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Are there ways to keep the cost of my case down?

There are ways to contain that cost of a divorce, including the following:

  1. Gather as much information as you can yourself and provide that to your attorney. This information includes without limitation recent tax returns, bank statements, appraisals (if any), real estate closing packages for property still owned, estate planning documents, SEV statements for real estate, car titles, deeds, W-2’s, credit card statements, retirement account statements, and the like.
  2. Consider the factors relating to custody, support, and property division when negotiating these issues and be realistic when you make or consider a settlement offer.
  3. Do not expect your attorney to be your therapist. If anger, grief, anxiety, or other emotion is interfering with your ability to participate in a custody action or divorce proceeding, consider getting some therapy where those issues can be addressed.
  4. Make your interaction with your attorney or members of the “team” meaningful and productive by setting up an agenda and staying on topic. Make a list of questions you have and send that to the attorney or team member prior to the meeting.
  5. Respond to requests for information timely, whether they are requests from an opposing party or attorney--or a request from your own attorney.
  6. Don’t “act out” by saying and doing things that will complicate your case or reflect poorly on you. In today’s world where “evidence” includes emails, texts, and pictures, it is likely that a judge will discover, see, or hear what you did.
  7. Don’t believe everything you hear. Some information is reliable and irrebuttable.  Other times, what may be presented as “information” is incorrect, only partially true, and/or outright gossip.  Try not to react to anything you hear without consulting your attorney first.
  8. Don’t rely too much on what happened in someone else’s case. First of all, their case is not your case.  Second, most of the time cases are resolved with a consent agreement.  As a result, many people who are unhappy with the outcome in their cases are actually people who agreed to that outcome.
  9. Don’t publicly disparage your spouse or the other parent. This will get back to him/her and just create resentment and possible retaliation.  It will not be appreciated by the evaluators in your case or the court.
  10. Don’t file for a PPO, call the police, or contact CPS without reason. If a court believes that you have filed a false report or are using the system for a tactical advantage, there could be major fall-out for you—especially if your call to the police did not result in a conviction, or CPS does not substantiate your complaint, or the court denies the petition for a PPO or later sets it aside.
  11. That said, don’t hesitate to call the police or CPS if you have a valid reason to do so.  Go to Safe House if you need shelter or counseling.  Get a PPO if you need one.  If there is some time to think this through, it would be advantageous for you to talk to your attorney or therapist before taking action.  Further, few people will fault you for leaving an uncomfortable or dangerous situation.

My spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend says I have an anger management problem. Will that hurt me?

Anger issues concern the court. If you have problems in your relationships (e.g., at work, at home, and with your family of origin), you may have an anger management problem. If you go to the website for Catholic Social Services in Washtenaw County you will find a tab at the top for “counseling,” and under that tab, you will find “alternatives for domestic aggression” (ADA).  Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County has a questionnaire on its site that will help you determine whether you would benefit from their ADA program.   You do not have to be Catholic to enroll in this program.

You probably have an anger management problem if that is something other people are talking to you about; if you have put a hole in a wall out of anger; if your driving is affected by your feelings about other drivers; if you throw things when you are mad; and if you tend to scream and swear when you are upset.

Will the court frown on me if it discovers that I am an alcoholic or drug addict?

The court will not frown on you if you have an addiction; however, if you are in denial or refuse to enter a recovery program, that could have serious consequences.  There is a list of resources on our website.

Will the court frown on me if it discovers that I am in therapy or have been in a psychiatric ward?

The court will frown on you more if you need mental health services and refuse to accept them. In today’s world, receiving therapy is commonplace.  See resources on our web site for a list of resources in the Ann Arbor area.    You can always ask your attorney or your primary care provider (i.e., doctor) for a list of therapists in the area.  If your insurance company requires you to go to someone on their list, then ask your attorney or doctor to review that list.

How do I get a PPO?

There are forms available through Michigan courts to petition for a PPO. You fill out the form and file it with the court. If the allegations are serious enough, the court will enter a PPO immediately and send a copy to the Sheriff’s Dept. so that the police will know the PPO is in effect. The person against whom you obtained the PPO has 14 days to contest it.

What is a PPO?

A PPO is a personal protection order that protects a person against domestic violence or stalking.

Can I put a tracking device on my spouse’s or boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s car?

The Michigan Legislature recently made this a felony.  There are some exceptions in the statute, and you should consult an attorney about this.

Can I have someone follow my spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend?

You cannot personally follow a person. That is stalking. A licensed private investigator, however, can keep someone under surveillance.

Can I tape record my spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend?

In Michigan, you can tape record any conversation in which you are participating without the other person’s knowledge or consent.