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Fowlerville Michigan Family Law Blog

What is a QDRO?

During a divorce in Michigan, it is necessary to divide shared property fairly between you and your ex-spouse. Some assets may be easier to divide than others. For example, with a shared checking or standard savings account, it may be a simple matter of closing the account and dividing the money equally, but the same does not hold true for a retirement account because tax penalties can arise from early withdrawal. Division of retirement savings accounts often requires the court to issue a qualified domestic relations order.

To understand what a QDRO is, it is helpful to first understand what a domestic relations order means. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a domestic relations order is a decree, order or judgment made to provide benefits to a child, dependent, spouse or former spouse in the form of marital property rights, child support or alimony. A state agency with the authority to make such decisions, usually a state court, issues such an order pursuant to applicable domestic relations law for the jurisdiction.

What happens during probate?

Probate is the process of proving a will's validity and distributing assets to heirs. It can often be a complex process, especially when the deceased owns a lot of property or has a number of assets in his or her name. The Balance explains what you can expect during the process, so you and your family will be properly prepared. 

The first step involves authenticating the will, or proving that it is indeed valid. This establishes that the deceased actually signed the will and that there are no newer versions that would take precedent. Next, an executor will be named by the court. This person is responsible for overseeing all tasks related to the will, including paying back creditors and asset distribution. 

What is harassment?

Many people in Michigan may have a narrow perception of what constitutes harassment. In fact, harassment encompasses a broad range of different behaviors. Many of these behaviors can involve criminal punishment. Some may carry felony charges, while others are only misdemeanors. 

According to FindLaw, harassment laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking, harassment consists of threatening behaviors that put you in reasonable fear of your own safety and/or that of your family. Such behaviors may include excessively contacting with you without a legitimate reason or menacing you with a weapon. In some states, stalking constitutes harassment, but in Michigan, stalking is a separate offense. 

Blended family vacations come with challenges

When you get remarried after a divorce, there are a lot of areas in your life that you will need to evaluate. You might be focused on things like making sure the blended family is getting along and that rules are clearly established. There is another area that can prove to be challenging – planning a family vacation.

Getting things in order to have your children and your new spouse's children go on a vacation can be a complex undertaking. You will have to figure out how to schedule things across three homes instead of two. You also have more than one child custody order to review. This means that you need to get started with the planning as early as possible.

Reasons to update your will

If you have a will in Michigan, it is important to update it in certain situations. Big milestones are obvious reasons to make changes, but there are also reasons that may not be as obvious, so it is important to review your estate on a regular basis to make sure everything is planned for correctly.

Wise Bread discusses the more-obvious reasons for updating a will, and these typically have to do with the addition or deletion of a beneficiary. Marriage and the birth of a baby both present new loved ones who you probably want to include in your will. While state laws may dictate that some assets go to your spouse or children upon death, a will outlines exactly how you want to distribute things. Divorce also presents an opportunity to update your will, as you probably do not want your ex to be a beneficiary. If a beneficiary passes before you do, you will need to make new arrangements as to where property and assets go.

Can you modify a child custody agreement if you move?

Even though your divorce has been finalized for some time now and you and your ex have had a smooth ride with the child custody agreement that was arranged, you have been considering relocating to somewhere else. Now, you are wondering whether or not the courts in Michigan will agree to modify the original agreement based off of the merits that you are moving and may no longer be able to abide by the arrangement that was outlined initially. 

Courts are certainly open to modifying court orders based off of a person's circumstances and the reasons for why they are requesting a change. However, you should be aware that this type of approval may take some time and will require you to be forthright in sharing your reasoning for requesting a modification. According to verywellfamily.com, the court will take into consideration several factors before they agree to modify anything. Some of the areas they will look at including the following:

  • The location where you are moving and whether or not continuing the visitation schedule as it is will be possible. 
  • Your personal reasons for moving and whether or not they are in the best interest of your children. 
  • How much of a disruption your move will create for your children and if there are alternative options that would be a better solution. 
  • The degree to which you and your ex are able to communicate effectively and whether your move will make communication more difficult. 

What you can do to gain joint custody

As a parent going through a divorce in Michigan, you should keep in mind that you, your spouse and the court system all want what is in the best interests of your children. Generally speaking, the law presumes that close contact with both parents is in every child's best interest, and we at Gormley and Johnson Law Offices agree.

Many couples are able to resolve their divorce settlements without litigation through a process of negotiation. If this fails, however, the matter will go to court. In either case, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of gaining joint custody of your children.

Divorced parents feud over daughter's remains

Many in Fowlerville often ask when is the ideal age to prepare a will. Unfortunately, there may not be an easy answer to that question. Some (especially teens and young adults) may see no need to prepare a will due to the fact that they do not have significant assets to dispose of. Yet while one of the main purposes of a will is to detail how one wishes their assets and properties to be dispersed amongst their designated beneficiaries, it can also dictate what one wants to be done with their most prized possession: themselves. 

Unfortunately, that apparently was not on the mind of a young Illinois woman when she went to serve as a missionary in Africa. Her trip ultimately ended with her dying from malaria. Now, her parents are feuding over what do with her remains. The couple (who are divorced) reportedly had an agreement in place to split the young woman's ashes. Her father is now alleging that her mother never had any intention of fulfilling that agreement. The woman's remains were sent to her sister, with her mother's half then being buried next to her maternal grandmother. Her mother has since stated that she does not intend to send her father the remaining ashes, as he and woman had not had a close relationship in the years prior to her death. 

Should you get an annulment or a divorce?

If you want to end your marriage, you have two main options in Michigan. You can get a divorce or an annulment. However, you need to be aware that an annulment is not an option for everyone. In fact, it is very limited. According to VeryWell Mind, the court issues an annulment in only rare circumstances. Typically, that would be if the marriage was illegal in some way.

As you know, a divorce is readily available. You just have to go through the court system and follow the proper procedure to end your marriage through divorce. The same is not true of an annulment. You do have to go to court, but the court can tell you that you cannot have one. If the court denies your annulment, you can get a divorce instead.

Parenting plans: Prioritize the children's needs

When parents divorce, it can be extremely difficult on the children. Parents have to be ready to help the kids through the changes that are coming. This isn't going to be an easy transition but there are many things that you can do if you and your children are walking this journey together.

You have to be aware of and attuned to how your children are adjusting so that you can determine how to help them. There are some basic ways to make this happen.

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