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Rochester Law Blog

There are good reasons to have a pre- or postnuptial agreement

Perhaps you have a prenuptial agreement, or wish you did, in light of some new circumstances.

If you have reached a point in your marriage where you and your spouse need to make some changes, consider drawing up a postnuptial agreement or updating your prenup.

What happens if I cannot afford my child support payments?

Parents who owe child support payments in Michigan may find it difficult to keep up with these payments if their income changes due to job loss or the obtainment of a lower-paying job. Even with a change in income, these parents are still required to make the court-ordered payments. There are steps that need to be taken in order for these amounts to change, and there are consequences for those who do not keep up with the ordered payments.

According to FindLaw, when there is an income change the affected party should take swift action. The best course of action is to speak with the other parent and try to agree on a support modification. This, however, can prove to be challenging in most cases so the court needs to be notified of the circumstances so there can be a new order issued. The parent will be asked to produce documentation and other proof of the income change and, if it was a job loss, he or she should demonstrate a strong effort to find new employment. While waiting for a new agreement, payments need to be made the best way possible because the state can come after you in different ways to collect the amount you were unable to pay.

How is a military divorce different?

Whether military or civilian, your divorce is often a trying time that places a good deal of mental and emotional stress on you, your ex-partner, and your family. When navigating the complexities of divorce in Michigan courts, you may find the complications daunting. Even more daunting is realizing that divorce may treat you differently as the former spouse of an enlisted service member. However, this does not necessarily need to be a cause for concern. So what makes a military divorce different?

The Michigan Guide to Military Family Law provides a complete overview of how divorce impacts military spouses. Under The Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA), even after divorce from your enlisted partner you may still be entitled to a portion of their retirement or pension pay. This is because military pay is considered a marital asset under U.S. law, making it a fair consideration in any proceedings governing division of assets.

Dads are getting more of a fair shake regarding custody

In the past, divorced dads in Michigan would often get the short end of the stick when it came to spending time with their children. Typically the courts would judge in favor of the mom for primary custody and the father would get every other weekend or only a few days a month. In the past years, however, there has been a change in how custody decisions are made, and there are more cases of equal sharing.

According to USA Today, courts are realizing the emotional and physical benefits to kids when fathers play more of a hands-on role. Fathers are also speaking out more and requesting to be involved in their children's lives. As a result, more fathers are being granted joint, or shared, custody. Even this is becoming more of a trend, there are still factors that the court weighs when making this decision. These include if either parent is involved with the child's school life, who typically takes the child to doctor's appointments and if the parent volunteers in the child's activities. 

The importance of the child's needs in custody cases

Parents in Michigan who are going through a divorce have a big responsibility in deciding the best arrangement for child custody. The decision becomes a lot easier if the parents put aside their differences and focus on what the child needs and what situation would best suit him or her. 

According to Psychology Today, parents make a mistake when they put down the other spouse and point out their flaws. They should be focusing, instead, on the child's physical and emotional needs. Experts recommend that parents focus on working together and communicating in a healthy way so they can have a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive one. 

Can your child choose which parent gets custody?

The complexities of divorce in Michigan courts are nothing to be sneezed at, between working out division of assets, spousal support, child custody and many other factors. But those factors can be complicated further by custody disputes between you and your spouse. So what happens when your child adds another layer of complexity by weighing in on his or her preference? Can you child choose which parent he or she prefers to have custody?

In some cases, yes. The Supreme Court of Michigan's Custody Guidelines outline what is known as "reasonable preference" - that is, a child's right and capability to express a preference for which parent they wish to live with. While children under the age of 18 cannot legally choose their own independent residence, if the judge in the custody hearing feels that your child is capable of expressing a reasonable and sound preference, the judge may take it into consideration when awarding primary or sole custody.

Hasty decisions could impact property division in divorce

Divorces can be challenging and bring all sorts of emotions to the surface.

While you can barely think about anything except just getting it over with, you must make wise decisions because your future happiness and financial security could count on it. Here are three common mistakes to avoid.

Consequences of relocation in child custody cases

Being passed from one parent to another to satisfy child custody agreements can cause some stress for children of divorced parents in Michigan. When one parent relocates to a different state, there are additional psychological consequences that can result in long-term issues.  

According to the Michigan Courts, permission from the judge is required for parents who want to relocate and keep custody of the child. A judge typically grants this request easily if the other parent agrees and signs a consent form. If there is not an agreement, the parent wanting to move needs to file a court motion requesting permission to relocate.   

What is Michigan's small estate threshold?

After the death of a loved one or close associate, it can be far too painful to have to focus on technicalities such as will execution, including dealing with Michigan probate court and the practical realities of estate division. When you are already grieving and stretched thin, it is hard to think of dealing with such legal intricacies. Are there ways around probate court, and if so, what is the threshold for skipping the itemization and valuation of the deceased's estate?

Michigan has what is known as a "small estate" threshold. This threshold is for assets left behind by the deceased that reach a certain value or less, meaning that the estate is too small to require probate court to determine appropriate division and execution of a will, if any. Per Michigan legislature, if the decedent's remaining estate and property total $15,000 or less either before or after paying for funerals, debts and other arrangements, then the property and assets remaining are by default handed over to the spouse. If there is no spouse, the estate is by default handed over to any heirs.

What happens if your ex-spouse fails to pay child support?

Divorce can often mean a frightening new beginning for both you and your children. Even more frightening can be the looming financial instability when you're settling in a new Michigan home and restructuring your life. Of course child support payments from your former spouse are meant to help, but what happens if your spouse fails to pay your court-ordered child support agreements?

Naturally you would want to work things out amicably if possible, particularly when divorce is also tough on your spouse. However, if a mutual resolution is not possible, you may need to pursue enforcement through the Michigan court system. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services discusses potential enforcement methods. The first is income withholding, in which a mandatory portion of your spouse's income is withheld by his or her employer to be sent to the state, and then subsequently paid to you for child and medical support.

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