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Grand Rapids MI Family Law Blog

Protecting one's financial security during divorce

Grand Rapids residents are continually alerted to news cases involving identity theft and issues relating to credit card fraud. Many incidents occur when a person’s private identification and/or financial information is stolen by a stranger; other times, however, it is a person who is intimately connected to the victim that can do the most damage. That is why people facing the prospect of divorce are encouraged to take several steps to help safeguard their personal finances and property.

Some of the simplest and most obvious things that people can do to protect their online identity is to change account IDs and passwords. Updating everything from bank account PINs to social media passwords can go a long way to ensuring that one’s husband or wife cannot improperly gain access to one’s personal content during divorce proceedings. Beyond that, people are encouraged to survey their personal and shared credit reports at all stages of the divorce process to ensure that any and all accounts reflect accurate and appropriate activity.

Relinquishing parental rights before a child is born

Nontraditional forms of conception are becoming increasingly common and viable for families throughout the state of Michigan and beyond. For instance, using the services of a surrogate to carry a baby to term is one option that countless couples look into every year. And while pregnancy surrogacy is responsible for building families, it can also play a role in child custody issues during divorce.

TV personality Sherri Shepherd got married in the summer of 2011. After trying to get pregnant through in vitro fertilization, Shepherd and her husband chose to go the route of using a surrogate to carry a child to term. The baby is due in late July of this year. Now, however, the parental rights of the baby are in question since the couple is in the midst of a major divorce dispute.

Michigan custody dispute may prompt new legislation

The process of accounting for the needs and best interests of a child during divorce proceedings in Michigan can be complex in many cases. Determining child custody arrangements are often complicated further in instances where one or both parents are in the military, since a military parent on deployment may be unable to attend required court hearings.

After going through divorce in 2010, a petty officer with the United States Navy was granted sole custody of his daughter. In 2013, the young girl’s mother filed a petition with the family court system to have the custody agreement revised. The mother was originally denied custody after Michigan’s Child Protective Services removed the child from her care three years earlier.

Should spouses stay or leave the marital home?

From alimony to child support, the number of challenging divorce legal issues that couples must wrestle with when they face the end of a marriage can seem unsurmountable. To some, the laws may seem black and white and easy to understand but that is not necessarily the case. There are some things that people commonly do in the divorce process that actually serve to hurt their situation later on.

Making the choice to move out of a joint family home and get one’s own place to live is one such decision. While separating physically may seem like a logical thing, doing so too early on could actually open up the door to greater losses in the end for the person who leaves. A quick departure can be interpreted by the court as an abandonment of any children in the family, even if regular visits take place. This can have a negative impact on an eventual child custody determination.

Learning what child support is really for

Michigan residents who have minor children and contemplate a divorce will be forced to face many difficult issues. From property division to parenting plans, there is a wide range of family law matters to attend to during a divorce proceeding. In some cases, both partners agree about many of the terms without much disagreement. Other times, however, litigation is required to come to a final agreement.

Despite the best hopes, once a divorce decree is signed, the potential family law issues are not all gone and resolved, especially when children are involved. Parents are forever intertwined in the lives of their children and many need to learn how to effective co-parent for several years until the children reach adulthood. One issue that can arise relates to child support and what happens when the amount one parent pays in support is not sufficient to cover all costs associated with the children.

Avoiding divorce pitfalls when assets are high

Making the decision to get divorced in Michigan is hard enough on its own. The resulting process can only add to the challenges. From child custody to spousal support and more, the number of issues with which to content during the end of a marriage can seem endless. The division of marital assets is commonly an area filled with controversy. This is the case in any marriage but can be especially so in a high asset divorce.

Prenuptial agreements can offer some good protection to wealthy people in the unfortunate event that a divorce occurs. However, when any significant wealthy was developed only during the course of the marriage, many couples do not have such contracts in place. This can leave them vulnerable to unnecessary asset loss. All too many divorcing spouses can fall into traps like forcing their way to a court date, expecting that to return a decision in their favor. That does not always happen and it also opens people up to a range of publicity.

No two divorces are alike but all can have challenges

Whether initiated by one spouse or agreed upon by both spouses, a divorce is rarely an easy or positive experience. Most Michigan couples who have weathered divorces would likely agree. Even with the equitable distribution laws in place, the division of marital assets can be extremely complicated. Property division is just one area of dispute that can arise during a divorce proceeding. Prenuptial agreements can sometimes minimize conflicts here but they may also be challenged, especially if they had not been properly created.

In other situations, worries about how to identify parenting time or navigate a potential parental relocation can headline divorces that involve young children still living at home. Helping children work through the changes associated with one parent moving out, maybe moving themselves, losing time with both parents and more can be heartwrenching for parents.

Asset protection for divorcing couples

Michigan residents that have experienced a divorce understand all too well how difficult the process can be. From decisions about child custody and parenting time to the division of marital assets, there can seem to be nothing simple about the end of a marriage. When facing divorce legal issues, emotions typically run high which only further complicates decision making. Identification of who gets what asset often takes center stage in a divorce.

In recent years, the use of prenuptial agreements has grown. This avenue has offered many couples a welcome level of protection against loss in a potential divorce. Other people still avoid these marital contracts sometimes due to fears about how to initiate the topic. If a prenuptial agreement has not been used, a couple can still have the ability to guard against asset loss after a marriage has taken place. One way that this can be done is through the creation of a Domestic Asset Protection Trust. A DAPT offers consumers a means by which they can shield assets from creditors and, in some states, spouses as well.

How a prenuptial agreement can help couples

There is commonly no such thing as a simple or trouble-free divorce. Even when spouses agree on their divisions, the emotional aspect of the end of a marriage brings complexities for Michigan families. Concerns about the division of marital assets and even the determination of marital versus separate assets often top the lists of the most contested divorce issues. What starts as a small dispute can grow too easily if not appropriately addressed.

Many couples choose to leverage the power of prenuptial agreements as a way to reduce the challenges associated with the property division portion of their divorces. When properly drafted, these marital contracts can offer assistance during a divorce proceeding. Many couples have found prenups to be a useful adjunct to other methods of estate planning. When people marry later in life and have children or even grandchildren from other marriages, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that special family assets will be kept within the right family line.

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Velzen, Johnsen & Wikander, P.C.
29 Pearl Street NW, Suite 414
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Telephone: 616-233-9160
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