Elkouri Heath, PLC

248-344-9700

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

Recent blog posts

MI family lawyerA divorce encompasses almost every part of your life. It can affect your emotional well-being, your financial well-being, and your family life. There are many decisions you must make when you get a divorce and all of those decisions will affect you for many years to come. Even just one mistake can cause you to suffer negative consequences, especially when it comes to finances. Avoiding making mistakes can mean a lot less stress and a lot smoother of a divorce process. Here are a few common mistakes that people make in a divorce and how you can avoid making them.

Not Knowing What Assets You and Your Spouse Have

When you are getting a divorce, property division is important and one of the most important things is knowing what property you and your spouse actually have. Most of the time, one spouse will have the responsibility of handling the finances. You should make sure if that spouse is not you, you have a decent understanding of your finances and what you actually own.

Forgetting About the Tax Consequences of Your Decisions

Almost every financial decision you make during your divorce will impact your taxes in some way. Spousal support payments will be taxed, which may or may not be better than a lump sum that would be taxed. Child support payments can also change your tax consequences. It is important for you to understand what the tax consequences of your actions will be.

...

MI family lawyerThe most common forms of adoption are family adoptions, specifically stepparent adoptions. Stepparent adoptions take place when one parent’s new spouse wants to adopt the child of that parent. This can help establish a more secure connection between the parent’s spouse and the child, but it can be difficult to attain, especially if the child’s other parent objects to the adoption. Stepparent adoptions can be important to families who want to bring themselves closer to each other and establish more secure ties, but they can also be stressful and emotionally demanding.

Parental Rights and Step Parent Adoption

Michigan law only allows a child to have two legal parents at any one time. This means that if a stepparent wants to adopt the child, the child’s current legal parent must agree to the adoption, voluntarily giving up their legal parental rights to the child. If the judge approves a stepparent adoption, the child’s other parent will lose all custody and visitation rights. They will also no longer be required to pay child support or have any other obligations to the child. These rights will all be transferred to the stepparent. Even if the stepparent and the child’s parent divorce in the future, the stepparent will still be the legal parent of the child.

If a Parent Objects to the Adoption

In order for a stepparent to adopt a child, the child’s other parent must consent to the adoption. If they do not consent to the adoption, the only way it can move forward is by an involuntary termination of parental rights. This can only be established by proving that the child’s other parent is unfit. Being unfit can mean that the parent has not provided support for the child and has failed to visit or contact the child.

...

MI divorce lawyerUnlike child support, spousal support is not as rigidly defined in the Michigan divorce codes. In Michigan, there is a formula that tells you whether or not you will receive child support and how much that child support amount will be. With spousal support, it is determined on a case-by-case basis if you are awarded it, how much it will be and for how long you will get the payments. Spousal support is sometimes a necessity in a divorce, especially if one spouse does not make as much as the other or was a stay-at-home parent. Spousal support can provide that spouse with a much-needed supplement to his or her income.

Am I Guaranteed Spousal Support?

In a Michigan divorce, spousal support is not guaranteed to be awarded to either spouse. You and your spouse do have the chance to decide on spousal support in your settlement. You have the option to negotiate with your spouse if you will receive spousal support and how much that support will be. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, the judge will intervene and make the decisions for you.

Factors for Consideration

If the judge has to step in to make the final say about any spousal support decisions that must be made, he or she will look at a variety of factors surrounding you and your spouse’s situation. These factors can include:

...

MI divorce lawyerNovember is over and December has come in full swing, which means that the winter holidays are not far behind. These holidays are a time to spend with family and friends, which can spell disaster for some people after a divorce. Holidays are stressful enough, but when you add the dynamic of a new divorce into the mix, the holidays can be even more stressful. Though it may be a learning experience for the first couple of years, it is possible to have a relaxed and fun holiday season when you are celebrating as a divorced family. Here are four ways you can still enjoy the holiday season after your divorce:

Remember: It is Not All About You

Though it is important for you to enjoy the holiday season too, when you have children, it is mainly about them. Like most other times in your life, you should put your children first when it comes to the holidays. It is really about making them happy and making memories with them that will last a lifetime - not arguing with your ex about who gets the children on Christmas Eve.

Communicate With Your Ex in Advance

Co-parenting after a divorce is tough, but communication is key. Communication is also key when it comes to planning out your holiday season. Usually, in your parenting plan, you will spell out where the kids will be spending major holidays, but many couples do not follow their parenting plans to a T - they change the plan based on what works best for them. Communication is key when planning for a happy holiday.

...

MI family lawyerThe majority of parents who get divorced will share parenting time of their children. It is rare these days that you see one parent given sole custody and decision-making responsibilities and the other parent left with nothing. Most divorce courts recognize that unless a parent is abusive or detrimental to the child’s wellbeing, it is in the child’s best interest to have both parents active and present in his or her life. Co-parenting is never easy, especially if your divorce was less-than-amicable -- which most are not. Though it will not come without serious time and effort on your part, successful co-parenting can be achieved and these tips can help:

Realize You Now Have a Different Relationship with Your Ex

Though you are no longer married, your relationship with your ex will be forever because of your child. It will not be the same relationship that you had during your marriage and that is important to realize. It is easier to think of your co-parenting relationship like a business relationship - it does not matter how you feel about your ex. What matters is the happiness and wellbeing of your child.

Work on Your Communication

Communication is key to successful co-parenting. Though you may still have feelings of anger or resentment toward your ex, you must put those aside for the sake of your child. It can help to keep a business-like tone when talking to your ex. It reminds both you and them that your new relationship is not one that concerns feelings. It can also be helpful to keep your conversations strictly about your child. It does not matter what you want or they want - what does your child want and need?

...

MI divorce attorneyIf you are a business owner, chances are your business is one of the most valuable assets that you own. Along with the family home and your savings accounts, your business must also be appraised and distributed properly during your Michigan divorce. Often, small businesses require hours upon hours of tireless work and days of patience while the company is built from the ground up. The last thing you want to see is your business become just another asset that is taken apart, piece by piece, and liquidated to divide in a divorce. Fortunately, there are a couple things you can do to protect your business as much as possible. Here are five ways you can help keep your business under your control during (and after) your divorce:

Protect It in Writing

The easiest way to protect your business during a divorce is by getting a prenuptial agreement. The agreement can state how the business will be handled in the event of a divorce and it can also basically prevent your spouse from getting any of it. If you are already married, a prenuptial agreement will do you no good, but a postnuptial agreement can help. This is basically the same thing as a prenuptial agreement, but it is signed and entered after you are already married.

Pay Yourself a Decent Salary

This can be important because if you do not pay yourself enough money, your spouse can argue that he or she did not benefit from the growth of the business. Instead of taking a modest salary and waiting for retirement, take a generous salary, that way you can say you “invested” your profits into the family, rather than putting it all back into the business.

...

MI divorce lawyersWhen most couples are married, their finances and their assets become intertwined, which typically can make things easier - unless you get divorced. When you get divorced, everything must be separated again, which can make for a confusing process. You and your spouse might own things together, like a home, other real estate, cars, furniture, and other household items. The things that you and your spouse jointly own is called marital property. Usually, if you own things like real estate or a car, you typically have debt, too. Any debt that you have together, like a mortgage, credit card debt or auto loans must also be considered when you divorce. Like marital property, marital debt must be divided. In Michigan, marital property is divided equitably, which does not always mean equally. Here are some suggestions on how to divide certain assets during your Michigan divorce:

The Family Home

The easiest way to deal with your home when you are getting a divorce is to sell it and then split the proceeds. This only works, however, if you have equity in your home. If you do not have equity in your home, you might have to sell your home at a loss and then determine who will be responsible for paying the rest of the mortgage. If one of you wants to keep the home, then you can pay the other spouse what their half of the home is worth. Either way, the first thing you should do is determine what your house is currently worth and go from there.

Your Furniture and/or Household Items

Dividing your furniture and other things that you have in your house can be easy or it can be difficult; it is up to you and your spouse. First, you should make a list of everything that you own that is up for grabs. Make note of the items that you want to keep and the items that you could do without. These can be used as bargaining chips when it comes time to negotiate.

...

MI family lawyerDivorcing with children brings about many different types of issues that couples divorcing without children do not have to deal with. One of the things that must be determined when you are getting divorced is how you will parent your child where your child will be spending their time. Typically, Michigan courts prefer the parents to try to make their own determinations about child custody and parenting time before they turn to the court to make these decisions for them. There is a better chance that orders will be followed when parents are involved in making these decisions. When a court is called in to help determine parenting time, many different factors must be considered before a final order is issued.

Michigan Courts and Making Decisions About Parenting Time

Like many states in the U.S., Michigan makes determinations about parenting time based on the best interests of the child. It is assumed that it is in the best interest of every child to have a secure relationship with both parents. Michigan courts also believe that every child has a right to spend time with each parent unless the court finds that it would severely harm the child’s mental, physical or emotional health. The court will examine a variety of factors when making decisions about parenting time, including:

  • Whether or not the child has any special needs;
  • Whether the child is a nursing child and receives substantial nutrition through nursing;
  • Whether or not there is any likelihood of any abuse or neglect of the child or parent during parenting time;
  • The distance between where each parent lives and the burden the travel would have on the child;
  • The likeliness of each parent to follow the parenting time order; and
  • Any other factor that the court deems to be relevant.

Get in Touch with an Oakland County Child Custody Lawyer

Each child has an inherent right to have a loving and meaningful relationship with both of their parents and both parents have the right to spend time with their child. It can be difficult and sometimes stressful to come to an agreement about parenting time with your ex, but it is important that you are able to create a parenting time agreement that allows both you and your ex to spend time with your child. If you are going through a divorce, you should contact a Novi, MI child custody attorney. Elkouri Heath, PLC can help you create an agreement that benefits not only your child, but also you and your child’s other parent. Call the office today at 248-344-9700 to schedule a consultation.

...

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.

...

MI divorce lawyerSo you have finally made the decision that you and your spouse are going to get a divorce. You may feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest, this is only the beginning. Now, you must decide what type of divorce would be the best fit for your family. There are many options you can choose from, all with their own advantages and disadvantages. You can go the traditional route and get a litigated divorce, or you could choose an alternative route by getting a mediated or collaborative divorce . Many couples are not often aware that there are choices other than litigation which offer many benefits, especially if you are divorcing with children.

Litigated Divorce

This type of divorce is considered the traditional divorce and the majority of couples still choose this way to separate. Most of the time, divorces are adversarial situations in which one spouse wants to divorce from the other. A litigated divorce does not necessarily mean that you will be going to court. In fact, most divorce cases are settled outside of the courtroom. Typically, a litigated divorce is chosen because a mediated or collaborative divorce is out of the question because both methods rely on full cooperation and a willingness to work together.

...

MI family lawyerMany people say that the hardest thing about their divorce was seeing how it affected their children. Children often have different reactions to divorce, ranging from anger and fury to depression and guilt. Though the range of emotions felt by children of divorce is vast, there is one thing that most can agree on - divorce is hard on children. Because of this issue, an increase in unusual custody arrangements has been observed across the county - nesting arrangements. These kinds of arrangements can be beneficial to both parents and children as they transition from their normal life to one in which parents are divorced.

What Is a Nesting Arrangement?

As the name of the arrangement implies, a nesting arrangement is one in which the family home is the “nest” where the children live and the parents take turns staying at the home to spend time with the children. Traditional split custody arrangements consist of the parents each having their separate homes and the children moving between those homes after a set length of time. In a nesting arrangement, some parents will have their own designated living quarters in the family home, but more often, parents will live outside of the family home when they are not in charge of the children.

...

IL divorce lawyerFace it - divorce is stressful no matter what way you look at it. Even if you and your spouse made the mutual decision to end your relationship, there are many things you must think of when it comes time to begin the process of divorcing. You have got to figure out who is getting what, how you will divide your finances, who will pay back which debts and how you will raise your children as parents who are no longer a couple. Although the weight of divorce can be overwhelming, what matters is how you respond to that stress and the steps you take to make sure you are taking care of yourself along the way.

  1. Allow Yourself to Grieve the Loss of Your Relationship

Even though divorce is a legal process, it means you are ending your relationship. No matter the circumstances, there is always a little bit of grief that comes along with the ending of something as substantial as a marriage. It is important for you to understand that it is OK to grieve the end of your relationship, even when the divorce is occurring for the better. The sooner you allow yourself to grieve, the sooner you can begin the process of healing.

  1. Take Care of Yourself Physically

    ...

Posted on in Divorce

MI divorce lawyerAny divorce is not going to be easy to prepare for. In some ways, a mediated divorce can be even more difficult to prepare for. Because of the cooperative nature of divorce mediation, you have to put your feelings aside so that you can effectively work with your soon-to-be-ex to come to a divorce agreement that you both are comfortable with. Divorce mediation has many benefits that come with it, but that does not mean it is easier to do. Here are a few ways you can prepare for your divorce mediation:

Gather All of Your Important Documents

Like most things, being prepared will serve you well. When you come to your mediation sessions, be sure to have copies or originals of all of your important documents, which can include:

...

MI family lawyerSometimes, when parents remarry, they want their new spouse to become the legal parent of their child. Though stepparent adoption can come with many benefits, under Michigan law, a child can only have a maximum of two legal parents at one time. This means if you want your new spouse to legally adopt your child, you must first have your child’s biological parent relinquish their parental rights or have them revoked by the court, which can only happen in certain situations. Stepparent adoption can be a tricky process to navigate, but it does not have to be.

  1. Contact the Courthouse

The first step in the stepparent adoption process is to contact the courthouse in the county in which you reside. The will be able to tell you the specific steps you need to take when proceeding with the adoption process. You will also be able to get the forms you need to fill out to file for adoption.

...

MI custody lawyerTraditionally, when a couple got divorced, the child was thought to be better off living with its mother for the majority of the time, rather than with its father. Because of that, sole custody was typically granted to the mother and the father was allowed visitation rights. In today’s age, it’s generally thought that joint custody is the ideal situation for children. The Michigan Child Custody Act states that it is important for a child to have a relationship with both of his or her parents, if possible. Child custody can be a hot topic when it comes to divorce, but custody arrangements are always determined with the child’s best interests in mind.

Deciding Factors for Custody Arrangements

Parents are urged to come to a custody agreement on their own, but in the event that they cannot agree, the court must step in and determine the arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. Michigan courts consider the following factors when determining a child’s best interest in custody cases:

...

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.

...

MI custody lawyerGenerally speaking, Michigan law holds that it is in a child’s best interest to maintain continuous relationships with both parents after a divorce. But what if you suspect that your ex is using illegal drugs or abusing alcohol or prescription medications? For example, your ex might appear drunk or high when the children are picked up or dropped off, or the children might tell you that they have seen drug use or excessive drinking.

When the safety of your children is at risk, and you are unable to work out a satisfactory solution with your ex directly, you may need to take legal action. Your attorney can file a motion with the family court requesting specific actions or changes to your parenting time arrangements to protect the best interests of the children. Here are some of your options.

Request Testing and/or Investigation for Substance Abuse

...

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.

...

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

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

1. Stick to a routine.

...

MI divorce lawyerWith our lives running on Internet time — in minutes, not months — you may well wonder why there is a two- to six-month minimum waiting period between the initial filing and the finalization of a Michigan divorce.

Here are four good reasons the law requires these waiting periods and how they can actually benefit you.

1. Opportunity for Reconciliation

...
Oakland County Bar Association State Bar of Michigan Collaborative Practice Institute of Michigan WCCDBA Woman Lawyers Association of Michigan
Back to Top