Lisa Stern
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Experienced, Knowledgeable Advice — Focused on Your Children's Best Interests

Bloomfield Family Law Blog

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." 

What is a move-away case?

When parents in Michigan divorce, it leaves a lot of potential questions about how life with their child will proceed. For example, you may wish to relocate eventually, but the process of relocating with a child you have joint custody over may be more complex than you expect.

HuffPost focuses one of their articles on move-away cases, in which the custodial parent wishes or needs to move and the court must decide whether or not it's in the best interest of the child to move with them. It's a difficult decision to make because there is essentially no way to avoid someone in the situation coming out on the bottom. Either the non-custodial parent will lose out on being able to actively and frequently participate in their child's life, or the custodial parent will have to sacrifice their moving plans or move away from the child.

Why children need child support

after you have filed for divorce in Michigan, both parties remain financially responsible for the children involved in the separation. One of the biggest mistakes parents make when filing for divorce is failing to pay the court-mandated child support on a regular basis. In Michigan, child support is calculated based on the income shares model, which uses the income of both parents to determine the amount of child support owed. This model is based on the concept that children should have access to the same amount of financial support that they would have had if their parents had remained together. Child support is essential in maintaining the quality of life and wellbeing of the child.

When children move with the custodial parent, they often experience a drastic change in their lifestyle. In some cases, children may be moving from a two-income household to a one-income household. It may be difficult for the custodial parent to make ends meet on their own. Child support is designed to help bridge the financial gap that children may experience while they are going through this change. In addition to maintaining a good quality of life, child support is designed to help with the child’s education, medical expenses, insurance, child care and extracurricular activities. These funds are often added on to the base amount of child support in order to meet the unique needs of the child. Parents should never withhold child support payments out of spite for the other spouse, as it only ends up hurting the child.

When should you get a prenuptial agreement?

When you are organizing wedding plans and getting ready to share your life with another person, you may feel overwhelmed with the critical decisions that must be made. From decorations and venues, to documents and appointments, your life may be flooded with a host of issues that need to be resolved. One important thing to consider amidst the chaos is whether or not to sign a prenuptial agreement. You don’t have to be famous to sign a prenuptial. Any couple who enters a marriage with property or a business may want to think about protecting those items.

Although no one enters into a divorce with the intention of getting divorced, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that more than half of all marriage end in divorce. When a couple separates, it can be difficult to divide the marital property that the couple amassed during the years of marriage. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document that allows couples to preserve their right to certain property and/or assets if a divorce should occur.

Considerations when determining child custody

There are many complicated issues that must be resolved when couples in Michigan and across the U.S. decide to file for divorce. One of the most emotional topics is child custody. Will the parents split custody or will the child primarily reside with one parent and visit the other on a planned schedule? Although studies show that joint parenting, in most cases, tends to be better for the children involved, it is not always feasible. Some parents live a significant distance apart and it is impossible to share 50/50 custody. Others are incarcerated or have a mental issue that does not allow them unsupervised time with their children.

To ensure that the best interests of the child are met, the judge presiding over the case often determines who is awarded custody of the children. According to Michigan’s Child Custody Act, the judge will look at the emotional bond that the child has with each parent, as well as each parent’s ability to care and support the child. Which parent can provide a stable, healthy and optimal environment for the child to grow, learn and thrive?

How does parental relocation affect the parenting plan?

Whether you share custody of your child or you have sole custody, you may have a parenting plan in place that allows the non-custodial parent to visit your child on certain scheduled days. In many cases, it is important for a child to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents, and spending time with the child fosters that bond. When a parent chooses to move a distance away from the child, however, the parenting plan may have to be modified to reflect changes in the visitation schedule. In fact, parental relocation of either the custodial or noncustodial parent can mean significant changes for everyone involved.

Before parents can relocate, they must abide by certain state regulations and obtain permission from the other parent, as well as the court if they are moving more than 100 miles away. According to Michigan state legislature, the court may take several factors into consideration prior to approving the move. These factors include circumstances, such as if the change will improve the child’s quality of life, will affect the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent, the intent for the move and whether domestic violence is involved.