Frequently Asked Questions

What does a divorce cost?

It depends! Divorces can run smoothly or be challenging, dependent upon the issues, opposing counsel and if both spouses are in agreement (or not). Plus, any pre-existing acrimony impacts the amount of time it will take 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?

There are statutory waiting periods mandated by the state of Michigan (6-months when children are involved in a divorce; and without children, the state requires a minimum 60-day waiting period), and then there are the unique facts and circumstances of your situation. Similar to answering the question “what does a divorce cost?”, how long your case takes may depend on the issues, opposing counsel and where each spouse is emotionally within his or her own acceptance of divorce.

Can my child decide where to live?

Your child may express that he or she wishes to live with one parent but not the other. Many people think that when a child reaches a certain age, he or she can decide where to live. Not true. Your child’s desires may be taken into account – but it is only one of 11 “best interest factors” the court will consider in determining the division of parenting time. All 11 factors must be considered by the Judge when making a custody determination or considering a request to change custody. The child’s age and maturity will affect the weight the judge may give to the child’s stated preference. I don’t believe in putting a child on the stand, but our judges will talk with a child in camera, i.e., in private, if requested by a party. There are specific parameters surrounding the judge’s conversation with the child. If a child is stating a preference, there may be a reason. It’s best if the parties can address the issue privately, though, rather than bringing it to court.

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 that are considered include: length of marriage, educational background, age of parties, ability to work, ability to pay, lifestyle and health. We must look at each case individually.

What should I expect when hiring a divorce attorney?

It’s smart to interview several divorce attorneys to find the one whose personality and legal approach mesh with your legal and emotional needs. (Lawyers aren’t always just problem-solvers; our clients turn to us for support and guidance, too.) Once you choose an attorney, you will sign a retainer agreement, which outlines the obligations of both the client and the attorney. You will likely pay a certain amount up front, to go toward your retainer, and provide a method of payment for future billings. Your attorney will send you detailed monthly invoices. Retainers are based on estimates of first-phase costs; actual costs incurred will be 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 outside the legal system. In some ways, though, the court will be involved – with these two alternative processes we must still file a formal complaint and meet statutory requirements because ultimately it is the judge in court who will grant the divorce legally dissolving your marriage.

What are my rights?

First, remember that you do have rights (some people let guilt get the better of them or have been told or threatened by an angry spouse that you have no rights or I will take you for everything). Emotions can run high in a divorce.You have the right to be represented, to be heard, to have a say in your future. In every divorce, both parties have financial and property rights and the right to what accumulated during your 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 together will begin by expressing your values and we’ll use those values to guide recommendations and shape our strategy toward resolution.

What is the mediative approach?

In mediative divorce, we maintain an approach of trying to anticipate issues with a desire to resolve as much as possible without going to court. We accept that 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. And, all involved must be willing to talk. It’s optimal to begin a divorce case with a four-way meeting involving both parties and their attorneys, to determine the tone and perspective of the case. If the client expresses in the beginning that they want to work things out with their spouse and make sure both sides are treated fairly, I’m there to guide my clients, and we’ll be in it together all the way. If you take this mediative approach, you can keep things more private. (There’s no dirty laundry in the courtroom to become public record. Also, when people have a lot more animosity and resentment, they talk more with their family and friends and it spreads through the community. That has a long-term negative effect for the parties involved.)