Elkouri Heath, PLC

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

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Farmington Hills family law attorney, parenting plan, uncontested divorce, child support, child support payments

Originally published: March 2018 -- Updated: May 2021

Laws are constantly changing in order to provide better services and protections to people in the community. Recently, child support laws in Michigan have been updated to contain information about what to do when a parent is incapacitated. In many cases, when someone becomes incapacitated because of a disease, illness or injury, it may not be certain when they will recover and begin earning income again. The section added to the Michigan child support manual addresses these types of situations and provides information on what to do in those situations.

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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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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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Posted on in Family Law

How To Establish Paternity in MichiganWhen a married couple has a child together, the husband of the woman who gave birth to the child is automatically considered the child’s father in the eyes of the law. The father does not need to take any action to establish paternity and become the child’s official parent. However, the same is not true for unmarried couples. If you are an unmarried father who wishes to become your child’s legal parent, you will have to take some steps to officially establish the parent-child relationship.

Establishing Parentage Can Benefit Your Child in Many Ways

Even if you know that you are the biological parent of your child, there are several benefits of formally establishing parentage or paternity. Establishing paternity can give your child a better sense of self and open the doors for them to form a relationship with extended family. Furthermore, establishing paternity allows your child to benefit from your:

  • Health insurance
  • Inheritance
  • Pensions
  • Social security
  • Veteran’s benefits

A child whose father has established paternity will also be able to access the father’s medical history, which can be extremely important if the child experiences certain health concerns.

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Oakland County child support attorney

Studies show that children thrive when they have a relationship with both of their parents. In addition to emotional support, kids deserve to receive financial support from both of their parents, including when parents are divorced or unmarried. If you are a parent in Michigan who is considering divorce, you may be wondering how child support determinations will be made. Which parent pays child support? How much will my monthly child support payment be? When does child support end? Read on to learn the answers to these questions and find out how you can get help with child support questions or disputes in Michigan.

Understanding Michigan Child Support 

The Michigan Child Support Formula is used to determine which parent will pay child support and the amount of support payments. The factors considered in child support calculations include:

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Oakland County divorce asset division attorney

The divorce process can be a tumultuous time for any person. Separating from a spouse to whom you were once happily married is never easy. In any divorce, there are a variety of complicated matters that will need to be resolved. Most notably, a person’s financial situation can drastically change post-divorce. In order to ensure that your divorce does not compromise your future financial security, it is important to know how to protect yourself. Below we will discuss a few simple steps you can take to ensure a level of financial security after your divorce is finalized. 

Preparation Is Essential for Financial Security

When you are separating from your spouse, it can be difficult to think about money. The reality of the situation, however, is that you need to be thinking about what your financial future will look like once the divorce is finalized. Some steps you can take include:

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Novi MI divorce lawyerDivorce changes the lives of many people in numerous ways. Determining child support, dividing assets, and setting child custody schedules are all normal parts of the divorce process. When you have children, you will also need to consider how to handle the changes your divorce causes with regard to your taxes. There are a few things you have to keep in mind when filing your taxes after a divorce, including what to do about claiming a child as a dependent and your filing status. 

Custodial vs. Noncustodial

The custodial parent is the parent the child spends the greatest portion of time with during the year, and the noncustodial parent is the parent the child spends the lesser amount of time with. The custodial or noncustodial status will most likely affect how you file your taxes after the divorce. The most common practice is for the custodial parent to claim the child as a dependent on their taxes, but it is possible for the noncustodial parent to claim a child as a dependent. The custodial parent needs to sign a form that they will not claim the child as a dependent, and the noncustodial parent also has to fill out a form. Both parents cannot claim the child as a dependent for the same year. 

Filing Status

If you and your spouse are going to get divorced but have not actually divorced before the year ends, it is possible to file a joint tax return, but you can also file with the status, “married filing separately.” Once you are no longer married you will need to choose either single or head of household as a filing status. In order to file as a head of household, you must be unmarried or “considered unmarried” on the final day of the tax year, pay more than half the expenses of a home for that year, and have a “qualifying person” live in your home for greater than half of the year. If those requirements are not applicable to you, then your filing status will be single after the divorce. 

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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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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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How Do Michigan Courts Decide Who Gets Child Custody?

Divorce is always stressful and emotionally draining. When children are involved, the stress and emotional strain is even greater. Judges who handle divorce cases regularly will tell you that determining child custody cases is very difficult, as they must consider a multitude of factors. Michigan has a prescribed guideline for the courts to reference when making child custody decisions. While the guideline is helpful to judges in making determinations about custody, there are a variety of other factors judges consider when making custody decisions.

Judges will often consider factors such as a child's age, the parent's ability to care for the child, parent's criminal record, etc. Sometimes, Michigan judges will talk with children during divorce proceedings to ask for their opinion regarding custodial matters. In these cases, judges typically assure the child that their opinion is important, but that the decision will be made from the bench, relieving the child from feeling like they betrayed one parent.

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