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News and Information by Your Michigan Divorce Specialists.
The Early Intervention Conference in Oakland County
The Oakland County Friend of the Court (FOC) consists of a group of attorneys, counselors and support staff which assist the court in cases involving minor children or support by providing a formal (or informal) dispute resolution service including custody and support valuations. Another important function of the FOC is to conduct an Early Intervention[…]
Dividing unvested stock options in divorce
You or your spouse worked hard and it has finally paid off with the right to purchase stocks at a discount from your employer. When stock options are granted they typically provide an opportunity to purchase shares of stock in the future at a fixed price and can be highly valuable. The future date is[…]
Separate property can be invaded in divorce.
Michigan statutory law authorizes a court to divide property in a divorce that was acquired “by reason of the marriage” MCL 552.19. Generally speaking, property acquired by reason of the marriage is considered marital property whereas property acquired before or after marriage is considered separate property. Simply put, a court will divide marital property (See: Byington v Byington ) and not divide separate property (See: Reeves vs. Reeves , providing that: “each party takes away from the marriage that party’s own separate estate with no invasion by the other party”). However, there are certain circumstances when separate property can be invaded.
Child Custody – a case of proper cause.
On January 26, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the highly contentious case of Hawes v. Cromie, the unmarried parents of a 13 year old son. For more than ten years, the child’s parents have litigated over every aspect resulting in the court noting that: Throughout the last decade, the parents’[…]
Imputation of income for child support
When a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, or has an unexercised ability to earn, the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual allows a court to include the potential income that parent could earn as income for support purposes (MCSFM 2.01(G)).
How a court prevents you from changing custody
Suppose you are involved in a contested child custody battle and lose. Why can’t you simply refile the case and try again? The answer is provided in the seminal case of Vodvarka v. Grassmeyer. In Vodvarka, the Michigan Court of Appeals created a barrier to changing custody in order to avoid repeated custody evaluations.
Custody – when the trial court gets it wrong.
A trial court must follow certain steps when making a child custody determination and when the trial court fails to do so, it is the basis for an appeal.
What is a De Novo hearing
After the Friend of the Court makes a recommendation, either party may request a de novo hearing or a hearing “from the beginning” with the trial court judge. This right is codified in Michigan Compiled Laws section 552.507(4).
Planning for divorce.
A divorce plan is an important first step to taking back control of your situation and is different for a dependent spouse than the primary wage earner. A divorce plan is an important first step to set goals and help take control of your situation. If you make more money than your spouse, you will[…]
The decision to divorce
Divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage. It is a complex and often emotional process that can have far-reaching effects on individuals and their families. The decision to divorce is never easy and it is often the result of long-standing issues within a marriage. Some common reasons for seeking a divorce include infidelity, financial[…]
Supervised parenting time
On October 20, 2022, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the case of Krieg v. Krieg after the trial court changed primary custody of the parties minor child to the mother and addressing the issue of supervised parenting time. The parties married in July 2014. Shortly after the parties married, father began[…]
The power of the Friend of the Court
Simply put, the power of the Friend of the Court is limited to making recommendations for the trial court to review. However, if no objections to a Friend of the Court recommendation are made, the Friend of the Court Recommendation will become an Order of the Court.
Changing legal custody for a sick child
There is a three step process to change legal custody. First, a showing of proper cause or change of circumstances since the entry of the last order. Second, the established custodial environment determines the burden of proof and; Third a best interest of the child analysis.
Divorce mediation – How it works, when to settle.
The majority of Michigan divorce cases settle and divorce mediation is one of the most common forms of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party tries to facilitate a fair settlement outside of the courtroom, avoiding the formalities of trial and saving costs. Court ordered divorce mediation Divorce mediation is usually court ordered and[…]
Child custody laws in Michigan
Michigan child custody laws provide a two-step process for determining child custody. The first step determines the existence of an establish custodial environment which determines the burden of proof required. The second step examines the best interest of the child factors which must be examined by the court applying the applicable burden of proof.
A Restraining Order in a Michigan divorce case.
A Restraining Order is an order used to protect the parties property and finances in a divorce case. There are two types of restraining orders typically filed in every Michigan divorce. First, is a Restraining Order against property transfer and preservation of the marital estate. Second, is a Financial Status Quo Order.
Child custody steps
The first step is a threshold question which asks, what has changed since the entry of the last court order under Vodvarka; The second step requires determining the existence of an established custodial environment and the burden of proof. The third step is to apply the best interest factors using the appropriate burden of proof.
I object to the Friend of the Court Recommendation.
Under MCL 552.507(4), if a party timely objects to a referee’s recommendation, the trial court “shall hold a de novo hearing.” The Michigan Court of Appeals further decided that a trial court cannot simply review the record created at the referee hearing, however the trial court can impose reasonable restrictions on duplicative evidence (e.g. only allowing new evidence).
Can you file for custody before a child is born?
You cannot file a child custody action in Michigan before a child is born because an unborn child is not a person, rather a potential life.
The difference between parenting time and visitation.
Visitation and parenting time mean exactly the same thing under Michigan law. The term visitation is old and more appropriate for visiting someone in prison than enjoying time with a child. Some time ago, in an effort to avoid marginalizing or insulting a parent, courts began replacing visitation with the term parenting time, a kinder[…]
Custody and parenting time law videos
Our child custody and parenting time videos have been viewed tens of thousands of times and we just added a new video.
How far away can you move after a divorce with a minor child?
There are two legal restrictions on how far you can move after a divorce with a minor child. First, MCL 722.31(1) prohibits a parent from moving after divorce with a minor child to another home more than 100 miles (as the crow flies) from your current residence without court permission. However, MCL 722.31(2) provides that this restriction does not apply if a parent is awarded sole legal custody. Second, Michigan Court Rule 3.211(C)(1) prohibits a parent from moving outside of the State of Michigan without approval from the Judge who awarded custody.
Warning – Before you settle your divorce. A deal is a deal.
Court’s will not rewrite an unambiguous agreement negotiated and signed (or placed on the record) by consenting adults absent, fraud or duress.
The nine parenting time factors (video)
There are nine parenting time factors a court should consider when determining the frequency, duration and type of parenting time to be granted. The factors are set forth in MCL 722.27a(7)(a-i
Michigan custody laws – the videos
Michigan child custody law can be complex but don’t worry. We make it easy to help you understand this area of the law with the Michigan Divorce Education Series of videos on custody.
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