Frequently Asked Questions

What does a divorce cost?

It depends! Divorces can run smoothly or be challenging, depending on the issues, opposing counsel and if both spouses are in agreement (or not). Pre-existing acrimony impacts the amount of time it takes to work out details and find resolution. Many factors play into how much your divorce will cost. Remember: vendettas cost a lot of money.

How long does a divorce take?

The state of Michigan requires statutory waiting periods for a divorce to complete – 6 months when children are involved; without children, a minimum of 60 days. The unique facts and circumstances of your situation can extend the time needed to achieve resolution.

Can my child decide where to live?

Your child may express that he or she wishes to live with one parent. Many people believe that when a child reaches a certain age, he or she can decide where to live. Not true. While a child’s desires may be taken into account, it is only one of 11 “best interest factors” the court considers when determining the division of parenting time. The Judge considers all 11 factors to develop a full picture of the family in question, when making a custody determination or considering a request to change custody. The child’s age and maturity affect the weight the judge may give to the child’s stated preference. Alisa Peskin-Shepherd does not  believe in putting a child on the stand, but judges will talk with a child privately, if a party requests it.

Am I entitled to spousal support?

Whether you are entitled to spousal support or not depends on the facts and circumstances of your case. Guiding factors include: length of marriage, educational background, age of parties, ability to work, lifestyle and health. It’s important to look at each case individually.

What should I expect when hiring a divorce attorney?

It’s smart to interview several attorneys to find the one whose personality and legal approach mesh with your style and needs. (Lawyers aren’t just problem-solvers; clients turn to us for support and guidance, too.) Once you choose an attorney, you will sign a retainer agreement, outlining the obligations of both client and attorney. It’s common to pay a certain amount up front, toward your retainer, and provide a method of payment for future billings. Attorneys send detailed monthly invoices. Retainers are based on estimates of first-phase costs; actual costs incurred are detailed on every invoice. If you do not use the full amount you put forward at the start, you will receive the remainder back. If you reconcile, any remaining retainer will be fully refunded to you. Alisa Peskin-Shepherd provides FREE first consultations!

Can I resolve my divorce without going to court?

Yes, with facilitative mediation and a collaborative divorce process, there are ways to dissolve a marriage without going to court. In some ways, though, the court will be involved – these alternative processes still require the filing of a formal complaint and statutory requirements apply, because ultimately a judge in court grants the divorce, legally dissolving a marriage.

What are my rights?

Remember that you do have rights (some people let guilt get the better of them or have been threatened by an angry spouse that they have no rights). Emotions can run high in a divorce. Each party has the right to representation, to speak, to have a say in his or her future. In every divorce, both parties have financial and property rights and the right to what accumulated during the marriage. Both spouses have the right to parent their children. Your rights are extensive; don’t sell yourself short.

Will you fight for me?

Of course! I will do everything in my legal power to protect you and your interests. We’ll begin by getting to know one another and the case before us. Our work focuses on expressing your values, which we’ll use to guide and shape our strategy toward resolution.

What is the mediative approach?

In mediative divorce, we try to anticipate issues with a desire to resolve as much as possible without going to court. We know we won’t get everything we want, and we maintain an attitude of constructive compromise.

In order for mediative divorce to work, both parties – and both lawyers – must be willing to listen. All parties must be willing to talk. It’s optimal to begin a divorce case with a four-way meeting involving the parties and their attorneys, to set the tone and perspective of the case. A mediative approach keeps things more private. (There’s no airing dirty laundry in the courtroom to become public record. Also, when people have animosity and resentment, they talk more with family and friends, spreading ugliness through the community. That has a long-term negative effect for all parties.)