Divorce is hard for everyone, whether you’re the person who filed or the person who was served with divorce papers. It’s hard whether the need for divorce has been brewing for a long time, or has arisen suddenly. And it’s hard whether you’re a man or a woman.
However, divorce is often difficult in different ways depending on your gender. Even if the reason for the divorce is something you and your spouse have chosen to keep private, if you’re a man, you may find that people outside the marriage are likely to assume that you are primarily to blame for the divorce, while your spouse receives more support and sympathy.
In addition, men and women deal with the stresses of divorce differently. The loss of a marriage is a source of grief no matter who you are. In our society, men are conditioned to try to appear strong, even when they need and deserve support. A good divorce attorney knows how to help male clients seek out and find the help they need, while protecting their legal rights.
Issues Men Face in Divorce
Like it or not, there are gender biases in divorce, and a good attorney does his client no favors by ignoring them. Things have improved a lot in recent years, but some areas of unfairness linger, even when the law itself attempts to be even-handed. One of the primary areas in which this is true is parenting.
Too often, a woman’s attorney will meet her husband’s requests for increased parenting time with the assertion that the only reason he is seeking it is to get a reduction in the child support he must pay. While this may be true for a small percentage of fathers, the vast majority of men truly want to maintain a strong relationship with their children and not to be just an occasional presence in their lives.
Another issue men face in divorce, though they may not expect it, is the prospect of paying alimony, which Michigan now refers to as “spousal support.” Spousal support is not, as many people assume, a relic of a time when only husbands worked and all wives were housewives who had no way to support themselves. Spousal support is still awarded frequently. Sometimes it’s long-term, when the divorcing spouses are older and the spouse receiving it is in no position to get a job. Sometimes spousal support is of shorter duration, to enable a spouse who’s been out of the work force caring for young children to get the training needed to become self-supporting.
While both men and women can receive spousal support, the majority of recipients are women. And unlike child support, there is no formula in Michigan to determine whether spousal support should be paid, how much, or for how long. The court has a list of factors, some subjective, to consider. The right attorney can make a great difference in the amount of spousal support his client ends up paying, or even it it’s awarded at all
What Men Should Look For in a Divorce Attorney
In recent years, divorce law firms servicing only men or only women have sprung up around the country. A “divorce law firm for men” may seem like a good choice at first blush, but it may prove to be otherwise. It’s better to have a firm that takes a more individual approach to your situation, and often a divorce attorney who works with both men and women can provide that. You don’t want a firm that assumes bad things about your spouse, just as you wouldn’t want your spouse to have a divorce attorney who made negative assumptions about you just because you’re a man.
Men need an attorney with whom they feel comfortable sharing all the facts, and yes, feelings, that will have an impact on the outcome of the divorce. Your attorney is your teammate in your divorce. You both have your roles, but you have to trust your attorney and feel comfortable working together in order to have a successful outcome.
Last, but not least, you should look for an attorney with lots of experience handling Michigan divorces. An experienced attorney will understand gender biases that may be working against you, as well as how to protect your rights regarding custody, parenting time, property, child support, and spousal support.
If you are a man facing a Michigan divorce, talk to an experienced Oakland County divorce attorney to learn more about what lies ahead for you in the divorce process. Attorney Jim Hubbert has helped numerous men through divorce, helping them preserve their relationships with their kids, their rights, and their resources.