Ten Things You Should Ask Your Divorce Attorney
The first time you contact a divorce attorney may feel overwhelming and somewhat intimidating not knowing what to expect or ask. It’s difficult to know where to start, and you may not be emotionally prepared to start a process that ends your marriage. So it’s expected that you might not know exactly what to ask during the first meeting with a divorce attorney. At ADAM part of our job is to help put you at ease with the divorce process, and to give you the information you need to help make sense of all of this.
Here are a few questions you should ask when speaking to an attorney:
Can I do this without an attorney?
Although it may be possible in some circumstances, a divorce is a lawsuit, and it is best handled by an attorney. When you consider handling your own divorce case, you are held to the standard of a licensed attorney who knows the law and how to proceed at every step of the process. It is also a disadvantage to follow the lead of your wife’s attorney no matter what the two of you have agreed on before filing.
A divorce case is much more than just paperwork and forms, and a divorce with children even more so. It involves understanding the process, knowing the law and how it applies to your situation, being prepared to handle court hearings and knowing how to keep your case moving forward.
All too often we meet with men who did not hire an attorney, or “just used their wife’s attorney,” and are now stuck with an agreement they did not understand and treats them very unfairly.
Why should I choose a family law attorney? Can’t any attorney do this?
Any attorney can represent you in court but Michigan family law is very complex, and it takes a considerable amount of time and experience to master all of the nuances. When an attorney practices only family law, they will be familiar with the intricacies more so than the attorney whose practice involves only a small percentage of cases in the family law court system.
There won't be any guesswork on our part when it comes to the many different issues and situations you might face in your divorce matter. ADAM attorneys have garnered skill and know-how by limiting our practice to representing men in family law specifically. We can help you through your divorce, and answer any questions you may have.
What is this going to cost me?
The cost of a divorce varies based on the attorney’s involvement and the intricacy of the case. An initial retainer is money paid up front to hire a lawyer to begin working on the case. For us to give you an educated guess as to the amount needed for a retainer and what the total expense might be, we would first need to meet with you for an in depth case evaluation.
Protecting your rights in a division of property, assets, and time with your children is vital. Representing yourself may save you money up front but it could cost you big in the end. Many of our past clients who tried this first have learned there are many complexities in family law that, if not handled correctly, can be very costly to fix. The attorneys at ADAM are uniquely qualified to handle your divorce, given our experience and expertise, which can help keep the total cost down.
Will I have to pay spousal support?
Spousal support is based on twelve different factors under Michigan law including your wife’s age, health, income and education. It is also based on your income, your ability to pay spousal support and the duration of the marriage. The first step in a spousal support analysis, however, is to look at child support if you have minor children. Under Michigan law, child support must be calculated first before spousal support can even be considered.
There is a software program that was developed to help calculate spousal support, but it is a guideline not a law. All cases are different so the details and child support numbers, if there are minor children, are important. An ADAM attorney familiar with this area of law and the county where you reside can give you a sense of what spousal support might look like for your particular divorce matter in a in-depth case evaluation appointment.
How does my wife’s behavior/fault in causing our divorce work in my favor?
Michigan is a no-fault divorce state; therefore, there will be no determination about who caused the marriage to fail. However, fault may be considered in division of property and in determination of spousal support. Your wife’s behavior can also affect custody and parenting time issues.
My friend told me that I'm going to lose half of everything I own. Is that true?
All cases are different and can lead to different outcomes. Don't think that what happened to a friend is going to happen to you also. It's important you work with a highly qualified team of divorce attorneys to get the best representation available. In general, if you have been married a long time, you can expect to be dividing your assets equally with your wife, but there are exceptions to that rule. There also is the right way and wrong way to look at the division of assets and debts in your particular divorce situation.
Don’t men always get a raw deal with divorces?
No. A well-represented man in family court will have all the same advantages as his wife. The court doesn't have special laws for men or women, but a skilled divorce attorney can make all the difference in the world. Every time you go to court an ADAM attorney will be making sure you are treated fairly throughout the process.
Will I lose custody of my children?
There is a right way and a wrong way to handle custody and parenting time disputes in a divorce case. Our ADAM attorneys will guide you from the very beginning stages of a divorce with children, resulting in a reasonable parenting time schedule. Not every case is appropriate for shared custody, but there are definite strategies we use to protect your rights when it comes to custody and parenting time. You should expect that a divorce can be finalized and allow you to keep a meaningful relationship with your children.
Will I have to sell my house?
You should not have to sell your house in a divorce. Typically there are three different options for negotiating a settlement on the marital home in a divorce. You can keep the house, your wife can keep it, or you can sell it and divide the proceeds from the sale of the house equally. What will make sense depends on your particular situation.
There are other factors as well, such as whether you owned the house prior to the marriage, or whether you inherited the house or invested either inherited or separate funds into the house. ADAM attorneys are trained to analyze this and outline what this will all look like in your divorce settlement. We will give you advice and a strategy early on to help you make informed decisions about your house and other assets in your divorce case.
What can you do for me that other lawyers cannot do?
We have spent the last 30 years advocating for men’s rights in divorce and will look out for your best interests. There are many other attorneys who add family law to their practice, but ADAM is one of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and trusted groups of family-law attorneys in Michigan.
You will receive diligent and reliable representation from an experienced and accessible attorney, backed by a firm and helpful administrative support staff. We handle all the paperwork, court processes, and other legal procedures for you and with you. As a client of ADAM, we will make sure that you are treated fairly and are guided through every step of the divorce process. The more aware you are, the easier it is to make informed decisions and reach a favorable outcome.
About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)
The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post-judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.