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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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  • How do courts decide who gets the kids?

    In the vast majority of cases in Oakland County, Macomb County or Wayne County, the parents settle the issue of custody and parenting time between themselves before a trial. In some cases in which the parents cannot work it out themselves and the court has to decide, there are a number of “best interest” factors the court will consider and decide which parent is favored by each factor.

    In the end, the judge will add them all up and make the decision based on which parent meets most of these factors, including the custody arrangement. The parents should be able to come up with parenting time arrangements, but it they can’t do that, the judge will step in then, too.

  • How much child support does a parent have to pay?

    In Michigan, child support is based on a formula; a computer program that takes into account each parent’s income and how many overnights the non-custodial parent will have with each child. The formula also takes into account other things, such as insurance, private school and the like and the computer spits out a number, which will be your child support.

    In general, child support is not negotiable in Michigan, so the people who think they pay too much and those who think it’s not enough tend to be equally unhappy. Except in extraordinary circumstances, such as when parents have very high income levels or one parent has to travel a long way to see the children, the court will generally follow the child support formula.

  • What are some smart and stupid divorce moves?

    The smartest move anyone can make in a divorce is to hire a good lawyer who can give you straightforward advice designed to help you move on with your life, but right behind that one is the smart move to understand this is a long-term situation. You are not fighting a war that will be over at any point, with you declared the winner; one thing many people forget in divorce cases is that, when everything is decided, the parties will still have to deal with each other if they have minor children. It’s important to take a long-term approach and to avoid fighting in the future.

    Another smart move is to be the first one to file for divorce, so that it’s not possible for there to be ex-parte orders filed against you that are unfair or unduly restrictive, such as those that award initial custody to the other party; it also gives you a chance to think about what would be best for you with regard to which county in which you want to file, if the parties are separated and living in separate counties. However, make sure you choose the right attorney; one who knows the county in which you file and can work with the courts really well.

    As for stupid moves, the biggest mistake many people make is in thinking they can empty out the bank account and then file for divorce, which not only doesn’t work, but puts you on the judge’s bad side. Of course, another stupid move is to flee the state or county and file for divorce, which doesn’t work, because you have to establish residency to establish jurisdiction. Another huge mistake is to hire an overly aggressive attorney who just fights with everyone about everything; all such an attorney will end up doing is cost you a lot more to litigate.

  • What are the keys to surviving divorce, seeing the kids and keeping your sanity?

    Assuming that you want to divorce, the most important thing is to look to the future and not dwell on the past; focusing on the future makes it easier to get through this process and try to have a better life. People who are angry and determined to make up for years of pain and suffering rarely find their relief in the courthouse.

    Two other keys are to be sure to see your children, and at least try to get along with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, especially with regard to the children. Those who concentrate on them realize there is plenty of time for everyone to see the kids and for the kids to have good, healthy relationships with both parents.

    People need to realize that even if it’s not your parenting time, there is nothing to stop you from going to the kids’ activities, like school functions, baseball or soccer games, or even to drive them to school; things like that. There are many ways to put in parenting time, and for both parents to be regularly and heavily involved in the lives of the kids, and doing that usually works better for everyone. When it comes to keeping your sanity, divorce is one of the more stressful things people deal with; getting along makes it easier.

    There is a lot on the line in a divorce, such as your finances, your children and your future, so a certain amount of stress should be expected, so surround yourself with positive people who want you to have the best future possible. There will be times when you have to fight, but you’ll achieve the best outcome for you and your children through brokered solutions and deals, and you’re best off surrounded by positive people, not negative people who enjoy fireworks.

  • What will be left after alimony and child support?

    Figuring out the answer to that question is why you have a lawyer.

    When it comes to child support, as long as we know what the custody and parenting situation and the income of the parties, it’s pretty easy to get an accurate idea of how much child support will be. Alimony is a little trickier; it varies depending upon the judge, the length of the marriage, the amount of debt each party is carrying, which party makes more money and other factors that are used to determine the true level of need of the party seeking alimony.

    In other words, the judge will factor in whether they have other sources of income, such as family support or a trust fund or things like that. It’s harder to figure out an alimony figure, but we can use software programs to give you an idea what the starting point of negotiations will be and where it may end up. You need the help of your attorney to estimate all that.

  • What do I need to know about division of assets?

    In Michigan, the court will try to determine which assets were obtained during the marriage and they will usually attempt to divide those assets equally, but you’ll need to know whether or not there are premarital assets or separate property such as an inheritance, which will probably have to be litigated, because if you can prove assets are premarital or separate property, the court will award that to you outside of the marital property. There are different factors in doing that analysis, but we can definitely help clients to identify which assets are separate and which assets are marital and help them try to protect what they are entitled to.

  • Are prenuptial agreements good or bad?

    If drafted properly, prenuptial agreements are legal, valid and binding in the State of Michigan. In many situations, they help people to clarify which property is separate from marital property and, especially in certain situations, like second marriages, it can protect certain property for children from the first marriage.

    Prenuptial agreements can also serve to clarify the wishes and the desires of the parties, so they are very valid and useful tool in many situations.

  • What are some common myths about divorce?

    One of the most common myths is that primary custody is always granted to the mother, but that’s no longer the case; the courts conduct a thorough analysis to decide which parent should have primary custody; nothing is automatic. Another myth is that fighting in a divorce will bankrupt people; that doesn’t need to be the case, although people should be careful to hire attorneys who are trying to solve problems, not create more. Another common myth is that every case involves alimony, which is only awarded after a long marriage and if there is a significant difference in income.

  • What should I know about no-contact orders?

    One of the most important things people should know about no-contact orders is that if there is one against you, it only applies to you; if the other party tries to contact you and you reply, you’re still violating the no-contact order, regardless of who initiated the contact.

    Be aware that people may be trying to trick you or trap you, so you need to follow the order, no matter what, and that means any type of contact, including emails, texts or phone calls, as well as attempting to use third parties to carry a message to the other person or to carry on a conversation; it means no contact. Following that rule is important, because many people who thought no one would find out they violated it end up locked up.

  • What can be settled during mediation?

    The entire case can be settled during mediation, which is a process involving each party with their attorneys in separate rooms and a mediator, usually a private attorney, going back and forth between the two and negotiating the issues with the parties. If the parties make a deal on all issues, the mediator will record the terms of the settlements, place it on the record and everybody will verbally agree and then sign a written agreement. That way the settlement is binding, even if someone wants to change their mind the next day. About 50-60% of cases are settled through mediation.

  • Can a domestic violence charge make your custody battle difficult?

    People use domestic violence charges against the other party all the time, whether there is a conviction on the record or there are only charges. In most cases, the judge will scrutinize the claims carefully, but such incidents can be used against you if convicted, which is why, if you are charged with domestic violence, you should fight that case and beat it, if at all possible. If it’s not possible, you should make sure the record clearly indicates the seriousness of the charge, especially if it was minor, because in a divorce, the other side will try to make sure it’s held against you.

  • What’s the best way to avoid an ugly divorce?

    Ideally, one of the best ways to avoid an ugly divorce will be to have two lawyers on a case who are trying not to make it an ugly divorce. They should both counsel their clients on the benefits of avoiding ugliness and all of the benefits of making sure it’s not ugly, including the lower costs, the personal and emotional benefits and the benefit to the children among others. Aside from that, keeping your eye on the future and not the past helps people avoid ugliness.

    One great way to avoid ugly is to understand that divorce is an extremely emotional experience, with situations that are sometimes complicated and contain facts that are difficult to deal with, and that means having an attorney that understands that spending time with the client is important, and not just the cheapest divorce attorney you can find. Someone who knows the situations and the law, and who can plan for the best possible outcome is important, and price shopping for a lawyer will probably turn your divorce into an ugly matter and is probably a big mistake.

  • Can I move to another state if I have custody?

    Anytime a parent wants to move to another state, either during or after the divorce, they need the court’s approval in the form of a change of domicile and it takes time for the court to process those requests. You can’t file a motion for change of domicile in August and expect to take the kids with you in September unless the other parent consents. The court will do an analysis of what’s right for the kids and the effect on the other parent’s relationship with the children, as well as the costs of the children having to travel.

    There are a number of factors the court will look at in deciding whether or not to go along with this move, and the way it is presented is very important, as is how it is defended if you’re trying to stop the other parent from moving. These are very serious matters that take time to process through the court, so as soon as a party knows they might move, they should to consult a good attorney to help them with that issue.

  • Will a spouse cheating matter in a divorce?

    Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means the court really doesn’t get too involved in determining who is at fault for the divorce. With extramarital affairs, the court feels there are two sides to every story and they don’t know the whole history behind the relationship, so they’ll only want to know if that alone is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage and won’t get into it otherwise.

    In some cases, it can make a big difference when it comes to settlement, because it charges one side of the marriage emotionally and often makes their attitude more difficult to deal with. These types of situations can have a big effect on divorce cases, but it has little to do with the judge; it’s more an issue between the parties.

  • How are assets and property divided when there is no prenuptial agreement?

    In general, what you try to do is you look at the assets and the liabilities that were accumulated during the marriage. The starting point for your general case is to say, “We’re going to divide those assets and we’re going to divide those liabilities.”

  • How do I obtain a divorce?

    In order to obtain a divorce in Michigan it is necessary that you show there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed, and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. A Michigan divorce case begins with the filing of the Complaint for Divorce and a Summons with the Court.

  • What is an absolute divorce?

    An absolute divorce is a divorce in which the marriage is completely dissolved and both parties become single.

  • What if my spouse does not want the divorce?

    Contesting a divorce in Michigan involves mediation and possibly a trial. If the parties do not agree as to the assets and debts of the marriage, discovery will occur as well. Ultimately, neither party can stop a divorce from occurring but either party can make it more difficult than it needs to be.

  • What are the mechanics of an Action for Divorce?

    At least one of the parties to an action for divorce must have resided in the State of Michigan for at least 180 days immediately prior to the filing of the complaint, and must have resided in the county of filing for at least 10 days immediately prior to the filing of the complaint.

  • Does a spouse have to prove fault on the part of the other spouse to obtain a divorce?

    No. However, when the court makes a division of property in a divorce case it can decide that one party is more at fault than the other and therefore entitled to more property. Usually, fault does not play a very big role in the division of assets, however, the court has great powers of equity that can be used when necessary to create a fair division of assets.

  • Does it matter who brings the action?

    Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. It does not matter who brings the action, however, in some situations such as when the parties have been separated and there may be a custody dispute the first party to the courthouse may gain an advantage.

  • I don’t understand the term, a “no fault” divorce. Isn’t it always someone’s fault?

    Michigan is a “no-fault” state. The court has the power to terminate the relationship between the parties regardless of who did what to whom. Fault does play a role however, in the court’s determination of child custody, property rights and spousal support.

  • How long does a divorce take?

    At a minimum, if there are no children involved, a divorce may be granted in 60 days. However, typically a divorce will take 6 months from beginning to end. When children are involved, a divorce may take longer.

  • What is the difference between a legal separation and a divorce?

    Many divorcing couples believe that they are ‘legally separated’ after one of them has filed for divorce. This is not true. Michigan does not require couples to separate when a divorce is filed. In Michigan, legal separation is known as “separate maintenance.” The procedure is similar to a divorce, except that neither party may remarry. These type of separations are rare. When parties are willing to go to the trouble of engaging the legal system they generally prefer divorce.

  • What is an uncontested divorce?

    An uncontested divorce occurs when there are no disagreements between you and your spouse over any financial or divorce-related issues (i.e., child custody and support, division of marital property or spousal support); and your spouse either agrees to the divorce, or fails to appear in the divorce action.

  • How is property divided in Michigan?

    Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that all marital property acquired during the marriage is subject to division. Property brought into the marriage that a person had before is generally not subject to division in a divorce, however, commingling of money and long term marriages can greatly complicate this issue. In addition, most divorcing spouses set out who will pay what debts as part of their marital settlement agreement during the divorce process, and close all of their joint accounts.

  • Can I handle the divorce without an attorney?

    Yes. However, of great concern is the fact that a divorce judgment will permanently extinguish certain rights, including the right to equitably distribute your property and the right to spousal support if you do not “preserve” those claims prior to the entry of the divorce judgment. Judges and court personnel are legally prohibited from giving legal advice. Anyone who can afford counsel should be represented in a divorce. Everything you own, including retirement assets, real estate, business interests, commissions, etc. is being divided and at risk. Save yourself some time, frustration, and heartache, contact a divorce lawyer at Paul J. Tafelski, P.C. to assist you with this matter.

  • What is alimony and who gets it?

    In Michigan, alimony is called Spousal Support. It is support that one spouse has to pay to the other after a divorce is finalized. It can last for a short time. This is called rehabilitative spousal support and is intended to help the other spouse transition back into the workforce. It is often common when one spouse stayed at home with children while the other worked. Since it usually takes time to get a good career going a spouse may need spousal support for a period of time as they get back to work. Long term or permanent spousal support usually occurs after a long term marriage where a spouse, usually the wife, has been out of the work force for decades and has no real prospects for ever being able to earn income comparable to the other spouse. It is important that the issues of need, equity, earning ability and length of marriage be thoroughly analyzed by an experienced professional when spousal support is at issue.

  • I think my spouse is hiding assets. What can be done?

    Your spouse is not the first who tried to hide assets in a divorce. Experienced counsel has many tools to try and locate hidden assets. Tax returns, bank statements, credit card bills all provide clues to assets. More sophisticated methods are also worthwhile in high dollar cases. Don’t give up on what is rightfully yours without a fight.

  • Who pays the attorney fees?

    Often both parties pay their own attorney fees. However, where one party has a superior financial advantage the other spouse can often be required to pay the fees throughout the divorce.

  • Who pays the bills while we are getting divorced?

    Usually, the court will require the parties to continue paying any bills and obligations they were paying during the marriage. This is called maintenance of the status quo. If either party moves out of the marital home during divorce they will still be required to pay their share of the bills absent strange circumstances such as domestic violence.

  • Would it be safe to say that even if someone isn’t initially starting out with some huge ugly divorce, both have separate attorneys?

    Yes. Clients who have substantial estates or a private business or already have a heated custody issue, know they need lawyers and they want their own lawyers, that goes without saying. This includes people that think they don’t have these obvious issues that need help. A lot of times, people call an attorney and ask, “Well, look! We really would like to use one lawyer. Can we use one lawyer?”

    And the answer to that question is both people cannot be represented by one lawyer. If you stop and think about it, there is an obvious conflict of interest there. So, if a lawyer is speaking to you and giving you advice about what you should do or what your interests and rights are, and then the lawyer talks to your husband and tells him what he should do and what he should work out, these are working and these are not consistent goals and objectives. In this case, the information that the lawyer has now learnt about one individual can be applied to the advice that is given to the second individual or vice versa. So, it’s just no way for one attorney to ethically represent two clients.

    Having said that, Attorney Tafelski has had many cases where he was the only attorney involved. In such cases, he makes it clear to one client or the other that he is their attorney. The other party is then what is called “Improper”, which means representing themselves. They can call the attorney and say, “What do we have to do next”, and the attorney procedurally leads the way on the case. However, in such cases, it is always made clear that the attorney will only represent the interests of one party. That way, the lawyer prepares all the paperwork in a professional manner and it’s all done properly with all of the required language and all of the statutory requirements that the court insists upon and all of the issues are covered and not forgotten or left out and that works in many cases. The real issue with that is just to make sure that the one party who is not represented is comfortable handling things on their own because the attorney cannot give them legal advice.

  • Is there a required period of separation before being able to file a divorce in Michigan?

    No, you don’t have to be separated. In fact, many people like to live together even for a period of time after the divorce is complete while they’re trying to sell the marital home and things like that but the court will look at separation in determining whether or not to grant the divorce at that time. So, in other words, if you don’t have any minor children, you must wait at least 60 days from the time the complaint for divorce is filed and when the judgment of divorce is to be entered.

    If you have minor children, the statutory waiting period is 180 days or 6 months. However, that statutory waiting period can be waived if the judge finds that there is good cause and that it’s in the best interest of the children to waive that waiting period and let the divorce be granted sooner. It’ll never be granted sooner than 60 days but it could be granted sooner than 6 months if the judge is convinced that it’s in the best interest of the children. One of the factors they would look at in that circumstance is whether or not the parties have already been separated and living apart and whether the kids are used to that and the adjustment period has occurred.

  • Are there any benefits to filing for divorce before your spouse?

    Usually, there are no advantages to being the first one to file. However, cases where one party has truly raced to the courthouse to file before the other party and gained a custody advantage with their children by making spurious allegations against the other party in order to get what’s called an ex parte or without a hearing order of temporary custody issued, it can create all sorts of problems for the other side because now one party is fighting an uphill battle when the case has just started.

    In other instances, it makes it different who files first but probably 9 times out of 10 or 95 times out of a 100 it really won’t make a difference who files first but there are occasions and that’s the kind of thing you really want to speak to a lawyer about to try to understand the particular facts of your case to make sure that it is being handled properly because each one of these cases is a little bit unique and they have their own set of facts or circumstances that might make a decision on what to do in your case different from a decision to do in your sister’s case, for example.

  • What should someone do to prepare for a divorce or separation in financial terms?

    As mentioned previously, every case is a little bit different and what might end up being the significant part of your divorce could be different for somebody else. Generally, you want to make sure that you’re very familiar and informed with all of the financial aspects of your case. If you think there are things like infidelity going on, you’d like to try to get some proof and some evidence; if you think there is financial mismanagement going on, then you’d like to try to get some proof and some evidence because as soon as the case starts, the battle lines will be drawn and people will be taking steps to protect their own interests. So just try to make sure you are as absolutely informed as possible with regard to what is going on and where all the information is that would become pertinent during your case.

  • What do I do if I can’t afford an attorney?

    For the most part, somebody who has a very low income can try to contact their local legal aid association and they might get some help. But otherwise, it’s up to people to hire their own attorney or go in alone. It can be tricky for people to represent themselves because, by law, the courts are not allowed to give legal advice.

    For example, many people feel like if they can just get in front of the judge and explain their situation to the judge. The judge will tell them what to do or the judge will help them out. Or, somebody will show them how to fill out the paperwork. It’s against the law for a judge to give that kind of advice.

  • When is mediation versus the court process a good idea for the couple?

    The traditional divorce process in Metro Detroit, meaning in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, is going to involve mediation before the client can ever have a trial in front of the judge. The judge will make the person do it because they don’t want to have a trial when a case could be settled through mediation; probably 50 to 60 per cent of cases will settle at mediation before a trial.

    Some people like to think about going to mediation before their case even starts. That’s a personal preference and there is no reason they can’t do it but the normal process involves filing of a complaint for a divorce, and then exchanging information so that everybody can be on the same page with regard to financials, custody issues, medical things etc. and then they can try to negotiate a settlement.

  • What is the mediation process and how does it work?

    If negotiating a settlement doesn’t work, mediation can be chosen. The mediation process is simply the attorneys for the parties agreeing on a mediator who is a lawyer and skilled or trained in mediation. They go to that person’s office, sit in separate rooms with their attorney and the mediator will go back and forth trying to broker a deal. The mediator is not a judge. They do not decide if you are right and the other person is wrong, and you win and they lose; they simply try to get both sides to inch closer together in order to make an agreement and finish the case.

    Mediators use the fact as leverage that they usually have a pretty good understanding of your particular judge and how that person thinks or acts. They have experience in the area and they will explain to you as an objective person the strengths or weaknesses of your argument and also the costs that you have to save by not going to trial because the trial process is very expensive. A lot of times, the money that you’re saving can be used in the negotiation process and that way, the parties keep the money rather than the lawyers ending up with the money. So, it’s a pretty effective process if people want the case to resolve, it would usually resolve.

  • With mediation, would it still be suggested to have two attorneys; one representing each party?

    Yes. A lot of times in these cases, there are certain legal arguments that are being made, for example, on spousal support or changing the domicile of the child, or how much parenting time one party should get versus the other, or when there are legal arguments that need to be made and there are legal discussions that need to be had and the mediator is really not there to tell you you’re right or wrong; they’re there to broker a deal and without people understanding what’s going on properly, it takes away some of the effectiveness of mediation.

    It all depends on what your issues are. For example, if all you’re fighting over is who gets the couch and who gets the TV, then you really don’t need lawyers for that. But if you are talking about more important issues like custody and spousal support and division of business interests, stock options, things that are more complex, then for sure, you need counsel.

  • What is a prenuptial agreement?

    A prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a written contract created by two people before they are married. A prenup typically lists all of the property each person owns, as well as any debts, and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after the marriage if there is a divorce.

  • Do I need an attorney to draft or review my prenuptial agreement with me?

    Both you and your fiancé should each hire a family law attorney to individually represent you in the drafting and review of your prenuptial agreement. An experienced family lawyer at Paul J. Tafelski, P.C. can help you define your short-term and long-term goals in reaching an agreement with your fiancé.

  • Can payment of spousal support be waived under the terms of my prenuptial agreement?

    Yes, spousal support may be waived under the terms of a prenuptial agreement.

  • I do not have a lot of money or property going into this marriage. Do I really need a prenuptial agreement?

    Prenuptial agreements are not just for the rich. While they are often used to protect the assets of the wealthy, couples of more modest means are increasingly turning to them for their own purposes. For example, a marrying couple with children from prior marriages may use a prenup to spell out what will happen to their property when they die, so that they can pass on separate property to their children. Without a prenuptial agreement, a surviving spouse might have the right to claim a large portion of the other spouse’s property, leaving much less for the kids.

  • What happens to my property if I do not have a prenuptial agreement?

    If you do not make a prenuptial agreement, state laws will determine who owns the property that you acquire during your marriage, as well as what happens to that property at divorce or death. In the absence of a prenup stating otherwise, a spouse usually has the right to:

    Share ownership of property acquired during marriage, with the expectation that the property will be divided between the spouses in the event of a divorce or at death.

    Incur debts during marriage that the other spouse may have to pay for, and share in the management and control of any marital or community property, sometimes including the right to sell it or give it away.

  • Why would I want a post nuptial agreement?

    These agreements are popular when parties are having difficulties in their marriage but want to attempt reconciliation without being concerned about the financial aspects of divorce. Some people feel that if they don’t have to worry about money they can focus on the relationship. Other people use post nuptial agreements where there are children from prior marriages and estate planning is at issue. Another reason is to try and avoid the prospect of a messy divorce by spelling out the intentions of the parties.

  • Are postnups enforceable in court?

    Yes. They are considered binding contracts when properly drafted. Michigan law specifically recognizes their validity. One of the most important elements in entering into a binding agreement is that full disclosure of assets occur.

  • Will a prenuptial agreement determine entirely all the asset division in a divorce?

    If the prenuptial agreement is properly drafted, then it will be valid and the court will follow what’s in that agreement. But there are some things that are very important to make sure that they are done correctly. This is because the agreement can be challenged and could possibly be set aside in which case all your plans are out the window.

  • What are some common misconceptions people have about child support that you’ve noticed?

    I think some people think that overtime won’t be included or bonuses won’t be included. Or, that some extra-curricular activities can be added on that can’t be such as sports fees or equipment fees and things like that. You can’t just keep going back and asking for more money. Most people who receive the support are limited by that amount of support unless they can get the other parent to voluntarily contribute to other extra-curricular activities.

  • Are they viewing child support as something that’s a little bit more equal rather than leaning towards the mother?

    Child support is just a computer program. You put the data in and it tells you what the number is. It goes by how much you make and how much time you have the child for overnight visits.

    One thing that affects child support is, let’s say, father sees the kid three days a week but he is only seeing him from after school until 8:00 at night. That won’t affect the child support formula in his favor at all because that’s not an overnight visit. In most situations you might have a parent that sees the children very often and they’re very involved.

    If they don’t have that many overnights visits, the formula somewhat works against them. There’s not much that you can do about it unless you can negotiate some relief based upon your particular circumstances.

  • How long does child support last?

    Child support will go until the child turns 18 and graduates from high school or until they’re 19 and still enrolled in school towards high school graduation.

  • How does someone go about making the child support payment?

    It will usually come right out of their paycheck. The other way is that they can pay directly to the person or they can pay directly to Friend of the Court. The preferred way, by the court system, is that they take it right out of your paycheck through your employer.

    Because that way, there’s no question about what’s happening and once the system is in place, it’s pretty automatic and there’s less things for people to fight about.

    If someone is paying someone and they missed a payment, I’m pretty sure they can get into a lot of trouble. Are there any interest or penalties that they may have to pay later if that was the case?

    It’s possible but usually that’s not the case. Usually, it’s just creates a hassle for the person who’s supposed to receive the payment to try to have to go get their money.

  • What about for couples that aren’t married and they have a child? Do these same laws apply to them?

    The only difference is you’re filing a complaint for custody support and parenting time. Sometimes, a determination of paternity is also filed. Besides the property division, you’re still going to have the same issues when it comes to custody and parenting time and child support. The process will be similar to a divorce.

  • Would a step-parent have to pay child support?

    Would a step-parent have to pay child support?

    Only if they adopted the child. If you adopt the child and then get divorced, then you’re paying child support. If you never adopted the child, even if you raised them from the time they were a baby to the time they are 17, you’re not legally obligated to support them.

  • When you adopt a child, do you have the same legal obligations as with a biological child?

    Foster parents could easily just go and adopt the child and a year later, they decide that they don’t like each other and that person is entitled to have to pay child support.

    If you legally adopted the child is the same as if it’s your child biologically.

  • How is child support calculated with multiple children?

    Someone’s paying $400 for one child. Would they have to pay $400 for each additional child?

    Probably not. It usually will be a little bit less. You won’t get this full amount for each child. The formula is what it is. If you can dig around and find it online, if you don’t have an attorney, you might be able to run the numbers and get a general idea. Don’t forget too that each situation is affected by the number of overnight visits. Every case is a little bit different.

  • Are there limits on how much a total paycheck can be allocated for child support?

    Typically, no, you’re not just going to have the same amount of support added for each child because at some point, there is a concern you might be taking more than 100% of the other person’s paycheck. They’re never really going to take more than half of their paycheck.

  • How do you file a petition to modify child support?

    What is the exact process an individual needs to do modify child support? Who do they need to report to?

    Typically, they want to go to the Friend of the Court. The Friend of the Court is a division of the family court that tries to administer most of the payments and parenting time issues. They work on behalf of the judges in the family court. Most family law matters will start with dealing with the family court, Friend of the Court.

    Usually, the person would file a motion to decrease their child support through the Friend of the Court office. Or, they can do it with the regular court but usually it’s a little bit easier to do it at the Friend of the Court.

  • Is child support usually agreed upon by both parties in a divorce?

    You put that information into a computer program and push the button and it will then tell you how much the child support is going to be. Most of the time, the person receiving the child support thinks it’s not enough and the person paying it thinks it’s way too much.

  • What are the exceptions to the formula?

    The reality is, it is what it is and that’s what you’re going to be stuck with. The only way to change really the amount of support is to change the data that goes into the program. Now, the exception to that is going to be where the party might be a very-high-income person and they can make a strong argument that the amount of support being called for by the formula is unnecessary. It is outside and beyond the lifestyle that they want the children to be living.

    Sometimes, when you get into real high-income situations, you can argue to deviate from that child support formula. Also sometimes, if one parent is going to live in a different state and there’s going to be an increase in the amount of travel expenses. This is through no fault of their own and sometimes you can get the formula to be a little bit lower than normal. This is because that person is going to be incurring these additional expenses to see the children.

  • Is day care expenses covered by child support?

    What about other factors like day care? Would some of that cover be covered through child support?

    Yes. You have the child support figure which is purely for support and it’s based upon income. The formula also takes in to consideration day care expenses and uninsured medical expenses like orthodontics or psychological treatment or sometimes tutoring.

    They usually calculate that based upon the parties’ percentages of income. If husband makes twice as much as wife, then husband will probably pay two-thirds of the day care cost and two-thirds of the uninsured medical expenses. This is because of the fact that his income ends up being two-thirds of the total pot and hers ends up being one-third of the total pot. That’s how they usually provide for those extra expenses.

    Most of the time, child support gets paid through an automatic income withholding order that gets sent to the person-who-pays’ employer and it gets taken out of their paycheck. It is then directly deposited into an account for the person receiving the money.

  • Why is it far better to decide time sharing prior to going before a judge?

    You have some judges who are still very much pro-mother and you have others who are much more pro-father than the average judge and then you have some in between. Really, which judge your case lands with would have a big role in the outcome of your custody matter if it turns out to be disputed.

    Keep in mind 90% of the cases, the parties work out the agreement themselves before a judge ever has to decide it. The judges are pretty good about letting you know throughout the process that you’re better off figuring your own life out—as opposed to letting them do it. Sometimes, they’ll even make decisions that anger both parties to just sort of teach that lesson.

  • How does Michigan calculate child support amounts?

    Let’s discuss the formula that determines child support. That’s my first question.

    In Michigan, we have what’s called the Child Support Formula. That formula considers a number of factors. The main factors have to do with how many overnight visits does each parent have with the children and how much money does each parent earn in reality.

    Now, the earnings include overtime, bonuses, things like that, most anything that would go on your tax return must be included as earnings. Even sometimes, if a person voluntarily stops working or lowers their income, the court can impute income to them and calculate their child support based upon how much they could be earning.

  • How does the court determine what is in the best interest of my children in a child custody case?

    The court will examine a number of factors, including who the children are living with at the time the custody determination is made, the children’s historical relationship with each of the parents, and each of the parents’ ability to care for the children. See the Child Custody section of our website for a more detailed explanation of the Best Interest factors.

  • What are the different types of child custody?

    There are two types of child custody in Michigan:

    Legal custody – the parents share decision-making authority in important decisions affecting their children and must consult with each other to reach joint parental decisions.

    Physical custody – who physically raises the child, and where the child physically resides.

  • My husband and I are separated, and he moved to another state. He has filed for divorce and custody in his state. What do I do?

    If your spouse has moved to another state and filed for divorce and child custody, he would first have to meet residency requirements in that state in order to file. Each state has different laws. If he does not meet all requirements necessary to file, you would be able to contest both the divorce and the custody proceeding. It would be in your best interest to contact an experienced child custody attorney at Paul J. Tafelski, PC to discuss your options. Do not waste time. You may have an opportunity to challenge jurisdiction which will be lost if you wait. It is a great disadvantage to fight your divorce from a different state.

  • May I withhold visitation because my spouse will not pay child support?

    Child support and visitation are two separate issues. A person cannot withhold visitation if child support is not being paid. If the court has ordered visitation, an attempt to violate the court orders could result in contempt. The proper way to deal with this is to file a motion with the court for contempt or enforcement of the order.

  • Are mothers more likely to be awarded custody over fathers?

    The mother usually receives custody because she is the homemaker who cares for the children. Historically, the father is earning a living for the family and as such, does not spend as much time with the children. Also, some judges are biased against fathers and for mothers. However, with proper legal representation, the father may have just as much chance of gaining custody of the children as the mother. It would be a mistake to assume that the mother always gets physical custody. Contact the custody lawyers at Paul. J. Tafelski, P.C. today to discuss your case.

  • What factors do courts take into account when deciding who gets custody of the children?

    A court gives the “best interests of the child” the highest priority when deciding custody issues. What the best interests of a child are in a given situation depends upon many factors, including:

    • the child’s age, gender, mental and physical health
    • the mental and physical health of the parents
    • the lifestyle and other social factors of the parents, including whether the child is exposed to second-hand smoke and whether there is any history of child abuse
    • the love and emotional ties between the parent and the child
    • the parent’s ability to provide the child with food, shelter, clothing and medical care
    • the child’s established living pattern (school, home, community, religious institution)
    • the quality of the schools attended by the children
    • the child’s preference, if the child is above a certain age (usually about 12), and
    • the ability and willingness of the parent to foster healthy communication and contact between the child and the other parent.

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