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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 29803
Experience:  Attorney with experience in family law.
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My husband and I may be divorcing. I have been a stay at mom

Customer Question

My husband and I may be divorcing. I have been a stay at mom for almost 13 years. Do I hurt myself in a divorce if we do a legal separation before we file for divorce? What are my rights as a stay at home parent?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

The term "legal separation" refers to a very specific court procedure that does not exist in Michigan. Spouses are separated as soon as they live separate and apart with no intention of reconciling. Creating a separation agreement before filing for divorce does not in any way harm the parties, as long as you agree to everything in that document. The judge will uphold what you agree to. So, if you agree to accept less spousal support or less child support than what you're entitled to, that could backfire. It may help to have a local attorney read the agreement before you sign, especially if your husband has a lawyer. And you should know that one lawyer cannot ethically represent both of you. If he has a lawyer write the agreement or purporting to help you understand it, get your own lawyer. You'll be able to ask that your husband pay your legal fees.

You're entitled to approximately half of all assets acquired during the marriage, which includes any money your husband put into a 401(k) or other retirement accounts, expensive furniture, jewelry (other than gifts), cars, a house - everything. It doesn't matter whose name is ***** ***** asset or who paid for it, as long as it was acquired during the marriage. Spousal support is need-based. For a marriage of 12 years, your husband will likely be required to continue supporting you for about 6 years, or half the duration of the marriage, unless you remarry first. What he has to pay will depend on how much you need to meet your expenses versus how much he can afford to pay, after considering child support (since that money can cover some expenses like utilities or housing that you and the children both use). To get permanent support, you'd have to be able to establish that he agreed to support you forever in the event that the marriage didn't work out, which requires something in writing. Also, if you want to be able to continue support until the youngest child turns 18, you'll have to establish that this was the agreement the two of you had. If you need additional education or training to regain the workforce, you can ask the judge to order him to help you pay for those expenses.

Child support is based on several factors. This site will help you determine how much your husband will likely be required to pay, based on the specific facts of your case.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My husband and I will be married for 20 years in August. Will he have to pay me spousal support longer than 6 years? I've also read that fault of the divorce plays into the factor regarding spousal support as well. So in other words if I'm at fault it could affect the amount I get and whether I get any at all. Is this true? What are the odds that I will get primary or sole custody of our 14 and 12 year old?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Spousal support is usually about half the length of the marriage. So if the total marriage was 20 years, then you'll likely get support for about 10 years. Lifetime alimony is becoming more and more disfavored and usually is only ordered now when one spouse is incapable of working AND the marriage was very long-term.

Michigan is a no-fault state. It doesn't matter who caused the marriage to end. The only reason fault would come into play is if the marriage ended because you committed adultery. In that case, you probably would not get spousal support at all.

Since you've been the primary caregiver for the children for the last 13 years, the odds that you'd retain primary custody are very high. There would have to be a VERY good reason not to give you custody - which usually means drug or alcohol addiction or a violent criminal history.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What if my husband committed adultery? Would be a bigger factor in spousal support?
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

You could argue for more than what would otherwise be needed due to his adultery, but where it really comes into play is if he tries to say you don't need any support. You could point out that he cheated on you knowing that you had no job and no income and therefore he should have to pay support.

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