Divorce and Family Lawyers in Lansing and Okemos, MI

Serving: Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties (Lansing – East Lansing – Okemos – Williamston – Holt – Mason – DeWitt – St. Johns – Grand Ledge – Charlotte)

Marriage is a life, and divorce is a death. Regardless of the reasons for a divorce, each party goes through a grieving process. Divorce is among the top 5 stressors that anyone can experience. Part of my job as a Lansing divorce lawyer is to help people through this process.

There are 5 primary issues involved in a divorce where there are minor children: Custody, Parenting Time, Child Support, Spousal Support, and Property Division.


There are two types of custody: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody has to do with who has a right to participate in making important decisions in the children’s lives such as education, religion, and medical decisions. In most cases, the parties share joint legal custody; however, in some cases only one party will have legal custody. Physical custody has more to do with who is the primary care giver. We usually recommend that we determine an appropriate parenting time schedule first, then put a name to it based upon the schedule. As a rule of thumb, if a party has more than 1/3 of the overnights, then that party would have primary physical custody. If each party has at least 1/3 of the overnights, then the parties would share joint physical custody. There may be important ramifications along with the designation of
joint or primary custody.

Child Support

Child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula. We use the same computer program as the Friend of the Court. We enter the income of both parties and the number of overnights for each party along with some other information, and the program calculates the amount. Although there is a presumption that the calculated amount is accurate; there may be reasons to deviate from the Formula amount.

Spousal Support

Michigan is an alimony state, but that does not mean alimony is granted in every case, or even in most cases. Michigan statutes and court decisions provide specific criteria to determine whether alimony is appropriate, and, if so, both the amount and the duration of time it should be paid.

Property Division

The basic concept is that each party should receive 50% of the net worth of the marital estate. The marital estate is a combination of the assets and liabilities accrued during the course of the marriage, which includes real estate, pensions, 401k’s, IRA’s, investment accounts, contracts, credit card debt, loans, etc. It does not matter whose name the property is in. With some limited exceptions, if the property was accrued during the marriage, it is subject to being divided.

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    A divorce begins when one party files a Complaint for Divorce. The other party must be served, and file an Answer. If there are minor children, then the issues of custody, parenting time, and child support are referred to the Friend of the Court, which will schedule a Facilitative and Information Gathering Conference with the parents. The purpose of the Facilitative and Information Gathering Conference is to discuss a possible resolution of these issues with the parties. If the parties come to an agreement, then the Friend of the Court will prepare, and have the parties sign a Stipulated Order, which will become a temporary order of the Court. If the parties are unable to agree, then the Facilitative and Information Gathering Conference will submit a proposed order to the Court, which will be entered and remain in effect unless and until it is changed. If either party files an objection to the Friend of the Court Order, then the issues are referred to a Referee for a hearing. This is a more formal process with testimony being taken and a recording made of the proceedings. After the hearing, the Referee will submit a proposed order to the Court, which will be entered unless either party files a timely objection. If neither party objects, then the proposed order will be entered. If either party objects, then the issues will be resolved by a hearing or trial before the judge. During the process of divorce, efforts will be made to identify and distinguish the martial property from separate property. If a property settlement is reached, then the Lansing divorce attorneys prepare the appropriate paperwork. If a property settlement is not reached, then the Court often requires that the parties participate in mediation. If mediation is successful, the attorneys prepare the appropriate paperwork. If mediation is not successful, then the case will go to non-jury trial before the Judge.

    It takes two parties to agree, but only one to fight. While I believe that most divorce cases should be resolved before trial, and I am an effective mediator, it is sometimes necessary to go to trial, and I am an aggressive litigator. I understand that my clients trust me with their lives, and I earn that trust.

    Divorc in Lansing is considered one of the top 5 most traumatic events that can happen to a person during his or her lifetime. If you or your spouse are considering a divorce, it is important that you seek legal counsel to be sure you know and protect your rights.

    If your spouse has filed for divorce you should retain a divorce attorney in Lansing immediately. The issues in a divorce often include:

    • Custody
    • Parenting Time
    • Child Support
    • Spousal Support
    • Property Division

    Other issues which may also arise include:

    • Who pays for interim expenses such as mortgage, utilities, food, insurance, and debt
    • Who moves from the marital residence
    • Finding hidden assets
    • Stalking and domestic violence (Personal Protection Orders)
    • Moving more than 100 miles or out of state with the children.

    While it is often possible to settle a divorce in an amicable manner, it is essential that you have a Lansing family law attorney to represent you and protect your interests. Should you have any questions, call me at 517.487.6603 or e mail me at [email protected].

    Click HERE to contact Stuart R. Shafer.

    Divorce can be a lengthy and arduous process. Even when couples decide to sever ties amicably, emotions still run high and either party can become bitter at any moment. Anyone seeking to file for divorce or legal separation would benefit from hiring a top divorce lawyer to ensure that the case runs quickly and smoothly. If you are in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties (Lansing – East Lansing – Okemos – Williamston – Holt – Mason – DeWitt – St. Johns – Grand Ledge – Charlotte), and have considered filing for divorce, turn to the Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer right away to discuss your options and file a case.

    The Law Office of Stuart R. Shafer has represented countless couples in Michigan who have sought to part ways. Stuart R. Shafer has over 45 years of successful experience in handling cases pertaining to divorce and legal separation and takes the entire family’s needs into account when offering legal counsel. As a leading family lawyer in Michigan, Mr. Shafer will assist you with all matters related to your split to ensure the prompt and positive resolution of your case. He makes all of his clients a top priority and ensures that you obtain your rightful share of benefits.

    At the Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer, we understand that a divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through. For this reason, Mr. Shafer always makes himself available to offer both exceptional legal advice as well as personal support. Even divorces that come about by mutual decision can become nasty very quickly. Acclaimed divorce attorney Stuart R. Shafer will act as a liaison between you and your spouse to make sure the peace is maintained and that things run as smoothly as possible. Turn to the law offices of Stuart R. Shafer today if you are in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties (Lansing – East Lansing – Okemos – Williamston – Holt – Mason – DeWitt – St. Johns – Grand Ledge – Charlotte) areas to ensure that your property, assets and debt are divided accordingly and to make sure that any other matters regarding the marriage are resolved.

    As difficult as undergoing a divorce can be, they are made even more complicated if the couple has children. Stuart R. Shafer has extensive experience as a leading Lansing child custody lawyer and child support attorney and will make sure the needs of your children are always taken care of. A divorce can be rougher on the children than it can be on the adults, so it is always important to keep their interests in mind when making any decisions regarding the split. Mr. Shafer will sit down with you and your spouse to discuss the best solution regarding your children’s living arrangements and other matters such as school or activities so they will not have to undergo any significant or difficult changes.

    Another difficult area to deal with when filing for divorce is alimony (spousal support). Even when a pre – or post-nuptial agreement is drafted, there are times when certain clauses permit your spouse to obtain a share of your assets unfairly. With esteemed Lansing alimony lawyer Stuart R. Shafer working on your case, however, you can rest assured that you will not be taken advantage of and your alimony payments, if any, will be fair.

    To ensure the best possible resolution for your divorce case, turn to the Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer today to discuss your options and get started right away. Call 517.487.6603 today for a free telephone consultation with renowned Michigan divorce attorney Stuart. R. Shafer.

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