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Novi child custody attorneysIf you and your child’s other parent are going your separate ways but will both remain active parents to your child, it is time to construct a parenting time schedule and a parenting time plan. These parenting time resources will help you to clarify when your child will spend time with each of you, how you will address certain co-parenting responsibilities, and how you will both remain connected to your child when they are not residing with you.

Remaining connected and invested in each other’s lives is important, no matter how often your child resides with each parent. In the Digital Age, many co-parents are finding that including so-called “virtual visitation” provisions in their parenting time plans can help to facilitate consistent communication and connection.

What Is Virtual Visitation? 

Virtual visitation can be accomplished by engaging in any form of electronic communication that is developmentally appropriate for your child. You can talk on the phone, send emails, text, play video game apps as “friends,” utilize a video call app, or even record stories that your co-parent can play when your child is falling asleep.

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Novi divorce attorneysIf you and your spouse have decided to dissolve your marriage, you are currently facing a number of mental, emotional, social, practical, financial, and legal challenges. It is important to understand your rights as a divorcing spouse, as this context can help to ensure that you make informed decisions throughout your divorce process.

For example, in Michigan, you are entitled to an asset division settlement that is “equitable.” Equitable does not necessarily mean equal. In equal distribution states, the value of a couple’s marital property must be divided 50/50. In Michigan, the value of a couple’s marital estate may be divided in any way that is truly fair. As a result, it is important to clarify what fairness means within the context of your unique marital circumstances.

Equitable Distribution

In Michigan, property acquired during a couple’s marriage is generally treated as marital property. By contrast, separate property belongs to one spouse only, either because they owned the property prior to marriage or because some exception to the general classification of marital property applies. All of the assets and liabilities that make up a couple’s jointly-owned assets and debts are considered elements of their overall marital estate.

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Oakland County parenting plan attorneysIn Michigan, a parenting time schedule and a parenting time plan are both ordinarily included as elements of a child custody order. When parents agree on the terms of their parenting time plans, their attorneys assist them with finalizing and formalizing these terms before they are submitted to the court for approval. If parents cannot agree to these terms, a judge will be called upon to order whatever arrangement they believe is in the affected child’s best interests.

If you and your child’s other parent need to craft workable parenting time plans, there are a few solid tips that you will want to consider. If you hope to reach an agreement, you can work through this process together with the help of your attorneys. If your child custody situation is contentious, your attorney can help you craft terms that reflect your child’s best interests so that your proposal is more likely to be viewed favorably by the judge assigned to your case.

Parenting Time Schedule vs. Parenting Time Plan

Your parenting time schedule will indicate when your child will be with you and when they will be with their other parent. Your parenting time plan will outline the “nitty gritty details” of how your co-parenting arrangement will work. You can address virtually any issue in a parenting time plan, from who will be responsible for paying extracurricular fees to whether you and your co-parent must reach a mutual agreement before your child can pierce their ears.

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Novi divorce lawyerMore couples begin seeking legal assistance with initiating the divorce process in January than they do during any other month. Because it takes time to process initial divorce-related paperwork, the number of divorce cases filed with courts in Michigan and throughout the country ultimately hit their peak for the year in March.

There are a variety of reasons why January has widely come to be known as “divorce month.” Parents of minors generally avoid filing for divorce during mid-to-late summer because they do not want to disrupt the start of the school year. Then, they hold off during the start of the year and into the holidays for the sake of their kids. Couples without kids often avoid filing for divorce during the fall months and into the holiday season to spare their loved ones excessive stress as well.

If you are thinking about filing for divorce now that the New Year has dawned, you will want to carefully consider how you will approach this process. Your approach will inform everything from how you will go about dividing your marital assets to how much you are likely to incur in legal fees.

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Oakland County child custody lawyerCustody disputes between divorced or separated parents can be heated, and not only for the parents. Sometimes children have strong preferences about their living arrangements and may express those preferences, much to the disappointment or surprise of either parent. If you are engaged in a custody dispute in Michigan and are wondering whether your child has the authority to choose whether they live with one parent or the other, read this brief overview of the topic and then contact a Michigan child custody attorney who can help. 

How Old Does a Child Need to Be Before They Can Choose Which Parent They Live With? 

Ultimately, a child needs to be 18 before they can make any final decisions about where to live. However, Michigan law does allow the preferences of a child to be considered as one factor in custody decisions. However, it is only one factor out of many.

Other factors include: 

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Novi divorce attorneysDivorce is full of challenges and frustrations, and for most couples, asset division is one of these. For spouses who own or manage a professional practice, the idea of dividing something so intimately connected with one’s own labor, ability, and identity may feel insulting. Nevertheless, Michigan law requires all marital assets to be divided, and professional practices are rarely excluded from these. If you are a dentist, psychologist, physician, attorney, consultant, or any other professional who has their own company, read on and then contact a Michigan divorce attorney for assistance with your case. 

Is My Professional Practice Marital Property? 

Professional practices are built carefully with years of effort. Often, even if only one spouse is involved in working with a professional practice, both spouses have contributed to the worth and development of the practice over the years. This is especially true if one spouse worked while the professional spouse pursued an education and got their business off the ground. Practices begun after a couple is already married are considered marital property in Michigan. 

Even if a practice was opened before the spouses got married, any increase in the value of that practice is usually marital property, even if the other spouse was hardly involved in the practice. Having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may protect one spouse’s exclusive ownership of a professional practice, but not always. 

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Novi divorce lawyerDividing virtually any type of assets and debts is a difficult part of any divorce, and real estate ownership is no exception. Both spouses generally make strong claims to ownership of marital property and real estate can be unique among other assets because a family has often lived and created memories within a home, making it more valuable than just its market value. When both partners want to keep a home, or any other category of real estate, what happens? Read this blog to learn more about how real estate is handled in Michigan divorces and then contact an experienced divorce attorney who can help you manage your asset division case. 

How Are Marital Assets Divided in Michigan? 

Before real estate or any other asset owned by either spouse can be divided, it has to be part of the marital estate. If one spouse owned a home or any other real estate before getting married, that property may not be considered marital property, depending on how it was managed during the marriage. Spouses may also have prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that dictate how assets are handled in the event of a divorce. Categorizing marital vs. personal property can be a complex area of negotiation all by itself. 

Once spouses agree on what is part of the marital estate and what is individual property, Michigan law requires the marital assets to be divided fairly. Sometimes this means each spouse gets something close to a 50/50 split, but not always; a spouse’s individual contributions and needs, among other factors, affect the final distribution. 

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Novi divorce attorneyA huge number and variety of studies exist that illustrate the negative impact a divorce can have on children. Children who are subject to parental conflict, domestic abuse, or neglect during divorce often suffer from negative lifelong consequences, including higher rates of criminal behavior, teen pregnancy, and high school dropout rates. However, with the proper attention and care, parents can prevent their children from being exposed to the most negative aspects of divorce. While you can never control or predict your child’s reaction entirely, there are steps you can take to minimize their difficulties. Here are three experts who can help you manage child-related issues during a divorce. 

Guardian ad Litem

Some very high-conflict divorces require children to have legal representatives of their own. If a guardian ad litem is assigned to your case, or if you hire a guardian ad litem on your own, it is important to understand their role. A guardian ad litem will interview you, your child, your child’s other parent, plus any other adult who can provide helpful information. Furthermore, they will investigate any accusations of child abuse or neglect. They may create a report for a judge or testify in court as to what they think is in the best interests of the child and will advocate on behalf of the child for their needs to be met.

Child Psychologist

It can be difficult to know what your child is thinking and feeling during divorce. After all, their behavior will not necessarily be indicative of their inner emotions; lashing out violently at school, for example, may really be a reflection of inner turmoil and panic at the idea of having separated parents. A child psychologist can help you and your child deal with complex emotions and behaviors stemming from anxiety about the divorce process, offering insight and solutions. 

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Planning for Divorce Mediation in Michigan

Posted on in Divorce

Oakland County divorce mediation attorneysMediation is a commonly used term in many Michigan divorces because courts all over the state often compel people to take part in mediation to try and resolve certain disputes. Mediation is quite simply a settlement process that allows both parties to have input on possible solutions to issues and it will typically require both parties to come to an agreement for mediation to work.

Mediation does not solve all problems, and there can certainly be couples for whom mediation ends up being more of a waste of time than anything. For many other people, however, mediation provides an opportunity to try and address a wide range of issues and contemplate possible solutions that can prevent a court from having to render its own decision.

How Mediation Works

Mediation may be either voluntary or court-ordered in Michigan, but both parties will be working with a neutral third party known as a mediator. A mediator does not render any judgments or try to impose any requirements on either party. Instead, the mediator is simply there to try and help negotiate an agreement between the parties.

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What You Should Know About Spousal Support

Posted on in Divorce

Novi alimony enforcement lawyerSpousal support awards, also known as alimony, are not terribly common in most divorces in Michigan, but they can occur, and people should be prepared to deal with them. While spousal support is never mandatory while spouses are separating and figuring out their new lives, it becomes mandatory as soon as there is a final court order, and a paying spouse will have to pay as ordered, regardless of their personal feelings.

Whether you are seeking spousal support payments or are being asked to pay spousal support, you will want to be sure that you hire an experienced attorney who will know how to negotiate the outcome that is most favorable to you. Michigan Compiled Law § 750.165 establishes that repeated failure to pay spousal support is a felony offense punishable by up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

Obtaining Spousal Support from Non-Paying Spouses

It is not uncommon for one spouse to refuse to pay spousal support because they may already be paying a significant amount of child support. Whatever the reason for their issue might be, the law clearly stipulates that people who are ordered to pay spousal support must pay it on time without exception.

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How Child Custody Works in Michigan

Posted on in Family Law

Novi child custody lawyerChild custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of each parent and child indicating the time a child will spend with a parent and each parent’s ability to render decisions on behalf of a child. Judges can structure child custody agreements to satisfy the unique schedules of both parents, as they typically seek to promote a strong bond between parents and children unless one parent endangers a child.

Custody agreements can be reached between spouses through various negotiations, including mediation, and judges will usually order those agreements. Cases in which parties cannot agree can still result in joint custody determinations, although how judges award parenting time in joint custody cases can vary widely.

Types of Child Custody

When it comes to descriptions of custody arrangements, there are typically the following kinds of agreements:

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Novi divorce lawyerWhen a relationship has gone on for months or years, an abusive partner rarely thinks carefully about whether other people will be able to see evidence of their abuse and often leaves a trail of proof in written communication and even in voicemails.

However, whether such evidence can be brought to court in a divorce case is another question entirely. Criminal and civil cases sometimes handle evidence differently, and divorces are civil procedures. Even Personal Protection Orders (PPOs) are civil procedures, although the behavior they guard against may potentially be criminal in nature (such as physical abuse). If you want to divorce an abusive spouse - especially if you are hoping to keep your spouse away from your children - you will need to show evidence of the abuse. Read on to learn about how this can be done, and then contact a Michigan divorce attorney for a confidential consultation. 

How Can I Prove Abuse in My Michigan Divorce? 

It may seem unfair that, after years of enduring abuse at the hands of their partner, a spouse has to prove abuse to get relief from a court. But false accusations are common in divorce, and it is essential to back up any abuse claims with evidence, whether the alleged abuse is physical or emotional. 

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Novi adoption lawyer Adoption can be a wonderfully rewarding experience for many people to bring a child into their home and begin providing a loving and caring environment for them to grow up in, but adoption can also be incredibly confusing to navigate. People who are trying to adopt in Michigan will want to be sure they retain legal counsel for help overcoming any and all obstacles that may arise.

Birth parents can work closely with adoptive parents in some cases, but there may be others in which these parties do not meet. Every adoption in Michigan will require certain steps to be followed.

Who Can Legally Adopt in Michigan?

A person who wants to adopt in Michigan must be at least 18 years of age, complete a licensing application, successfully complete all background clearances for themselves and all of their adult household members, provide medical statements for themselves and all of their household members, submit to an environmental inspection, provide three acceptable references, pass on-site visits to their home by a licensing worker, and attend training pertinent to foster care issues.

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Oakland County divorce lawyerAlthough you may justifiably feel wronged by your spouse’s infidelity, you may be surprised to learn that cheating is not grounds for divorce in Michigan. This is not because your spouse did not do anything wrong; rather, this is because Michigan no longer allows “grounds” for divorce and someone can file for divorce without providing reasons at all. 

However, infidelity may still have an impact on the outcome of a divorce case. After all, infidelity rarely happens without accompanying bad behavior; spending money inappropriately, neglecting relationship responsibilities, and even endangering children are all behaviors that can come along with cheating. To learn more about how infidelity might affect your divorce, read on. 

How Can Alimony Affect a Michigan Divorce Case?

Adultery has the potential to affect a divorce case in several ways. The first is that infidelity may affect the payment of alimony (known as spousal maintenance). Judges can consider the behavior of the spouses towards each other and each spouse’s role in causing the divorce. One of the reasons for this is that infidelity often involves inappropriately spending money on reasons unrelated to the divorce, such as on dates or gifts for a new partner. Spousal maintenance may be used as a way to offset this, although there may also be another way. 

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Oakland County child custody lawyerLegal cases involving questions about child custody and welfare have the potential to become very heated. Parents are often concerned that they will lose their right to see their child, and the child in question is often caught between a rock and a hard place as each parent vies for their attention and loyalty. In tense situations like these, it can be difficult for children to understand what is best or to give an honest opinion about their preferences. It can also be difficult for a judge to make decisions because the information coming from both parents is clearly so biased.

To protect children in situations like this, a guardian ad litem may be appointed to investigate and represent a child’s best interests. Finding out that a guardian ad litem (GAL) has been appointed to your case can be intimidating, but there is usually no need to be concerned. If you are doing your best to parent your child and telling the truth to the court, a GAL can confirm that your child’s best interests are being served by your actions. 

Remain Calm and Cooperate

A GAL has several responsibilities. Their first duty is to the child, and their relationship to the child is a combination of both an attorney and an investigator. A GAL will need to meet with a child several times and will monitor the child’s well-being during and even after a case has been finalized. 

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Oakland County family law attorneyFinding out your spouse is responsible for a crime serious enough to send him or her to jail may be a terrible surprise. Even if you were not surprised by your spouse’s behavior, you may have finally had enough. A jailed spouse may add some complications to the divorce process, but having a spouse behind bars may present the perfect opportunity to end a relationship—especially if the relationship is dangerous or abusive. If your spouse is in jail and you want to end your marriage with a Michigan divorce, read on and then contact a divorce attorney who can help. 

Can Imprisoned Spouses Attend Divorce Hearings? 

People in Michigan jails and prisons still have certain rights, including the right to appear in legal proceedings in which they are involved. Although you may never want to see your spouse again, it is important to be prepared for the fact that he or she could still appear at court dates. 

Whether your spouse will choose to participate in the divorce can be difficult to know ahead of time. Luckily, serving him or her divorce papers is fairly straightforward, as your spouse’s location is known. Your spouse will need to respond to your initial filing within 21 or 28 days of receiving the divorce papers, depending on how they were received. Whether your spouse chooses to respond will define the remainder of the divorce proceedings. 

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Oakland County military divorce lawyerMichigan couples have to resolve several issues before they can finalize their divorce, and asset division is nearly always one of the most difficult of these issues. Spouses who have been married for many years typically share a diverse asset portfolio that is made up of equity in a marital home, savings accounts, and retirement accounts. When one or both spouses served in the United States Armed Forces, there may be military retirement benefits to divide in addition to other assets. 

Regardless of how large or small your marital asset portfolio is, Michigan divorce law requires the marital estate to be divided “fairly.” While fairly usually means each partner gets about half of everything, spouses may agree to other arrangements (such as one partner getting more assets but also more debt). If you are considering a divorce in Michigan and wondering what a fair division of assets could mean for your military retirement benefits, read on. 

Are Spouses of Military Members Automatically Entitled to Retirement Pay? 

Spouses are encouraged to decide how to split their marital property on their own, with the help of a mediator if necessary. If a couple cannot reach an agreement themselves, a judge may intervene and decide for them. There is no law or rule that obligates a Michigan court to award a spouse part of a current or former military member’s retirement pay or benefits, and a judge will only do so if it would be unfair not to. 

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Novi military child custody lawyerMembers of the United States Armed Forces face special challenges when it comes to nurturing their relationship with a child. Deployment can require a parent to be gone for long portions of a child’s life, during which a child may change significantly. For divorced military parents, these chunks of missing time can feel like an overwhelming loss. 

Fortunately, courts allow military parents some protection when dealing with issues of child custody. If you are going to be deployed and are wondering whether this will affect your relationship with your child, contact a Michigan military child custody attorney for help. 

Can a Deployment Be Used Against Me? 

Military parents often fear that their involuntary absence from their child’s life might be used against them in custodial proceedings. After all, if a very young child has not spent time with a parent for a year or more, that child’s relationship with the parent could become strained or almost nonexistent. 

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Michigan military divorce lawyerGetting a divorce is never easy, but it can be especially complicated when one or both spouses are active members of the United States Armed Forces. From filing a divorce to modifying a custody order, a spouse’s deployment can have a significant effect on the timing and outcome of the proceedings. 

In this blog, we will discuss how a spouse’s military deployment specifically affects the divorce proceedings - how and where divorce can be filed, what happens if a spouse is unable to attend court dates, and more. If you or your spouse are deployed and talking about getting a divorce, make sure you have help from a Michigan divorce attorney. 

Where Does a Couple File for Divorce During a Spouse’s Deployment? 

For a couple to file for divorce in a particular state, at least one spouse has to have residency in that state. Military members who move around frequently during their service may be unsure of whether they should file in their home state or the state in which they are currently deployed. 

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Novi divorce attorneyStudies suggest that having an attorney in a murder case significantly reduces the rate of conviction, the amount of time spent in jail, and the chance of a life sentence conviction. Perhaps in homicide cases, where the stakes are so high and there are questions of evidence, this is not surprising. But what about Michigan divorce cases? Does having a great lawyer matter then? And what if your attorney is not meeting your expectations - should you seek a new attorney or just wait it out, hoping things get better? If you find yourself in this situation, read on. 

The Right Lawyer Makes All the Difference

While everyone hopes to find the perfect attorney the first time around, this is not always possible. Most people getting divorced have never gone through the divorce process before and likely do not have experience choosing an attorney, including identifying red flags that could indicate an attorney is not the right fit. 

Even when an attorney has been well researched and carefully chosen, they are still people with personal problems and character flaws that may become apparent as a case goes on. An attorney who was responsive at first may become more and more difficult to contact; even the most organized lawyer may become a mess when dealing with a major health crisis or family problems. 

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