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Birmingham Michigan Family Law Blog

Will new alimony law be a benefit or disadvantage for you?

The new tax bill and its implications on divorces might have caused confusion for many couples in Michigan and other states. Those who were considering divorce might have tried to get it done before the New Year. However, the new alimony tax laws will only apply to divorces that are finalized in 2019. Authorities say that not only could it create timing battles between divorcing spouses but also their legal counsels.

Currently, for a spouse in the highest-tax bracket who is ordered to pay annual alimony of $100,000, the tax deduction at a rate of 40 percent will effectively reduce his or her expense to about $60,000. For the recipient of that alimony, it is a taxable income, and after paying tax at a rate of 15 percent, he or she gets to keep $85,000. However, it is said that with the new law, alimony orders may be for lesser amounts because the payer will get no tax benefits.

Practical ways to manage child support payments

Most parents in Michigan want what is best for their children -- even after a divorce. Concerned non-custodial parents may not see child support obligations as burdens but an opportunity for them to play positive roles in the lives of their children. Neglecting to pay child support can adversely affect the child, and recognizing the importance of making child support payments on time is vital.

There are various methods by which child support payments can be made. However, regardless of the method used, it is essential to keep an accurate record of every amount that is paid. Having a record of the date and amount of each payment can be invaluable in the event of the custodial parent claiming that child support payments were not received.

How are the different types of debt handled in property division?

Yours, mine or ours? That is the primary question when it comes to property division in a Michigan divorce. Couples have two options: they can either pay off all their debts before filing for the divorce, or they can have the court decide who will be responsible for which debts. However, regardless of the ruling of the court, lenders will still hold those whose names are signed on the debt contract responsible for payment. It is not always possible to settle all debts, but taking joint debts into a new life may not be desired, and some choose to close joint accounts and open new individual accounts wherever possible.

Debt comes in two types: secured and unsecured debts. Secured debts are those that will allow the lender or lien holder to repossess the item or property if payments are not made. This typically includes homes and other real estate assets along with cars and boats. Regardless of whom the court orders to pay a particular debt, if that person defaults, the lender may seek payment from the other spouse -- it will also have a negative impact on the credit scores of both parties. The most appropriate approach might be to refinance such assets when possible.

Child Custody: What are the rights of a non-custodial parent?

In most divorce cases in Michigan, both parents want what is best for their children. However, joint child custody is not necessarily perfect for every situation, and the parent who ends up being the non-custodial parent may want to make sure he or she remains a part of the child's life. For this reason, it is important for that parent to make sure the divorce settlement agreement specifies his or her rights as the non-custodial parent rather than having only vague references to it.

Visitation plans must include days and times, along with alternative arrangements when necessary. Detailed schedules for holidays can be added to the divorce agreement. Even if the parents choose to alternate special holidays, recording the dates is important. Another aspect that could become a problem is the type of contact the custodial parent may have with the child during the other parent's time with the child.

What are the enforcement methods for unpaid alimony?

Divorced people in Michigan are often dependent on the spousal support they receive from a former spouse -- even if it is only until he or she has established a regular income. However, payments may be withheld, leaving the question of possible enforcement. That depends on whether the court ordered alimony to be paid, and whether it is malicious withholding or the inability to pay due to job loss or other changed circumstances.

If court-ordered alimony payments are not paid, the would-be recipients may file a Complaint for Contempt petition with the court. However, such complaints are limited to cases in which the payors can afford to pay but neglect to do so, and an accused person will have the opportunity to defend him or herself. To enforce payment, the court may order the alimony to be automatically withdrawn from the person's bank account, or his or her wages may be garnished to cover alimony payments. Under certain circumstances, the court may even order jail time for an ex who refuses to pay spousal support.

Key aspects of divorce mediation

Mediation is an effective alternative to court divorce proceedings. In some cases, such as high-net-worth divorces, mediation is especially beneficial.

For those individuals deciding whether to utilize mediation, it is important to understand what it entails. There are a few key aspects of mediation to be aware of.

Some issues might be left unaddressed during property division

When people in Michigan file for divorce, they may not realize that there will be a host of challenging choices and decisions to be made. Adequate preparation before entering into property division negotiations is necessary in pursuing post-divorce financial stability. Without professional guidance, detrimental errors may be made.

One mistake often made is a spouse choosing to keep the family home that he or she cannot afford. Many may not realize that qualification for a new mortgage is not likely before receiving alimony for a period of six months. It is also necessary to budget for the anticipated post-divorce income and lifestyle changes might have to be made. Other important steps include closing joint loan and credit card accounts, changing estate plans and beneficiaries where necessary, and getting guidance with executing a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

How many Bitcoin investments are revealed in high asset divorce?

Any person in the higher income groups of Michigan who is in the throes of a divorce might have concerns of his or her soon-to-be ex hiding assets to avoid sharing it. Reportedly, the rapidly rising value of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is making it one of the preferred ways of concealment in a high asset divorce. The way in which this currency is constructed apparently makes concealing it easy.

Bitcoin transactions are mostly anonymous, but some of the websites that operate Bitcoin investments allegedly revealed that more men than women buy this cryptocurrency. Reportedly, some men's rights groups are advocating this method of hiding assets. They claim that courts are biased and favor women in property division procedures during divorce litigation.

The role of the QDRO in property division

Ending a marriage is a complicated process that needs cautious planning and careful consideration of various aspects. Any Michigan resident who is in the throes of a first divorce will likely be unfamiliar with many procedures, and having qualified advisers in his or her corner might be invaluable. One crucial matter that is often neglected in the property division process is learning what a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is all about.

A QDRO is an order or judgment that must be signed, and it serves to divide retirement assets. It is a document that needs careful planning and could be used to pay child and spousal support or give property rights to a child, former spouse or other dependants. State law typically governs the percentage of the retirement funds that each party will receive.

High asset divorce need a quality divorce team as support

Most divorces are emotionally and financially taxing for both spouses. However, there are particular financial challenges in any high asset divorce in Michigan. The more assets a couple shares, the more battles there might be that can delay proceedings. Different types of assets in these marital estates are typically more complicated, requiring the services of skilled advisers.

One of the most challenging scenarios can be a divorce that involves a family business. If both spouses are involved in the business operations, finding a way to divide it that satisfies both parties could be tough. The business will have to be evaluated and all the assets examined before a proportional value assessment can be made. What makes it more complicated is the fact that a value must be allocated to the contribution of each spouse to the business.


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Responding to our clients' needs is our first priority at Eisenberg & Spilman, PLLC. Whether you are considering divorce and have questions about your rights, or you are seeking custody of your child, our Oakland County family law attorneys are here to help you.

We invite you to contact Eisenberg & Spilman, PLLC, at 248-358-8880 to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your divorce or other family law matters. In addition to our regular business hours, evening and weekend appointments are available upon request.

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Eisenberg & Spilman, PLLC
600 South Adams Road Suite 100
Birmingham, MI 48009

Phone: 248-358-8880
Birmingham Family Law Office

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