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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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Oakland County Property Distribution LawyerMichigan is an equitable distribution (as opposed to community property) state. In a community property system, all marital property is divided right down the middle, regardless of contributions. Under equitable distribution, marital assets are divided up into just portions, taking many factors into consideration. This process includes a three-step process of identifying, valuing, and dividing the assets and liabilities.

Identification

The first step in division of assets in a divorce is identifying and classifying all the assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. This is not always as straightforward as it sounds. This includes not only tangible assets such as homes, cars, bank accounts, and retirement funds, but also intangible assets such as business goodwill and household services.

Once identified, the asset must be classified as either marital or nonmarital property. Although most assets acquired during the marriage will likely be deemed as marital, there are some exceptions:

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Novi Parenting Plan LawyerNovember ushers in the holiday season that continues right through to New Year’s Day. While it is often exciting to think about spending time with family and friends, the holiday season can also cause stress for parents who are divorced and trying to navigate through the holidays with the least amount of impact on their children possible. Michigan family courts understand that children need to spend time with both parents and that includes holidays. This is why it is important to have a parenting plan in place that not only sets a regular parenting time schedule throughout the year, but also addresses how parenting time will be divided during holidays and special occasions.

Arranging Holiday Parenting Time

Most schools close over the winter break, and many parents also get time off from work during this time. Trying to come up with an agreeable schedule for the holidays can sometimes be difficult. The following are some suggestions that can help make coming up with a holiday parenting time plan easier for divorced parents:

  • Work with your co-parent to alternate holidays every other year. The child can spend Thanksgiving with the mother on even years and the father on odd years.

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Protecting Your Assets in a Michigan Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

Oakland County Divorce LawyerOne of the biggest stresses when going through a divorce is what will the financial outcome be and how will that outcome affect your financial future. In Michigan, just like most states, marital assets are distributed using the equitable division standard. This does not mean the outcome is necessarily “equal” but that the division is done based on circumstances in the couple’s case in the most equitable way possible.

In many marriages, one spouse is usually more involved in handling the couple’s finances and this can mean that the other spouse may not be fully aware of the details of all of the marital assets and debts. In some cases, even the spouse who does oversee all the finances may not realize all the specific details of the martial estate. This is why no matter what your position is in your marriage, it is a good idea to create a property and asset division checklist in order to understand exactly which assets and debts qualify as marital and which ones qualify as separate.

Marital Assets

A property checklist can help identify all of the assets in your marriage and decide which category they should be in. It is not uncommon for each spouse’s property checklist to look different than the other spouse’s. This is where your divorce attorney can help ensure that your marital rights are protected, and you receive what you are entitled to in the final divorce settlement.

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Are Michigan Paternity Tests Accurate?

Posted on in Family Law

Oakland County Family Law AttorneyIt is estimated that there are approximately 300,000 paternity tests performed each year in this country to determine the identity of a child’s biological father. In order to make that determination, DNA tests are one of the most reliable and popular methods. Courts rely on DNA testing whenever there is any contesting of paternity, so it is critical for these tests to be accurate.

The DNA Testing Process

When a man is undergoing a paternity test, a small sample of their DNA is required, along with a DNA sample of the child. There are a number of different ways this DNA can be collected:

Oakland County Divorce LawyerWhen a married couple with a child decides to end their marriage, the courts must decide how parenting time and custody will be divided between the two parents. There is no difference in how these decisions are made based on whether the child is the couple’s biological child or was adopted. If you are considering or have decided to divorce and have any adopted children who are minors, it is important to consult with an Oakland County divorce attorney to find out what all your legal options and potential issues may be.

How Do Courts Decide Custody?

When a family court judge is determining a child custody case, that decision will always be made based on what is in the best interest of the child. The judge could decide the parents should both share joint legal custody or only one parent should have sole legal custody. Physical custody, or parenting time, could be shared 50/50 between both parents or the judge could decide the child will live primarily with one parent and have visitation with the other.

If the couple’s child was adopted, the court will still use the same set of criteria to decide custody. In most cases, family court judges believe that joint custody is in the child’s best interest. Having both parents play an integral role in their life leads to a decrease in the odds that a child will develop learning or behavioral issues. While this is usually true for all children (as long as both parents are deemed fit by the court), it can be especially crucial for adopted children who have higher risks of struggling with these issues even in two-parent homes.  

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Farmington Hills Family Law AttorneyAlthough the goal may be to have the divorce process go smoothly and end with the desired outcome, the reality is that very few do, especially if there are children involved. Child custody is one of the most serious and emotional issues that a couple must address in their divorce and whatever the court’s final decision is will affect the child and parents for the rest of their lives.

Navigating Through the Court’s Decision

Many couples who have reached the point of ending their marriage are usually dealing with a severely deteriorated relationship. The ability to communicate with each other peacefully may be poor, while contention between the two may be high. Child custody and parenting time forces a couple to have to come together and reach a mutual understanding and be able to cooperate with each other to effectively co-parent. The irony is that these are often things that the couple were unable to do while married and this is why the relationship crumbled.

In some cases, one parent may feel the other parent is unfit and it is unsafe for the child to be in the parent’s care, regardless of what the court order says. The parent may wonder if they are able to refuse to allow any visitation between the child and the other parent. If you find yourself in this situation, it is critical to speak with your child custody attorney before you take these drastic steps. Your attorney can provide legal advice on whether there may be grounds to request the court modify custody or parenting time.

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Novi Child Custody AttorneyThe month of October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Domestic violence is defined as the “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” More than 10 million adults experience domestic violence each year. On a typical day, local domestic violence hotlines receive approximately more than 19,000 calls. This comes out to 13 calls per minute. Here in Michigan, it is estimated more than 35 percent of women and 25 percent of men will experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetimes. When it comes to domestic violence, it is not only the adult who is the victim, but any children who live in the home are also victimized. 

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

The above statistics show just what a common issue domestic violence is for families across the country. Not only does the violence affect the victim, but it also has a harmful impact on children who witness the abuse. It is estimated that children witness 70 to 80 percent of all domestic violence assaults that occur.

Studies have shown that children who are exposed to domestic violence suffer great emotional harm. They often suffer excessive sadness or worry, and fear of abandonment or harm. Many children lose their ability to have empathy for others and/or they may feel socially isolated.

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Oakland County Divorce LawyerThere is no denying the impact that a divorce has on a person’s life. Even if they are the spouse who wants to end the marriage, there could still be effects on their family and social relationships that they may find jarring. There is also the financial impact a divorce has. Many people find that after a divorce, their credit score has gone down. It is not the act of divorcing that can cause this decrease, but rather the financial obligations and standing that happens during and after the divorce process. The following are some steps you can take to help minimize that impact.

Protecting Credit Scores

Surveys have found that approximately 55 percent of women and 40 percent of men find that their divorce creates a negative impact on their credit score. While women experience the higher impact, they also report higher incidents of their former spouse ruining their credit – 50 percent – compared to only 37 percent of men who face the same consequences because of their former spouse.

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Farmington Hills Divorce LawyerThe breakdown of a marriage can be difficult for both spouses, and in some cases, marital issues may become public knowledge due to details that a couple, their children, or other family members or friends share on social media. Since so many people are used to sharing information about themselves when they use Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, or other social networks, they may expect that they can continue to discuss their lives online during the divorce process. However, it is important to understand what types of information should or should not be shared and how posts on social media may play a role in a couple’s divorce.

Social Media Posts as Evidence in a Divorce Case

Information posted online, such as photos or status updates, is generally available to the public. This means that anything posted to social media could potentially be raised during the divorce process. Even posts that a person believes are private could be uncovered by the other spouse or their attorney. Because of this, it is important to treat everything posted on social media as something that could potentially be raised in divorce court.

However, social media posts will only play a role in divorce if they are relevant to the legal proceedings. For example, a person may have found posts that indicate that their spouse is having an affair, and they may believe that this information could be used to show that the other party is responsible for their divorce. However, Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, and a divorce petition will not include any fault-based grounds for divorce or state that either spouse is to blame for the end of their marriage. This evidence would not be relevant when filing for divorce, but it could potentially be raised later in the divorce process if it affects decisions about issues such as the division of marital property.

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Novi Adoption LawyersCountless studies show that children thrive with the love and support of two parents. However, sometimes, those parents are not related to the child by blood. Stepparents often play a crucial role in a child’s life. However, stepparents do not have the same legal rights and protections as biological parents unless they legally adopt the child.

If you are a stepparent who would like to adopt your stepchild, read on to learn about the stepparent adoption requirements and procedures in Michigan.

Terminating the Biological Parent’s Parental Rights

Children can only have two parents by law. This means that you may need to get a parent’s parental rights terminated before you can adopt your stepchild. Some parents voluntarily agree to give up their parental rights – especially if they recognize that the stepparent is in a better place to care for their child. Other parents refuse to surrender their parental rights. If the child’s biological parent does not want to give up his or her rights to allow you to adopt the child, you will need to attend a hearing and provide sufficient reasoning for the termination of the parent’s rights.  

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Farmington Hills Divorce AttorneyThe term “high-conflict divorce” may initially seem redundant. After all, a couple would not be seeking a divorce if the marriage did not involve a significant amount of conflict. However, some divorce cases are much more contentious than others.

To end your marriage, you and your spouse will need to decide how to divide real estate, vehicles, bank account balances, and other assets. If you have children, you will need to develop a parenting plan that allocates parental responsibilities and parenting time. You may also need to address additional issues like spousal support. If you and your soon-to-be-ex disagree about the terms of your divorce and are unable to discuss these issues productively and rationally, you may be in store for a high-conflict divorce. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare.

Work With a Divorce Attorney Skilled in High-Conflict Divorce Cases

Just like other professionals, no two divorce attorneys are alike. When choosing a divorce lawyer to represent you, it is important to select an attorney capable of successfully handling a high-conflict divorce. Make sure your lawyer has sufficient experience in negotiations as well as litigation. Ideally, your divorce case will resolve through an out-of-court settlement, but you should make sure your lawyer also has the experience and knowledge needed to represent you during a trial if necessary.   

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Novi, MI Divorce LawyerDid you know that older people make up a huge percentage of divorcing couples in Michigan? So-called “grey divorce” is on the rise in Michigan and across the U.S. 

If you are thinking about getting divorced and you are over age 50, it is important to realize that you may face unique obstacles during your divorce case. You may need to address complicated financial and legal issues including the division of assets and retirement funds as well as spousal support. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer with experience in gray divorce cases can help you understand the challenges you may face during your divorce and meet those challenges head-on.  

Divorce When You Are Close to Retirement

If you are in your 50s or 60s, the effect of your divorce on your retirement plans is probably a top concern. Understandably, you want to ensure that you will still have the retirement funds you need to live independently once you have stopped working. Retirement accounts are usually classified as marital property during a Michigan divorce. This means that both spouses have a claim to the funds contained in the retirement account regardless of which spouse’s name is on the account. You may need to use a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to divide retirement funds. The funds that accumulated before the spouses got married may be considered separate property to which only the named spouse has a claim.

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