Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

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

Recent blog posts

Michigan high conflict divorce lawyerResearch has consistently shown that certain types of personalities are prone to behaviors that contribute to high levels of conflict. While conflict is almost never driven by just one spouse, a high-conflict person can make life very difficult by having extreme behaviors, black-and-white thinking, and unpredictable emotions. 

Unfortunately, one risk of divorcing someone with a high-risk personality is that these behaviors tend to escalate during the loss of an intimate relationship. While divorce is never easy, this can make the divorce process much more difficult. If you anticipate a high-conflict divorce, hire a great Michigan divorce attorney and follow these four tips. 

Create a Safe Exit Strategy

Spouses who engage in emotional, physical, or financial abuse during a marriage are likely to be increasingly abusive when you try to leave. Before you tell your partner that you are ending the relationship, make sure you have an exit strategy that gives you somewhere safe to stay. If your spouse is financially abusive, you will want to make sure that you have savings or access to a line of credit if your spouse cuts you off financially. 

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Oakland County child custody attorneyMuch of the stigma surrounding mental illness has disappeared in recent years, thanks in large part to better education, greater awareness, and improved treatment options. Most mental illnesses can be managed with medication and therapy well enough that people can enjoy normal and productive lives. 

Mental illness, however, can still be a major challenge in a marriage, and someone with mental illness may fear that their condition could make it difficult for them to get custody of their children in a divorce. Fortunately, mental illness alone cannot prevent a parent from caring for their children; however, failing to treat a mental illness can lead to behaviors that may jeopardize custody arrangements. 

Does a Court Have to Know About My Mental Illness? 

If a spouse’s mental illness has caused problems in a marriage, it is likely to come up during divorce proceedings. Trying to hide mental illness, especially by avoiding treatment, is not a good idea and may lead a judge to worry that the spouse who suffers from mental illness is not taking it seriously. Judges are generally reluctant to deprive a parent of total contact with a child unless that parent presents a clear danger to the child; unfortunately, certain mental illnesses that are left untreated do have the potential to put a child in danger. 

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Michigan asset division attorneyMarried government employees in Michigan who are nearing or have reached retirement age often face a difficult question when confronting the prospect of divorce: What happens to pension benefits in a divorce? Pensions are earned after long years of difficult work and beneficiaries may understandably be reluctant to see their retirement divided as part of a divorce. 

However, pension funds that are earned over the course of a marriage are considered marital property and must be divided in a divorce. If you are considering divorce and want to know what Michigan divorce laws mean for your retirement funds, consider getting help from a skilled Michigan divorce attorney. 

Is My Entire Pension Marital Property?

If you started working at your job before you got married, any portion of your pension that you earned before getting married is not considered marital property. From the date of your marriage onward, however, all retirement funds are community property. Determining exactly how much of a pension is marital property can be tricky; you will likely need help from an attorney or accountant to determine what your pension balance was when you got married so you can estimate exactly how much of the pension is marital property. 

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Oakland County parenting plan lawyerCreating an agreement about parenting time is a difficult but important part of a Michigan divorce involving minor children. While trying to negotiate and compromise with an ex can bring up old resentments and personal differences, working hard to create a great parenting plan during divorce can pay off by exposing parents and children to significantly less conflict in the future. Many different factors will influence how parents create their parenting time plan and it can be difficult to think of or keep track of them all. Here are seven things to consider while making your Michigan parenting time plan. 

Factors Affecting a Michigan Parenting Time Plan

  • Your child’s friends - How a parenting time plan affects your child’s ability to see their friends can greatly affect the child’s happiness and willingness to visit one parent or another. If a child feels isolated from their friend group when they are with one parent, they may be more reluctant to spend time together. 
  • Your child’s extracurricular activities - Getting a child to and from extracurricular activities can present a challenge, especially when both parents are working. Although extracurricular schedules can vary from semester to semester or year to year, try to create a flexible plan that allows your child to pursue their interests from both parents’ households. 
  • Your ability to provide care - While your first instinct may be to get as much parenting time as possible, remember that single parenthood is a lot of work. Be realistic about your schedule, abilities, and patience, and try not to overcommit yourself. 
  • Grandparents - Grandparents can play a major role in a child’s life. A great parenting plan will ensure a child does not lose access to their grandparents and may even allow the grandparents to provide much-needed childcare. 
  • Transportation concerns - Getting a child between two households can be a lot of work. Try to plan around busy commute times, work schedules, and your child’s school in such a way that transportation is not a constant headache. 
  • Siblings - Siblings will not necessarily share parenting time schedules, so consider how having older or younger siblings in different households could affect each child’s happiness and wellbeing. 
  • Breastfeeding - Try to be flexible and understand that your child’s other parent needs to bond with the infant as much as you do, and that the parenting time schedule may need to be updated from time to time as the child grows. 

Call a Novi Parenting Time Attorney

At Elkouri Heath, PLC, we have helped many parents work through even the most difficult divorce scenarios to create parenting time plans that meet their family’s unique needs. If you are getting divorced and want help from an experienced Oakland County parenting time lawyer, schedule a free, confidential consultation with our team. Call us now at 248-344-9700 to learn more about how we may be able to help. 

 

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Novi divorce lawyersEven in the best of circumstances, divorce is a very challenging experience. Michigan spouses often have feelings of guilt, shame, sadness, and anger - and they are often left to work through these feelings without the person they relied upon for companionship for many years. The stress and conflict of divorce can lead spouses to do and say things they later regret, or - even worse - which cause serious damage and resentment for years and even decades to come. If you are considering a divorce in Michigan, here are four mistakes to avoid. 

Acting Out of Anger

While anger is a natural response to many of the issues spouses encounter in their divorce, decisions made in an angry moment are often unwise or even malicious. Wait to make any decisions until you are no longer angry. You may even want to resolve to never contact your spouse directly unless you are not upset. Try to avoid falling into cycles of past conflict and allow your attorneys to engage in communication related to the divorce. 

Settling Too Early

Most people getting a divorce hope for the end to come as soon as possible. While this makes sense, pushing a divorce to a conclusion when you have not navigated an equitable settlement can cause years of problems later on. Take the time to ensure your interests are protected and your needs are met before making the final decision. Once signed, many parts of a divorce decree are permanent. 

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Novi divorce lawyerA divorce will likely have a major impact on many areas of your life. One of the most important and complex of these areas is your finances. While certain expenses cannot be avoided, failing to act carefully during your divorce can wreak havoc on your finances not only while the divorce is ongoing, but far into the future as well. With the help of an experienced Michigan divorce attorney, you can get advice and perspective to guide you so you can avoid common mistakes and remember important details. Here are three important financial considerations to remember during your divorce. 

Remember Your Taxes 

Certain financial arrangements that seem beneficial on their face may look very different when the tax implications are accounted for. For example, many spouses - particularly women with young children - are often hesitant to move the children out of the marital home and will trade other assets to keep ownership. But while a mortgage may initially seem affordable, annual property taxes can cost thousands of dollars more every year. Keep taxes in mind when you divide marital property, allocate retirement funds, and determine who will claim your children on their tax returns. 

Make a Comprehensive Picture of Your Assets and Debt 

It is common for one spouse to manage a family’s finances, and while this can be an effective strategy during a marriage, it can make for complications during divorce. Before you start negotiating a marital property settlement, you need to make sure that you are aware of your complete financial picture. No guesstimates about investment balances or ignoring bills - you need statements, balances, and password and username information so you can log in and access all of your accounts. While this can be a headache, it can also be financially empowering.

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Novi child support lawyersThe prospect of paying court-ordered child support for many years can be daunting, especially if you have ever been unemployed through no fault of your own. Parents who are self-employed, contract workers, or whose income largely depends on tips, bonuses, or commissions may also suffer from a fear of not being able to make child support payments. 

While Michigan does take the obligation of a parent to financially support their child seriously, jail time is usually a last resort for a parent who has failed to make child support payments. If you are worried you may not be able to afford your payments, do not panic - seek the help of an experienced child support attorney who can help you understand your options. 

What Should I Do if I Cannot Make Child Support Payments? 

If you expect your income to change only temporarily and you have a good relationship with your child’s other parent, you may be able to work out an arrangement until you get back on your feet. But if you lose your job or experience a significant income reduction, let the court know as soon as possible. If you anticipate that you will be making less money for a long time, or if your income will be unpredictable moving forward, you may be able to successfully petition for a modification to your child support payments. 

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Michigan property division lawyerOne of the most important, and often most contentious, issues in a Michigan divorce is the process of separating a couple’s property into personal and marital property and then reaching a fair property division. While Michigan law discusses what constitutes personal and marital property, in practice assessing which is which can become quite complicated. In this blog, we offer an overview of marital and non-marital property and the overall goal of an equitable property division. Keep in mind that this is not intended to be legal advice and that a Michigan divorce attorney is the best person to answer any questions you may have. 

Marital Vs. Non-Marital Property 

As soon as a couple gets married, the income each couple earns and any assets or debt they acquire are considered marital property. This includes savings accounts, bonuses, cars, real estate, business profits, and more. While couples can protect certain belongings with a prenuptial agreement - for example, a prenup might state that all business gains and losses accrue exclusively to one partner - in general, anything acquired during the marriage is considered marital property. 

Non-marital property generally falls into one of the following categories: 

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Michigan postnuptial agreement lawyerOnce the excitement of a wedding has worn off, married couples in Michigan must begin the difficult process of successfully building a life together. While a prenuptial agreement may have been overlooked or deemed unnecessary before a wedding, the idea of a legal agreement that protects spouses in the event of separation, divorce, or death may become more appealing once the marriage has already begun. 

If a couple is already married, it is too late to sign a prenuptial agreement. But there is another option that may be just as useful - a postnuptial agreement. Just like a prenup, a postnup can protect a couple from conflict when major marital disagreements arise. And, like a prenup, a postnup requires transparency, fairness, and a willingness to look out for your partner’s wellbeing into the future. If you have already gotten married and are interested in learning more about a postnuptial agreement, a Michigan family law attorney may be able to help. 

Postnuptial Agreements in Michigan

In the past, there has been some concern that postnuptial agreement may fail to protect the sanctity of marriage by allowing a married couple to divide their debts and assets after they have already gotten married. In this way, it may make the decision to get divorced easier. 

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Novi prenup lawyerA contentious Michigan 2017 divorce case allowed a wife to successfully receive property from her husband that had been previously protected under their prenuptial agreement, causing concern to many couples who were creating or had already entered into prenuptial agreements. In Allard v. Allard, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled a divorce court could award marital and personal property to a spouse if he or she would be unfairly disadvantaged after the divorce, even if spouses had signed a prenuptial agreement preventing such distribution. 

This decision upended much of what was understood about Michigan’s prenuptial agreement law and shed light on how important it is to craft an agreement that is enforceable. If you are getting married and want a prenup, an attorney with experience in family law can help you avoid issues that may invalidate your agreement. Here are four common issues that could cause a prenup to be thrown out. 

Fraud or Deceit

If one spouse hides assets or debts from the other when they are signing the prenup, the spouse from whom the information was hidden does not have the information he or she needs to fully consent to signing such an important document. 

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Michigan business valuation attorneyAt the heart of every Michigan community are dozens of small businesses run by hard-working business owners. In fact, most small businesses in Michigan have less than 20 employees, making this not only one of the most common types of business but also a very common community asset in a Michigan divorce. Whether a small business is full-time, part-time, or just a minor side hustle, it is generally considered marital property and must be divided in a divorce—even if the business was started before the marriage began. 

Ensuring you get a fair division of marital property is an essential part of any good divorce settlement. To do this, small business owners must ensure their business is valued correctly. In this blog, we will discuss three of the most common methods of valuing small businesses in Oakland County divorces. 

Market Valuation Method

Many business valuation experts believe that the market valuation method is the most subjectively accurate method for determining a business’s value. This is because the market valuation method looks at the recent sales of similar businesses in the area to estimate what a particular business would sell for now. You can think of this method as being somewhat similar to how home values are assessed. Market valuation methods are not always helpful because there may be no similar businesses that have sold recently enough to be relevant. 

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Michigan business owner divorce lawyerSmall business owners in Michigan spend many years of never-ending work to get their business running successfully, often taking great risks in the hope they will pay off. For business owners, the specter of divorce threatens not only their personal lives and family stability, but their business’s future as well. 

Small business owners are understandably concerned about how to keep their business intact during divorce. Because businesses are often run with the help of a spouse and profits occur during the marriage, at least part of the business is likely to be considered marital property. If you are considering divorce and want to protect your business, here are three tips that may be useful. 

Sign a Prenuptial Agreement

The best option for protecting a business in a divorce is a prenuptial agreement. While business owners who are already married cannot make a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement contains many of the same protections as a prenuptial agreement. Spouses can determine how to handle the business during divorce while minimizing negotiations and conflict by thinking ahead and protecting themselves with a post-marital contract. 

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shutterstock_1413111914.jpgWhen two people who have children together get a divorce, one of the many aspects of the divorce proceedings is the determination of child custody. In Michigan, the Michigan Child Custody Act was established with the understanding that, in most cases, a child custody arrangement that is in a child's best interest will permit the child to maintain a relationship with each parent. 

Sometimes, parents can come to an agreement regarding child custody without the court’s intervention. With the guidance and assistance of their respective family law attorneys, both parents can seek to establish a custody agreement that they each deem fair, both to themselves and their child. 

However, there are some cases in which parents cannot come to an agreement on the custody of their child. When this happens, a trial may eventually be held, at which point a judge will make a determination on child custody concerns. There are typically three potential outcomes of a situation in which custody is decided on by a judge, those being joint custody, sole custody, and parenting time. 

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shutterstock_1188699634.jpgCutting ties with a narcissist is no easy feat. It can be an even more difficult task when the narcissist you no longer want to communicate with is the person you married. Thankfully, a divorce lawyer who has experience going up against narcissists can help you cut legal ties with a narcissistic partner successfully and permanently. 

The Narcissist Does Not Know the Attorney

One of the most difficult parts about divorcing a narcissist is that the narcissist knows you. You may be thinking, “Of course they do! We were married for years.” However, the way that people who are narcissists get to know people is not in the same way that you get to know people. 

It’s important to remember that narcissists are about as self-centered as a person can possibly be, so everything they do is carried out from a place of selfishness. As such, narcissists want to get to know people so that they can learn as much as they can about the person, especially those they are in close relationships with, in order to figure out how to manipulate them. 

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shutterstock_328308497.pngIf you are married to a narcissist, you are likely all too familiar with the many qualities that make a narcissist difficult to communicate with, no matter how much effort you apply to the situation. For starters, narcissists cannot tolerate accusations claiming that they are in the wrong because, in their minds, they are always right. 

Rather than considering if they are contributing to an undesirable situation, narcissists are convinced that everyone else is the problem, not them. As you can imagine, divorcing someone who innately believes they are never in the wrong can be a major headache, but as long as you have an experienced lawyer on your side, going through with narcissistic divorce is possible. 

Divorcing a Narcissist Poses a Lot of Challenges 

The fact that narcissists cannot admit when they are wrong or accept blame for situations that are their fault is only the beginning. Filing for divorce when your spouse is a narcissist can cause a lot of emotional distress for you and anyone else affected by the divorce, namely children. 

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novi divorce lawyerPeople divorce one another for a number of reasons. Some couples quickly learn after getting married that they are not as compatible as they thought they were, while other partners stay together for a long time only to decide that their partnership is no longer working. 

More specifically, it is not uncommon for one partner to realize that their spouse is a narcissist. Actively pursuing a divorce when you are married to a narcissist can be overwhelming, but the best course of action is to prepare yourself and understand what to expect when divorcing a narcissist

What is a Narcissist? 

Before you can figure out if you are married to a narcissist, it is imperative to understand what a narcissist is and how to identify one. Essentially, a narcissist is a person who has an overinflated sense of self and an extreme level of self-importance. 

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Oakland County Divorce LawyerA prenuptial or premarital agreement is a means by which individuals can protect any property that they respectively own prior to the marriage. Individuals who plan to marry also can use a prenuptial agreement to set forth certain rights and responsibilities, such as with respect to spousal support, in the event that they divorce in the future. While a prenuptial agreement may seem unromantic to some, it is a practical way to protect yourself financially, just in case things do not work out as planned. A properly executed prenuptial agreement also can eliminate future uncertainty, particularly if you are facing a second or subsequent marriage.

Requirements for Valid Prenuptial Agreement

In order to be valid under Michigan law, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and voluntarily signed by both parties. Any subsequent modification or termination of a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. While it is not required that either party be represented by an attorney in drafting of a prenuptial agreement, it is highly recommended that both parties consult with their own separate attorneys prior to signing any agreement. This step can help you greatly if one party later claims that the agreement is invalid. Finally, both parties must fully disclose all assets and debts at the time of the agreement. If one party fails to disclose property, the prenuptial agreement may be legally invalid.

Permissible Content for a Michigan Prenuptial Agreement

There are several different issues that you can address in a prenuptial agreement. For instance, you can address property and debts that each of you individually own prior to the marriage, to prevent them from being divided as marital property during your divorce. This is particularly helpful if you own a business prior to the marriage or have inherited substantial property.

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Oakland County Divorce MediatorsDivorce is one of the most difficult experiences a person can go through, no matter how appropriate or necessary it might be for their situation. Although the process can be painful, it does not necessarily need to be a process that is filled with acrimony and contempt. There are methods of alternative dispute resolution available to couples in Michigan that can lessen the stress that so often accompanies this process. A Novi, MI divorce attorney can evaluate your situation and discuss whether a collaborative divorce would be beneficial in your situation.

What Is a Collaborative Divorce?

In a normal divorce case, a judge will determine issues related to the parties’ marriage, such as child custody, support, alimony, and property division, usually following a trial at which both parties present evidence through their attorneys. In a collaborative divorce case, however, spouses agree to take all steps necessary to reach a peaceful and mutually acceptable agreement on all issues in their divorce. With the help of a collaborative divorce team, which includes attorneys for both parties, as well as other professionals, such as a financial advisor and a mental health counselor, the parties communicate directly with one another in order to reach a divorce settlement.

Divorce Mediation

Another option for resolving a divorce may be mediation. During mediation, both spouses and their attorneys work with a neutral, third-party mediator who tries to help them communicate their concerns and reach a mutually acceptable agreement that encompasses all of the outstanding issues related to their divorce. The role of the mediator is to explore areas of concern with each party, reduce misunderstandings between the parties, and propose different solutions to the disputes.

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Oakland County Divorce AttorneyIf you are having issues with your marriage, you may not realize just how much the stress and strain may be affecting different areas in your life. Multiple studies have shown that there is a strong relationship between work stress and family stress and that it is not uncommon for people in management positions to take out their marital stress on employees. This can lead to major issues at work, such as incompetence and mismanagement, and create hostile work environments. If you are considering ending your marriage, speaking with an Oakland County divorce attorney can help.

Divorce and Family Life

Marital issues can be incredibly stressful and may tax the patience and mental energies of even the strongest people. However, when hostilities between married couples escalate to the point at which divorce is a possibility, the issues can become overwhelming and have an extremely negative effect on both work performance and overall attitude towards employees.

This is one reason why anyone going through a divorce should seek a skilled attorney to handle the divorce process. Having a seasoned attorney dealing with all the issues of legal matters such as child custody and divorce finances helps alleviate some of the stress of worrying off the person going through the divorce. An attorney can help to minimize the stress so that it is easier to leave your home problems at home, where they belong, and avoid carrying them over into the work environment.

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Tips for Divorcing a Narcissistic Spouse

Posted on in Divorce

Oakland County Divorce LawyerWhile many people use the term “narcissist” loosely, the medical community recognizes narcissistic personality disorder as an actual psychological diagnosis. Anyone who has been in a relationship or marriage with a partner who has this disorder can likely attest to the collateral damage they can cause. Ending a relationship with a narcissist can accelerate their behaviors because you are leaving them, something they have a difficult time processing. While any divorce can be hard, divorcing a narcissist can feel like Armageddon.

Signs Your Spouse Suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Although any gender can suffer from this disorder, it is found more often in men. A person who has narcissistic personality disorder typically has an inflated sense of self-importance and sense of entitlement. They also have an excessive need for admiration, while at the same time, showing a total disregard for others’ feelings, even their partners.

Narcissists often exaggerate their talents and achievements, coming across as conceited and pretentious. They look down on others since they believe they are superior to other people. They often take advantage of people in order to get what they want, as well as expect special favors. They insist on the best of everything and are envious of other people’s success.

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