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Bingham Farms Divorce Blog

How to get ready for negotiations in a divorce

During a divorce, a Michigan couple has the choice of negotiating a settlement or going to court. With proper preparation, negotiation may be possible. However, for this to be successful, people should understand their finances, state law and their priorities as well as those of their spouse.

Getting a clear picture of finances can help a person begin to understand how property might be divided as well as whether it is likely that one will pay spousal or child support to the other. An attorney can help a person with this assessment based on state law. The attorney also might be able to prepare the client for potentially the best and worst outcomes. With these in mind, a person can decide whether litigation or negotiation is the better choice.

Divorce in the smartphone age can involve spy tech

Social media, smartphones and other technology can play an important role in the divorces of Michigan residents. Whether social media postings led one partner to rekindle an old relationship or the use of video games or other technology led to distance in a marriage, divorce has become just as connected to tech as other aspects of modern American life. Even when technology had no connection to the decision, people may be concerned about social media rumors or stories about screenshots being introduced into divorce proceedings. However, an even greater and more dangerous concern can be digital spying or electronic surveillance that makes use of GPS tracking, smartphone apps, remote video recording and other devices.

Of course, this is a particularly relevant concern in relationships that involve abuse or controlling behavior, because the use of technology to monitor and control can extend into the divorce itself. Some partners may justify their use of spying technology as being a legitimate mechanism to expose infidelity, drug use or other concerns; however, it can also be a mechanism to perpetuate controlling behavior and even lead to harassment or physical confrontations.

Prenups on the rise among millennials

People in Michigan might be more likely to draw up a prenuptial agreement before getting married if they are millennials. According to studies, this generation is more likely to get prenups than previous generations, and there are a few reasons for this change.

Traditionally, prenups have been thought of as a way to protect family wealth, but this is not really the case with the rise in prenups among millennials. Instead, it is related to the later age at which more of them are marrying. Marrying later in life means each person has accumulated more assets and more debt than a younger person. A prenup can help protect a person from shouldering an ex-spouse's debt in the case of divorce or either person from taking assets acquired by the other and brought into the marriage.

Families increase with addition of stepchildren

For families in Michigan and throughout the country, a divorce may eventually result in bigger ones. A study found that counting stepchildren in families with adult children gives a number that is 66 percent larger.

Despite an overall reduction in the divorce rate, there has been an increase in divorce among older adults. Around one-third of couples older than 55 with adult children have a stepchild. For the purposes of this study, researchers included unmarried couples who were cohabiting. However, a study by researchers at Bowling Green State University found that nearly 30 percent of people older than 50 were on their second or later marriage. That study found that there were stepchildren in the families of around 40 percent of older adults who had children.

What to do if you suspect a divorce is coming

Usually, the prospect of divorce is something a couple has discussed or knows is coming. Increased arguments, spousal absence and emotional distance are a few signs. Couples may even try legal or informal separation first.

For others, divorce seems to come as a surprise to one spouse who was oblivious to or in denial of the other's discontent. The signs may not be as obvious, but they are there. Whatever your situation looks like, if you suspect your spouse will ask for a divorce or serve you papers soon, take the following actions right away to protect your future.

Standing up to a gaslighting parent

In Oakland County, Michigan, and other areas, an ex-spouse may have been the victim of gaslighting. The term is an urban slang derived from a 1940's movie of the same name, which depicts a jealous and devious husband that manipulates his wife into thinking she is mentally unstable. For example, he goes to the attic to dim the gaslights and then claims she is seeing things.

The term has come to mean purposefully painting someone in a bad light to him or herself and others. The attack is usually aimed at a person's self-esteem, confidence and ability to function.

How to handle the holiday season after divorce

Parents in Michigan who get a divorce might need to plan for how they and their children will spend the holidays. Having children move between homes can be stressful for the children, but parents usually want to see their children for holidays as well. One of the first steps parents should take is putting the focus on the children instead of their own feelings.

The first year or two after the divorce can be particularly hard for both parents and children. If parents are unable to be with their children during the holidays, they should spend the time with friends and family. Parents spending time with their children should take the opportunity to introduce new traditions.

Sweep targeting individuals owing child support held

On Nov. 27, news sources in Michigan reported that the Macomb County Sheriff's office in partnership with the Macomb County Friend of the Court would be conducting a week-long enforcement sweep targeting local residents with outstanding child support warrants. According to law enforcement officials, extra deputies were assigned exclusively to the project, which was scheduled to begin on Dec. 4. Sources indicated that authorities try to conduct the warrant sweep on an annual basis.

The sweep was announced in advance to give parties with the outstanding warrants an opportunity to avoid being taken into police custody. An additional opportunity was reportedly available to some individuals who appeared voluntarily at the Friend of the Court Office to pay their dues. A review of the circumstances surrounding each of their cases could qualify some parties for a special program aimed at reducing the amount of child support arrearages that they owed.

How to protect current and future assets

Unfortunately, there are some common misconceptions about prenuptial agreements that could prevent people from writing a simple contract that might protect their assets in the future. Michigan couples that choose not to have a prenup because they think it represents control or implies they'll get divorced later might be making a mistake. The parties should take a look at their individual finances and if necessary, take steps to protect them.

People who own a business before they get married could risk losing all or part of it during a divorce if they don't have a prenup. With a prior agreement in place, a court might award part of the profits the business generated during the marriage or even half of the company to the other spouse. Business owners stand to lose a lot if they aren't prepared.

How to protect your business in a divorce

Multiple protective actions exist to secure your business from financial obstacles, including a divorce. For example, you may transfer your business to a trust or safeguard it through a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. 

What if you did not do any of those things and now you face the end of your marriage? Is your business in jeopardy? Perhaps, as the court may consider some or all of it as marital property. Still, you have a few ways to prevent your spouse from taking more than he or she deserves.