Grand Rapids Criminal Defense And Family Law Blog

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.

Divorce and cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies have been around since the Bitcoin was launched in 2009, and interest and awareness of cryptocurrency holdings have since increased. Cryptocurrencies have also become one of the many different types of assets that divorcing couples in Michigan need to decide how to handle.

Some family law firms might not have a sufficient amount of understanding of or experience with cryptocurrencies. Having to address issues around cryptocurrencies in a divorce can make the process much longer and more complicated.

What Michigan spouses should know about divorce after 50

The divorce rate in the United States has declined in recent years. However, the divorce rate for those who are 50 and older has increased over the past two decades. One of the possible reasons behind this trend is that there is less stigma surrounding the end of a marriage than in the past. Therefore, older individuals don't feel compelled to stay in relationships that they aren't happy in.

Money can be another reason why older spouses get divorced. For instance, one person may spend too much or otherwise have trouble making sure that their finances are properly managed. The success or failure of a marriage could also depend on who is making the money. If a man increases his earnings, a marriage is more likely to succeed. The opposite is true if a woman sees her income go up.

Understanding knock-and-talk

You do not have to talk to the police in Michigan, generally speaking. While there are some exceptions, such as providing ID or asking if you are free to go, you do not typically have to have any interaction with state or federal investigators without a lawyer present. This is especially true if you have been arrested.

Additionally, you may want to close your blinds or window shades if you suspect that the police may come by your home. Although advocates for civil liberties have opposed the practice, police have the power to walk around the outside of your house without a warrant during a knock-and-talk conversation, looking through your windows for evidence of criminal behavior.

Preparing for child custody hearings

A Michigan parent may be nervous if they have to attend a child custody hearing for the first time. However, if they plan well, they can present a convincing case to the court and possibly get a successful outcome.

One of the most important steps in having a successful child custody case is learning about the state laws for child custody, specifically the laws of the state in which the custody hearing will be arranged. Before the hearing, parents should be aware of the issues they may face.

Cheating, lack of commitment among common reasons for divorce

Divorce rates are generally going down. Even so, it's still fairly common for couples in Michigan and other states to untie the knot. In order to get a better idea of why marriages sometimes fail, a study was conducted with divorced individuals who initially participated in a prevention and relationship enhancement program (PREP) before they were wed. The divorced participants were interviewed several years later to find out the reasons why their relationships soured.

Little or no premarital education and religious differences was cited as a reason for divorce among just over 13 percent of the divorced participants. One subject noted that while the PREP course was helpful with communication techniques, it didn't address issues related to the growth of a marriage. Just under 20 percent of participants questions felt that a lack of family support and health-related problems contributed to their marital problems. Interestingly, a separate study found that divorce risk is lower when husbands have a closer relationship with their wife's family and higher when it's the other way around.

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