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Clinton Township Divorce Law Blog

The role of gender in a child custody case

Parents in Michigan may feel as if their gender prevents them from obtaining the custody or visitation rights that they deserve. In the past, mothers were typically given custody of their children after a divorce because they were seen as better caregivers. However, as attitudes toward parenting and gender roles change, this is not necessarily true anymore. Today, judges show a greater willingness to grant fathers sole custody rights if doing so is in a child's best interest.

Of course, it is possible that traditional attitudes persist among some judges or in some parts of the country. Therefore, parents are encouraged to assert their rights if they feel as if they are being ignored. Parents who are seeking custody of their children should take steps to establish that they have a strong relationship with their sons or daughters. They should also ensure that they have a cordial relationship with the child's other parent.

Delaying divorce might give you time to plan for single life

Parents sometimes question whether they need to stay together for the kids or just call it quits. The answer to this isn't always easy, and may require some thought. Even though you know that the marriage is over, you might not need to be quick to file for divorce.

Some parents choose to continue to reside in the same home even after the marriage dissolves. Others opt to delay the divorce and still move into separate homes. Not filing the divorce petition immediately gives parents and the children time to adjust to the change before having to add the legal stresses into the situation. It might be a bit challenging emotionally, but you quickly find that it is better for everyone involved.

Divorce impacts money, children, living arrangements

Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can experience in his or her life. For people who are approaching or considering divorce in Michigan, it's important to try to minimize the stress of the process as much as possible, which means focusing on emotional, mental and financial health. Among the biggest concerns for people facing divorce are money, children and where to live following the divorce process.

Men and women can expect different things with regard to money after a divorce. For women, money was the number one concern going into divorce, outranking even their children. The London School of Economics has released research indicating that working women felt a drop in their incomes of 20% after divorce while men's incomes rose by 30%. The poverty rate for divorced women is almost triple the rate for divorced men. Financial preparations for divorce include gathering important information like bank and credit card statements, retirement account documents, property titles and tax returns.

Why more couples are choosing prenups

When people in Michigan get married, they may consider a prenuptial agreement. In the past, many people thought of prenups as a form of legal protection for celebrities or those with substantial generational wealth. However, people are choosing to marry after they have already developed their careers, launched businesses and invested in real estate, and many people marry others equally accomplished as themselves. As a result, a prenuptial agreement can be a wise choice for people of all financial means planning to marry.

While some people do not like to think about divorce before they marry, a prenuptial agreement allows people to sort out property division while they feel loving and generous toward one another rather than while they are locked in conflict. After all, marriage is not only a celebration of romance; it is a complex package of legal and financial rights and obligations. A prenup can allow people to select for themselves how they want to handle those issues, rather than leaving it to general state law or a family court later on. For example, a prenuptial agreement can address the issue of spousal support in advance, or it can determine how certain types of property will be handled in case of later asset division during a divorce.

Navigating co-parenting in a high-conflict divorce

When parents in Michigan decide to divorce, the next step is often moving to co-parenting. In a high-conflict situation, this can be a deeply problematic transition. Children often have strong emotional needs after the divorce, and absent a context of abuse or neglect, kids tend to benefit from a relationship with both parents. In a custody case, the primary consideration is the child's best interests, not the relationship between the parents. However, navigating a co-parenting relationship can be highly challenging, especially if one partner is manipulative, selfish or narcissistic.

Ex-spouses can take certain steps to help to guard themselves and their kids from further emotional harm. In many cases, strong boundaries are important to any kind of positive movement forward. Parents may need to declare that they'll only communicate about the children. They may need to bar conversation about their personal lives and speak up if they find out the former spouse is attempting to garner details from the children about dating, new relationships or other out-of-bounds topics.

Changing a child custody hearing date

Parents in Michigan should make every effort to appear in court for their child custody or support hearings. If circumstances make attending a certain court date difficult or impossible, then a court might accommodate a person's request to alter the hearing date under limited circumstances.

A person who feels unable to attend a hearing as scheduled could submit a waiver of appearance to a court. A judge might make changes based on the request or potentially issue a default order if the person cannot appear. Hearings usually only take 15 or 30 minutes, and a court might allow someone to participate in a hearing by telephone or video conferencing. Changing the court date or the location of the hearing might also solve a problem for someone who faces challenges getting to court.

Joint custody after divorce

When parents in Michigan divorce, they are often concerned about the well-being of their children. Both parents generally want to remain involved in their kid's lives and contribute to their support. In recent years, there has been a change in how custody has been divided between parents.

Joint legal custody has become significantly more common in the United States. In fact, many family court systems operate with a presumption of joint legal custody, which means that parents are expected to share equally in decisions regarding their children's schooling, health care and day-to-day living. However, mothers are still more likely to get physical custody of their children, which means that the kids live with mom most of the time.

Managing finances when going through the divorce process

In addition to the emotional stress that Michigan couples face as they go through a divorce, they are likely to face some financial problems. However, there are steps that individuals can take to help them to better understand and maintain control of their finances and investments during this difficult process.

One major way that couples can avoid some financial fallout during the divorce process is to be sure that each individual can access financial accounts. In some marriages, one individual plays a bigger role than the other when it comes to banking and investments. Each individual needs to have access to and be aware of bank, investment and financial accounts. They need access to login credentials and account information.

How can you enforce your custody order when your ex won't comply?

Shared custody is a common outcome in a Michigan divorce. The courts want to do what is best for your children, which will usually mean helping them maintain the love and support of both parents. Whether you have an even 50/50 split of custody or see your kids a few nights a week and alternating holidays and weekends, you likely treasure every moment of time you get to spend with them now that you have less of that precious bonding time.

Unfortunately, either due to a lack of foresight and planning or potentially malicious desire to limit your relationship with the kids, it could be possible for your ex to interfere with your parenting time, particularly if the kids are with them more than you.

Finances can drive some happy couples to divorce

Some people in Michigan may think of strategic divorce as primarily an option for ultra-wealthy couples. At the highest tax bracket of 37%, two high earners may end up paying more in taxes as a married couple than they would as single wealthy individuals. Some have speculated that more couples may choose to divorce if tax reforms are implemented that raise the tax burden imposed on the wealthiest individuals and couples across the country. In practice, though, the tax savings realized through a divorce are usually far smaller than the costs associated with a divorce itself, and most people involved are too wealthy to be concerned about the relatively small tax difference.

However, strategic divorce can be a real possibility for couples of more modest means facing particular types of financial barriers. In order for a person to be admitted into a nursing home with Medicaid payments, a couple must often spend down their assets significantly and run through their retirement funds. When one person needs serious nursing care for issues like dementia or Alzheimer's, couples may be willing to do anything necessary to help secure that support. In some cases, these couples may decide to divorce in order to protect some assets for one spouse while allowing the other to receive care.

Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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