Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

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

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Farmington Hills divorce lawyer, Michigan divorce, business and divorce, parenting time agreements, estate planning and divorceFirst marriages tend to be colored by the innocent blush of first love and all the fun of planning a big wedding and choosing cakes, dresses, dinner menus, and flowers. Second marriages, on the other hand, are often shaded with more doubts and concerns, particularly on the financial front. Consider the following issues that second-marriage partners should discuss, sooner rather than later.

Obligations Related to Prior Marriages

It is not uncommon for one or both partners in a second-marriage situation to have debts, child support, and/or spousal support obligations from a prior marriage. Remarriage may also be a reason to revisit and possibly modify modify support obligations and parenting time agreements, particularly if the remarriage also involves a change of residence and/or job.

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marriage and divorce, gray divorces, Oakland County divorce lawyer, divorce statistics, remarriageIs it still true that “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage?” According to the latest U.S. Census statistics, love and marriage do not go together as much as they once did.

What Percentage of Americans Are Married?

U.S. Census data shows that the percentage of Americans over age 15 living in matrimony has declined over the past 20 years, from 56 percent in 1997 to 52 percent in 2017. Even if you only count adults age 20-64, you still get a 52 percent married rate.

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Farmington Hills divorce lawyer, Michigan divorce, pets and divorce, Michigan divorce law, pet custodyHow deep is the relationship between people and their pets? Just consider some of the terms you hear these days: Pet parents, dog mom, even grand-dog. Additionally, most of us have seen at least one car window with a sticker saying “Fur Babies on Board” or “My dog is smarter than your honor student.” 

National statistics back up the bumper stickers. A 2016 survey reported that 68 percent of U.S. households have at least one pet (a figure which has been trending upward for over two decades), and 84 percent of pet owners now think of themselves as pet parents rather than pet owners. 

Therefore, not surprisingly, “Who gets the pets?” has become an increasingly contentious issue in divorces, as emotions over pets can run high, even in an otherwise uncontested divorce. Devoted pet parents may be shocked to learn that virtually all state divorce laws still treat pets as mere property to be divided, like a TV and the lawn mower. However, this is beginning to change.

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Farmington Hills family law attorney, parenting time orders, child support payments, Michigan child support, income withholding orderWhen one parent fails to pay child support or cooperate with the court-ordered parenting time schedule, it creates a sad situation for the child as well as conflict between the parents. For the benefit of all, it is best to address non-compliance issues quickly and not let them drag on. In Michigan, the Friend of the Court (FOC) office of your local circuit court has primary responsibility for enforcement of child-related court orders.

Failure to Pay Child Support in Michigan

To help ensure accurate and consistent records, Michigan handles child support payments electronically, with all payments made to and disbursed by the Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MisDU). In most cases, the court that handles your divorce will issue an income withholding order. This requires the payer’s employer to withhold (and forward to MisDU) the required amount of child support from the person’s paycheck. Self-employed payers will make payments directly to MiSDU.

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Michigan child support, parenting time, Farmington Hills family law attorney, parental relocation, parenting time orderFor a divorcing couple with minor children, the process of developing financial support and co-parenting agreements that meet the needs of the whole family can be both complicated and exhausting. 

Once it is done, you hope the original agreement will work until the children reach majority, but then fate intervenes. Parents may relocate, change jobs, have their working hours modified, have a significant change in income, or be stricken by a serious illness. Children may change schools, have ever-changing extracurricular activity schedules, or develop new medical issues. These are just a few of the many reasons that may necessitate a revision of your existing child-care agreement.

How Child Care Agreements are Documented in a Divorce

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child support payments, parenting time, Farmington Hills family law attorney, Michigan family law trends, Michigan divorceWhen working through a divorce, it is common to feel lonely and wonder how you will cope on your own. Moreover, if you have children to care for, worrying about how you will manage the new complexities of divided childcare costs and parenting time is natural.

While every family’s situation is unique, stepping back and looking at statewide outcomes and trends can provide a helpful perspective. 

Michigan Marriage and Divorce Numbers

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Farmington Hills divorce lawyer, Michigan divorce, Michigan State Disbursement Unit, circuit courts, parenting disputesDivorcing couples with minor children will quickly become familiar with multiple government agencies, including:

  • The Family Division of the circuit court in the county where the divorce is filed;
  • The Friend of the Court (FOC) office in that county; and
  • The Michigan State Disbursement Unit (MiSDU).

These three government units each play an important role in ensuring that Michigan children of unmarried/divorced parents receive the best possible care and financial support. Consider the following simple overview to help you understand the role that these agencies will play during and after your divorce.

The Family Division of the Local Circuit Court

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney, child custody arrangements, file for divorce, divorce and finances, divorce and communicationThe longer you have been married and the more assets you have accumulated, the more complicated it will be to unweave the financial and logistical fabric of your married life. Additionally, once you officially file for divorce, you can quickly find yourself caught up in a tsunami of paperwork, meetings, and emotions. Therefore, it is important to take some preparatory steps before filing for divorce

Organize Documentation

  1. Make an itemized list of your income sources, assets, debts, and shared service accounts. Include bank/investment/retirement accounts, insurance policies, credit cards, loans, cell phone plans, etc. Also, include account numbers and passwords for online access.
  2. Gather copies of important documents such as tax returns and vehicle title and registration papers. 

Begin to Separate Your Financial Affairs From Your Spouse’s

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Oakland County divorce attorney, asset valuation, marital assets, tax consequences, high asset divorceIf you are a member of a high net worth family and accustomed to a certain standard of living, a divorce can post a significant threat to your assets and lifestyle. To protect your best interests, you should understand the unique risks and challenges you may face in a high asset divorce.

Take the Time and Get the Advice to Do It Right

You may want to get your divorce over with as quickly as possible, so you can move on to the next phase of your life. You may not want to devote a lot of time to the process, as you may run a business that requires most of your attention or have a job that requires a lot of time away from home.

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Michigan paternity laws, parenting time, Oakland County family law attorney, unmarried parents, parenting agreementsNearly 40 percent of all Michigan babies are born to unmarried parents (figures for 2014–2016). Yet, despite how common it is, the birth of a child to unmarried parents creates some complex legal issues, and misconceptions abound.

For example, a single mother might assume she can establish legal paternity without the father’s agreement, just by filling in a father’s name on the birth certificate. Or, an unmarried father might assume that informally paying some of the child’s expenses is enough to “earn” him the legal rights of a father, such as the right to spend time with the child and share in parenting decisions. However, under Michigan law, both assumptions are incorrect.

Consider three important factors that all unmarried mothers and fathers should know about the Michigan laws that govern paternity, child support, and parenting time.

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Farmington Hills family law attorney, parenting plan, uncontested divorce, child support, child support paymentsOne of the most sensitive issues in a divorce involving children is the parenting plan. For example, how much time do the children spend with each parent? Which parent has to pay child support to the other, and how much? Developing a parenting plan that meets the needs of both the children and the parents is a complicated process.

Let us look at just one of the many issues that must be decided in a divorce involving children: how child support payments are calculated. Even in an uncontested divorce, if children are involved, the settlement agreement must address the question of child support.

Michigan Child Support: Part Formula, Part Discretion

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney, 2018 tax law, alimony, taxable income, alimony payments Spousal support, also known as alimony, presents some of the toughest questions in a divorce settlement. Should one spouse have to make monthly support payments to the other after the divorce, and if so, in what amount and for how long?

How Alimony is Determined in Michigan

Under Michigan state law, there is no given formula for calculating the amount and term of spousal support payments. Instead, the spouses and their attorneys may either decide this amongst themselves or leave it to a judge to decide.

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Farmington Hills collaborative divorce attorney, collaborative divorce, collaborative divorce process, children and divorce, divorce and financesIs the collaborative divorce process the ideal choice for everyone? As with most “all or nothing” questions, the answer is “no.” The collaborative approach is now considered the best option for many if not most divorcing couples, but not for all.

To determine if a collaborative divorce is right for you, consider the following yay/nay factors.

1. Threatening Behaviors

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Farmington Hills collaborative divorce attorney, collaborative divorce, collaborative divorce process, divorcing spouses, litigated divorceLegal shows on TV usually depict divorcing spouses with their attorneys on opposite sides of a table, fighting over who gets the beach house or the dog, or accusing one another of lying. It always seems to end with one side storming out and declaring “I will see you in court.”

Thankfully, most divorces are not “as seen on TV.” Nonetheless, many divorces are burdened with conflicting values and interests that must be worked through along with the logistical issues of asset division, bill paying, and child care.

What is Different About the Collaborative Divorce Process?

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Farmington Hills collaborative divorce attorney, collaborative divorce, collaborative family law, Uniform Collaborative Law Act, divorce settlementsDid you know that you can get a divorce in Michigan without going through adversarial court proceedings? 

In June 2014, Michigan became the tenth state in the U.S. to adopt the Uniform Collaborative Law Act, which defines basic standards for the practice of collaborative family law. This act paved the way for Michigan judges and attorneys to fully support and practice a collaborative approach to divorce settlements, including asset distribution, alimony and child support payments, and custody/parenting agreements.

The aim of collaborative law is to create outcomes that best serve the needs and values of all parties involved and to do so through a process that is cooperative rather than adversarial. Negotiation, compromise, and creative problem solving are the bywords of the collaborative divorce process.

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Expertise Top 20 Detroit Child Support LawyersElkouri Heath PLC is proud to announce that our firm has been recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 best law firms assisting divorcing parents with child support in Detroit. Our inclusion in this hand-picked list, which was selected from a group of 215 law firms, is a recognition of the benefits we can provide to our clients as we help them resolve issues related to their children during divorce.

Criteria for Selection

Expertise is an online service that helps people connect with qualified professionals in a wide variety of fields. Their selection of businesses is based on publicly available data, with grading being based on five criteria:

  • Reputation - A firm’s history of recommendations from satisfied clients.
  • Credibility - A firm’s demonstration that they have established themselves in their field by obtaining licenses and receiving awards.
  • Experience - The level of education that a firm’s attorneys have achieved and the length of time they have been providing services to their clients. 
  • Availability - A firm’s level of engagement with their clients, showing that they are easy to approach and responsive to people’s needs.
  • Professionalism - A firm’s level of dedication to reliable, quality legal representation.

Assisting Michigan Families With Child Support Issues

Our attorneys work closely with our clients to help them correctly determine their obligation to provide support to their children, ensuring that families will have the financial resources they need following divorce. The amount of child support payments is calculated based on both parents’ net incomes and the number of children being supported, while also considering each parent’s amount of overnight parenting time with their children and whether either parent is required to support children from a previous relationship. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce mediation lawyerAfter you have made the decision to pursue a divorce, it is not uncommon to feel uneasy about airing your marriage history in open court. To avoid this, many couples find mediation to be a more effective and far less stressful and expensive way to settle the outstanding issues in their divorce. In addition to working with a resourceful family law attorney, it is critical to understand what is necessary to prepare for a mediation session. 

What You Need To Do To Get Ready

Mediation is often considered the low-key route to divorce, the process still has the ability to make people nervous, and this understandable. No matter what you call it, the end result is still the same, and to many, the end of one’s marriage can be nerve-wracking and emotional. Here are a few tips to consider when preparing for mediation sessions:

  • Get all your financial files in order. Spend time in advance of mediation making sure you have copies of bank records, statements, receipts, and records of all debts, loans, and assets that hold financial value to both you and your spouse. 
  • Make sure your emotions are in check. While mediation is supposed to be a less stressful path to divorce, depending on your relationship with your spouse, it is not uncommon for emotions to bubble to the surface. Do your best to control yourself and avoid outbursts, as they can be quite counterproductive.
  • Be ready to negotiate. You should enter mediation with the mindset of someone who wants to work toward a compromise, not argue. A little give and take will go a long way in resolving things quickly. 
  • Prepare a budget. Know your income and expenses, and enter mediation with a budget that accounts for your financial needs. Be realistic, but be sure to account for everything you (and your children) will require on a monthly basis. 

A Good Thing To Know In Advance

If, during the course of the mediation session, you have a question or concern you wish to share with your attorney, it is perfectly acceptable to ask to speak privately with your lawyer. Do not wait to ask questions and fully understand the legal ramifications of your decisions until it is too late. 

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Michigan Considers Shared Parenting for Divorced Parents

When parents decide to end their marriage, they often disagree about custody arrangements for their children, and battles over who will retain primary custody can be an especially contentious part of divorce proceedings. The children are often the ones who suffer the most in these types of conflicts, and in order to provide a better environment for children following divorce, the Michigan House of Representatives is currently considering legislation which would give equal parenting time to divorced parents.

Proposed Changes to Michigan Law

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are around 26,000 children in Michigan every year whose parents get divorced. In many of these cases, family courts award primary custody to one parent. However, polls have shown that there is overwhelming support for divorcing parents to have joint custody and equal parenting time, with 84% of registered voters believing that this is in the best interests of children, as long as a parent does not have a history of abuse, substance addiction, or mental illness.

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How Are Custody Decisions Reversed After a Divorce Ruling?

Once the judge rules on a case, it may seem there is no possibility for the judge to reverse their decision. Fortunately, for those who are not in favor the court's ruling, there is a way to have the court reconsider their initial ruling. A spouse has an opportunity to challenge the judge's so called “final” decision by appealing. If the spouse wants to change the custody rights or other obligations set by the judge, as child custody attorneys, we can provide experienced legal assistance.

Either spouse has the right to appeal the judge's divorce judgment to an appeals court. While it is not neither guaranteed or highly likely the appeal court will overturn a judge's ruling, spouses still have a chance and opportunity to reverse the ruling. An appeal begins by an attorney filing a written brief, which includes the legal argument and support from case law. The appeals court will also turn to the record of the trial court for further analysis. Typically, new evidence cannot be introduced during an appeal. Once all the information is submitted, both parties can make an oral case just for the divorce ruling.

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What Rights Do Custodial Parents Have?

In some Michigan divorces, sole custody is granted to one parent, rather than splitting parenting time between the two. The parent with custody is referred to as the custodial parent, and he or she has certain rights that the other parent does not. When sole custody is granted, the custodial parent has complete authority to make decisions on behalf of the child, such as medical care, education, and where to live.

While it's not the most common decision, it's not unusual for a judge to grant sole child custody to one parent. The courts generally maintain the opinion that it is in the best interest of the child to spend time with both parents, but a variety of factors can lead a judge to decide that one parent deserves full control over the welfare of the child. Judges may grant sole custody if the other parent is incapable of caring for the child, has a history of making poor decisions, or would likely make decisions that would put the child in danger.

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