Grand Rapids Criminal Defense And Family Law Blog

Second marriages increase need for financial planning

Remarriage has become increasingly common in Michigan, especially among older adults. The Pew Research Center reported that two-thirds of married couples around the country in the 55-to-64 age group have gone through previous marriages. When people enter subsequent marriages, they typically have more assets and children than people starting their first marriages. This situation introduces questions about the division of assets among new spouses and children.

People typically want to shield assets from going completely to a new spouse in the event of a divorce because they had intended to transfer that wealth to their children. Prenuptial agreements provide legal tools for designating financial plans prior to entering a new marriage, and post-marital agreements can be entered into after the couple has wed. Executing both documents removes most doubts about future financial outcomes. Without these contracts that direct who gets what, the laws could favor the spouse. A divorce could then produce the undesired result of a child's inheritance going to a parent's ex-spouse and even the children of an ex-spouse.

How joint custody leads to better parenting

Parents in Michigan and throughout the country may actually become better at raising their children after a divorce. This is partially because they are required to take responsibility for their kids with no or limited guidance from the other spouse. In many cases, parents want to be there for their children after their marriages end despite the stereotypes that society may have. When it comes to divorced fathers, society believes them to be lazy or only partially engaged.

However, there has been a growing trend in recent years of men standing up for themselves and asking for greater rights to their children. Research tends to support the idea that parents typically are better at parenting their kids than they are getting along with each other. Therefore, allowing both parents to share custody can be beneficial for both the adults and the children that the law seeks to protect.

Women may have different motives for white collar crime

The CBS show Pink Collar Crimes has shone the spotlight on a niche area of law that many may find interesting. The numbers of incarcerated women in prisons in Michigan and elsewhere are increasing, but the criminal charges that landed them there can be very different from those involving men. As you know, women can commit the same crimes as men, including drug violations, assault and theft. However, when it comes to some allegations, their motives may be different from men’s.

You may wonder what exactly pink collar crime entails. As Forbes explains, this is a nickname attached to white collar crime when the allegations involve women. The charges can include embezzlement, financial fraud, money laundering and Ponzi schemes. Many women involved in pink collar crime include bookkeepers, accountants and office managers, but they can also include school volunteers and PTA moms who are in a position of financial trust – for example, being the treasurer of an extracurricular organization.

The truth behind myths associated with non-custodial parents

A non-custodial Michigan parent is simply someone who does not have physical custody of their child. However, there are several common myths that still linger about what a parent without custody is, what rights they have and how they interact with their children.

For starters, it is possible for a non-custodial parent to have legal custody even without having physical custody of a child. Another myth is that non-custodial parents are "deadbeats" because they don't pay child support. While the majority of non-payers are typically non-custodial parents, there are many of them who are responsible and loving. It's also commonly assumed that all parents not having physical child custody are fathers. However, many courts are recognizing the importance of keeping dads in the picture, so judges are often more willing to award joint or even sole custody to fathers.

Important documents women investors need before divorcing

Ending a marriage can be a life-changing experience for anyone in Michigan. Women, in particular, sometimes find financial matters especially burdensome after untying the knot. For this reason, divorcing women are often encouraged to get their investment portfolio and financial situation in order before officially filing for a divorce.

One way a divorcing woman can start this process is by gathering important documents. Because there is a tendency to sign tax returns without fully understanding what's on them, it can be helpful for a divorcing woman to obtain such documents, preferably for the past three years. Obtaining tax details related to a privately held business is equally important since personal expenses are sometimes paid through corporate or company accounts.

Court considerations for child support and alimony

Family court judges in Michigan are given broad discretion when it comes to making child support or spousal support determinations. Typically, the court will consider any compensation or earned income as well as passive income. Passive income might include income from investments or other things. The court may also look at a spouse's salary, bonuses, carried interest, deferred compensation, retirement contributions, employment perks or partnerships distributions.

The court has a lot of leeway to look into reported finances as well. While most judges will begin with the person's most recent income tax returns, they can move on to examining bank accounts and other sources to find unreported income or other means of supporting the former spouse and children. In a case where the court finds the payor spouse is not earning as much as he or she could, it has the power to impute income at a higher rate.

Equitable distribution is sometimes unfair to stay-at-home moms

Michigan law states that marital property should be divided equitably but not necessarily equally in divorce cases. However, what is and is not equitable is often a matter of contentious debate. While states with community property laws require an equal division of marital estates regardless of whether spouses worked, how much they earned or how long they were married, the equitable distribution laws in states like Michigan sometimes leave divorcing mothers who eschewed careers to raise children at a disadvantage.

The opportunities available to women who venture out into the workplace have improved significantly in recent decades, but one in four American mothers still chooses to stay home with her children rather than pursue a career. This adherence to a traditional gender role may be lauded by some, but researchers have discovered that it often leads to less generous property division settlements and lower spousal support awards when stay-at-home mothers divorce. Experts believe that this is because even many family law judges still view breadwinners as being more valuable than homemakers.

Why your Miranda rights are so important

If you are like most Michigan people, you think you must answer any questions a law enforcement officer asks you. This is not true. You have no obligation to answer an officer’s questions. The only thing you must do is produce identification if and when (s)he asks you to. Other than that, you can respectfully decline to answer questions unless and until you have an attorney present.

You likely have heard officers read suspects their Miranda rights in numerous movies and TV shows, so you know the Miranda warning contains the following four parts:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Report looks at reasons for wrongful convictions

People in Michigan who are convicted of crimes they did not commit and then are later exonerated might be the victims of official misconduct. According to a report by the National Registry for Exonerations, it was a factor in at least 107 of the 151 exonerations that happened in 2018.

A number of exonerations are occurring in the Chicago area, where people who refused to pay extortion demands to law enforcement officers were planted with drugs. This brought the number of exonerations in the state to nearly 50. There were 54 exonerations of people charged in homicide cases in 2018, and in 80 percent of those cases, official misconduct was involved. False confessions are another issue. A single officer in Chicago has been found responsible so far for 14 of them. In 2018, there were 17 exonerations of people convicted on homicide charges that involved false confessions plus two additional homicide exonerations.

Reasons for requesting child custody modification

When couples enter into a child custody agreement in Michigan, there may come a time when a plan that was once mutually acceptable no longer works for one or both parents. It's sometimes possible for parents to directly communicate and make appropriate adjustments with arrangements. However, if this isn't possible, another option is to seek a formal child custody modification.

In some instances, a child custody modification is sought because the child is either in danger or not in a safe situation with the other parent. This may include instances of domestic violence, or a child being unwilling to remain in a custodial parent's home because of potentially harmful circumstances. If the reason for seeking a modification involves a physical relocation by one parent, a court often considers whether or not the move renders an existing visitation schedule impractical or entirely impossible. The impact of a custody modification on a child's life is often considered as well.

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