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Fowlerville Michigan Family Law Blog

What factors are considered when setting child support

Filing for divorce can be a complicated process, especially when there are children involved. Matters of determining child custody and setting child support are necessary to include in the final divorce settlement. Child support is designed to minimize the effect children experience when moving from a traditional family situation to a single-parent household. In Michigan, and in many other states throughout the nation, the income shares model is used to determine how much child support will be ordered. Under this model, it is believed that children should receive the same amount of financial support that they would have been exposed to had their parents remained married. 

The income shares model takes into account both parents income when determining how much money the non-custodial parents owes. After the parents’ income is pooled, a chart is used to say how much that amount is. Once the base child support amount is determined, other expenses may be added on as well. These include the following:

Will my child support spending be monitored?

You may have questions about child support during your divorce. Perhaps your friends, associates and family members have told you that the court will keep tabs on how you spend the money. Your ex may have said you are supposed to provide him or her with receipts or may even have a list of expenditures he or she deems acceptable to spend child support on. Understandably, you are probably feeling some anxiety if you are hearing these claims.

Fortunately, these statements are untrue, as FindLaw explains. While it is true that child support is meant for the physical and emotional well-being of your children, you retain control over how to spend the money and what you deem appropriate for your children’s benefit. For example, you may use child support in the following ways:

  • Food, clothing and other necessities
  • Utilities and housing expenses
  • School supplies, tuition and extracurricular activities
  • Doctor copays and prescriptions
  • Savings for emergencies or college funds
  • A birthday present, movie ticket or restaurant meal with your child

What are the common reasons to contest a will?

Like many other Michigan residents, you may think that a will is set in stone and that once it goes through the probate system, there is nothing you can do to challenge its terms. In many cases, you would be correct. However, in some instances you may be able to successfully contest a will.

As FindLaw explains, most properly executed wills go through probate without any problems, the reason being that a person’s last will and testimony is recognized by the court as his or her voice. It is the goal of the court to honor the testator’s last wishes. However, what if you believe the terms of a will are unfair or that the document is invalid? The following examples illustrate some of the most common reasons people challenge a will:

  • Someone wrote a holographic will – meaning that it was written in the person’s own handwriting and signed without witnesses.
  • The will being executed is not the most current one – older wills should be destroyed and each version of a will should be dated and include a statement that previous versions are void.
  • There is concern that the will was written under undue influence, fraud or forgery – meaning there may be reason to suspect the testator was manipulated into writing the terms without having free will or knowledge of what he or she was doing.

What are the top 5 questions executors ask?

When you become the executor of someone’s Michigan estate, you may feel overwhelmed. Probate often can present challenges for which you are unprepared.

The American Bar Association has provided a list of common questions posed by executors and the answers to them. Hopefully this information will help you, too.

3 tips for preparing for an imminent divorce

Your family is the most important thing to you. Sadly, you also know that your spouse isn't happy and may be pursing a divorce.

In the meantime, you want to do all you can to protect yourself. If you are served divorce papers, you want to be prepared to ask for what you need from the marriage and to protect your right to see your children.

Understanding “undue influence”

When a will makes its way through a Michigan probate court, a relative or beneficiary who questions its contents may have a chance to raise his or her concerns and question the validity of the will itself. At Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC, we recognize that there are several different grounds you can use to question the validity of a will, and one way you can do so is to raise the question of whether the will’s author was a victim of undue influence.

According to the American Bar Association, “undue influence” can, at times, prove difficult to identify or define, but it can occur when someone with something to gain unethically influences a will’s author to make certain determinations or distributions. The fact that undue influence often occurs “under wraps” or behind closed doors can further complicate matters, but in many cases, older adults can fall victim to it once they begin to lose mental capacity.

Study shows the benefits of joint custody for kids

Going through a divorce can be overwhelming, not only for the couple who is terminating their marriage, but for the children who are unwilling participants of the separation. It can be extremely difficult for kids to transition from a two-parent family and household to a single-parent living arrangement. Traditionally, courts award sole-physical custody to the parent who is the primary caretaker of the child in order to keep the child in a consistent environment. However, studies show that joint-physical custody may provide children with many behavioral and developmental benefits. 

The study, published in the journal Family Psychology, looked at kids residing in joint-custody, sole-custody and traditional living arrangements. Over time, researchers found that children who spend a significant amount of time with both their mother and father faired better than those in sole-custody situations. Kids in joint-custody arrangements developed stronger social relationships, had a higher self-esteem and did better in school. They also showed fewer emotional and behavioral problems. 

Helping your children prepare to welcome a new sibling

Preparing to adopt is an exciting time and one that also brings unique challenges for you and your family. If you already have children living in your home, you will need to help them prepare for the addition of a new family member who will undoubtedly have a different background and life story. At Gormley and Johnson Law Offices PLC, we have helped many families in Michigan as they are working through the adoption process. 

While your children may be excited about the prospect of gaining a new brother or sister, they are also probably hesitant and wondering what their new sibling will be like. Of course, you can set your children down and provide them with basic details including the age and gender of the child, as well as activities that he or she enjoys. But what about the emotional and mental preparation? According to the Adoptive and Foster Family Coalition, the time you spend discussing adopting a new family member and listening to your children and their concerns about the change in your family's dynamic will be critical in their ability to feel excited and confident about welcoming another boy or girl to your family. 

Goals can keep you focused during child custody situations

People who are coming into a co-parenting situation might not know exactly what it will entail. While there are many things that can help you to do this, one of the most important is for you to set goals. These goals should cover all aspects of parenting so that you can focus on them no matter what is going on at the time.

While you might need to change these areas up a bit to meet your needs, this list is a good place to start. Some of these areas will require the help of your ex, but others are strictly based on your personal desires.

What are charitable trusts?

Many people have special causes they give to over the course of their adult lives. Perhaps you want to continue that giving by making sure a Michigan charity or foundation receives some of your assets after you pass away. With the help of some smart estate planning, you can do just that through the use of a charitable trust.

A charitable trust is, like any other trust, a legally recognized entity that holds money for beneficiaries. As FindLaw points out, anyone can form a charitable trust, not just the affluent and the famous. You also have the option of deciding exactly when to gift assets to a charity. With a charitable trust, you can pass along assets while you are still alive or after you die.

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