Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

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

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Posted on in Divorce

Is Divorce Better Than An Unhappy Marriage?Divorce is a scary decision to make and often takes couples years to come to. Splitting from your spouse may not sound like a good option, especially if you have been with them for over a decade. You become accustomed to living with another person, even if you do not necessarily get along with them, and the alternative can seem like a worse situation. For those considering divorce, it can be difficult to find the encouragement you need to do so from loved ones. Their ties to you and your spouse can make them a non-neutral party who are rooting for your relationship rather than your best self. Our divorce attorneys at Elkouri Heath, PLC, work to put you first, regardless of your relationship, and encourage our clients to look at divorce in a new light.

Seeing the “Positive” in the “Negative”

Societal norms often frame divorce in a negative light. While divorce may not have been your plan while saying “I do,” a split from your spouse is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is often the best thing for individuals who are getting divorced. Our attorneys find that by shedding new light on the “negatives” of divorce, many spouses begin to see the positives that can come from this life change.

  1. Giving Up Mutual Security to Give Yourself a New Start: One of the biggest fears that divorcing couples have is change. Starting a new life after your initial plan failed to work out can be a stressful experience and can even keep people in unhappy marriages. Though you may be giving up the “security” that you have with your spouse, this security can often make you give up your happiness. Having another person by your side may feel like safety, but getting to choose your happiness and rely on yourself along the way is the biggest life security of all.
  2. Two Parents Does Not Mean Better Parenting: Married couples with children can often stay in their relationship for their children’s sake, thinking that having two parents under one household is better for their kids. While this line of thinking is understandable, what many parents fail to recognize is the attention that their children give their parents' interaction. Many parents will try and “fake it till they make it” until their children are out of the house but do not realize that kids can sense the tension between their parents. Experts have found that children do better in a less contentious environment rather than seeing the effects of an unhealthy relationship.
  3. Moving On and Moving Up: Individuals going through a divorce are not doomed to an eternity of solitude. Those who are in unhappy relationships may remain in them thinking that they are too old to find another partner. As more and more middle-aged individuals are getting divorced, the dating pool continues to grow for those who consider themselves past the age of dating. Whether or not you find another partner, you deserve to be with someone who makes you happy, even if that person is yourself.

Call a Novi, MI, Divorce Attorney for Help

Calling a divorce attorney may seem like the final step in the divorce process; however, it does not necessarily mean that you must have made up your mind. Sometimes, speaking to a legal professional can help you make your decision one way or the other. At Elkouri Heath, PLC, we offer advice for those considering divorce or those looking for an attorney to represent their case. With over 23 years of experience, our attorneys have worked with a variety of couples, each with their own unique situation, and have gained extensive knowledge about the legal and emotional side of divorce. If you are considering divorce, contact our Oakland County divorce lawyers for a free consultation at 248-344-9700 today.

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Can Grandparents Be Granted Visitation in Michigan?If you have grandchildren, you know what a joy being a grandparent can be. After a divorce, grandparents may worry that they will not get to see their grandchildren as often as they did when the children’s parents were married. In some cases, a parent may outright refuse to let his or her children see their grandparents. This can be absolutely devastating for both the grandparents and the grandchildren. Fortunately, grandparents have certain rights under Michigan law that allow them to spend time with their grandchildren. However, these rights may be subject to certain restrictions and qualifying criteria.

How Can I Get Grandparenting Time?

Visitation with grandchildren, also called grandparenting time, is not automatically granted after a divorce. If your grandchildren’s parent(s) agrees to grandparenting time, you will have a much easier time pursuing visitation with the children. However, if the parents do not want you to see their children, you will have to convince the court that grandparent visitation is in the child’s or children’s best interest.

If the court finds the parents “fit” enough to make good decisions regarding who their children spend time with, it can be hard to get court-ordered grandparenting time over their objections. In order for a grandparent to be awarded visitation, they must show evidence that proves the benefit of them spending time with their grandchildren. If you want court-ordered grandparent visitation, you will need to prove that the denial of grandparent visitation rights would create a “substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health.” Michigan courts consider a variety of factors when deciding whether or not grandparent visitation is appropriate. These include but are not limited to:

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Common Questions About Child Custody in MichiganIf you are a parent who is unmarried or planning to divorce, you may have many questions about child custody in Michigan. Parents are encouraged to work out their own child custody arrangements, but understandably, this is not always possible. If parents cannot come to an agreement regarding custody and parenting time, the court will intervene and determine a child custody schedule on behalf of the parents. In Michigan, the Child Custody Act dictates how the court makes decisions about parenting time and custody.

Joint Custody or Sole Custody?

There are two types of custody under Michigan law: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is a parent’s decision-making authority and physical custody is where the child physically lives. Parents with joint legal custody consult with one another regarding major child-related decisions whereas sole legal custody assigns all decision-making responsibilities to one parent. In a joint physical custody arrangement, the child maintains a residence with both parents. Typically, one parent in a joint custody arrangement is the primary custodian and the other parent enjoys child visitation, technically called parenting time in Michigan law. When a parent has sole physical custody, the child resides only with them.

Best Interest Factors Considered During Custody Disputes

When parents cannot agree on custody issues, the court will make a determination based on the child’s best interests. The Michigan Child Custody Act lists the factors used to evaluate what type of child custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest. These factors include but are not limited to:

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Novi asset division attorneyCouples have been getting divorced for centuries, and while the process may be standard, societal changes can cause divorce attorneys to adjust their approach. One recent issue that may complicate the asset division process is dividing cryptocurrency. The concept of cryptocurrency can be confusing for most people because it is a relatively recent invention. However, if you do own a form of cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, and are going through a divorce, finding a qualified divorce attorney who understands how to divide cryptocurrency should be your first step.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a type of financial exchange that is conducted through the internet. It does not belong to a bank, so there are no fees needed to keep it in an account online. Cryptocurrency is governed by computer code, and its computer technology limits the number of virtual "coins" in circulation. When either spouse owns cryptocurrency in a divorce, it is treated as intangible property. 

How to Value Your Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is hard to value, and the market can be extremely volatile. Due to fluctuating exchange rates, virtual currency owned when a divorce commences could be worth 300 times its value by the end of the settlement, or it could be 300 times less. During the divorce process, the value of a cryptocurrency can be determined by calculating the Fair Market Value, or what it would be worth if exchanged for cash. 

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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce attorneyDivorce is rarely a rash decision. It takes serious consideration from both sides and can have its fair share of consequences. As you begin taking the steps to file for divorce, it is important to be prepared. Divorce can be an expensive process and if you are not careful, it can cost you more than you expected. However, with proper financial planning and preparation, you can work toward a fair divorce that does not permanently damage your bank account.

Evaluate Your Finances

In many divorce cases, one spouse may not know how much money is contained in the couple's joint bank accounts. Regardless of gender, it is important to know what is in your bank accounts and have a general knowledge of your credit report. Look at each bank account’s balance before meeting with your attorney. At the same time, evaluate any debts that you and your spouse hold. Having a good understanding of your financial situation will give you an advantage when dividing assets.

Make a Budget

There will be a lot of changes after your divorce, especially regarding your new living situation. It is important to create a budget to determine how much your new lifestyle will cost. Will you be renting an apartment? Will you be paying for utility bills on your own? How much is your weekly grocery bill? These are important questions to consider when creating a budget. Once you have a budget that covers your necessary living expenses, the judge can determine a proper amount for spousal maintenance/support.

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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce attorneyWhile marriages are usually intended to last forever, many do not make it that far. When a marriage ends in divorce, there are usually a variety of factors that led to its demise. Some couples grow apart; others realize their compatibility does not last an entire lifetime. Each couple may be unique, but studies have shown that many divorcing couples experience similar issues that lead to the breakdown of their marriage. These include:

1. Refusal to Work on Mental Health Issues

Many individuals suffer from mental health issues, yet some refuse to seek professional help. If one partner is dealing with a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, their actions not only affect themselves but their spouse and other family members as well. The other spouse may struggle to understand their partner’s struggles, especially if they do not appear to be taking active steps to improve. If one spouse refuses to seek professional help for a mental illness, the impact on their relationship can be detrimental and eventually lead to divorce. 

2. Dangerous Addictions

In a marriage, it is important for couples to prioritize their relationship and the life they are building together. For those that struggle with substance abuse, it can be easy for their marriage to get placed on the back burner. A spouse's personality may change when they are drinking, or they may become dangerous as a result of their drug use, and in many cases, it is unlikely that they will willingly stop using the substances. The other spouse may feel neglected, and they may even suffer physical and emotional abuse, or their spouse may waste marital funds in pursuit of their addictions. As a result of these issues, many spouses will eventually see divorce as their best option.

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Posted on in Divorce

Novi, MI divorce attorneyEntering marriage is always a risk. The divorce rate is rumored to be around 50%, and as much as people are excited about the idea of spending a lifetime together, such high divorce rates seem daunting. Whether you are considering marriage or not, there is a new divorce statistic that is different than the standard 50%. With recent research, it appears that the divorce rate in America is actually declining. According to 2013 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce rate is now closer to 40%. 

Divorce Rates Dropping

Since the year 2000, fewer people have been getting married. The average number of marriages per 1,000 citizens used to be 8.2, but more recently, that number has declined to 6.2 marriages per 1,000 citizens. The conclusion that can be drawn from these numbers is obvious: fewer marriages mean fewer divorces. In 2016, there were 827,000 divorces among 258 million citizens. That number is dramatically lower than the 944,000 divorces (out of 233 million citizens) which occurred in 2000. 

Is a Changing Society Behind the Reduced Numbers?

While it is impossible to determine the exact reason why divorce rates are going down in America, the ever-changing societal view of marriage may be a contributor. As husbands and wives redefine their traditional roles, marriage and divorce rates have changed as a result, since people are getting married and divorced for different reasons than in the past. The normalization of “relationship help resources” may have helped couples solve marital issues that were not being addressed before. Because of this, divorce is no longer the only solution for a marriage facing problems. Couples counseling has gained credibility and become less taboo in modern society. Now when couples are facing troubles, many go to therapy in an attempt to save the marriage. Despite these resources, some marriages remain irreconcilable, leaving divorce as the only option. 

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Novi, MI divorce attorneyThere are many potential causes for divorce, ranging from infidelity, constant arguments, or financial stress to a couple simply not liking each other anymore. Sometimes, the littlest things your partner does can turn into big problems, especially if they involve passive aggression and a lack of proper communication. But what if the actual cause for a relationship's breakdown was more than miscommunication and instead was neurologically-based? Studies have found that a condition known as misophonia can turn your partner’s pet peeves into your most irritating and unlivable nightmare.

Misophonia Explained

Misophonia is a neurological condition in which a person has an extreme reaction to everyday sounds. To many people with this condition, the most common annoyance is hearing another person chew their food; however, those with misophonia can be bothered by nail-biting, scratching, and even certain breathing noises. Slurping, sipping, and smacking are also irritable noises to those who suffer from the disease. This makes it difficult to enjoy dinner with one's partner or lay down next to them, especially if the natural noises a person makes lead to pain for reasons that are hard to understand.

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, misophonia affects nearly 20% of the population. This number is likely low, since the condition is underdiagnosed. The exact cause of misophonia is unknown, but neuroscientists have a theory that it may involve an abnormal connection in the brain between the limbic system, autonomic nervous system, and auditory cortex. The limbic system controls emotions, the autonomic nervous system is in charge of flight or fight responses, and the auditory cortex controls hearing. Most people who have misophonia have extra sensitive hearing, causing their discomfort. 

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Novi, MI divorce attorneyWhen one person wants a divorce, it is rare that the other partner is blindsided by the announcement; an unhappy relationship does require two people. However, a new study has found that most initial divorce announcements come from women. When looking over the data, there are a few factors that explain why this may be the case. 

A study by the American Sociological Association surveyed more than 2,000 heterosexual couples and discovered that women initiated 70% of the divorces. However, if a couple broke up while they were not married, there was no significant difference in which partner initiated the end of the relationship. Married women report having lower satisfaction levels in marriage than married men. In non-married couples, the satisfaction levels between the genders remained relatively the same, regardless of whether the couple was living together or not. Looking at historical divorce data, women have been the primary divorce initiators as far back as the 1940s. 

According to Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford who worked on this study, women tend to find marriage oppressive. When getting married, women are more likely to take their husbands’ last names. Societal pressure also considers women to be responsible for doing most of the housework and staying home to raise the children. Most women do not fit these stereotypes but are pressured to do so by society and their husbands, and when they are unhappy in their marriage, divorce becomes their best option. Non-marital relationships often allow women to avoid the stringent societal pressures that come with marriage. 

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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 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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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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MI family attorneyWhen two adults divorce, you have to make a lot of changes in a relatively short period of time: where you live, who you live with, how you manage your money, who your friends are, and so on. As hard as it is to deal with all of these changes as an adult, imagine how much more difficult it can be for a child who has no control over custody and parenting time decisions.

What can you do to keep your children healthy and happy despite the divorce? Here is some simple advice compiled by the Oakland County Friend of the Court agency with input from professionals who have helped hundreds of divorcing families.

1. Stick to a routine.

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Can Your Spouse Prevent Your Divorce by Refusing to Sign the Papers?

Farmington Hills divorce process attorneyIn the rom-com movie “Sweet Home Alabama,” Melanie (played by Reese Witherspoon) wants a divorce, but Jake (Josh Lucas) has refused to sign the papers for seven years. While Hollywood movies are not always known for their realism, this particular plot point may leave many wondering: could a resistant spouse really hold up a divorce proceeding for that long, just by refusing to sign a piece of paper?

In Michigan, you may be relieved to know, the short answer is “no.” If one spouse wants a divorce, the other spouse cannot prevent it. If your spouse refuses to participate in the process, your divorce can be finalized within a matter of months. 

Signatures Required for a Michigan Divorce

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Elkouri Heath Named One of the Top 20 Child Support Lawyers in Detroit

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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