Ann Arbor Divorce Lawyers

Washtenaw County Family Law Attorneys Handling Divorce, Child Custody and Grandparents' Rights

Experienced, attentive, knowledgeable and efficient: These are some common descriptors for our lawyers that pop up in conversations with former clients of Marrs & Terry, PLLC. Whatever your family's circumstances, you are encouraged to contact Marrs & Terry, PLLC, to schedule a consultation regarding any of the following family law matters:

  • Divorce: Divorce is an American institution, with half of all marriages ending in divorce. While your feelings of shame and regret are understandable, it is important to have a lawyer by your side to protect your financial interests and your parental rights. We have attorneys who have gone through divorce themselves and understand the emotional and interpersonal changes and challenges clients in the midst of divorce face. Our attorneys are prepared not only to advocate, but also to counsel our clients through high-stress situations.
  • Separate Maintenance/Annulment: At Marrs & Terry, PLLC, we respect the fact that many people have gray areas in human relationships that require targeted legal solutions such as separate maintenance agreements. Sometimes a client's religion or personal belief prevents him or her from seeking a divorce. Although "legal separation" is not authorized by statute in Michigan, a judgment of separate maintenance or a written separation agreement does exist and may be suitable. The purpose of a judgment of separate maintenance includes dividing property, awarding alimony or spousal support, and defining financial arrangements without the need of a divorce.
  • Child Custody: Parents may share physical or legal custody, or a child can reside with one parent and have visitation with the other. In establishing or modifying custody, judges must consider the following "best interest" factors and determine which party, if any, is favored:

(a) The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.

Examples of best interest factor (a) analyses by the court would be:

A. Who provides meal preparation?

B. To whom is the child bonded?

C. When a child has a problem, to whom does the child speak?

D. When a child has a triumph, to whom does the child speak?

E. Who spends more hours per day with the child?

F. States of the child indicative of bonding?

G. Ability to separate a child's needs from one's own and empathy with the child?

H. To whom does the child openly show signs of affection?

(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.

(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.

(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.

(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.

(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.

(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.

(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.

(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

  • Spousal Support: A financially dependent spouse may be entitled to spousal support under certain circumstances. It is a lawyer's job to present a compelling case for or against alimony. The older the recipient, the longer the marriage; the less able or likely the recipient is to support herself or himself due to lack of job skills, education, or job experience; the more likely spousal support is to be awarded. In most cases where one spouse is the wage earner and the other is the homemaker, the wage earner's standard of living is more likely to rise, while the homemaker's is more likely to be reduced. It is important to note that we live in a changing society with non-traditional familial dynamics where men have increasingly been eligible for spousal support.

Courts apply 11 factors in determining whether spousal support should be awarded and the amount of such an award. They are:

(1) the parties' past relations and conduct

(2) the length of the marriage

(3) the parties' ability to work

(4) the source and amount of property awarded to the parties

(5) the parties' ages

(6) the ability to pay spousal support

(7) the parties' present situation

(8) the parties' needs

(9) the parties' health

(10) the prior standard of living of the parties and whether the parties support others

(11) general principles of equity.

  • Child Support: Child support is a responsibility of any parent who is not the custodial parent of his or her minor children, whether the separated parents are divorced or were never married. All child support calculations, including temporary orders and requests for modification, must begin with application of the Michigan Child Support Formula. The Michigan formula is based on needs of the minor children and the resources of the parents. Courts must order support by application of the child support formula, but they may also enter a support order that deviates from the formula if application of the formula would be unjust or inappropriate. On September 1, 2008, the child support formula was updated. Our attorneys have the necessary computer software and resources to provide our clients with likely child support outcomes.
  • Prenuptial, Postnuptial and Separation Agreements: A prenuptial agreement is a method that many couples use to keep financial complications out of the marriage. A prenup is a legal remedy of choice for fiancés and fiancées who have children from previous marriages, who own businesses or who have widely divergent incomes and asset portfolios.
  • Juvenile Law: Our knowledgeable lawyers are also compassionate human beings who adeptly handle juvenile law matters including for minors. Sadly, much of the problems plaguing our youth today are problems that were influenced by their family environment. That is why our attorneys consider it an affirmative duty to forewarn clients of possible outcomes affected by their conduct in family law litigation. We seek to obtain clients from referrals, and we feel triumphant and gain much personal satisfaction when we hear a new client say, "you made such a positive difference in my friend's/family member's/co-worker's life that they insisted that I retain you as my attorney."
  • Grandparents' Rights: If you are having difficulty getting adequate grandparenting time with your grandchildren after your child's divorce or in any other circumstance, contact us to schedule a consultation. In 2004, the Michigan Legislature outlined the circumstances under which a grandparent could petition a court for grandparenting time. Under the amended statute, a grandparent may seek grandparenting time if:
  • (a) an action for divorce, separate maintenance, or annulment involving the child's parents is pending before the court;
  • (b) the child's parents are divorced, separated under a judgment of separate maintenance, or have had their marriage annulled;
  • (c) the child's parent who is a child of the grandparents is deceased;
  • (d) the child's parents have never been married, they are not residing in the same household, and paternity has been established;
  • (e) legal custody of the child has been given to a person other than the child's parent or the child is placed outside of and does not reside in the home of a parent; or
  • (f) in the year preceding the commencement of the action for grandparenting time, the grandparent provided an established custodial environment for the child, whether or not the grandparent had custody under a court order.

Our attorneys have extensive experience litigating and mediating grandparenting time issues. They help parties facilitate an arrangement that truly is in the best interests of the grandchild. In many cases, it is not that the parent feels that the grandparents would be harmful; rather, the parent just doesn't understand his or her own thoughts and feelings that hinder him or her from allowing his or her child to have a relationship with a "fit" grandparent who loves and adores his or her grandchild. Our attorneys are skilled at delving into the fears, concerns and other emotional baggage that might be preventing an otherwise loving family from having multiple-member family and grandparent involvement.

  • High-Asset Divorce: We are prepared to assist you with all aspects of property division in a high-asset divorce, including business valuation, QDROs and division of stocks, real estate holdings and more. We recognize in a high-asset divorce that it is in the best interests of our clients to reconcile the issue of property division with their spouse in a logical and fair manner. Our attorneys prefer and are prepared to facilitate disputes regarding what property is separate versus what property is marital. Ultimately, our attorneys are prepared to be aggressive with unreasonable requests or irrelevant allegations from opposing parties whose purpose is to wreak emotional havoc or financially drain the marital estate and arguably, the separate property of the more financially advantaged spouse. Conversely, when a more financially advantaged spouse is inappropriately using power or control tactics to tailor litigation in his or her favor, our team of attorneys will aggressively seek attorneys fees and request other financial support and reimbursements.
  • Estate Planning After Divorce: We can help you modify your estate plan after your divorce has been finalized.
  • Adoption: We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your private or agency adoption, including a stepparent adoption. There are different kinds of adoptions, which may be accomplished through either an agency placement involving the Department of Human Services (DHS) or a child placing agency or by a direct placement by the parent or guardian (subject to court approval). An agency or an attorney may facilitate an adoption. Our attorneys have firsthand experience with adoptions, and we are proud that members of the Marrs & Terry family have become adoptive parents themselves!
  • Modifications: Anything that causes a change in income and/or expenses of either ex-spouse or either parent with a child custody order may be grounds for a court order modification. Ask our lawyers how to demonstrate that you need to pay or receive more or less support because of job loss or economic stress, or that you need to have a different child custody arrangement. If you have minor children subject to a custody and parenting order, you may be requesting permission of the court to move more than 100 miles away for more advantageous job opportunities. Our attorneys are skilled in assisting in modifying parenting time, custody and support obligations.
  • Same-Sex Partnerships: Although Michigan does not allow for same-sex marriage, laws nationwide are headed in that direction. On November 2, 2004, Michigan voters approved Proposal 04-2, adding article 1, section 25 to Michigan's Constitution, which states:
  • To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose. See Const 1963 art 1, §25.
  • Michigan law provides that a same-sex couple may not adopt a child together in Michigan; however, one of the partners may adopt a child as a single person.
  • According to the 2000 U.S. Census, of the 5.5 million unmarried partner households, only 4.9 million of these were made up of heterosexual couples; nearly a million gays and lesbians identified themselves as members of same-sex couples; same-sex couples lived in 99.3 percent of all counties in the United States; there were 15,368 same-sex couples in Michigan.
  • If you and your lesbian, gay or transgender partner need a lawyer's assistance with a cohabitation agreement, a separation agreement, a child custody plan, a contract, adoption or a power of attorney, contact us. We craft creative and effective legal solutions for your family law problems.

Related Legal Issues — We Can Help

The family law attorneys of Marrs & Terry, PLLC, are available to advise you on other legal issues that may be affected by your marriage or divorce, including the following:

  • Probate law
  • Real estate law
  • Deed preparation and recording
  • Title opinions
  • Land contract preparation
  • Collection actions

Contact us today to learn more about our services. You can call us toll free at 866-665-8095 or e-mail us.