions about family law. Have a question? Feel free to submit it by email and I will attempt to answer it in a blog post.

As you make you way through the divorce process, you will have many questions along the way. I am confident that I have the answers to your questions or at least the resources to find them. I would be happy to talk with you about your situation and answer any questions you may have. Call my Holland, Michigan office today to arrange a consultation. I handle cases in the West Michigan counties of Ottawa, Allegan, Muskegon and Kent.

Q: During my 20 year marriage, I inherited about $20,000 when my grandfather passed away. I have had this invested in a brokerage account in my name for about 10 years and it has more than doubled in value. Now my husband says he is entitled to half of that if we divorce. Is that true?

A: In most cases, assets inherited by one party during the marriage will be deemed separate property, not subject to division in the divorce. However, under certain circumstan…

Q: My wife and I have been married for 10 years and have accumulated an embarrassing amount of credit card debt. Between the two of us, we earn around $90,000. Our credit card debt is over $50,000. Most of this is in my name, although my wife is the one who has done most of my spending. Can the judgment of divorce require her to pay some of this?

A: The most important thing to remember about credit card debt in the context of divorce is that, no matter what the judgment of divorce says, the person who is contractually…

Q: My attorney tells me we have a settlement conference coming up in my divorce case. We already went to mediation, but were not successful in settling the case. What is the settlement conference all about?

A: The settlement conference is generally your last formal opportunity to settle your case. At the settlement conference, the parties and their attorneys meet at the courthous…

Q: I would like to mediate my case rather than going through the court system. Is this a possibility?

A:  Yes and no. First, you should know that in nearly all counties in Michigan, the courts are referring domestic matters to mediation.  In most cases, the court issues a no…

Q: I am involved in a custody case. My children's therapist says that he will testify regarding the best interest of my children. However, I cannot afford to have him appear live at the courthouse. Can I simply submit a letter from him to the judge regarding his opinions in my case?

A: I have had lots of clients ask this question. The short answer is, probably not. The only time this would work is if the other party’s attorney agrees to stipulate to…

Q: What is the difference between sole legal custody and joint legal custody?

A: Every custody order contains language determining the legal and physical custody arrangements for a child.  With joint legal custody, the parents are charged with the resp…

Q: I am in the middle of a divorce. A couple of days ago, my attorney sent me an email with an extremely long document attached, entitled interrogatories and request for production of documents. Do I really have to answer all of these questions? They seem very invasive, and my spouse already has all of this information. What is going on?

A: Interrogatories and requests for production of documents are part of what is known in the legal world as discovery.  They are commonly utilized in all types of litigation,…

Q: My daughter is 14 years old and I have been divorced from her father for several years. When she was young, she enjoyed spending time with her father but now, for a number of reasons, she no longer wants to visit with him on weekends as she has previously done. People have told me that, now that she is a teenager, the court will let her decide where she goes. Is this true?

A:  While the child’s reasonable preference is one of many factors the court takes into consideration when determining custody and parenting time, it is the court and t…

Q: I went to court recently and we had a settlement conference. At that meeting, we agreed on a settlement. My lawyer put the settlement on the record, and I agreed to it. When I got home, I felt sick. I felt like the process was extremely rushed and that I was under pressure. Can I back out of the settlement?

A:  Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to back out of a settlement once it has been placed on the record in open court. Unless you can prove that the other party someho…

Q: Some lawyers appear to offer free consultations, while others do not. Is it worthwhile to seek a free consultation with a lawyer?

A: Many lawyers do offer an opportunity to meet briefly at no charge. If a free consultation is offered, by all means take advantage of it.  The primary purpose of such a mee…

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