Minor Children

  • Can a Younger Child Decide Which Parent to Live With? The Court may take into consideration the preference of a minor child when it comes to which parent gets physical custody in a divorce proceeding.

    Young Sarah was distressed that her parents were getting a divorce, and she did everything she could to try to bring them back together, including being on her best behavior – listening to her parents, not fighting with her brother, cleaning her room and doing her chores without being asked.

    It soon became clear, however, that the divorce would happen. Sarah thought she would have to make a terribly difficult decision – deciding which parent her and her brother would live with. Since her younger brother was too young to be involved in that decision, she felt the pressure of speaking for both of them.

  • Can We Set Different Child Support Payments from What the Court Recommends? Toburen Law helps with changes to child support payments that deviate from the Michigan Child Support Formula.

    High school seniors Bob and Jamie dated for a few months and broke up, only to find out weeks later that Jamie was pregnant with Bob’s child. Over their parents’ objections, they tried to smooth over their differences by getting married soon after graduation. After two years of marriage, the couple divorced when it became clear they weren’t compatible in the long run.

    While Bob and Jamie fought over a number of issues while they were married, the divorce was amicable as both loved their daughter. Jamie knew Bob would try hard to help care for their child, but she also knew he was struggling to make ends meet with his new job. Jamie decided she could accept reduced child support payments to help Bob get established. She also knew that Bob’s child support payments could be increased later as his financial situation improved.

  • Do I Need an Estate Plan?

    Have you ever considered what will happen to your assets -- your house, the contents of your bank account, etc. -- after you’ve passed? Many of my clients say they’d like their assets to be split between their children or to see certain funds go to charitable organizations. The only way to guarantee that your assets are distributed as you desire is to have a will.

  • Does my ex-spouse have a right to know how I spend the child support he pays to me?

    No.  Although child support is supposed to be for the benefit of the children, you do not have to keep the money you receive from your ex in a separate account, nor do you have to account for how the money is spent.

  • Estate Planning Basics: How to Choose the Right Guardian for Your Child

    As difficult as it may be to think about someone else raising your child, choosing a guardian for your child is an invaluable gift. By selecting a guardian with the same values, morals, religious beliefs, and commitment to education that you have, you will ensure that your child will grow up to be the person you want him or her to be.

  • Estate Planning Basics: Top 3 Reasons You May Need a Will

    When I meet with a potential new Estate Planning client, one of the first questions I hear is, "Do I really need a will?" That question is usually followed by comments such as, "I don't have tons of money," or "If I die, my spouse will just get everything," or "If my spouse and I both die, my parents will raise our kids."

  • Estate Planning FAQ: What happens if I die without a will?

    A person who dies without a will is said to have died intestate. If you die intestate, your estate will be distributed according to state law, not according to your wishes. With very few exceptions, only family members will inherit your estate if you die intestate. If you want to leave money to a close friend, church, or charity, for example, you need to have a will.

  • How is the Amount of Child Support Determined?

    Michigan law starts with the premise that both parents have an obligation to support their children financially. Michigan uses the “Income Shares Model,” which requires child support to be paid based on the needs of the children and the financial resources of the parents. From that baseline, the amount of support can be modified based on several factors, including but not limited to the parenting time arrangement (which parent has the most overnights), and the ability of both parents to earn income (as opposed to actual income earned).

  • Key Traits to Consider When Choosing a Guardian for Your Children

    While there are many factors to explore when chosing a guardian, I advise my clients to consider the following:

  • Michigan Family Law: Are Child Support Payments Tax Deductible?

    No. Child support payments are not included in the taxable income of the spouse receiving said child support and therefore cannot be deducted from the taxable income of the spouse who is making the support payments.

  • Michigan Family Law: If Parents are Divorced, which Parent is Entitled to the Tax Exemption for the Children?

    As we prepare to file our income tax returns, divorced or separated parents of minor children often wonder - or fight over - which parent gets to claim the dependency tax exemption for the children. If the parents file a joint return, this is not an issue.

  • Michigan is No Fault for Divorce, But Misconduct May Impact Custody While Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, misconduct may be considered when it comes to property and child custody issues.

    During happy hour with her friends, Amber mentioned that her child’s father, Dave, had not been spending much time lately with their 5-year-old daughter, Abigail. Although Amber and Dave were never married, they had been able to co-parent Abigail since their relationship ended over two years ago. In fact, Amber and Dave had never been to court and had no formal agreement regarding custody, parenting time, and support.

  • My ex-husband is supposed to pick up our child from my house at 6 p.m. on Friday to begin his weekend parenting time, but he is consistently 45 minutes to one hour late? What can I do about this?

    You need to file a parenting time violation with the Friend of the Court (FOC) in your county.  In Kent County, there is no cost to file.  If the FOC determines there is enough evidence to investigate, they will do so and will make a recommendation to the court.  The FOC can recommend anything from loss of parenting time for the violating parent, to a temporary suspension of parenting time, to a permanent change to the parenting time schedule.

  • My ex-spouse pays me spousal support. Do I have to pay taxes on these payments?

    Yes.  Spousal support is considered taxable income for the payee, and therefore is tax deductible for the payer.  Child support, however, is not considered to be income and is therefore not taxed, nor is it tax deductible.

  • What is probate, and why does everyone think probate should be avoided like the plague?

    Probate is the process used to ask a judge (usually a probate court judge) to approve a decedent’s will so the instructions in the will can be acted upon.

  • What Will Happen to My Kids if I Die?

    The only way to be absolutely certain that the person(s) you want to be guardian of your minor children is selected in the event that both you and your partner pass is to have a valid will in place.