Grand Rapids Criminal Defense And Family Law Blog

Things to think about when making a parenting schedule

Michigan residents who have children and get divorced may have to resolve child custody and visitation issues. When parents are trying to figure out how to design their parenting plans, there are several things they should consider so that their plans will work for everyone.

Parents should start by thinking about how their children will feel. While going back and forth between two homes might be difficult, it may be even harder for children not to see one parent very often. Parents should think about what their children will miss out on as well as what they might gain when they are designing their plans.

Why it's important to update beneficiaries after divorce

When people in Michigan decide to divorce, it can be particularly important for them to take action after the divorce to ensure that their life insurance policies and other important accounts are appropriately updated. Some people deal with matters like life insurance policies in the divorce decree, whereby a former spouse disclaims interest in a policy or account. However, after the holder of the policy or account owner passes away, the insurance company will give the funds to whoever the named beneficiary is on the account. Life insurance companies, pension funds and other companies do not automatically receive divorce decrees when they are filed. Therefore, these changes will not be made unless the newly divorced policy owner contacts the company to change the beneficiary.

When these changes are not made, it can lead to drawn-out legal battles and courtroom disputes. There have been a number of estates that have lost significant value as a large portion of the money in question has been spent on legal fees in order to determine the future of the funds. These types of disputes can be avoided in the future by including these changes as part of the divorce process.

Wrongful convictions highlight eyewitness mistakes

Eyewitness identification can be a significant factor in criminal cases in Michigan and throughout the United States. However, because it relies on human memory and recognition, it can be a deeply flawed form of evidence. In fact, eyewitness mistakes have been connected to a number of high-profile wrongful convictions. These convictions were proven to be incorrect after DNA testing and technologies improved, revealing that the people convicted of serious crimes, like rape or murder, could not have been responsible. Many people across the country have had old convictions overturned after DNA tests have exonerated them.

There are a number of reforms that can help increase the accuracy of eyewitness's testimonies in criminal cases. Witnesses to a crime are often asked to identify the perpetrator from a photo collection or live lineup. However, when people are given a set of photos, they often choose the person who most resembles the individual responsible rather than the actual guilty party. When a photo lineup is given prior to a live lineup, it can encourage the witness to identify the same person again even when his or her original identification was uncertain.

Planning for alimony

Michigan residents who plan to get a divorce should know that due to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, they will not be able to deduct any alimony they have to pay to comply with separation of divorce agreements that become effective in 2019 and later. For the recipients of alimony, they will not have to pay taxes on the alimony they receive. As a result, people who get a divorce after 2018 are less likely to have after-tax income that can be used for alimony, and the federal taxes that will have to be paid are likely to increase.

The changes in the tax law can also be used as an aid in divorce negotiations. Specifically, the increased worth of tax-deferred retirement savings can be used as a bargaining tool.

Understanding Michigan’s stepparent adoption process

If you live in Michigan and are already playing the role of mother or father to a child who is not biologically yours, you may be considering trying to adopt your stepson or stepdaughter to expand your rights and cement the family bond. Becoming an adoptive stepparent involves a lifelong commitment because once the adoption becomes official, you will have the same rights and obligations you would, had you biologically given birth to or fathered the child you are adopting.

If you wish to legally adopt your current stepchild, your situation must first meet certain criteria for you to move forward with the process.

Financial planning an important element of divorce process

Many financial decisions will confront couples in Michigan who choose to end their marriages. Although people have long recognized the appropriateness of legal advice when seeking divorces, consultations with financial planners have become increasingly common, especially when people strive to have a collaborative divorce. The collaborative process aims to eliminate the need for court battles by bringing the two parties together privately to negotiate the terms of a settlement.

A financial planner might aid this process by helping a person identify every financial detail that the divorce will influence. In addition to thinking about a house, vehicles and savings accounts, a person could consider options for dividing the costs of health or automobile insurance.

An estate plan can benefit everybody in a family

While estate plans can help Michigan residents protect their assets while alive and after death, they can cost money to create. The amount of money that a person may spend on their plan depends on their needs. However, it is advised that those who are looking to hire an attorney or a trust administrator should hire a licensed professional instead of trying to save money.

It is also a good idea to hire someone who has experience with special needs trusts or business succession planning even if it might cost more. In many cases, attorneys may charge for a packing of core documents such as a revocable trust and a will. For those who need only basic versions of those documents, it could be possible to do it themselves online. Individuals should consider whether a basic will meets their needs prior to choosing who they create it through.

How arguments over housework could lead to divorce

Arguments over household chores could lead to more divorces than Michigan couples may realize. In a recent Harvard Business School survey of 3,000 divorced couples, housework disputes was listed as the top reason for splitting by one-quarter of respondents.

Spending money on maid cleanings or related services, such as laundry or grocery delivery, has been shown to both increase personal happiness and improve relationships. These couples have more free time to relax and spend time with one another. In 2017, a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that just spending around $100 to $200 per month on cleaning services could make a difference.

Divorce and protecting finances

The divorce process can have a detrimental effect on one's finances. However, there are steps that Michigan residents can take to protect their money.

It is important that divorcing individuals are aware of their own credit standing as well as that of their spouse. Obtaining the credit reports of both parties can reveal hidden credit accounts and credit issues that should be addressed.

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