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Clinton Township Divorce Law Blog

Handling the negative aspects of co-parenting

A co-parenting relationship is often the best option for the children, but it doesn't always go smoothly. There is a good chance that you, your ex and your children might have some things that need to be addressed when you are in this type of parenting relationship.

Determining the best ways to work through the negative aspects of co-parenting can stabilize the situation.

A parent's worst nightmare

Divorce can be an excruciating process on its own; when children are involved, this process can become all the more challenging. But for some Michigan parents, the nightmare does not end when the divorce and child custody papers are finalized. Parental kidnapping can occur before this process is even over, and for many, the initial abduction of a son or daughter is only the beginning of a long and exhausting investigation. International parental kidnapping, however, is another story. 

In a series of articles, The Detroit News shared the heartbreaking account of one Michigan father who faced this reality. By 2016, the man had gone over three years without seeing his two sons because his wife internationally abducted them. The mother masked the abduction with a trip to Mexico, where she claimed the three would spend time visiting her parents. Unfortunately, the father later discovered this was not the case. This situation is just one of many examples of international jurisdiction differences that can arise, as well; at the time of the article, a Mexican federal court ordered the man's wife to return their sons. Another court requested assistance from the FBI to help the desperate father, but the result of those efforts are unclear.     

Custody, visitation, and the holiday season

Disputes over child custody and a parent’s pursuit of his or her visitation rights can be a very sensitive, emotional topic. However, there are certain times of year, such as the holidays, in which these matters can have even more of an emotional impact for parents and their kids.  If you are in the middle of a custody dispute, or are pursuing visitation rights to see your child, it is particularly important to approach your case carefully.

Often, parents want to be able to spend the holidays with their child, but this is not always an option. If you and your child’s other parent share custody, it is vital to abide by the custody schedule. You may be able to spend time with your child during future holidays if you are unable to this year. Moreover, you could be able to make up for inability to enjoy the holidays with your child by celebrating on another day.

A postnuptial agreement may create balance in a relationship

For couples in Michigan who find their marriage on shaky ground because of a lack of trust or other issues, a postnuptial agreement may be a way to restore balance to the relationship. For example, according to Forbes magazine, these legal documents can include a clause that defines some financial penalties if one spouse cheats

A person whose spouse has strayed must evaluate how future trust issues will affect his or her ability to remain with the cheating spouse. A clause requiring a significant amount of alimony or a lump sum award may eliminate the worry that a casual encounter with someone else could be a temptation. Alternately, if the spouse with fewer financial resources is the one who has had a relationship outside the marriage, the clause could define the penalty as a decrease or waiver of alimony or award if he or she cheats again.

Divorcing without losing your permanent residence status

You married your spouse in good faith, expecting your new life together in Michigan to be a loving one where you both would thrive. However, sometimes relationships just do not work out. If you are an immigrant and your residency in the United States is conditional on your marriage, you may wonder whether you must stay in the unhappy relationship to keep from losing your status. We at The Law Offices of Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C., understand the allowances the law makes for people in these circumstances.

At times, there are ways to rescue a relationship, such as mediation or therapy, but this requires you and your spouse to both agree to work on the relationship together. If your differences are so great that you cannot overcome them, the emotional trauma of ending the marriage can be stressful enough without adding fear of deportation to the mix. If you have a child, there may be additional worries about the custody issues that may arise if you and your spouse live in separate countries.

Prepare for your divorce before you file the petition

One of the biggest mistakes that many people make when they are going through a divorce is trying to rush through the process. Although it isn't possible when you are a victim of domestic violence, it might help you to plan for the divorce when you are going to be the one who files.

Taking the time to get things together before you head to file the petition protect you. Here are some points for you to think about if you are considering a divorce:

How Michigan courts determine child support payments

Stories abound in Michigan about the aftermath of divorce and the cost of child support. Those stories tell of unfair payment amounts that prevent noncustodial parents from having a nice apartment, new car or some of life's little extras, such as tickets to a football game. Some of these tales are surely exaggerations, while others may seem to be all too true. So, how is the amount of child support payments determined?

Michigan law provides guidelines for determining a child's needs and a formula for arriving at a payment amount. Additional factors to consider are the parents' net incomes and the number of children. If parents are sharing custody, the court adjusts the formula to account for nights the child stays with each parent.

If my ex-spouse has not paid child support, what can I do?

If the other parent to your children is the subject of a child support obligation and is not paying, Michigan law provides for many kinds of enforcement. Some enforcement options directly provide payments more expeditiously. Others do not make direct payments but put pressure on the other parent to start complying with the child support order.

Income withholding of paycheck

Co-parenting schedule negotiations may be easier with a mediator

Even though you and your spouse have different ideas about how you want your co-parenting schedule to look after your Michigan divorce, you can probably agree that you both want what is best for your child. Many people use this as the basis to work things out with a mediator rather than allowing the judge to review each side and make an arbitrary decision. At The Law Offices of Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C., we often provide mediation services for people who want to come to an agreement rather than engaging in a legal dispute.

The mediator does not make any decisions for you. As FindLaw explains, this person is a neutral third party who is present at your discussion with your spouse in a neutral setting. You and your spouse will each have an opportunity to explain your wishes without interruption or argument. The mediator may sum up the points where you already agree, identify which issues will need further discussion and facilitate the negotiation. 

When are trust assets left untouched in divorce?

You and your spouse will have to divide your assets equitably in your Michigan divorce, but there are some assets that may not be included in the process if they are in a trust. According to the American Bar Association, there are several circumstances where this may apply, and some where it will not.

If you are the beneficiary of an irrevocable trust that was set up before your marriage, the assets may be safe from division. Likewise, if you have assets that you inherited or that were yours before the divorce, you may be able to put them in a trust that is shielded from your spouse. However, if you do not have access to the assets themselves, and your income from the trust is limited, you should discuss how those limitations should be addressed. Otherwise, your portion of the marital property could be unfair based on your actual cash flow.

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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