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Can A Child Custody Ruling Be Modified in Michigan?When parents choose to end their marriage, the most important factor that should be considered for the future is the safety and wellbeing of their children. While Michigan law encourages both caregivers to create a custody agreement that is in the best interest of the children, this may not always be possible. Depending on the reasons behind the divorce, parents may have a difficult time coming together to construct an agreed-upon parenting plan. As time progresses and situations change, however, modifications may be made to a child custody arrangement if there is a proper cause and the involved children would benefit. If you wish to alter your current court-ordered parental agreement, a knowledgeable child custody lawyer can help. 

Joint or Sole Custody

Once parents choose to end their marriage, the decision of custody must be determined. If for any reason the parents cannot agree on a living situation for their children, the court system will become involved. If joint custody is decided, that means that both parents will share the responsibility of raising their children. Topics such as education, religion, medical care, and the decision of extracurricular activities will have to be agreed upon by both spouses. Before a ruling is made, the judge must determine whether or not the parents will be able to agree on the aforementioned topics. Joint custody may be considered by the court without a request from either parent. 

In the event that sole custody is granted, the care and decision-making responsibilities will be designated to one parent. When determining which outcome will be enforced, a judge will consider:

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Differentiating Between Separate and Marital Property During a Michigan DivorceOften, one of the most contentious issues during a divorce is asset division. When two people marry, they join their lives not only personally, but also financially. Undoing the intertwining of two people’s finances can quickly become complicated – especially if the couple owns complex assets such as a family business, stock options, retirement accounts, or investment real estate. If you plan to divorce and you live in Michigan, a qualified family law attorney can help you understand your options for property division under Michigan law.

Marital Property Is Property Accumulated During the Marriage

Before the marital estate can be divided during a divorce, courts must determine what property is separate and what property is marital. Generally, separate or non-marital properties include funds or assets which a spouse acquired before getting married. For example, if a wife collected an assortment of fine art before she married her husband, it would likely be considered separate property and not subject to division during divorce. Marital property, on the other hand, typically includes any assets accumulated during the marriage. However, there are exceptions to these general rules. According to Michigan case law, assets accumulated while the couple was living together but not formally married may be considered separate property or part of the marital estate depending on the specific circumstances of the case.

Michigan Courts Must Divide the Marital Estate “Fairly”

Unlike some other states, Michigan does not simply divide marital property exactly in half during a divorce. Instead, courts consider a variety of factors in order to reach a property division scenario which is equitable, or fair, for both parties. Michigan law asserts that marital property does not need to be divided in such a way that each spouse receives exactly 50 percent of the marital estate. However, the courts do have an obligation to explain any “significant departures from congruence” with regard to the distribution of the marital estate. The length of the marriage, each spouse’s income and overall financial circumstances, the health and needs of each spouse, and other factors may influence the distribution of marital property during divorce.

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How to Behave in Court During a Divorce or Family Law CaseDivorce can be a stressful time for almost everyone. Sometimes people act out irrationally due to the high stress and tense situations. However, those actions can have a huge impact on the outcome of your divorce if you are not careful. By working with an experienced attorney, you can be prepared to address the legal concerns in a divorce or family law case. Here are three tips for how you should prepare and behave during this crucial time:

  1. Dress Appropriately for Court: The court is a formal setting and first impressions matter. You want to dress in a clean, respectful way that showcases your responsibility and maturity. Wearing professional-looking clothing to court is your way of showing respect for the judge and the legal system. Besides wearing conservative clothing, make sure you are showered and look clean. 
  2. Stay Alcohol and Drug-Free: Substance abuse is a serious problem, especially when children are involved. Judges will always err on the side of caution and demand the person be drug-tested if they suspect a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol. The best way to avoid this suspicion is to remain sober, especially during all court appearances. If you give the judge a hint of doubt you about your ability to be a good provider, you could risk losing custody of your children.
  3. Do Not Talk Poorly of Your Ex to Your Children: It is important not to talk poorly about your ex to your children since they need to think of both of their parents in a positive and safe light. This applies especially to cases in family court. The judge is also the jury and will look down on you if she or he hears you are bad-mouthing the other parent. According to the Children’s Bill of Rights, children do not need to be subjected to negative talk about the other parent.

Contact an Oakland County Attorney

Whatever the situation, it is helpful to learn how to remain calm and collected. Besides a clear mental state, you also need qualified legal advice. If you are experiencing a divorce, you need the best representation to help you reach a settlement or argue your case in court. Our reputable Oakland County divorce lawyers at Elkouri Heath, PLC, can advocate on your behalf in order to protect your interests during your divorce or family law case. Contact us at 248-344-9700 today to schedule an appointment.

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Posted on in Divorce

Comparing Divorce Rates From Around the WorldOver the past four decades, divorce rates around the world have more than doubled. A recent study conducted by Cheng-Tong Lir Wang and Evan Schofer (sociologists at UC Irvine) compiled more than 40 years of data to look at how divorce rates have changed from a global perspective. Below, we will take a closer look at their results and identify trends. There are many factors for this growth in divorce. However, no matter what the factors are, it is important to find a reputable divorce lawyer.

Highest and Lowest Divorce Rates Around the World

The average rate of divorce amongst all of the nations and territories studied was 4.08 divorces for every 1,000 married people:

  • The countries and territories with the highest divorce rate are Kazakhstan (19.01), Russia (11.49), Cuba (11.03), and Puerto Rico (9.43); and
  • The countries with the lowest divorce rate are Brazil (1.27), Tajikistan (1.21), China (1.13), Chile (.91), Peru (.46), and Sri Lanka (.45). 

The United States was not included in this study because the sociologists considered it too extreme of an outlier. According to a different study, Oklahoma, Nevada, and Arkansas are the states with the highest divorce rate.

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Novi, MI divorce lawyerDivorce is a major change to your lifestyle. Even though separating yourself from a negative relationship with your ex-partner is for the best, unexpected events can come up that may affect you emotionally. During your divorce, working with a qualified lawyer can help you reach a positive outcome to your case. An experienced divorce attorney will make sure your life post-divorce is as fair as possible in terms of alimony, child custody agreements, and division of assets. After your divorce, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and vacations will all be different. Here are some tips to experience them in a positive way as you begin a new chapter of your life:

Take it Easy

Divorce is hard on everyone. You ended a relationship where you once vowed to stay committed for the rest of your life. During this time, it is understandable to feel a mix of emotions such as anger, sadness, and even rage. You do not have to engage in old family traditions if they bring up painful memories for you. If you and your ex used to take vacations together to a certain destination every summer, you should not feel that you need to continue to travel there on your own or with a new partner. Start making new traditions for yourself to help you move on.

You do not have to try and make holidays or vacations exactly the same as they were pre-divorce. If you used to get together for a big family barbecue, and you do not feel that you are not up to it this year, cut yourself some slack. Divorce has a major impact on your life, and as you pivot to this new stage of your life, expect some things to change--including how you spend holidays and vacations.

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MI mediation lawyerMany couples still think that the only way they can get a divorce is by going the traditional way of litigating the divorce. Traditional divorce involves both spouses getting their own attorneys who argue for them on their behalf about various topics like child support, property division and even who gets to keep the dog. This can cause much stress for both spouses and their kids, which is why many couples have been looking at forms of alternative dispute resolution, one of them being mediation. Because it is a fairly new and accepted practice in the legal community, people still have their misconceptions about the divorce mediation process. Here are three common myths about divorce mediation and the truths behind them.

Mediation Does Not Work if You Both Cannot Get Along

Divorce mediation can actually help couples who are combative. The mediator is there to help keep you and your soon-to-be ex on track when you are discussing and making decisions about important issues. It is the mediator’s job to steer you and your ex in the right direction when conversing - rather than letting you and your ex hash it out, they will make suggestions on possible solutions for your arguments.

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Posted on in Divorce

MI divorce lawyerWe all know what happens in a traditional divorce - the husband and wife spend months on end arguing about who gets the house, where the kids will live and how their property will be split between the two. A litigated divorce can be stressful for you, hard on your wallet and traumatizing to the kids. It is important to understand that you do have other options. Divorce mediation is one of those options and has become an increasingly popular route for many divorcing couples because of the multitude of benefits it offers.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Many people do not actually know what divorce mediation is and therefore, do not know of its benefits. Divorce mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that involves a neutral, third-party - often a lawyer - who helps the couple make decisions about their own divorce. Unlike divorce litigation, there is only one mediator for both spouses, but the key to mediation is that the mediator is not able to advocate for one party over the other. The mediator is simply there to bring light to issues that need to be settled and guide conversations to keep them civil and productive.

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MI divorce lawyerWhen one or both parties to a divorce suffer from alcohol use disorder (the latest medical term for alcoholism) or drug addiction, the divorce process can become significantly more complicated.

For one thing, settlement discussions can be much more difficult. Long-term drug use or alcohol abuse can actually cause brain damage, reducing a person’s ability to think logically, make decisions, and control their behavior. There are emotional effects as well: an estimated 30-40 percent of alcoholics also suffer from some type of depression. Bottom line, it is likely to take longer to reach a settlement and get the divorce finalized when you or your spouse abuses drugs or alcohol.

From a strictly legal point of view, a spouse’s drug or alcohol use can impact decisions regarding the division of assets, spousal support, child custody, and parenting time.

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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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