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Bloomfield Family Law Blog

How can you protect your child during a divorce?

As divorcing parents in Michigan, one shared goal that you and your spouse likely have is the protection of your child. Lisa Stern is here to help ensure that your child can make it through the potentially traumatic process of a parental divorce as easily as possible, giving you tools that can be used to ease through the transitional period.

Children will need the support from both parents, first and foremost. You should always take the time out to ensure that they understand you and your spouse aren't getting divorced because of them. Additionally, reassurances should be made regarding how you both feel toward your child. It can ease a large amount of your child's anxiety to know that both of their parents will continue to love them the same amount even if their living situation drastically changes.

What are key points of consideration in a parenting plan?

In Michigan, parents need to create a parenting plan after they get a divorce. This allows for both you and your ex-spouse to continue having a presence in your child's life, which benefits everyone. Lisa Stern, a Michigan family law attorney, is here to guide you through the process of creating your own individual parenting plan.

Parenting plans will differ from situation to situation. What worked for your divorced friends might not necessarily be the best set-up for you. For example, do you or your ex-spouse travel a lot? Are you military? Does one of you live farther away? Were there allegations of abuse tied up in the divorce? Does a mediator have anything different to say? Try looking at the situation from as many angles as possible before deciding on a final plan.

Nothing lasts forever, not even divorce judgements

Anyone who has been divorced in Michigan can attest to the fact that the agreements condoned by the court often seem final. However, these judgments are made to fit the exigencies of a specific situation, and might be changed if the circumstances shift enough to make a change necessary.

FindLaw lists a number of ways divorced individuals might challenge or modify divorce judgments issued by the court. One is an appeal, which challenges the entire decision. The other is a modification— a small adjustment to a generally acceptable situation. As for modifications, Michigan law offers significant latitude when modifying divorce judgments.

Can a parent leave the state with the child?

Michigan child custody laws aim to make custody division as fair as possible to all parties involved. For this reason, there are certain restrictions placed on both parents. Even if you have primary custody of your child, there are still things that you can and can't do.

One grey area involves the question of whether or not it's okay to move out of state with your child after a divorce. FindLaw points out that a move like this could damage the visitation schedule that you and your ex-partner have, especially if you plan on moving far away. It's possible to get the go-ahead for a move, though. The easiest way to do it is by getting an okay from your ex-spouse. They need to give their consent, as they may not be able to see their child as often if you move.

What if your ex-spouse isn't paying child support?

As a parent in Michigan, your parental responsibilities don't end after your marriage does. Even after divorcing your partner, it's still important to provide your child with the same financial stability that they would have had by growing up in a household with two sources of support. This is why child support payments are made. But what can you do if your ex-spouse isn't paying?

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are a number of options to pursue in order to ensure child support payments are made. The first thing to keep in mind is that being charged with avoiding child support payments can be categorized as a felony, which is a huge deterrent in and of itself.

How does child support work in Michigan?

When Michigan parents decide to split, you need dedicated legal help to ensure that your child will receive the best possible post-divorce living situation. This is where Lisa Stern comes in, aiding families like yours through a divorce and supporting your child in the most effective ways.

Knowing how child support payments are determined and how you can deviate from that formula are both very important. The formula itself can be somewhat complex because it is determined by many different factors. These factors include:

  • How many children you have
  • Your income
  • Your spouse's income
  • How many overnight visits each parent has

Can you change a parenting schedule?

When you and your spouse are divorced in Michigan, you usually have a parenting schedule so both of you can spend time with your child. Sometimes, though, you may realize that your parenting plan is no longer working for you and your child. In this situation, this schedule can sometimes be changed.

According to Michigan Legal Help, you can usually change your parenting schedule only if there is a change in your circumstances. This can include situations such as a change in your child's school schedule or your work schedule. More serious situations can also be a reason to modify this plan. If your ex-spouse is neglecting your child or has developed an addiction, a judge might consider a new schedule for you and your child. In some situations, your child may simply want to spend more time with you. This is usually not considered a change in your circumstances, though, and this kind of situation typically does not meet the requirements needed to modify your schedule.

Is Michigan a community property state?

If you are a Michigan resident contemplating divorce, you probably are concerned about how the property, assets and debts you and your spouse accumulated during your marriage will be distributed between you. As FindLaw explains, Michigan is not one of the community property states. Instead, Michigan adheres to the “equitable distribution” doctrine that takes your needs and those of your spouse into account when determining which of you gets what.

It is important for you to understand that everything you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, and whatever debts you undertook to acquire them, is considered to be marital property even though it is not community property. What this means is that if, for instance, you purchased a car during your marriage, paid for it with your own earnings, and did not put your spouse’s name on the title, you are the car’s owner and you probably will continue to own it after your divorce, although this is not a guaranteed assumption.

What things can a prenuptial agreement cover?

If you are a Michigan resident who is planning to get married soon, you may be wondering whether or not signing a prenuptial agreement is a good idea for you and your soon-to-be spouse. FindLaw explains that prenuptial agreements are a legal step that many engaged couples take prior to getting married. While traditionally thought advantageous only for wealthy people, prenups can benefit others as well since they set forth the agreements the parties have come to regarding their property and financial rights and obligations should the marriage end in divorce.

Given that many states, including Michigan, distinguish between marital and separate property when assets are divided during a divorce, a prenup can solve that possible future dilemma. You and your fiancé can agree on what types of property belong to each of you separately, as opposed to jointly, in the event your marriage ends in divorce or one of you dies. In addition, a prenup can cover other matters, including the following:

  • Limiting the types of marital debt for which you are responsible
  • Providing for children you have by a previous relationship
  • Keeping a family business or family heirlooms and inheritances in your family
  • Protecting any estate plan you already have in existence
  • Setting forth any agreements you and your fiancé may have with regard to your own investments, retirement benefits, income tax deductions, credit card purchases and payments, 401(k) contributions, etc.

Can you and your child move to another state?

If you are a divorced Michigan parent whose company is planning to transfer you to another state, you may be nervous or even apprehensive about how your former spouse is going to react to your proposed relocation. Nevertheless, FindLaw explains that any time you want or need to move 100 or more miles from your present residence, whether or not it is to another state, the first thing you should do is advise your child’s other parent of your plans. If your former spouse refuses to give his or her consent, you will need to go to court and have a custody hearing to obtain a judge’s permission to move.

Michigan courts highly value parent-child relationships and the judge will require you to show good cause why he or she should interfere with your present custodial environment, thereby depriving your child’s other parent of his or her custodial and/or visitation rights. Consequently, your existing custodial arrangement will be of prime importance.

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