We Americans love lots of things. We love to fall in love, we love to get married, we “love” to get divorced, and we love to move. Almost all of us fall in love (at the very least with our pets), almost all of us get married, almost half of us who get married get divorced, and almost half of us born in one state end up living in another. When our country was formed none of this was true. Marriage was near universal, divorce was unheard of, and most people stayed put.
State rights, one of our nation’s founding principles, made sense back then. It makes far less sense today. But your state of residence determines all kinds of things. These include the penalties for crimes you commit, how much you pay in taxes, how much you can collect in welfare, what you can leave your children when you die, where you can buy beer, whether you can smoke pot, whether you can readily get an abortion, and the list goes on.
One of the biggest issues some married couples face when they move across state lines is how they will fare if they get divorced. (And, again, almost half will untie the knot.) The answer may be far better or far worse depending on the state and even the county in which you reside. I say “may,” because if you reach an amicable settlement, that settlement may be legally approved no matter where you live. But if you have a contested divorce and end up leaving it up to a judge, she’ll likely apply state or county guidelines that can be very different depending on the state or country. Indeed, since only a few states and counties in the country have formal guidelines, the guidelines are mostly those set by the local judge. These judges are, of course, influenced primarily by what other judges in their locality and state are doing.
Why ‘brutal’ divorce laws must change in White LakeChecklist: Issues To Discuss With Your Divorce Attorney Download article as a PDF Divorce is complicated - legally, financially, and emotionally. Dividing up property a couple has acquired throughout their marriage (also known as marital property) can be one of the most contentious aspects of divorce. Luckily, divorce attorneys can help alleviate some of your legal and financial stresses by advocating for a division of property that works in your favor. If you have decided to retain a divorce attorney, you can help save your attorney time (and save yourself some money) by gathering important legal and financial documents together before meeting with your attorney. Doing this ahead of time gives your attorney an immediate and useful overview of the property and assets likely to be at issue in your case. Most importantly, it allows the two of you to work together to secure your short and long-term interests. The checklists below can give you and idea of what topics and documents come up in discussions with a divorce attorney. Be Prepared to Discuss Issues Relating to Children ____ Child support ____ Child custody, legal ____ Child custody, physical ____ Visitation with non-custodial parent ____ Grandparent visitation ____ Visitation with stepchildren ____ Health insurance for children ____ Dental insurance for children ____ Uninsured health care costs ____ College education ____ Residence in the marital homestead ____ Beneficiaries of life insurance policies ____ Claiming children as dependents for income tax purposes ____ Religious upbringing of children Property Issues ____ Equity in homestead ____ Other real property ____ Home furnishings ____ Business assets ____ Professional practices ____ Professional degrees ____ Retirement benefits (pensions, IRAs, 401(k) plans) ____ Motor vehicles ____ Recreational vehicles ____ Personal property ____ Savings accounts ____ Stocks, bonds, and funds ____ Compensation for contributions as homemaker ____ Hidden assets ____ Debts Spousal Support Issues ____ Entitlement to support ____ How much? ____ How long? ____ Continued health care coverage through COBRA Other Issues ____ Domestic violence ____ Order for protection ____ Child abuse ____ Parental kidnapping ____ Restoration of maiden name ____ Post-divorce nonfinancial support ____ Attorney's fees and expenses Documents to Have Ready ____ Individual and business income tax returns for the past three to five years (federal, state, and local); ____ Proof of your current income; ____ Proof of your spouse's current income; ____ Prenuptial agreement; ____ Separation agreement; ____ Bank statements; ____ Certificates of deposit; ____ Pension statements; ____ Retirement account statements; ____ Trusts; ____ Stock portfolios; ____ Stock options; ____ Mortgages; ____ Property tax statements; ____ Credit card statements; ____ Loan documents; ____ Utility bills; ____ Other bills (e.g. school tuition, unreimbursed medical bills, music lessons for children, etc.); ____ Monthly budget worksheet; ____ Completed financial statements; ____ Employment contracts; ____ Benefits statements; ____ Life insurance policies; ____ Health insurance policies; ____ Homeowner's insurance policies; ____ Automobile insurance policies; ____ Personal property appraisals; ____ Real property appraisals; ____ List of personal property (including home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, computers, home office equipment, clothing and furs, etc.); ____ List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriage; ____ List of property acquired by each spouse individually by gift or inheritance during the marriage; ____ List of contents of safety deposit boxes; ____ Wills; ____ Living wills; ____ Powers of attorney; ____ Durable powers of attorney; and ____ Advance health care directives. As you can see, the above list extensive -- yet, it is not exhaustive. Every divorce is different since every couple enters and leaves a marriage under different circumstances and with different assets. Therefore, to ensure no property is overlooked, it is always a good idea to have an open and frank conversation with your attorney regarding all of the property and assets relevant to your case. More Information For more information on marital property division, free to check out FindLaw's section on divorce and property. If you have more general questions, you may want to check out FindLaw's divorce section. Finally, if you do not yet have one, consider retaining a local divorce attorney. Request a Free Case Review with a Divorce Attorney The legal issues involved in a divorce are numerous and complex. Finding a trustworthy and competent attorney is key. You must also muster the diligence and courage to collect and to share all your private financial information with your divorce attorney. A great place to start is to immediately see an experienced divorce attorney for a free initial case evaluation to begin the process.
Should You Fire Your Divorce Attorney?Operating while intoxicated is a common offense in Michigan, but many people do not know their rights during a traffic stop. As a result, they wind up facing charges that they may have avoided, or they give the prosecuting authority evidence to use against them. Common mistakes during a traffic stop include: Giving the officer permission to search the vehicle; Providing too much information; And consenting to field sobriety tests. Michigan is an implied consent state, which means that drivers automatically consent to a chemical sobriety test. As a result, you will face penalties for refusing a breathalyzer test: One year license suspension for the first offense Two year license suspension for the second offense Five year license suspension for the third offense However, you can refuse to take a field sobriety test without penalty. Although this may make the officer suspicious, it could reduce the amount of incriminating evidence the prosecuting authority has against you. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, the breathalyzer results may be inadmissible, but if you fail a standardized field sobriety test, the prosecuting authority can still use that against you. If you are facing OWI charges in Michigan A Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer with a reputation for winning cases can structure your defense and explain the potential outcomes of your case. Read on to learn more about the three standardized field sobriety tests: Standardized Field Sobriety Tests As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explains, there are three standardized field sobriety tests: The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test; The Walk and Turn Test; And the One Leg Stand Test. During the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test, the officer will see if the eye jerks at peripheral angles. Nystagmus is often exaggerated in people who are intoxicated. The officer who conducts the HGNT will look for three signs of impairment: Angle of jerking is not within 45 degrees; Suspect shows distinct jerking of the eyes; And the eye cannot follow a moving object. The One Leg Stand Test evaluates the suspect’s balance and coordination. You will stand on one leg with the opposite foot 6 inches above the ground. You will then have to count aloud until the officer asks you to lower the leg. The Walk and Turn Test also evaluates coordination. The suspect has to take nine steps heel-to-toe in a straight line, turn, and do the same in the opposite direction. According to the American Automobile Association, officers who conduct this test look for: Signs of imbalance; Ability to follow instructions; Ability to touch the heel to the toe; And the ability to walk in a straight line. If you are facing OWI charges in Michigan, there may be several defenses that apply to your case. For example, if the stop was unlawful, certain evidence – such as the breathalyzer results and the results of your field sobriety tests – may be inadmissible in court. A Grand Rapids criminal law attorney from Gordon & Hess, PLC can represent your interests.