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Plymouth Family Law Blog

What are the "best interests of a child"?

It is a difficult task to determine where a child should live and who may care for that child when the child's parents go through a divorce. In Michigan, courts may evaluate a number of different factors to decide how to serve a child's "best interests" when questions of custody are at hand.

Every child has different needs and, therefore, their interests will depend on their unique situation. However, all children need shelter, food and basic care. Courts can look at which parent will provide the child with these and other basic needs when evaluating how custody should be determined.

Hiding assets during a divorce is a serious matter

Marriages end for a variety of reasons. Still, because you and your spouse both contributed to the union, each of you should receive your fair share of marital assets. If one partner hides financial information from the other, though, doing so may be exceedingly difficult. Nevertheless, you must know about all assets to better plan for your post-divorce financial future

In Michigan, judges divide marital property based on what is equitable to each spouse. While this does not necessarily mean that both partners receive half of marital assets, judges attempt to be fair when distributing property. They also take a hardline approach to hidden assets. 

What is martial property and why does it matter during a divorce?

Over time, couples in Michigan can acquire a lot of possessions. Those items may be high value pieces of real estate, such as family homes and vacation properties. Their possessions may include jewelry and cars, electronics and financial investments. They may buy furniture, clothing and items to use for sports and entertainment.

When individuals choose to end their marriage in divorce, they need to figure out what to do with all of the things that they own with their soon-to-be ex-partners. In Michigan, the law recognizes "equitable distribution" for marital property. That means property should be divided fairly, although not necessarily equally.

Understanding legal child custody in Michigan

Being a parent is hard. A parent is expected and required to provide their child with their basic needs, such as food, shelter, and clothing. They must also give their child intangible love, care, and support to help them grow both emotionally and physically. Accomplishing this with the help of a spouse or committed co-parent can be difficult, and doing it after divorce can be even more challenging.

When two Michigan parents split up they will be subject to a child custody agreement or order that dictates how they will work together to raise their shared child or children. Previously this family law blog talked about physical custody, and in this post the topic of legal custody will be addressed. Readers should always talk to their own attorneys, though, about their specific legal needs as this post should not be used as legal advice.

Are mistakes ever made during paternity testing?

Establishing paternity is an important part of proving that a relationship exists between a man and a child. In Michigan, a man may be asked to submit to genetic testing in order to demonstrate or disprove his affiliation with a child. If he is found to be the child's biological father, then he may be required to provide his child with support and offer other care to the child.

However, not every positive paternity result that is established in a laboratory is correct. It is possible for mistakes to be made during the evaluation of a potential father-child relationship. It is important to understand some of the ways that errors may flaw the results of paternity tests.

A review of physical child custody in Michigan

Like most others states throughout the country, Michigan has adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act. This gives some standardization to child custody processes and determinations throughout the nation, but as with all legal matters it is important that individuals seek their own legal advice when matters of law affect their lives. This post offers no legal advice and should only be read as an introduction to the topic of physical custody for children.

Physical custody is an important part of child custody. It concerns where a child will physically live and which of their parents will have physical custodial power over them. If a child is placed in the custody of one parent, that parent has the right to make day-to-day decisions about how the child is raised. Physical custody can be given to one parent in a sole custody arrangement or may be granted to both parents who then just share in the physical custodial duties of raising their child.

How to cut costs during divorce

When you split from your spouse, you will, of course, have to work through several issues relating to asset division, and, if applicable, child custody and support. Navigating these matters can prove expensive, but know that you have at least some degree of control over how much your divorce ultimately costs.

According to Forbes, the typical American divorce will likely run you somewhere between $5,000 and $50,000. While geography and similar issues typically come into play in determining final divorce costs, there are some things you can do to limit how much money you have to spend to finalize your split. Just what are some of the ways you can save big during your divorce?

What is a no-fault divorce?

Marriages end for many reasons. While some Michigan couples may stay with their partners until the ends of their lives, others may elect to terminate their marital relationships through the divorce. When two people go through and complete a divorce, they are no longer legally bound to each other though they may share in post-marital responsibilities, such as the custody and support of their kids.

Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means that individuals do not have to show that their spouses did something wrong to bring about the ends of their marriages. In some jurisdictions in the past, individuals had to show that their spouses had engaged in adultery, had committed crimes, or had undertaken other wrongful acts in order to be allowed to end their relationships.

How do DNA tests determine paternity?

When a child is born to unmarried parents in Michigan who are no longer in a relationship with one another, if the father wishes to pursue custody or visitation rights or if the mother wishes to pursue child support from the father, paternity needs to be established. Sometimes, parents will agree the man is the child's biological father and will voluntarily agree so in writing by executing a specific form, which will subsequently become legally binding.

However, sometimes either the mother or the alleged father is not certain if the man is the child's biological parent. When this happens, paternity can be established through a DNA test. A child has half of his or her DNA from the biological mother and half of his or her DNA from the biological father. Each person's DNA is different, except in cases of identical twins. If the DNA patterns between the child, the child's mother and the alleged father match, it is 99.9% likely that the man is the child's biological father.

Mediation can be a non-adversarial way to get divorced

Television and the movies may make it seem like all divorces are contentious affairs fought out in a courtroom. However, many couples in Plymouth wishing to end their marriage are finding that there are other, non-adversarial ways to divorce. For example, sometimes a divorce settlement can be reached through mediation.

Through mediation, the spouses work together with a neutral third-party mediator to negotiate their divorce issues. The mediator is not a decision-maker. Rather, the mediator facilitates discussions between the spouses, helping the spouses themselves come to an agreement they are both satisfied with.

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