Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

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

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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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How Can Coronavirus Quarantines Lead to Divorce in Michigan?Millions of people around the world have been impacted by the novel (new) coronavirus, either by being infected or being ordered to stay home. In the U.S., states such as Michigan have temporarily closed schools, restaurants, and non-essential businesses. Depending on the industry, this has also led to many layoffs and citizens seeking unemployment benefits. Families are being told to stay home as much as possible to help slow the spread of the highly contagious virus. Parents are working from home if they can and children are participating in e-learning programs through their schools. There is no doubt these are stressful times. With families sequestered for an indefinite amount of time, can this lead to divorce

The Pros and Cons of Social Distancing/Isolation 

Many American cities and states are being told to “shelter in place,” which means they are allowed to leave their homes only for essential activities, such as going to the grocery store, bank, and gas station. Health and government officials are advising everyone to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people. Weddings, funerals, graduations, and sporting events have been canceled or postponed. People with elderly or sick family members who are in nursing homes or assisted living facilities are prohibited from visiting in an attempt to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases.  

Social distancing is defined as a series of actions intended to stop or slow down the spread of a contagious disease or infection. Thanks to modern technology, many people can take part in “virtual visits” through FaceTime on their iPhones or programs such as Skype on their computers. However, being quarantined and isolated at home can lead to feelings of anxiety, anger, and fear among family members. Too much togetherness can sometimes make or break a relationship. With the absence of other distractions, a couple may have time to reflect on troubles from their past or recent transgressions. A job loss can significantly impact a family financially, leading to resentment and bitterness. 

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What Are the Pros and Cons of Mediation in a Michigan Divorce?With all the stress that already accompanies a divorce, the addition of painful, heated courtroom drama can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, mediation might be an appropriate option if you and your spouse are willing to work together to come to a more satisfactory settlement for both you and your children. Although the positive aspects of mediation are appealing at first, it is important to consider several factors before choosing to take this route over litigation. 

The Pros

First, consider everything good that can come from mediation. This process differs greatly from a court hearing in several ways as shown by the following scenarios:

  • A Collaborative Solution: If you and your spouse were to take your divorce to court, the terms of your separation would be subject to harsh legal interpretations of your relationship. This can affect the division of property and assets, child support, or parenting time and often leads to one or both parties unhappy with the result. If this is one of your primary concerns, mediate so that you can cooperate and compromise in a way that benefits you both.
  • Less Expensive: Mediation involves you, your spouse, and a mediator with the appropriate training from the state. Although this will still cost you, it will only be a fraction of what you would both end up paying in legal fees for your attorneys.
  • Neutrality: Per state law, the mediator is not allowed to pass judgments on either you or your spouse and cannot take sides in any way, allowing both of you to work out a solution as amicably as possible. With lawyers at play, the heated discussions could ruin the chances of you and your spouse maintaining any sort of positive relationship after the divorce proceedings.

The Cons

Although mediation can do a lot of good, it can pose a few risks in certain situations. Consider the following before you decide to begin your divorce with mediation:

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How Can I Enforce a Spousal Support Order in My Michigan Divorce?The thought of ending your marriage can be very intimidating in many ways. In some cases, you may be afraid to leave for financial reasons. Imagining how you will survive on one income may be daunting, especially if you stayed home to raise your children. However, you may be entitled to spousal support (alimony) if you get a divorce in Michigan. Each situation is unique, and the court will evaluate different factors when calculating this type of support. If you are awarded spousal support benefits, your ex-spouse is responsible for making these payments in a timely manner. However, things may not work as planned if your ex does not follow the rules. An experienced divorce attorney can assist you with enforcing spousal support or child support to ensure your financial security so you can move on with the rest of your life.   

Factors Considered by the Court 

According to Michigan divorce law, spousal support is not always awarded in a divorce case. If a couple cannot come to an agreement on how to divide assets or property and one spouse requests support, the court must determine if spousal support is appropriate. Below are a few of the relevant circumstances the court will review when making that decision:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Age and health of each spouse
  • Each party’s contributions to the marriage
  • Economic resources of each spouse
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Property received in the divorce settlement
  • Whether one spouse was financially dependent on the other 

Steps For Enforcing an Order 

If your ex-spouse is not making his or her legally required spousal support payments, you need to take decisive action to enforce the payments:

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What Documentation Do I Need Before Filing for Divorce in Michigan?For some couples, the end of a marriage may have been a long time coming. Regardless if spouses procrastinated with the decision to divorce or made it rather hastily, they must all follow the proper legal procedure to finalize it. Michigan is a no-fault state, which means couples do not have to prove that either party is to blame to obtain a divorce, just that the marriage is beyond repair. The dissolution of a marriage involves many issues that need to be resolved, including the division of assets or property, child custody, and child support. Determining who gets what in a divorce may require providing proof of finances, property, income, and more.

The Importance of Keeping Accurate Records

Computers and online storage systems can provide efficient ways of saving and organizing important forms, but sometimes it is helpful to retain hard copies, too. Although it may be cumbersome to hold onto a lot of paperwork, saving certain documents can benefit you in the long run. A few of the main areas in which you may be required to provide documentation throughout your divorce proceedings include:

  • Proof of residency: Utility bills or rental agreements with your name and address
  • Income: W-2 forms or paycheck stubs, plus tax returns you and your spouse filed jointly or separately within the last year
  • Debt: Any outstanding credit card balances, student or car loans, and medical bills
  • Assets: An itemized list of your marital and nonmarital assets, which can include vehicles, furniture, artwork, jewelry, and other personal items
  • Real estate property: A mortgage statement or deed, as well as any documents related to rental properties you or your spouse may own
  • Bank accounts: Checking or savings account statements in your names
  • Retirement/Investment plans: Data on 401(k) or pensions to which either you or your spouse contributed throughout the marriage, in addition to mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and IRAs in either spouse’s name
  • Life insurance: Information on any life insurance policies that were taken out
  • Health issues: Medical records showing health history for all involved family members, including any children you have together
  • Education/Childcare: If your children attend private school or daycare, bills showing the cost of these expenses

Contact a Farmington Hills Divorce Lawyer

The divorce process may seem daunting, especially to those who have never been through it before. There are many decisions that will need to be made, which often requires spouses to provide personal documents. It is important to be organized and prepared before filing for divorce. Speaking with an Oakland County asset division attorney can alleviate some of the stress you may feel about the necessary legal steps to terminate your marriage. Call the accomplished law firm of Elkouri Heath, PLC, today at 248-344-9700 to schedule your free consultation.

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How Is the Dissipation of Assets Handled in a Michigan Divorce?The end of a marriage can be difficult on many levels. The breakdown of a relationship can affect more than just spouses. If a couple had children together, they will likely be devastated to see their family unit split apart. In addition, breaking up can cause financial hardship for one or both parties. Michigan, like many other states, is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to dividing assets or property in a divorce. This means any marital property will be divided in a fair way, but not necessarily 50/50. In some cases, one spouse may have made secret purchases with marital assets. The legal term for this deception is “dissipation of assets,” and an experienced divorce attorney can help discover it. 

Uncovering Hidden Expenditures

Dissipation is defined as spending marital money, or using any marital asset, for something that benefits only one spouse, not the marriage as a whole. Since funds are leaving the marital estate, the combined value of the assets being divided in the divorce settlement will be lower. Examples of dissipation can be gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, money spent on an extramarital affair, or any extravagant purchases made by one spouse.

It may be challenging to prove the dissipation of assets, but that is where a skilled attorney, as well as a forensic accountant, can help. They know where to look and how to reveal dissipated assets. Carefully reviewing financial records and documentation is essential in providing evidence that one party was siphoning off money for him or herself. In certain situations, one spouse could be guilty of filtering money or expenses through a business that they own.

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