Grand Rapids Criminal Defense And Family Law Blog

About joint physical custody

Some parents in Michigan may be less than pleased when they discover that they have been awarded joint custody with the other parent of their children. However, there are multiple benefits to sharing joint physical custody.

One benefit is that both parents share the responsibility of disciplining their children. This means that the parents can collaborate with one another and support each other when establishing and enforcing house rules. Collaboration between the parents may be particularly helpful as the children mature and attempt to test discipline boundaries. Another advantage of joint physical custody is that both parents will be compelled to have a routine. Parents will have to work with one another and experiment with different types of schedules to determine which ones are in the best interests of their children.

Are the drugs really yours?

Facing any kind of drug charges in Michigan is serious business. Depending upon which type of drug authorities allege you possessed at the time of your arrest, and the quantity thereof, a conviction could put you in prison for a lengthy period of time as well as impose a very large fine.

However, to convict you of any drug crime, the prosecutor must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs the officers recovered actually belonged to you and not someone else. (S)he has two options: prove that you actually possessed the drugs or prove that you constructively possessed them.

In the best interest of the child: refusing visitation

As many Michigan parents know, navigating parenting after a split can be sensitive and complicated. In many cases, there is a court-mandated visitation schedule designed to make sure that the child continues their relationship with both parents. However, if there are concerns, a parent might consider refusing visitation. The risk, of course, is being held in contempt of the court-ordered visitation schedule. A parent has to be careful and thoughtful about how to handle the situation and consider if their concern is serious enough to risk being held in contempt.

While the court always prefers that the visitation schedule is followed, some concerns are serious enough for a parent to act in refusing visitation. True concerns include fear for the child's safety if the other parent lives in a high-crime area, fear of the child being abused if there is a history or domestic violence, and fears related to a parent's drug or alcohol abuse. There are also times a child will refuse visitation. In the last case, the child cannot be forced to follow the visitation schedule.

Parentage and the child support process

In many Michigan child support cases, parentage may need to be established either because it is in doubt or because the father contests paternity. Maternity is typically established via the mother's giving birth to the child. The child support and paternity rules vary from state to state, but generally, paternity is established in one of several ways. If the couple was married at the time of the birth of the child, there is a often a presumption that the husband is the child's father. If the parents are not married at the time the child is born, the father can choose to acknowledge paternity voluntarily.

In cases where paternity is in doubt or contested, generally a state government agency can be brought in to conduct a genetic test to determine paternity. If necessary, the court may order a party to submit to DNA testing. Then a paternity order is issued based on the results of DNA testing.

When student loan debt leads to divorce

Many Michigan millennials are struggling under the burden of student loan debt. Overall, only 22 percent of people of their generation are free of debt, and student loans are a major factor in that statistic. Student loan borrowers owe an average of $34,144, and that number is only growing for future generations. In the past 10 years, the percentage of borrowers owing $50,000 or more has tripled. This means that student loan debt and repayment is a major factor in how people handle their money and make decisions about the future.

Of these borrowers, a number have noted that they delayed plans to marry until they could address some of their student loan debt. And for those who have chosen to marry, educational debt can be a factor that leads to divorce. While student loan debt generally belongs only to the individual, the pressures on finances caused by the outstanding burden can have a significant impact on marital decisions. For example, many decide to postpone having a child or buying a house in order to address student debt first. For others, lifestyle changes and restrictions can lead to resentment and conflict.

Changes ahead to alimony, other elements of divorce

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may change the divorce landscape for some couples in Michigan whose divorces are finalized after the end of 2018. The law sunsets in 2025, so it may not last, but in the meantime, couples should be aware of the changes. One of the major changes is to alimony payments.

For divorces finalized in 2018 and before, alimony is tax-deductible for the payer. This will no longer be the case for divorces finalized after that. Higher-earning spouses pay alimony to lower-earning spouses, and the tax deduction meant that for high-income spouses, it could be to their advantage to negotiate higher alimony to get a higher deduction. This will no longer be the case, and if alimony payments are lower, this could fall disproportionately on women since they receive the majority of alimony.

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.

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