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Clinton Township Divorce Law Blog

Why should you amend your will after your divorce?

You divorce in Clinton Township forces you to examine nearly every aspect of your marital life. Such a process can be extremely emotionally and mentally taxing, which is why it is not surprising so many only review those issues that they are expressly told to address. Consequently, one area that is often overlooked is that of estate planning. Say that, during your marriage, you and your spouse took the commendable step of creating a will together. The terms of your will may often not be brought up during your divorce proceedings. If, then, you never amend your will before you die, does your ex-spouse remain your beneficiary? 

Per Michigan law, the answer to that question is no. According to the Michigan Legislature, the terms of any governing instrument granting the right to a distribution of property to your spouse is automatically revoked when you divorce. Any provisions granting him or her powers of appointment (such as naming him or her your personal representative) is also revoked. Your divorce also revokes any distributions or appointments created for your spouse's relatives. It also goes without saying that any state law that would entitle your ex-spouse to any portion of your assets upon your death (e.g., intestate succession) does not apply after you divorce. 

Vacations with just you and the kids can be a lot of fun

Summers are the times when many families make lasting memories. In the past, you, your spouse and your children may have taken trips together. Now that you are divorced, you might end up taking your vacations with just you and the kids. There isn't anything wrong with wanting to make those memories but you need to make sure that you are planning them well.

There are a few things that you might have to think about now that you didn't have on your radar before. Here are a few that pertain to child custody matters that you might need to consider:

Equitable vs. equal

The end of a marriage in Clinton Township marks the beginning of the process of dividing assets between both sides. Many have come to us here at The Law Office of Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. with several incorrect assumptions about property division. Unless you are familiar with family law, you likely share the same misperceptions. They typically all come down to the assumption that all property acquired during a marriage must be split equally. Yet that is not always the case. 

Given the language used to describe property division, it is easy to understand why you may be confused. Marital property is often classified as being community property. Community property refers is anything acquired (both assets and debts) by you and your spouse during your marriage. Joint ownership of the property is assumed, thus entitling each of you to a 50 percent stake in it. However, the Repeal of Community Property Act ended the application of this principle in Michigan. Thus, any property you and your spouse have acquired is not viewed as community property, and therefore is subject to equitable division. 

Who has to carry health insurance for the kids?

One thing that is not affected by your divorce in Clinton Township is the love and affection you feel towards your kids. You no doubt want to continue to provide them with all they need; thus your willingness to meet your child support obligation. Yet one need that your kids will have that may be difficult to calculate is medical care. This raises the question of whether you or your ex-spouse is required to carry health insurance for your kids, and what portion of their medical expenses you will be expected to pay. 

Per Michigan's Compiled Laws both you and your ex-spouse may be required to acquire health insurance coverage for your kids regardless of your custody situation. The only caveat to this is that the requirement is only applicable if coverage is available to you at a reasonable cost. This typically is not a concern when health insurance is available as a benefit of your employment, yet what if you are self-employed (or receiving income through other sources)? 

How can you maintain an optimistic attitude during divorce?

If you are currently going through a divorce in Michigan, chances are you have already been faced with many challenging decisions regarding your future. Some of the choices you may have already been trying to negotiate may include child support and custody, property division and alimony. Part of your ability to make confident decisions and play an active role in facilitating the process is your ability to remain positive and optimistic despite the significant changes you are coping with. 

According to the Huffington Post, there are several simple things you can do to keep a good attitude and give yourself a winning chance at rebuilding your life in a way that is healthy, exciting and successful. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Take care of yourself: Find time each day to exercise. Make healthy choices about what you choose to eat, and do not skip meals to make room for other things. Set aside time to meditate and sit in the quiet. Maintain good hygiene and exude confidence when you are meeting new people. 
  • Accept support: If people offer you support, do not be afraid to take it. Additionally, you may consider joining a support group where you can hear the stories of other people and receive strength and helpful advice. 
  • Be emotional: While some emotions may be difficult to face and process, it is critical that you take time to feel your emotions and grieve. There will undoubtedly be moments when you feel sad, guilty or maybe even filled with regret. Allow yourself to feel this way, but then remind yourself that your condition is temporary and has the potential to get a whole lot better. 
  • Have fun: Fill your life with purposeful things. Enjoy participating in things you are passionate about. 

Could you be entitled to your ex-spouse's separate property?

The laws that govern the disposition of assets following your divorce in Clinton Township may seem fairly straightforward: Whatever you and your ex-spouse accumulated while together is marital property, while the rest is all separate. Marital property is typically divided equitably, while separate property will usually go whichever one of you bought or earned it. Yet are there instances where you could potentially be entitled to a portion of the proceeds that come in after your ex-spouse sells his or her separate property? 

According to Section 552.401 of Michigan's Compiled Laws, the answer to that question is yes (but only under certain circumstances). Those circumstances are where you are able to show that you contributed to the acquisition, improvement or accumulation of your ex-spouse's property. An example of this may be assets that he or she accumulated while you were still dating. Say that you helped him or her to buy a new car. While he or she might be listed as the owner of the car (and the purchase date one that is prior to your having been married), you may be able to prove that without your support, he never would have been able to afford the vehicle in the first place. 

Men need to take care of their financial health in divorce

The financial impacts of a divorce can be great. Everything that was gained during the marriage, from the property to the artwork, has to be divided. This can be a difficult process to go through, but it has to be done.

Men who are going through a divorce need to make sure that they are taking care of their financial future. People tend to think about finding ways to help the women in divorce maximize their financial position, but men can't be left out of this. Here are some ways that men can take control of their finances during a divorce:

Penalties for avoiding payment of child support

For parents who fail to make child support parents the consequences can be severe. Federal and state governments, including that of Michigan, have adopted aggressive collection methods, along with penalties that can include jail time, in an effort to ensure non-custodial parents are paying their fair share of the costs involved with raising a child.

FindLaw explains that Michigan’s Office of Child Support and its Friend of the Court have several tools to use in collecting support payments. The agencies can ask courts for a variety of actions against the non-supportive parent, including:

  • Putting a lien on personal property and assets
  • Garnishment of both state and federal income tax refunds
  • Suspension of licenses for driving, hunting and recreational pursuits, as well as passports
  • Withholding support amounts from worker’s compensation and unemployment benefits, as well as any current wages
  • Issuance of an arrest warrant

Helping children cope with divorce

Of the many stressful aspects of divorce, making new arrangements for children can become one of the most difficult. A warm Michigan home can seem to transform into a battleground between family members overnight. Younger children may not even understand the entire situation, which can inevitably make matters more challenging. Some may react to news of divorce in destructive ways, while others can become withdrawn and hard to conversate with.

These behavioral issues can take their toll, but at the end of the day, millions of families deal with these problems and have found varying ways to cope and move forward in a new life chapter. Although some ex-spouses may disgree on the best path for their children, the top priority is wellbeing and a peace of mind for everyone involved.

Coping with the stress of divorce

Whether it involves children, the family dog or expensive assets, divorce is no light matter for most Michigan residents. The stress can certainly take its toll, especially when the steps of the process refuse to fall into place. While divorce can flip life upside down for some time, millions of Americans attempt to cope with the emotional baggage. Fortunately, there are a plethora of resources one can turn to during such a difficult life chapter.

Oftentimes, shutting out the online world can help combat stress. However, Psychology Today lists a few tactics that may be successful when dealing with divorce and all of the stress it can leave in its wake. At the top of list was encouragement to let the "white bears" in, or, as coined by social psychologist Daniel Wegner, those thoughts that are repetitive and draining. By grabbing these intrusive thoughts by the horns, one can confront negative thoughts and avoid merely ruminating about them. Another tip that Psychology Today offered involved the savoring of life's smaller moments, such as eating chocolate or looking forward to visiting a friend. Zooming into these small joys can, in turn, can create happiness over time. This pointer dovetails with looking to the future, another positive way to cope with the stress of separation. In doing so, those struggling can purge senses of hopelessness and become excited about better, future opportunities. 

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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