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Rochester Law Blog

Custody and your child's school schedule

When a married couple determines that the time to end their marriage has come, they may go through various hurdles. Sometimes, couples struggle with the distribution of their property, while others may have a hard time with child support or spousal support payments. Our law firm knows that for those who have children, child custody can be particularly worrisome. For example, you may be stressed out about a custody agreement and your child's school schedule.

For parents, back-to-school season can be especially tough when a divorce or custody dispute is taking place at the same time. Whether you are trying to readjust yourself to your child's daily schedule or are facing problems related to a custody arrangement and extracurricular activities, it is vital to go over all relevant details and do your best to prevent these matters from interfering with your child's education, at least to the best of your ability.

Understanding child custody in Michigan

Divorce cases that involve children in Michigan entail determining who gets custody of the children. This involves figuring out how much time the child spends with each parent and what responsibilities each party has in the child's upbringing. In ideal circumstances, the parents are able to discuss and agree upon an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. When this is challenging, the courts get involved with the process of determining an agreement.

According to the Michigan Courts, sole custody refers to the arrangement in which one parent is granted legal and physical custody. Joint custody means that both parents share in the responsibilities related to raising the child. With joint custody, both legal and physical guardianship must be determined. Some factors that come to play in deciding custody issues include:

  • Health of each of the parties
  • Current emotional ties between the child and parents
  • Capacity of parties to provide educational, nutritional, medical and shelter needs of the child
  • The amount of time the child has lived in a stable environment
  • Willingness of each party to provide a loving and safe environment
  • Domestic violence, addiction or other related factors

The importance of communication during a custody dispute

If you are going through a child custody dispute, there could be many different challenges you are facing. For example, you could be stressed out as a result of court, or you could worry that you will lose your ability to participate in your child's life as much as you want to. Moreover, your child could be experiencing emotional problems or struggling as a result of the dispute, which underlines how vital it is to communicate during this time. Our law firm knows how important communication is for many families in Rochester and all over the state of Michigan, especially when a custody dispute arises.

Sometimes, speaking with your child's other parent about custody can be helpful, even if you are already working through a dispute. Having said that, these disputes can be very contentious and that certainly is not always an option. On the other hand, if you are able to talk to your child about what is happening, this can be extremely beneficial. Children may have any number of concerns and questions about a custody dispute and it can be very important for parents to sit down and do their best to reassure children.

Mediation for an amicable divorce

Couples in Michigan who are going through a divorce may want to consider mediation if they are respectful of each other. This process, while not for everyone, is a way for both parties to discuss what they want in front of a neutral party who can help them come up with a plan that is satisfactory to both.

According to the Family Mediation Council, mediation works best when it is started early on in the divorce or separation proceedings. At this point, both parties seem to be more open to working together and coming to a fair agreement, before any time or money is spent hashing it out with lawyers. During the process, a mediator sits down with the couple and talks about important issues such as finances, child custody, property division, alimony support and other asset allocation. During the course of the sessions, the couple may choose to involve professional experts, such as accountants, real estate experts or child development professionals, to help with bigger decisions. Lawyers may also be involved, although mediation does not require their participation for a successful outcome.

3 tips for helping your kids through divorce

Divorce is almost always stressful, sad and confusing for everyone involved, including children. As you and your spouse know that divorce is imminent, now is the time to make sure your kids are coping healthily. It is your job as a parent to help your kids figure out how to handle the divorce.

With all the anger and concerns involved, it can be easy to lose sight of giving your children the emotional care they need. That is why we have put together an easy guide to helping your kids through this hard time and minimizing the emotional damage. 

Who should be the beneficiary of your life insurance policy?

Your primary thought when purchasing life insurance in Michigan is probably to provide for your family if you die suddenly. How that policy is set up and who you name as beneficiary could make a big difference in when your children receive the money, and how much, as well.

According to FindLaw, you can set up an irrevocable life insurance trust to avoid probate, lower taxes and provide for your children long-term. The trust becomes the beneficiary of the policy, and your children are the beneficiaries of the trust. Because your estate is not the beneficiary of the policy, the payout goes directly into the trust rather than through the probate process, and your children can benefit immediately according to the instructions you have provided for the trustee.

Infidelity, emotions and the end of marriage

From custody disputes to financial concerns, divorce can be difficult for diverse reasons. However, some people have additional challenges when it comes to the end of marriage. For example, a married couple may be struggling with one party's infidelity, which can be tough both for each spouse. Not only does our law firm know how stressful the process of divorce can be, but we also realize that couples who are struggling with infidelity or other contentious issues may be experiencing depression, anger and other strong emotions.

Unfortunately, these emotions can get in the way of progress, which is especially vital for those who have children. If you are able to find ways to reduce some of the negative emotions you are facing, whether that involves talking about what you are going through with friends or having a discussion with the person you are separating from, this may be very helpful. Although this is not always an option, any healthy strategies that you can take advantage of to minimize the negative emotions associated with family law matters are important.

What happens when parents fail to pay child support?

Whether you have child support obligations as a non-custodial parent or are counting on these payments to help raise your child, back child support can make life hard. When a non-custodial parent falls behind on child support for one reason or another, both parties may face hardships. For example, failing to pay child support in Michigan may result in the garnishment of wages or tax refunds, prison and financial penalties. However, these missed payments can also affect children and custodial parents.

Sometimes, when a non-custodial parent moves to another state in order to avoid paying child support, their case may be taken to the federal level, according to the United States Department of Justice. Under these circumstances, when back child support exceeds one year of missed payments or $5,000, a non-custodial parent could be charged with a misdemeanor. However, they may face felony charges if the amount owed is greater than $10,000 or they have missed payments for more than two years. If found guilty, they could be sent to prison for two years and have to pay harsh financial penalties.

Divorce and kids returning to school

There are a multitude of considerations you may have to go over with regard to divorce. For example, you and your marital partner may disagree about how property will be split up, or you could find yourself involved in a difficult custody dispute or stressed out because of a child support order. If you have children, divorce can present additional challenges. Our law firm knows that parents in Rochester and other parts of Michigan may have a hard time discussing divorce with their children. Moreover, there are certain times of year, such as during holidays and when kids are preparing to head back to school after summer break, when talking about divorce can be even more difficult.

If you have kids, it is important to do your best to prevent your divorce from interfering with their schoolwork or extracurricular activities. By sitting down and discussing what is happening and answering any questions they present, you may be able to reassure them that things will be okay. Sometimes, splitting up with a spouse is necessary and it is pivotal for parents to look into the different ways their children could be affected by the divorce.

Do you know the requirements of a collaborative divorce?

If you and your spouse have come to the end of the line in your marriage, you are probably considering divorce options. If a costly, acrimonious court battle does not appeal to either of you, there is a more civilized possibility: collaborative divorce.

There are a few requirements, one of which is that the two of you will be able to respect each other and conduct yourselves like adults. If you believe you can do that, and are in agreement with the other requirements, collaborative divorce may be the right solution for you to end your marriage.

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Rochester, MI 48307

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