Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

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

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Oakland County collaborative divorce attorney

The words “collaborative” and “divorce” may seem like opposites. However, many divorcing couples find that it is possible to have a divorce that is respectful and rooted in cooperation. To end your marriage, you will likely need to address several complicated issues including the division of assets and debt, child-related concerns, and alimony. During a collaborative divorce, spouses work with a collaborative team to reach an agreement regarding these issues. Collaborative divorce is not right for everyone, but there are several advantages to using this strategy to end your marriage.   

Using Collaborative Law to Resolve Divorce Issues in Michigan

The purpose of the collaborative divorce process is to reach an agreement about unresolved divorce issues in a manner that is cooperative rather than antagonistic. Spouses begin the process by hiring lawyers to represent them. It is crucial to hire an attorney who is experienced in collaborative divorce. You and your attorney will discuss your questions, concerns, and goals regarding the divorce. Next, each spouse and his or her lawyer hold a series of meetings during which they discuss the divorce issues. Your lawyer is there to protect your rights and provide legal guidance so that you can make informed decisions.

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Oakland County divorce attorney property division

The division of marital property is often one of the most important considerations in a Michigan divorce. For many divorcing spouses, one of the top questions is, “Who gets the house?” You and your spouse may be able to reach an agreement about what to do with your house. Mediation and collaborative law are two alternative resolution methods that have helped countless divorcing couples reach property division settlements. If you cannot reach an agreement, the decision regarding possession of the marital home will be left to the court.

Options for Dividing the Marital Home

You and your spouse have several options when it comes to the marital home. You may decide to sell the home and then divide the profits. If one spouse wishes to retain possession of the home, you may decide on a property division arrangement in which the spouse who gets the home “buys out” the other spouse. This is usually accomplished by one spouse retaining possession of the home and the other spouse retaining possession of the marital property of an approximately equal value.

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Oakland County divorce attorney child custody

The state of Michigan presumes that it is best for children to have both of their parents involved in their lives. Save for situations involving abuse and other issues that could endanger the child, Michigan courts usually favor child custody arrangements that allow parents to share custody. Life is full of unexpected changes, and consequently, parents may need to modify an existing child custody order. Whether you are a divorced parent or an unmarried parent, you can change your child custody arrangement in Michigan but only in certain circumstances.

You Must Show a Significant Change in Circumstances

Child custody is broken down into physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child actually lives while legal custody refers to a parent’s decision-making authority regarding the child’s upbringing. Michigan courts know that change is hard on children, so you can only modify your child custody order for a very good reason. Typically, the court requires there to be a major change in circumstances to even hear a motion to modify child custody.  

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Oakland County divorce attorney

If the relationship between you and your spouse has broken down, you may be considering ending your marriage. However, even if you believe that divorce is what is best for your family, you may be unsure about what will happen during the divorce process. One question that many spouses have is whether being the first to file for divorce will provide them with any advantages. By understanding the divorce laws in Michigan and the type of divorce you are planning to pursue, you can determine whether you should file for divorce sooner rather than later.

Filing for Divorce in Michigan

The divorce process begins when one spouse files a divorce complaint in their county’s circuit court. Since Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, the complaint will not need to specify specific grounds for divorce or a reason your marriage ended. Instead, you will simply need to allege that your marital relationship has broken down “to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed” and that it is not likely that you will be able to preserve your marriage. Since a divorce complaint will not blame either spouse for the end of the marriage, this may eliminate the need to be the first to file, since neither of you will need to show that the other is at fault for your divorce.

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Farmington Hills family law attorney paternity

All children have two biological parents, but these individuals will not always be considered the child’s legal parents. If a mother is unmarried when her child is born, she and the child’s other parent will need to take steps to establish paternity in Michigan. Doing so can not only provide a child with a sense of identity and belonging, but it can also provide the child and the parents with a number of other legal benefits.

How Is Paternity Established in Michigan?

If a mother is married when her child is born, her spouse will be the legal parent of the child. If the mother got divorced within 10 months before her child was born, her ex-spouse will be the child’s legal parent. Typically, in situations where the mother is unmarried, the child’s father will not be recognized as a legal parent until paternity is established.

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Oakland County family law attorney child support

All parents are required to provide financial support for their children. When parents are married or cohabitating with each other, they will work together to meet their family’s needs and cover ongoing expenses related to their children. However, when parents are divorced or separated,  they will usually need to make arrangements to ensure that they are both contributing to their children’s needs. Child support orders will set a monthly amount that parents will be required to pay, and in most cases, the non-custodial parent will make payments to the custodial parent. If a parent has failed to meet their obligations to pay child support, the other parent will want to be sure to understand how they can enforce the court’s orders and receive the support their children need.

Child Support Enforcement Methods

Parents are required to make all child support payments as ordered by the court. Any missed payments will continue to be owed, and interest may apply until past-due amounts are fully paid. A parent who receives child support may take legal action to enforce the other parent’s obligations. The court may use a variety of methods to collect the amount owed, including:

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Farmington Hills collaborative divorce lawyer

Getting a divorce can be a complex, difficult process, but fortunately, couples have a number of options for how they can approach the decisions they will need to make and the disputes they will need to resolve. While litigating a divorce in court is always a possibility, this is often the last resort since a divorce trial can be lengthy, expensive, and emotionally draining. In most cases, couples will work to negotiate a divorce settlement, allowing them to complete the divorce process without fighting battles in the courtroom. Mediation is one way of doing so, but collaborative divorce is an increasingly popular option for ending your marriage in Michigan.

What Is Collaborative Divorce?

During a collaborative divorce, spouses will work together to create a divorce settlement, and they will each be represented by an attorney who has been trained in collaborative law. At the beginning of the collaborative process, the spouses and their attorneys will sign an agreement stating that they will be honest with each other, negotiate in good faith, and provide any information requested by the other party. To foster the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, the attorneys will agree to withdraw from the case if the couple cannot reach a settlement, and the spouses will need to find new attorneys to represent them during divorce litigation.

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney spousal support

If you are getting divorced, you will likely have a variety of financial concerns, ranging from your ability to cover court costs and attorney’s fees, to how your marital assets and debts will be divided, to whether you will be able to support yourself once your marriage has ended. Depending on the income you and your spouse earn, one of you may be required to provide financial support to the other after your divorce. By understanding when spousal support (which is commonly known as alimony) is appropriate and how the amount and duration of payments are determined, you can prepare a post-divorce budget that will allow you to meet your ongoing needs.

Factors That May Affect a Spousal Support Award

Typically, spousal support is awarded if one spouse earns a significantly higher income than the other, and its purpose is to ensure that both spouses can continue living at the standard they became accustomed to during their marriage. In some cases, spouses may agree in their divorce settlement on the amount of support that will be paid, as well as the length of time that payments will last. Couples may also use a prenuptial agreement to specify whether alimony will or will not be paid in the case of divorce.

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Oakland County divorce attorney child custody

Whether they are planning to get a divorce, are unmarried, or wish to make changes to existing arrangements, parents will need to address a variety of legal issues during a child custody case in Michigan. When making decisions about these matters, a family court will consider what is in a child’s best interests, and multiple different factors may also be taken into consideration. One of the most important of these factors is the child’s “established custodial environment,” which will affect whether changes should be made to existing child custody arrangements.

Established Custodial Environment Under Michigan Law

When creating a new child custody order or determining whether to make modifications to an existing order, a court will look at any existing factors that affect a child’s environment and his or her relationship with parents or others who serve in a parental capacity. A custodial environment may be established if, over an “appreciable” amount of time, the child has developed a relationship with a parent or another person in which he or she looks to the custodian for guidance and support and receives discipline and instruction, and the custodian provides for his or her needs and offers “parental comfort.” 

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Oakland County divorce attorney tax implications

When getting a divorce in Michigan, you will need to consider multiple types of financial issues. As you work to address legal fees and other costs, determine whether you will pay or receive child support or spousal support, and create a new budget that will allow you to cover your ongoing expenses, you should also be sure to understand how your divorce will affect your taxes. Having a thorough understanding of this financial aspect can help you better prepare for the future. 

Tax Implications After Legally Ending Your Marriage

Once your Michigan divorce is finalized, you may need to deal with a variety of tax issues, including:

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Oakland County divorce attorney mediation

If your relationship with your spouse has broken down, you may feel that ending your marriage is the best choice for you and your family. However, you may also be worried about a contentious, adversarial divorce and the effects that this process may have on you, your finances, and your children. Fortunately, you do not have to take this approach, and instead, you may wish to use methods such as mediation to reach a settlement that both you and your spouse can be satisfied with. If you are weighing your divorce options, you should be sure to understand how the mediation process will work to determine whether it is right for you.

Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Mediation will allow you and your spouse to work together to end your marriage without the need to resolve disputes in the courtroom. The two of you will meet together with a mediator, who will be a neutral advisor rather than a legal representative for either of you. The mediator will help you understand the issues that you will need to address while guiding you toward decisions that you can both agree on.

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Novi child support lawyer2020 has been a hard year for everybody. Even if you or your loved ones have not become sick, the COVID-19 pandemic has likely affected your life in multiple ways. Because of business closures, reductions in working hours, or health concerns, many people have lost their jobs or have had to deal with issues that resulted in the loss of income. If you are struggling financially, you may find yourself unable to meet your child support obligations. If this is the case, you will want to determine how you can avoid legal issues that may affect your relationship with your children and your ongoing financial security.

Consequences for Non-Payment of Child Support

Once a child support order is issued as part of a divorce or family law case, you will be required to make all payments on time and in full. If you do not pay child support as ordered, a variety of enforcement actions could be taken against you. The amount owed may be collected by garnishing your wages or withholding other forms of income, including unemployment payments, workers’ compensation, or Social Security disability. Your future tax refunds could be intercepted, or liens could be placed on your property. Your non-payment will also be reported to credit agencies, causing your credit score to go down.

Failure to pay child support could also result in being held in civil contempt of court. This could lead to penalties such as the suspension of your driver’s license or a professional license, the denial of a U.S. passport, or even time in prison. Your case may also be referred to a criminal prosecutor, and you may be charged with the felony offense of non-support. If you are convicted of these charges, you could face imprisonment for up to four years and fines of up to $2,000.

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Oakland County family law attorney adoption

There are many reasons why a person or a couple may choose to adopt a child. Parents may be unable to have children biologically, or they may simply want to pursue other options for expanding their family. Adoption can also be a way to provide a loving home and supportive environment for a child who needs it. In the state of Michigan, there are thousands of children in the foster care system who are waiting to be adopted. Parents who are looking to adopt a child may want to ensure they meet all of the necessary requirements, and they can work with a family law attorney to address any legal issues that may arise.

Foster Child Adoption Requirements

In many cases, children who are in the foster care system are temporarily placed in the homes of foster parents, with the goal of reuniting them with their birth parent(s). However, there are some situations where parental rights are terminated, and these foster children will be looking for adoptive parents who will assume permanent legal guardianship and responsibility for them.

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Oakland County divorce attorney parental alienation

Getting through the divorce process can be difficult, even in the best of situations. Unfortunately, divorces have the potential to turn ugly, and disagreements between spouses can become contentious legal battles. This can be especially true when a couple has children, and parents can sometimes take extreme steps to try to gain an advantage in child custody disputes. Parental alienation, in which one parent tries to negatively influence his or her children’s attitudes toward the other, can be especially problematic. A divorcing parent should be sure to understand the signs that his or her former partner is taking these types of improper actions.

Recognizing Parental Alienation

In some cases, parental alienation may involve one parent having a negative attitude toward the other, and their children may pick up on these feelings and begin to mimic them. This type of behavior should be avoided, and a parent should try to make sure their children can maintain a good relationship with the other parent. However, in some cases, parental alienation can be more insidious or overt. A spouse may actively attempt to harm his or her children’s relationship with the other parent in hopes of influencing decisions about child custody by convincing children that they do not want to spend time with one parent.

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney mediation

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have had to get used to new ways of doing things. Whether this means working remotely, helping children attend school virtually, staying home whenever possible, practicing social distancing, or meeting up with people online rather than in person, things have changed significantly in many people’s lives. In some cases, these changes may have caused relationships between married couples to deteriorate, leading them to consider divorce. However, the same factors that led to this situation may also make the divorce process more difficult. Concerns about infection may affect court proceedings, and reaching a resolution on divorce-related issues can be tricky when the parties and their attorneys are maintaining social distancing. Fortunately, virtual divorce mediation is one solution that can help spouses resolve their differences and complete their divorce during this uncertain time.

How Does Virtual Mediation Work?

During divorce mediation, spouses will typically sit down together in the same room as a mediator, and they will go over all of the issues that need to be resolved before they can legally end their marriage. The mediator will act as a neutral third party, helping the spouses understand how the law applies to their situation and offering suggestions on how they can reach mutually acceptable agreements on issues such as asset division, child custody, and spousal support.

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Oakland County divorce attorney parental relocation

No matter how smoothly you and your spouse feel your divorce may be panning out, it is only natural to experience some bumps in the road somewhere along the separation journey. Even the most civil, peaceful partings can stir up feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, and resentment. This is especially true for the children in the family, who may understandably feel confused or threatened by the sudden changes in the household. 

Studies show that children of all ages tend to struggle with changes in routine, and they typically do best emotionally and mentally when they know what to expect on a day-to-day basis. Young adults in particular struggle with the transition, but even younger children can experience significant anxiety when their parents’ marriage ends. 

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney parenting time

Regardless of opinions on the matter, the law in Michigan states that substance abuse issues are not enough, in and of themselves, to disqualify a parent from retaining the rights to their children. It generally takes a showing of substance abuse and demonstrable consequences stemming from the problem in order to bring up questions of terminating parental rights. 

Parental Rights During a Divorce

As with any case where parental fitness is at issue, a Michigan court will determine the child’s future based on the consideration of a list of factors intended to pinpoint the best interests of the child. Parental fitness is only one of those factors, though it is an important one. If someone has a substance abuse issue but is seeking help with it, or if someone is mentally ill and in treatment, that is different in many respects from someone who denies the issue altogether. 

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Farmington Hills divorce attorney asset division

When a couple is getting divorced, property division is often the most contentious and time-consuming aspect of the process. It can feel insurmountable to have to divide every asset you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have between you. However, there is one other thing that must be divided upon the occasion of divorce: the debt that both of you hold. Both must be divided equitably in Michigan.

Dividing Assets

There are several factors that a Michigan judge will consider when determining how assets are divided, but equity is the prevailing focus. Many people confuse equity and equality; equity is a legal term meaning fairness in all respects, while equality is more of a colloquial concept. A judge will weigh a list of factors and determine the fairness of the proposed distribution. Some of these factors include:

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Oakland County military divorce attorney

Serving in the military comes with obvious risks, but not everyone thinks about the risks their relationships may face. The unfortunate truth is that being an enlisted service member or an officer means your chances of getting divorced are much higher than those associated with a marriage between two civilians.

Factors that can lead to a ruined relationship include the extremely high stress of certain military jobs, being away for months at a time, and having to put your service before your family again and again. Service members who have experienced trauma while deployed or during training have an even higher divorce rate, with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and an inability to assimilate back into civilian life being common contributors to divorce

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5 Tips for Adjusting to a Blended Family After a Michigan AdoptionAdopting a child can be one of the most rewarding experiences of a person’s life. In many cases, adoption gives a loving, safe home to a child in need. Some couples who cannot have biological children of their own may choose to adopt. Other spouses may decide they would like to expand their family through adoption, even if they already have kids of their own. Having siblings can be a wonderful way to grow up. However, there can be a period of adjustment for everyone involved. The following are a few ways to ease the transition for parents and children alike. It is also important to enlist the help of a knowledgeable family law attorney to make your dream come true.   

Creating a Sense of Belonging

Although it is a very exciting time in your life, adopting can also be challenging, especially if your adopted child will be welcomed to your home by new siblings. Here is some practical advice on how to alleviate some of the stress on all family members: 

  1. Include Your Current Children in the Process: Depending on the age of your biological children, they may or may not understand the process your family is embarking on. Talk to them in an age-appropriate language that will help them make sense of the changes that are about to take place and how they will impact their daily routine. 
  2. Gather as Much Information as Possible: Obtain as many details as you can on your adopted child’s medical history, as well as his or her ethnic background. Explain these differences to your children and try to incorporate any cultural traditions into your family.
  3. Beware of Playing Favorites: As a parent, it is important to avoid favoritism with any of your kids. Special treatment of either your adopted child or your biological kids is not fair to anyone. Similarly, disciplining should be consistent for every child. 
  4. Acknowledge Birth Order: Consider that older or younger children may feel some resentment or jealousy if they are no longer the oldest or youngest. It will take time for everyone to get used to their “new normal” after adding another family member, so try not to rush it. Allow your kids to share their feelings by having an open mind and listening.
  5. Seek Family Therapy or Counseling: If any of your children are acting out as a result of the adoption, it might be a wise investment to talk to professionals in child or family counseling. A social worker, family therapist, or adoption specialist can guide your family through this new transition. 

Contact a Farmington Hills Adoption Lawyer

Adoption can be a long and complicated process, but it is worth it in the end. If you are considering adopting a child, it is crucial that you hire an experienced legal team to ensure you complete all the required steps. The distinguished law firm of Elkouri Heath, PLC, has been providing families in southeast Michigan with quality legal services for more than 20 years. We have assisted numerous clients on both sides of family adoption proceedings. Our dedicated Novi, MI, family law attorneys are adept at navigating the adoption process in a thorough and efficient manner. Call our office today at 248-244-9700 to schedule your free consultation.

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