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Bingham Farms Divorce Blog

Paternity tests and child support

Michigan parents should understand what kind of role paternity has in determining child support. Paternity testing through DNA is a tool that provides an accuracy rate of 99.99999 percent and is used often in cases for which child support and custody have to be determined.

Whether or not child support is awarded hinges largely on the results of the test. A man can be deemed not liable for child support if the results indicate that he is not the biological father of the child in question.

Effect of divorce on finances

When Michigan couples get a divorce, their financial situation might change drastically. Although women work outside the home in growing numbers, there is still a significant gap in pay between men and women. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that women still earn about 82 cents for every dollar men earn. One reason for this disparity is that caregiving tasks tend to fall more to women, so they are less able to work longer hours, build their careers or save money.

Since they are usually not the breadwinners, women may also have less knowledge of household finances overall even if they are in charge of paying most of the bills. Therefore, one of the first tasks for women facing a divorce should be to get a handle on finances. It is important to keep in mind that finances will look different to those prior to the divorce when there may have been two incomes. Expenses, income, assets and long-term plans are all important to consider at this time. It is best to avoid being overly reliant on child or spousal support in these calculations since these payments are usually temporary.

How prenuptial agreements can be beneficial

When a Michigan resident asks a future spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement, it could result in some harsh feelings. However, prenuptial agreements can help both individuals plan for their financial futures and offer protection.

Prenuptial agreements can play a major role in clarifying expectations regarding property. For example, the prenup defines what property is separate and what property is considered to be marital property. In the event a divorce does occur down the road, the prenup can determine how the marital assets will be split up. Further, going through the process of setting up a prenuptial agreement forces both parties to be open about the assets and debts they will be bringing into the marriage.

Divorce creates challenges for financing a home

The suburban Detroit home that a married couple shares often acts as a point of dispute or at least financial concern during the divorce process. Retaining ownership of a family home often represents a priority for a client, but financial realities might toss up barriers to that goal. Attorneys will often recommend that people consider fully the financial impact of keeping a home instead of making purely emotional decisions. Someone hoping to buy out an ex-spouse's ownership in a home could face difficulty obtaining a new mortgage.

Lenders might not immediately view alimony as income. Some banks want six months of alimony payments on the record before using it to calculate eligibility for a home loan. A divorce could also lower the credit score of one or both of the former spouses. Stressful circumstances might prevent the timely payment of bills or one party might start ignoring obligations.

The Friend of the Court and its role in Michigan divorces

If you are beginning the divorce process in Michigan and you have minor children, you may have heard of an entity called the Friend of the Court. This office may become involved in your divorce, so you should know what it does and how it can affect the process.

The FOC deals with issues surrounding custody, visitation, support and any other questions regarding the children's well-being in the divorce process. It also makes recommendations to judges. Judges may vary in their approach to FOC recommendations, with some tending to adopt them unquestioningly and others following a more individualized, critical path. The parents may also provide their input as to the recommendation, including any objections.

Dividing property and resolving child custody in a divorce

For many Michigan couples, going through the divorce process can be difficult. In addition, there may be some misconceptions as to what a couple may actually be able to accomplish when they file.

A divorce can help a former couple determine who gets what when it comes to property division. It should be noted that dividing up marital property is not always predictable, especially if both individuals have their eye on a specific item, such as the house or the family car. It is recommended that a family law attorney assist with determining what assets are worth fighting for and which ones are worth letting go to the former spouse.

Military couples at higher risk of divorce

Michigan couples whose marriages are coming to a premature end might wonder if their careers have played a role. Some professions are linked to a significantly higher rate of divorce, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

For people familiar with the stress and danger experienced by people in the military, it may not be surprising that the highest rate of divorce was experienced by first-line enlisted military supervisors. These military personnel lead operations and coordinate enlisted military members and their activities. Other military careers also rank among those most likely to get a divorce, including tactical operations and air weapons personnel.

Myths that surround the divorce process

Michigan residents contemplating a divorce as well as those who are already in the process of getting one are likely to be inundated with well-meaning advice from family and friends. However, they should take some of this advice with a grain of salt as some of it may not be true.

One common misconception is that parents can figure out child support payments on their own without legal assistance. While they could take a look at state guidelines, support payments tend to be guided by a number of things, including parental income, employment, health insurance and childcare. This is why determining child support payments can be more complicated than parents may think.

Fathers play larger role in children's lives than in the past

Some Michigan fathers may be among the 57 percent who say they consider parenting as central to their identity according to a survey by Pew Research Center. This is about the same percentage as mothers who responded. Fathers are also more involved in child care compared to previous decades. Fathers in 2015 said they spent seven hours weekly on child care, and this was almost three times the number of hours reported in 1965. However, mothers still report considerably more at 15 hours per week. Nearly half of fathers say they do not spend enough time with their children.

Fathers are less likely to be the sole breadwinner than in the past. In 1970, almost half of children lived in households where only the father worked outside the home. That has dropped to only about a quarter of children. Around half of fathers say they struggle to balance work and family compared to 60 percent of mothers.

Will I have to pay spousal support?

Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, may be awarded in some Michigan divorces. The law does not set forth a formula for calculating it; rather, it authorizes courts to mkae an award when they deem it proper.

Divorcing spouses may choose to agree on the issue of spousal support. If your valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement contains relevant provisions, the court will likely enforce them. Otherwise, you will have to litigate this matter and have the judge make a final decision.