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Bloomfield Family Law Blog

How can you keep your family together after relocating?

Divorced Michigan parents may not always want or be able to stay in the same location after a divorce. This is where the expertise of Lisa Stern can benefit you. We can help you look through the possible problems that can result from a post-divorce relocation, and the tools you can use to combat them.

When examining your reasons to relocate, a judge will first check to make sure that the strain it puts on the relationship between your child and their other family members won't be too great. Naturally, this includes your ex-spouse, though it can also refer to other siblings or family members that you might be leaving behind. In these scenarios, wanting to move for the express purpose of creating distance is theoretically not going to be allowed. However, there are cases in which your intentions might be good but there's still the issue of creating distance. What can you do in those cases to keep your family together?

Study: Divorce can be passed down genetically

As many Michigan parents know, studies have shown that children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves. A new study found that this is not due to modeling the behavior of parents as many previously believed, and is instead genetic.

As Science Daily reports, an analysis of the Swedish national registry found that adoptive children's marriages were more likely to resemble the marriages of their biological parents, rather than the adoptive parents who raised them. This surprised researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Sweden's Lund University, as prior studies have suggested that children are mimicking their parents' behavior in their own relationships, which can include issues with commitment or difficulty handling conflict. Their findings flip the traditional script, and researchers believe that their study could help marriage counselors to focus not only on conflict and commitment but also look at other personality factors that may be passed down, and which have been shown to lead to divorce, such as neuroticism.

Studies find shared custody best for children

In Michigan when a couple with children decides to divorce a primary concern is determining what the custody arrangement will be. New studies have found that barring an abusive situation, joint custody splitting the child's time evenly between parents turns out best for the child.

As Science Daily reports, a study in Sweden found that even very young children benefit from shared custody. Preschool children between the ages of three and five were the subjects of the study and their parents and teachers were given a survey to fill out regarding the children's development. More than 3,000 preschoolers participated in the research, which found that both parents and teachers of students who live exclusively or primarily with one parent reported more psychological and behavioral problems than children who alternated living with both parents or children whose parents were still together. There was no difference in reporting issues from parents who had joint custody or who remained together, but teachers reported slightly more issues for children in shared-custody arrangements.

What does the “best interests of the child” mean?

Most parents believe they have a pretty good idea of those things that are in the best interests of their children. They are probably right. However, in Michigan, as with many states, there is an articulable standard outlined by the legislature regarding what constitutes the “best interests of the child” for purposes of child custody.

According to the Michigan Legislature, the best interests of the child standard is the “sum total” of 11 specific factors. Each factor is reviewed by the court. These matters also help the parties to understand their responsibilities under the law. Such understanding can assist with planning and preparing for divorce and custody issues.

Pets and divorce: who wins?

When most Michigan residents think of divorce, the first aspects to come that mind are likely estate divisions, child support and alimony guidelines. Yet what happens to pets owned by couples going through divorce? 

Deciding arrangements for children of divorce can have its own set of complications; one might assume that dealing with pets would be a much simpler process. And while pets are legally considered property instead of members of the family, many officials have introduced proposals regarding pet custody. Just as court systems largely focus on the best interest of children, lawmakers and advocacy groups have revisited the aspect of pets in cases of divorce by stressing that the legal system should act in the best interests of pets, as well.

Supporting kids' emotional health during divorce

As a parent, the emotional well-being of your children is generally top of mind. When you and your spouse have made the choice to end your marriage, it is only natural that you would then be concerned for your kids' health and feelings. While a parental divorce can be upsetting for children, there are ways you can help them and support them emotionally during and after the process. 

The American Psychological Association explains that, barring circumstances like those involving abuse, maintaining strong relationships with both parents is important for kids. As a parent you can help support your kids' ongoing relationship with their other parent by always speaking positively of that parent. Similarly, you should work to avoid speaking negatively about or to your former spouse if the kids are within earshot or visual range.

Working with an ex to parent together

Michigan parents who get divorced while their children are still young and at home must add co-parenting to the list of the many new things they have to figure out. While certainly people may agree on the importance of putting kids first, it is reasonable to think that working with a former spouse may not always be easy. There was a reason that a couple could not stay married so that reason may well contribute to co-parenting challenges.

Co-parently, a developer of tools to help divorced parents work together, suggests that adopting a work-like mindset may be helpful. Approaching conversations as one would with a co-worker might help to keep emotions at bay and prevent open conflict. When challenges or conflict do arise, it is important to keep those away from the kids' eyes and ears.

High-stress jobs can lead couples to divorce

Michigan couples often face significant amounts of stress both at home and at work, and a new study shows the industries most likely to have divorced workers under the age of 30. It will come as no surprise to most that many of the jobs topping the list are in high-stress occupations, including the military.

In fact, according to Zippia, the data, which comes from the most recent U.S. Census Bureau, looked at the jobs of those ages 30 and younger who were currently divorced. Out of the top ten professions most likely to divorce, three of them were military jobs. The highest divorce-rate was for First-Line Enlisted Military Supervisors, who topped the chart at 30 percent. With couples separated by deployments and the stress that comes from the danger involved in many military careers, it is no surprise that many couples are unable to withstand the pressures. Military benefits are also increased for a married serviceman or woman, which could increase the number of marriages. Interestingly, deployed women are divorced at a higher rate than deployed men. As MarketWatch notes, mental health issues could also be affecting these rates, as 20 percent of veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq report issues with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Child support collections program makes $1.6 million

Parents across Michigan rely on child support payments to help make ends meet for their children, and a new Michigan program is making it easier for parents to pay their child support. According to The Detroit News, the state has already collected more than $1.6 million dollars in support payments through PayNearMe, which allows parents to go to a convenient retail store to make a child support payment.

Parents can make an account online and then go to a participating retailer, such as 7-Eleven or Family Dollar, to make their payment for a $1.99 fee. Payments can also be made from out of state, and the program is offered at more than 25,000 stores across the country. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services states that there have been more than 6,200 payments made through the program, and it has helped to lower support payment arrears, but this amount still totaled $5.67 billion in May 2017. This is down from 2015 which topped out at $6.34 billion.

Why We Need An Equal Rights Amendment

The 1963 Michigan Constitution provides for a general guarantee of equal protection of the law in Article 1, sec. 2 which states: "No person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws; nor shall any person be denied the enjoyment of his civil or political rights or be discriminated against in the exercise thereof because of religion, race, color or national origin." 

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