Grand Rapids Criminal Defense And Family Law Blog

Criminal charges may hinder child custody decisions

When it comes to divorce in Michigan, many fathers feel that they are being denied rights in family law disputes. CNN has reported on the issue by interviewing fathers who claim that they are not being treated fairly by the legal system. According to the report, some fathers are facing tens of thousands of dollars in child support payments after the loss of employment while others are being denied visitation rights due to criminal complaints.

CNN also interviewed a family law attorney and a superior court judge regarding the matter. The findings were that while family courts are meant to treat both men and women equally in divorce matters, some favor the mother over the father when children are involved in a case. Furthermore, 80 percent of all custodial responsibilities rest on the mother after a divorce is finalized in the United States.

One way to avoid a conviction of drug charges

Facing drug charges can seem like the end of the world, especially when it is your first time. You may think that you are doomed because of this one mistake. Michigan takes drug crimes seriously, so what are you to do to protect your future?

The good news is that you may be eligible to take advantage of MCL 333.7411. This is the number of the Michigan law addressing the avoidance of criminal penalties for some drug charges. 

Wealthy couples may be more likely to split

It's well known that money can be a major source of marital problems for couples in Michigan. Financial stresses and differences over spending and saving practices can lead to serious arguments and even divorce. A survey of 2,000 adults by SunTrust Bank indicated that money was the leading cause of stress in a personal or romantic relationship. However, while financial stress may weigh most heavily on lower-income couples, studies show that divorce is actually more common among wealthier families.

Researchers for SunTrust Bank noted that 35 percent of respondents said that financial issues were the primary point of contention with their partners. Overall, couples who shared common financial goals were more likely to have successful marriages. At any income level, disparities in financial approaches can lead to tension. According to the Federal Reserve Board, couples with more widely disparate credit scores are also more likely to divorce in the first five years of marriage. In addition, people with higher credit scores are more likely to have successful long-term relationships.

Using prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

The future can be unpredictable. Michigan couples who want to get married or who are already married should consider making plans for possible situations that may occur in the future. For couples who are currently unmarried, this entails completing a prenuptial agreement. Couples who are already married should discuss a postnuptial agreement.

Two of the main reasons couples get divorced are communication and money. Completing a prenuptial agreement not only affords both parties protection, but it also aids in promoting healthy conversations about financial matters early on so that they may not be a factor that contributes to a divorce.

Retirement after a later-in-life divorce

Divorce is on the rise among older Americans in Grand Rapids and across the country. While the rate of divorce for younger Americans and the population, on the whole, has been on the decline or remained steady, the opposite has held true for people age 50 and up. In fact, since 1990, their divorce rate has doubled, and the trend shows no sign of stopping. People who are remarried or who have only been married for a few years are more likely to divorce, as is the case for younger couples as well. However, many "gray divorces" also take place among people who have been married for decades.

Property division can take a significant toll on retirement funds for divorcing couples of any age. However, the concern can be far greater for older Americans. They have less time to rebuild their individual retirement plans, and it costs much more to fund two single retirements out of the same money originally slated for both. However, prudent financial planning can help people divorcing later in life to avoid some pitfalls and emerge successfully into retirement.

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.

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