Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

39555 Orchard Hill Place, Suite 215, Novi, MI 48375

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Novi MI divorce attorneyGetting a divorce can be financially costly. With court costs, filing fees and attorney’s fees, the expenses can add up quickly. These are in addition to any other financial issues you may be facing as a result of the divorce, like the monetary impact of going from two incomes to one and selling your shared home. 

Divorce can put a financial strain on even the most affluent couples, and it is not uncommon for people to come out of a divorce with debt or damaged credit. Having good credit is key for obtaining loans for things such as homes or cars, so having a good credit score is pretty important after you are divorced. 

Here are a few tips to help you rebuild your credit after your divorce:

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Posted on in Divorce

Farmington Hills divorce mediation lawyer In many cases, the decision to get married is an easy and simple one. The decision to get a divorce, however, does not come that easily. Sometimes it can take months and even years for you to finally come to the decision that you are ready to end your marriage. Marriages do not just break -- they slowly erode and deteriorate over time, often giving off many warning signs that it is time to call it quits. Many times couples make the decision to divorce after years of unhappiness, resulting in heated and highly-contested divorces. 

Here are four warning signs that you may want to consider a divorce:

1. Your Needs Are Not Being Met

A successful marriage is one in which both partners’ needs are being met. Each partner should be doing his or her best to meet the physical and emotional needs of the other. If you notice that you and your spouse are not meeting each other’s needs or that the relationship has become rather one-sided, it may be a sign that your marriage is deteriorating.

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Novi MI paternity lawyerThe only way a child’s paternity is automatically established in Michigan is if the mother was married at the time the child was conceived or born. The man the woman was or is married to is automatically presumed by the state of Michigan to be the child’s legal father. If the mother was unmarried when the child was conceived or born, then the parents of the child must take extra steps to establish a legal father for the child. This process can be wrought with confusion and stress, but it is necessary to ensure that your child has the resources he or she needs to thrive.

Benefits of Establishing Paternity

There are many reasons why people work to establish the paternity of their children. Without established paternity, there is no legal tie between a father and his child, even if it is truly his biological child. Other benefits of establishing paternity include:

  • A sense of identity. It is always good for children to know who their parents are. This allows the child to have a sense of identity and paves the way to allow the child to have a sense of belonging.
  • Ties to extended family. Having established paternity also allows the child to know his or her extended family. It is important that children grow up knowing their family members as it allows the child to develop a sense of family and belonging.
  • Financial support. One of the main reasons people seek to establish paternity is for financial support. You cannot get child support from a man if you do not have him established as the child’s legal father. 
  • Being eligible for certain benefits. Children have the right to certain benefits that their parents can provide. By establishing paternity, a child has the right to his or her father’s health and life insurance, Social Security, pensions, veteran’s benefits and inheritance.
  • Knowing the child’s family medical history. This can be especially beneficial for the child down the road if they need to know their parents’ medical history. If the child’s legal father has not been established, the child has no right to access his or her father’s medical records, which can be lifesaving in some cases.

An Oakland County Paternity Attorney Can Help

The easiest way to establish a child’s paternity is by having both the mother and the father sign an Affidavit of Parentage form. Unfortunately, not all fathers will voluntarily step up to take care of their parental responsibilities. In that situation, you can file a paternity case to have your child’s paternity established. These can be long and tedious, but at Elkouri Heath, PLC, we can guide you throughout the process. Our skilled Novi MI paternity lawyers can help you with all of the paperwork and legalities involved in establishing paternity. Call our office today at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free consultation.

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Farmington Hills divorce lawyerThe first worry on many parents’ minds when they decide they will get a divorce is how that will affect their children. Divorce can be hard for everyone in the family, but it can be especially hard on children. Depending on your child’s age, they may not understand what a divorce means and what it means for them. Each child is different, so it is hard to predict a child’s reaction to divorce, but much of their reaction depends on how you, as a parent, communicate and nurture your child during this trying time. Here are a few ways you can help ease your children into the change that a divorce brings:

1. Break the News in an Appropriate Way

When initially telling your children about your divorce, it is important that you keep things simple. Your 6-year-old child does not need to know that you are getting a divorce because your spouse has a habit of lying. Keep things simple by phrasing things like “Mommy and daddy are just not happy anymore, but a divorce will make mommy, daddy and you happier.” Older children may require a bit more detail, but the sentiment should be the same.

2. Encourage Your Child to Talk About His or Her Feelings

This is important because you can count on the fact that your children will have feelings about your divorce. Many times, not letting these feelings out manifests as misbehavior or acting out from your children. Let your children know that whatever they are feeling is OK and natural, but that it is important that they talk about their feelings.

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Posted on in Divorce

Oakland County collaborative divorce attorneyWhen you think about a divorce, you probably think of long, drawn out processes, yelling matches in the courtroom and ultimately being unhappy with the outcome. While Hollywood does a good job of painting a dramatic and intriguing picture of divorce, it is rarely like it is in the movies. The truth is, there is more than one way to get a divorce and not all of them are litigated in a courtroom as television shows would have you to believe. Two of the alternative forms of divorce -- mediation and collaborative divorce -- offer unique methods to part ways with your spouse. Collaborative divorce, in particular, offers many benefits over the traditional litigated divorce. Here are a few ways a collaborative divorce can benefit you and your family:

1. It Can Save You Money

One of the big benefits of a collaborative divorce is the financial aspect of it. Many people are drawn to collaborative divorce because you usually spend about half as much as a litigated divorce and about a quarter of what you would pay if your divorce went to trial. Collaborative divorces save you from an abundance of lawyer’s fees, court costs, discovery fees and other hidden costs of divorce.

2. You Can Complete the Divorce on Your Own Timeline

Another benefit of a collaborative divorce is that you can take the process as slowly or as quickly as you would like to. Obviously, the longer you take to settle your divorce, the more you will end up paying. But you have the ability to focus more time on topics you find to be more serious, rather than having to make a rash decision because you were rushed. On average, collaborative divorces take about 18 weeks to finalize, which is about a fourth of the time it usually takes to complete a traditional divorce.

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Farmington Hills asset division lawyerOne of the most common things that married -- and divorcing -- couples argue about is their finances. When you get married, you often combine your two separate financial situations into one. This can make things easier on you when you are married, but it can spell disaster if you are attempting to separate finances because of a divorce. 

While a divorce is a normal time to stress about money and your other finances, some stress can be avoided with preparation. If you properly prepare your finances for your divorce, you will come out on the other side not feeling like you lost everything. Here are a couple tips to use when financially preparing for divorce:

Make Sure You Have All of Your Financial Documents

Before you can begin to prepare your finances, you must know what you are working with. This is why you should gather any and all documents pertaining to any part of your finances. Try to make sure you have documents such as:

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Oakland County asset division attorneyThere is nothing more stressful and demanding than a divorce. It overturns almost every part of your life, and no matter your profession, you will feel the effects of the divorce. Those who own a professional practice or their own business have slightly different concerns when it comes to a divorce, specifically when marital assets are being divided. 

All marital property will be subject to division in a Michigan divorce. Marital property is any property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage, including businesses. 

Property division can be difficult, especially dealing with family businesses or practices. Here are four ways to protect your business during your divorce:

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MI family lawyerA divorce encompasses almost every part of your life. It can affect your emotional well-being, your financial well-being, and your family life. There are many decisions you must make when you get a divorce and all of those decisions will affect you for many years to come. Even just one mistake can cause you to suffer negative consequences, especially when it comes to finances. Avoiding making mistakes can mean a lot less stress and a lot smoother of a divorce process. Here are a few common mistakes that people make in a divorce and how you can avoid making them.

Not Knowing What Assets You and Your Spouse Have

When you are getting a divorce, property division is important and one of the most important things is knowing what property you and your spouse actually have. Most of the time, one spouse will have the responsibility of handling the finances. You should make sure if that spouse is not you, you have a decent understanding of your finances and what you actually own.

Forgetting About the Tax Consequences of Your Decisions

Almost every financial decision you make during your divorce will impact your taxes in some way. Spousal support payments will be taxed, which may or may not be better than a lump sum that would be taxed. Child support payments can also change your tax consequences. It is important for you to understand what the tax consequences of your actions will be.

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MI family lawyerThe most common forms of adoption are family adoptions, specifically stepparent adoptions. Stepparent adoptions take place when one parent’s new spouse wants to adopt the child of that parent. This can help establish a more secure connection between the parent’s spouse and the child, but it can be difficult to attain, especially if the child’s other parent objects to the adoption. Stepparent adoptions can be important to families who want to bring themselves closer to each other and establish more secure ties, but they can also be stressful and emotionally demanding.

Parental Rights and Step Parent Adoption

Michigan law only allows a child to have two legal parents at any one time. This means that if a stepparent wants to adopt the child, the child’s current legal parent must agree to the adoption, voluntarily giving up their legal parental rights to the child. If the judge approves a stepparent adoption, the child’s other parent will lose all custody and visitation rights. They will also no longer be required to pay child support or have any other obligations to the child. These rights will all be transferred to the stepparent. Even if the stepparent and the child’s parent divorce in the future, the stepparent will still be the legal parent of the child.

If a Parent Objects to the Adoption

In order for a stepparent to adopt a child, the child’s other parent must consent to the adoption. If they do not consent to the adoption, the only way it can move forward is by an involuntary termination of parental rights. This can only be established by proving that the child’s other parent is unfit. Being unfit can mean that the parent has not provided support for the child and has failed to visit or contact the child.

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MI divorce lawyerUnlike child support, spousal support is not as rigidly defined in the Michigan divorce codes. In Michigan, there is a formula that tells you whether or not you will receive child support and how much that child support amount will be. With spousal support, it is determined on a case-by-case basis if you are awarded it, how much it will be and for how long you will get the payments. Spousal support is sometimes a necessity in a divorce, especially if one spouse does not make as much as the other or was a stay-at-home parent. Spousal support can provide that spouse with a much-needed supplement to his or her income.

Am I Guaranteed Spousal Support?

In a Michigan divorce, spousal support is not guaranteed to be awarded to either spouse. You and your spouse do have the chance to decide on spousal support in your settlement. You have the option to negotiate with your spouse if you will receive spousal support and how much that support will be. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, the judge will intervene and make the decisions for you.

Factors for Consideration

If the judge has to step in to make the final say about any spousal support decisions that must be made, he or she will look at a variety of factors surrounding you and your spouse’s situation. These factors can include:

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MI divorce lawyerNovember is over and December has come in full swing, which means that the winter holidays are not far behind. These holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, which can spell disaster for some people after a divorce. Holidays are stressful enough, but when you add the dynamic of a new divorce into the mix, the holidays can be even more stressful. Though it may be a learning experience for the first couple of years, it is possible to have a relaxed and fun holiday season when you are celebrating as a divorced family. Here are four ways you can still enjoy the holiday season after your divorce:

Remember: It is Not All About You

Though it is important for you to enjoy the holiday season too, when you have children, it is mainly about them. Like most other times in your life, you should put your children first when it comes to the holidays. It is really about making them happy and making memories with them that will last a lifetime - not arguing with your ex about who gets the children on Christmas Eve.

Communicate With Your Ex in Advance

Co-parenting after a divorce is tough, but communication is key. Communication is also key when it comes to planning out your holiday season. Usually, in your parenting plan, you will spell out where the kids will be spending major holidays, but many couples do not follow their parenting plans to a T - they change the plan based on what works best for them. Communication is key when planning for a happy holiday.

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MI family lawyerThe majority of parents who get divorced will share parenting time of their children. It is rare these days that you see one parent given sole custody and decision-making responsibilities and the other parent left with nothing. Most divorce courts recognize that unless a parent is abusive or detrimental to the child’s wellbeing, it is in the child’s best interest to have both parents active and present in his or her life. Co-parenting is never easy, especially if your divorce was less-than-amicable -- which most are not. Though it will not come without serious time and effort on your part, successful co-parenting can be achieved and these tips can help:

Realize You Now Have a Different Relationship with Your Ex

Though you are no longer married, your relationship with your ex will be forever because of your child. It will not be the same relationship that you had during your marriage and that is important to realize. It is easier to think of your co-parenting relationship like a business relationship - it does not matter how you feel about your ex. What matters is the happiness and wellbeing of your child.

Work on Your Communication

Communication is key to successful co-parenting. Though you may still have feelings of anger or resentment toward your ex, you must put those aside for the sake of your child. It can help to keep a business-like tone when talking to your ex. It reminds both you and them that your new relationship is not one that concerns feelings. It can also be helpful to keep your conversations strictly about your child. It does not matter what you want or they want - what does your child want and need?

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MI divorce attorneyIf you are a business owner, chances are your business is one of the most valuable assets that you own. Along with the family home and your savings accounts, your business must also be appraised and distributed properly during your Michigan divorce. Often, small businesses require hours upon hours of tireless work and days of patience while the company is built from the ground up. The last thing you want to see is your business become just another asset that is taken apart, piece by piece, and liquidated to divide in a divorce. Fortunately, there are a couple things you can do to protect your business as much as possible. Here are five ways you can help keep your business under your control during (and after) your divorce:

Protect It in Writing

The easiest way to protect your business during a divorce is by getting a prenuptial agreement. The agreement can state how the business will be handled in the event of a divorce and it can also basically prevent your spouse from getting any of it. If you are already married, a prenuptial agreement will do you no good, but a postnuptial agreement can help. This is basically the same thing as a prenuptial agreement, but it is signed and entered after you are already married.

Pay Yourself a Decent Salary

This can be important because if you do not pay yourself enough money, your spouse can argue that he or she did not benefit from the growth of the business. Instead of taking a modest salary and waiting for retirement, take a generous salary, that way you can say you “invested” your profits into the family, rather than putting it all back into the business.

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MI divorce lawyersWhen most couples are married, their finances and their assets become intertwined, which typically can make things easier - unless you get divorced. When you get divorced, everything must be separated again, which can make for a confusing process. You and your spouse might own things together, like a home, other real estate, cars, furniture, and other household items. The things that you and your spouse jointly own is called marital property. Usually, if you own things like real estate or a car, you typically have debt, too. Any debt that you have together, like a mortgage, credit card debt or auto loans must also be considered when you divorce. Like marital property, marital debt must be divided. In Michigan, marital property is divided equitably, which does not always mean equally. Here are some suggestions on how to divide certain assets during your Michigan divorce:

The Family Home

The easiest way to deal with your home when you are getting a divorce is to sell it and then split the proceeds. This only works, however, if you have equity in your home. If you do not have equity in your home, you might have to sell your home at a loss and then determine who will be responsible for paying the rest of the mortgage. If one of you wants to keep the home, then you can pay the other spouse what their half of the home is worth. Either way, the first thing you should do is determine what your house is currently worth and go from there.

Your Furniture and/or Household Items

Dividing your furniture and other things that you have in your house can be easy or it can be difficult; it is up to you and your spouse. First, you should make a list of everything that you own that is up for grabs. Make note of the items that you want to keep and the items that you could do without. These can be used as bargaining chips when it comes time to negotiate.

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MI family lawyerDivorcing with children brings about many different types of issues that couples divorcing without children do not have to deal with. One of the things that must be determined when you are getting divorced is how you will parent your child where your child will be spending their time. Typically, Michigan courts prefer the parents to try to make their own determinations about child custody and parenting time before they turn to the court to make these decisions for them. There is a better chance that orders will be followed when parents are involved in making these decisions. When a court is called in to help determine parenting time, many different factors must be considered before a final order is issued.

Michigan Courts and Making Decisions About Parenting Time

Like many states in the U.S., Michigan makes determinations about parenting time based on the best interests of the child. It is assumed that it is in the best interest of every child to have a secure relationship with both parents. Michigan courts also believe that every child has a right to spend time with each parent unless the court finds that it would severely harm the child’s mental, physical or emotional health. The court will examine a variety of factors when making decisions about parenting time, including:

  • Whether or not the child has any special needs;
  • Whether the child is a nursing child and receives substantial nutrition through nursing;
  • Whether or not there is any likelihood of any abuse or neglect of the child or parent during parenting time;
  • The distance between where each parent lives and the burden the travel would have on the child;
  • The likeliness of each parent to follow the parenting time order; and
  • Any other factor that the court deems to be relevant.

Get in Touch with an Oakland County Child Custody Lawyer

Each child has an inherent right to have a loving and meaningful relationship with both of their parents and both parents have the right to spend time with their child. It can be difficult and sometimes stressful to come to an agreement about parenting time with your ex, but it is important that you are able to create a parenting time agreement that allows both you and your ex to spend time with your child. If you are going through a divorce, you should contact a Novi, MI child custody attorney. Elkouri Heath, PLC can help you create an agreement that benefits not only your child, but also you and your child’s other parent. Call the office today at 248-344-9700 to schedule a consultation.

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MI mediation lawyerMany couples still think that the only way they can get a divorce is by going the traditional way of litigating the divorce. Traditional divorce involves both spouses getting their own attorneys who argue for them on their behalf about various topics like child support, property division and even who gets to keep the dog. This can cause much stress for both spouses and their kids, which is why many couples have been looking at forms of alternative dispute resolution, one of them being mediation. Because it is a fairly new and accepted practice in the legal community, people still have their misconceptions about the divorce mediation process. Here are three common myths about divorce mediation and the truths behind them.

Mediation Does Not Work if You Both Cannot Get Along

Divorce mediation can actually help couples who are combative. The mediator is there to help keep you and your soon-to-be ex on track when you are discussing and making decisions about important issues. It is the mediator’s job to steer you and your ex in the right direction when conversing - rather than letting you and your ex hash it out, they will make suggestions on possible solutions for your arguments.

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MI divorce lawyerSo you have finally made the decision that you and your spouse are going to get a divorce. You may feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest, this is only the beginning. Now, you must decide what type of divorce would be the best fit for your family. There are many options you can choose from, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. You can go the traditional route and get a litigated divorce, or you could choose an alternative route by getting a mediated or collaborative divorce . Many couples are not often aware that there are choices other than litigation which offer many benefits, especially if you are divorcing with children.

Litigated Divorce

This type of divorce is considered the traditional divorce and the majority of couples still choose this way to separate. Most of the time, divorces are adversarial situations in which one spouse wants to divorce from the other. A litigated divorce does not necessarily mean that you will be going to court. In fact, most divorce cases are settled outside of the courtroom. Typically, a litigated divorce is chosen because a mediated or collaborative divorce is out of the question because both methods rely on full cooperation and a willingness to work together.

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MI family lawyerMany people say that the hardest thing about their divorce was seeing how it affected their children. Children often have different reactions to divorce, ranging from anger and fury to depression and guilt. Though the range of emotions felt by children of divorce is vast, there is one thing that most can agree on - divorce is hard on children. Because of this issue, an increase in unusual custody arrangements has been observed across the county - nesting arrangements. These kinds of arrangements can be beneficial to both parents and children as they transition from their normal life to one in which parents are divorced.

What Is a Nesting Arrangement?

As the name of the arrangement implies, a nesting arrangement is one in which the family home is the “nest” where the children live and the parents take turns staying at the home to spend time with the children. Traditional split custody arrangements consist of the parents each having their separate homes and the children moving between those homes after a set length of time. In a nesting arrangement, some parents will have their own designated living quarters in the family home, but more often, parents will live outside of the family home when they are not in charge of the children.

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IL divorce lawyerFace it - divorce is stressful no matter what way you look at it. Even if you and your spouse made the mutual decision to end your relationship, there are many things you must think of when it comes time to begin the process of divorcing. You have got to figure out who is getting what, how you will divide your finances, who will pay back which debts and how you will raise your children as parents who are no longer a couple. Although the weight of divorce can be overwhelming, what matters is how you respond to that stress and the steps you take to make sure you are taking care of yourself along the way.

  1. Allow Yourself to Grieve the Loss of Your Relationship

Even though divorce is a legal process, it means you are ending your relationship. No matter the circumstances, there is always a little bit of grief that comes along with the ending of something as substantial as a marriage. It is important for you to understand that it is OK to grieve the end of your relationship, even when the divorce is occurring for the better. The sooner you allow yourself to grieve, the sooner you can begin the process of healing.

  1. Take Care of Yourself Physically

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Posted on in Divorce

MI divorce lawyerAny divorce is not going to be easy to prepare for. In some ways, a mediated divorce can be even more difficult to prepare for. Because of the cooperative nature of divorce mediation, you have to put your feelings aside so that you can effectively work with your soon-to-be-ex to come to a divorce agreement that you both are comfortable with. Divorce mediation has many benefits that come with it, but that does not mean it is easier to do. Here are a few ways you can prepare for your divorce mediation:

Gather All of Your Important Documents

Like most things, being prepared will serve you well. When you come to your mediation sessions, be sure to have copies or originals of all of your important documents, which can include:

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