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Clinton Township Divorce Law Blog

Man's mental issues not brought up during mediation, judge says

Married couples in Clinton Township who choose to divorce actually have options when deciding exactly how to end their unions. One of these is mediation. Proponents of mediation point out that it is a less-costly alternative to traditional divorce proceedings due to the fact that it can be completed so much quicker. In many cases, mediation may indeed prove to be a good choice for the parties involved. In others, however, it may be recommended that a couple choose to go the traditional route due to the unique circumstances of their separation. Cases involving mental health issues or domestic violence may certainly be among these. 

This fact was reaffirmed recently after a man shot and killed his three children along with his ex-wife's new boyfriend. He also shot his ex-wife before turning the gun on himself. Sadly, the only one to survive the ordeal was the ex-wife. She is now voicing her displeasure with the judge who signed off on her divorce agreement, saying that the judge had been made aware of her ex-husband's struggle with mental illness. The judge responded by saying that she could not have been told of this because the couple held no formal hearings during their divorce proceedings. They instead chose mediation, from which records indicate that neither ever mentioned any problems with family violence or mental health concerns. 

What kinds of questions are asked at a custody hearing?

When you are going through a divorce in Michigan that involves children, the hope is that you and your spouse are on the same page regarding custody. Unfortunately, this is often not the case and help is needed to establish the custodial parent's role and the parameters of parenting time for the non-custodial parent. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, either party can file a request for custody, which means you may find yourself facing your soon-to-be ex in court at a custody hearing.

The prospect of going to court can be quite daunting. However, practice and preparation beforehand can help increase your confidence going in and ease the nerves that come along with facing the unknown.

Will the courts split up your auto industry pension in a divorce?

For many decades, Detroit's auto industry led the way in terms of wages and benefits for blue collar workers. Workers not only made competitive wages compared to other manufacturing jobs, they also secured excellent health and dental insurance, as well as paid time off and an employer-sponsored pension program. For a long time, these jobs and their benefits were some of the most sought-after in the region.

During the Great Recession, many of the major automotive unions renegotiated compensation and benefits to prevent the further outsourcing of domestic jobs. Some retirees or those approaching retirement agreed to reduced pension benefits or carrying more costs associated with health care as part of those negotiations. If you've already taken a reduction in your pension and you're looking at a divorce, you may worry about whether you'll need to split those benefits with your spouse.

What do you get a personal protection order?

Concealed underneath the carefully crafted images of several seemingly happy marriages in Clinton Township are recurring cases of domestic abuse. If this describes your situation, then one of the primary reasons that you are still with your abuser is the fear that were you to leave, he or she would find you and the abuse would escalate. What you need to realize is that you are not alone in your desire to escape your abuser; the state offers several resources to help get you out of such a bad situation. Chief among these is a personal protection order

Yet how do you get one? You can download the petition online or go to your local circuit courthouse. According to the Michigan Department of Community Health, the following important information (other than your name, address and other personal information) needs to be included in your partition: 

  • Exact details of the abuse that has prompted you to seek a PPO 
  • Any court cases (either open or closed) that have occurred between you and your abuser
  • Whether there is currently an ongoing criminal or child custody case involving you and your spouse 

How do grandparents' rights work?

After your adult child divorces, depending on how custody judgments fall in Michigan courts you may fear never seeing your grandchildren again - especially if the custodial parent is not your child, and decides to move away. What are your rights as a grandparent? Can you legally mandate visitation time with your grandchildren?

Per Michigan legislature, you can under multiple conditions - sometimes even if your child was never married to the other parent of your grandchildren, as long as parentage is legally established and acknowledged. Generally, though, situations involving grandparents' rights usually involve seeking the right to see your grandchildren when your child does not have custody and your child's former spouse may attempt to deny you time spent with your grandchildren. You have the right to petition for court-granted visitation time.

Do you get extra time with your kids during the summer?

The warm weather that sets in when spring arrives in Clinton Township means only one thing: Summer is right around the corner. If you are like most, then you typically take advantage of the extra daylight (as well as your kids not having school) to go on an extended vacation. Yet now that you are going through a divorce, how are you to still enjoy summertime activities with your kids while also having to adhere to a visitation schedule

Michigan family courts understand that there are certain seasons and occasions that make sticking with a set custody schedule difficult. Thus, special guidelines have been developed that account for holidays and special events such as Christmas, Mother's and Father's Day, and even summer break. While these guidelines may differ slightly between jurisdictions, the Michigan State Court Administrative Office has set some general standards that can be used as basis for coming up with a visitation schedule. Regarding summer break, it says that if you are the non-custodial parent, you are entitled to four consecutive weeks of custody beginning on the first Friday after the Fourth of July. The hope is that this would give you ample time to head out of town with the kids for an extended period of time if you choose. Specifically speaking of the Fourth of July, if you are your children's father, you get custody of the kids on that day in even-numbered years, and vice-versa if you are their mom. 

Alimony, taxes and divorce settlements

Reaching an agreement on a final divorce settlement can be a major accomplishment for couples in Michigan. It is understandably a challenging thing to do given that two people who have likely identified a lack of ability to work together have to come to terms with how they will split up their shared lives. This touches the most emotional elements of their lives as well as the financial side of their lives. The tax implications of many decisions may contribute toward the final decisions made.

The Internal Revenue Service notes that for spouses who are ordered to pay alimony, one benefit to them is that they have been able to deduct the money paid from their tax returns. For some, this may ease the sting just a bit of making such payments.

What is the role of a divorce mediator?

So you’re getting a divorce. It is neither spouse’s fault and you certainly do not want to end up in a knock-down, drag-out fight over child custody, support or division of assets. You think you can work together, so there is no need to square off in separate corners, each with an attorney. You want to try mediation to finalize your divorce in Clinton Township.

According to FindLaw, the role of a mediator is to remain impartial while helping divorcing spouses reach a voluntary agreement. A mediator is not required to have a law degree, but having an attorney act as your mediator makes sense for many couples who are willing to take a bigger role in their own divorce.

What to do when your ex-spouse isn't following court orders

It's exceedingly frustrating for parents to have to deal with an ex who consistently flouts the child custody agreements put in place by the courts. Seeing a parent thumb their nose at court orders can lead to anger and retaliation. However, that can just place the parent who is in the right in a perilous legal position.

If you are dealing with this type of behavior from your ex, it's important that you not try to take the law into your own hands to mete out justice. Understanding that you likely have legal recourse available to you can give you the patience you need to let events play out in a court of law.

Signs a child is struggling behaviorally after divorce

It often goes without saying that divorce can bring a new chaos to life in many ways. For Michigan parents with children, this stress can involve explaining new schedules, new living arrangements and -- most importantly -- new emotions. 

In the midst of separation, many families put mental health to the back-burner; however, behavioral issues can become a serious part of this life chapter. What can parents do for children who cope with divorce in different, but potentially harmful ways? While every situation is unique, there are a number of behavioral signs one can watch out for. 

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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