Family Law Archives

If you are living together, but holding off on getting married, you may wish to talk to a family law attorney in Michigan. There are many reasons couples put off getting married – they may be waiting until they’re more financially-secure, they may want to establish a career first, or they may simply not wish to get legally married.

According to the US News and World Report, US marriages hit an all time low in 2018, to 6.5 marriages per 1,000 people. During the pandemic, the marriage rate likely dropped even lower.

You may think that if you live together for a certain number of years, you are considered to be in a common-law marriage, but that’s a popular myth. The reality is that only certain States recognize common-law marriage, and even then, the definition of the relationship can be murky.

A good family law attorney in Michigan can help make sure you are set up to share rights and responsibilities in your relationship, and you’re protected should that relationship end.

What is the Difference between a Common-Law Marriage and a Marriage?

A common-law marriage is a marriage that is established informally – without registering for a marriage license or holding a religious ceremony. In the areas that recognize common-law marriages, the relationship is legally like a marriage.

Couples in valid common-law marriages can claim inheritance rights, social security benefits, employment benefits, and are treated like a married couple within the taxation system. They can also ask the court to divide property or award alimony should the relationship end.

Plus, when you live together, you bring your own property into the relationship, and may acquire valuable property together. Married couples have clearly defined property rights within the law. Unmarried couples do not, regardless how long they have lived together (or cohabitated).

Common-Law Marriages Are Only Allowed in a Few States

Common-law marriages are only recognized in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (for inheritance purposes only), Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and the District of Columbia.

Common law marriages are not permitted in Michigan.

If you move states, your common-law marriage may be recognized even if the new location doesn’t permit them, although you should check with a qualified family law attorney in Michigan to be certain.

Both Parties Must Intend to Be Married

Intent is a key requirement for establishing that you are in a common-law partnership. It may sound obvious. But if your relationship ends, in order to obtain the rights in a common-law marriage, you need to have proof that both of you treated and intended to treat your relationship like a marriage.

This can be extremely difficult to prove in court.

Because marriage is a more formal legal contract, the intent is obvious, and when a marriage ends, the path through the courts is clearer.

Ask a Family Law Attorney in Michigan to Help With a Cohabitation Agreement.

If you intend to live together in a relationship, but do not wish to be married, or if you have moved to Michigan from another state, there are a few ways a professional family law attorney in Michigan can help you.

One critical way is to help you draw up a Cohabitation Agreement.

A Cohabitation Agreement lays out ownership of existing assets, ownership of joint property (like homes, vehicles, etc.), how and if you intend to share assets, debt liability and expenses, how property will be divided if you separate, and a process for dispute resolution.

The document needs to be signed by both parties, and if challenged in court, a judge may ask for proof that both parties sought separate legal advice before completing the document. This helps ensure one party does not take advantage of the other.

So, while there are many online templates available for cohabitation agreements, you should have a lawyer look over your document to ensure it is legally-sound, and that signing it is in your best interest.

Looking For an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Michigan? Choose Stephanie Krane-Boehmer.

Serving Rochester Hills, and Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston and Wayne Counties in Michigan, Stephanie Krane-Boehmer has a wealth of experience in family law, wills, living wills, trusts, and bankruptcy. Stephanie is friendly, approachable and professional in all her dealings. Clients love how she breaks down complex law into easy-to-understand bites, and provides them with practical advice and insights. Contact Stephanie for a no-obligation consultation today.

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US News and World Report: U.S. Marriage Rate Hits Historic Low

As a Rochester Hills divorce lawyer, one of the most pressing issues I work on with parents in the spring is schooling decisions. Almost every parent wants the best education for their child. But they can disagree on what “best” means, and how to achieve it.

In particular, three issues often arise: school location, educational choice, and expense.

Start Talking and Start Planning Now

We’re getting to the end of the school year, and your child may be starting school for the first time, or moving on to middle school or high school in the coming year. Perhaps you’ve recently divorced and are living in different towns or school districts. Have you discussed where they will go to school next year?

If you have joint custody, both parents have equal say in where their child goes to school.

Like many issues in family law, if the parties cannot agree they may have to go to Court for a decision. Decisions like these can take several months to go through court, so now is the time to contact your Rochester Hills divorce lawyer and start planning for the next school year.

The Best Interests of the Child

Like almost every decision in family law regarding children, the court holds the “best interests of the child” in highest regard. The landmark case for school choice and joint custody in Michigan is Pierron v. Pierron, settled by the Supreme Court of Michigan in May 2010.

In essence, the Pierron case established that the parent requesting the change has the burden to demonstrate that the change is in the best interest of the child. If the school change modifies the existing custody arrangement, the court must consider a higher burden of proof than if the custody arrangement is not affected.

When evaluating a case, the court will consider:

  • The existing custody arrangement between parents and how the choice of school will disrupt the family dynamic;
  • Reasonable preferences of the child;
  • Additional factors such as the stability of the family home, the home, school and community record of the child and other factors the court deems relevant in the case.

An experienced Rochester Hills divorce lawyer can help advise you on existing case law, and help you present a strong case to the court.

Issue: Moving or changing the school district or custody agreement

When the family law issue involves a parent moving and/or changing the custody agreement, the Pierron case law applies directly. If parents cannot agree to changes to the custody agreement in place, the court will weigh the best interest factors.

Issue: Disagreeing on the Educational Option

Perhaps one parent wishes the child to go to a specialized magnet school or religious school, and the other parent disagrees with the choice. If the arrangement does not affect the custody agreement, the court may consider the child’s preferences above other factors (i.e. reasonable preferences of the child).

Issue: Costs of Schooling

If both parents agree the child should attend private school, schooling costs are typically split.

However, if only one parent wishes the child to go to an expensive private school, and the expense was not included in the Judgment of Divorce or parenting agreement, the court may consider additional factors to the best interest of the child, including income and standard of living.

In these cases, the parent who wishes to have the child attend private school may be responsible for covering the costs.

Making the Right Choices for Your Family Can Be Difficult

If you’re looking for a Rochester Hills divorce lawyer, choose The Law Office of Stephanie Krane-Boehmer. During your divorce, you will need to make a lot of important decisions. Custody arrangements, division of assets, schooling decisions, parenting time, vacations, finances…everything will change. You can count on my experience and expertise to help guide you through your divorce, and help you make the right choices for your family. If you’re considering divorce, reach out to me for a free consultation.

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The practice of family law covers a wide area of expertise, so a family law lawyer – or family attorney – may be knowledgeable in a number of areas. In short, family law deals with all family-related legal issues. That includes divorce and division of property, child custody, child support and spousal support (or alimony). But it also includes working with couples to draft prenuptial agreements, and can even include areas of adoption, foster-care, and reproductive law (like surrogacy and in-vitro-fertilization contracts.

A family lawyer can draft legal documents, represent clients in court, assist divorce mediation and family law mediation, as well as help protect clients who are victims of domestic violence.

Family Law in Michigan

In Michigan, family law matters are handled in Circuit Courts. Circuit Courts have the broadest powers of all courts in Michigan. The State of Michigan has specific state laws or guidelines for many areas of family law including custody, child support, marriage and divorce. If you live in Michigan and have a family law case, it’s critical that you seek a family attorney with extensive knowledge and experience with the State law.

Behind all the laws and legal terms, however, are people. Spouses who have decided, likely with some difficulty, that they need to separate. Children who may be worried and anxious about what might happen next. Parents who want to protect their children’s future.

Choose the Right Family Attorney for You

When you are seeking a divorce, you not only want a family law attorney who understands the law, you want a family law attorney who understands YOU. A family law attorney you can trust.

Dealing with family law experiences – particularly divorce – can be life changing. Choosing a family law attorney is a big decision, and how do you know you are making the right one? Referrals, testimonials and research are key. To learn more, read our blog Choosing the Right Family Law Attorney.

Many family law lawyers will offer a free consultation, where you can get to know them and they can become familiar with the details of your case. It’s highly recommended that you take advantage of this offer before choosing your family law attorney. If you are ready to get started, you can book a free consultation with Stephanie Krane-Boehmer.

Family Law and your Children

Child custody, child support and parenting time can be a major aspect of family law during a divorce. A family law attorney can help you with everything from talking to your children about divorce to crafting a parenting plan agreement that suits your individual family situation, and the needs of your children at every age.

Property Division and Spousal Support

The other critical element of a divorce is property division and spousal support. While on paper these can be cold financial decisions, the reality is that there can be a lot of emotion around possessions, and in particular the family home.

Working with couples to determine what is fair in a divorce settlement is a critical role for a family attorney. Whether through negotiation, mediation, or in court, a family law attorney works to protect the best interests of their clients and help them move forward into the next stage of their life.

When you Need a Family Attorney

Contact Stephanie Krane-Boehmer. Stephanie understands the complexities of divorce law, and the impact it can have on your life. She treats her clients with compassion, and offers the support, advice and experience you need to ensure a successful outcome to your case. If you are divorcing or considering separation or divorce, contact Stephanie to learn about the law, your rights and what your next steps should be.

Want to learn more? Follow Stephanie Krane-Boehmer on Facebook.

Family court lawyers are often asked for help to create a parenting plan. When a couple with children separate or divorce, the welfare of their children is a top priority. If this is you, you may be looking for a parenting plan example to help guide your future decisions.

A good parenting plan example is a great place to start. Parenting plans can be complicated and creating one can be emotional. You can get parenting plan examples and advice online or from family court lawyers.

If you look for advice online, however, make sure it’s from a reputable source. It’s a good idea to have a skilled family law attorney look over any plan – they have years of practical experience you can draw from.

What is a Parenting Plan?

You may think a parenting plan is a custody plan or parenting time guidelines. And that’s part of it. But in reality, a parenting plan is much more comprehensive – it covers your child’s education, health matters and how you will communicate regarding your children. You can read more about it in our blog, Approaching a Divorce: Parenting Plan Examples.

In this blog, we’re going to specifically discuss parenting time and what your child might need at various stages of development.

Your Child’s Needs Change over Time

Every child, and each family, is different, so your plan will need to cover your unique situation. Discussing this with family court lawyers can help ensure your child’s needs are met at any age.

Positive communication between parents is critical at every stage. Consider carefully how you will communicate with each other.

Note that a history of family violence or safety concerns will change any parenting time guidelines.

Infants (birth – 12 months)

Infants have shorter memory spans. They need repetition, regularity, and routing.

Consider a schedule that provides your child with:

  • Consistency, regularity, and contact with each parent at least every few days.
  • Overnight parenting with both parents, provided both parents are comfortable and able to provide basic infant care.

Toddlers (1-3 years old)

Toddlers are beginning to learn to be independent, expanding their activities, and exploring new emotions.

Like infants, a consistent schedule with contact between both parents is important. You should also consider:

  • Longer overnight periods (2 days or more) as the toddler grows older.
  • How you will handle life events, such as birthdays, preschool activities, religious events.

Young Children (3-5 years old)

Children are becoming more independent and are becoming more exposed to the world around them. They may begin to notice differences between other children and themselves, and may ask questions about your divorce. As their world expands, they may also develop new fears and anxieties (like “monsters” under the bed).

Be prepared to answer a lot of questions, and help introduce your child to new situations in a safe environment to calm their fears.

  • Predictability and stability are critical in these years.
  • Consider extending overnight time up to one week if your situation allows.
  • Regular phone time/video chatting between visits to reassure the child that both parents are invested in their lives.

Elementary & Middle School (5-14 years old)

Attending school allows children to explore new relationships and build friendships with their classmates. They may also become involved in sports and extra-curricular school activities. Look for a parenting plan example that provides guidance on how to coordinate appointments and activities. Try to keep your communication child-focused and positive.

Try to:

  • Limit transitions to provide stability for school.
  • Communicate how you will prioritize homework and extracurricular activities.
  • Provide regular contact with your child’s friends, building in more flexibility as the child grows older.
  • Ensure the school is informed of changes with your parenting schedules.
  • Determine how school holidays and vacation time will be split.

Teenagers / High School (14-18 years old)

Your children will become more independent, and as they mature, they will be faced with more complex decisions. Providing stability and consistent communication is important to help our children develop and make good decisions. They will be increasingly affected by their peer group and may not make decisions you agree with.

Older teens might develop a preference for one parent over the other.

  • Provide a flexible schedule for school, sports, and friendships with enough structure to ensure their safety.
  • Communicate regularly with each other about your child’s whereabouts and wellbeing.
  • Encourage time with both parents, even if a teenager expresses a desire to not spend time with a parent.

Parenting Plan: There are No Easy Answers – Family Court Lawyers Can Help

There is no “right” way to raise your child. Together or apart, as a family you will support your children in the best way for you. Talking to your children about divorce is a critical first step. Finding agreement on how you will raise your children is a lifelong job.

If you are looking for a parenting plan example, or want help creating a parenting plan, custody agreement and parenting time plan, talk to family lawyer, Stephanie Krane-Boehmer. She can help guide you through all aspects of family law to help protect you and your family. Reach out to Stephanie today.

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Michigan Parenting Time Guideline from the Michigan Courts website

Due to the financial implications of Covid-19, the state of Michigan had paused collections including wage garnishments. However, this is no longer the case, and creditors have resumed garnishing wages.

Read on to learn about wage garnishments and how filing for bankruptcy can prevent them from happening.

What is a Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment is when your employer receives notice from the court to withhold a portion of your paycheck to pay outstanding debt. This process doesn’t happen immediately, however, as there are several steps a creditor must take. First, a collector is required to file a collection lawsuit in court. If they win, they will receive a money judgement. This judgement includes a written piece of paper issued by the court that authorizes that the creditor can collect a specific amount of outstanding funds owed.

Do All Creditors Need to File a Collection Lawsuit?

Not all creditors need to undergo this process and receive court judgement. For example, some specific creditors like the Internal Revenue Service do not require a court order to proceed with wage garnishment. In addition, the following types of outstanding payments do not require a lawsuit to proceed with wage garnishment:

  • Outstanding income tax
  • Child support ordered by the court
  • Student loan payments

Understanding the Process of Wage Garnishment

If a debt collector has been calling your home and work and you’ve failed to pay your outstanding debt, they may proceed to attempt to garnish your wages. This event is often the result if no effort has been made to pay back any portion of the debt. The creditor, however, is only eligible to receive a percentage of your paycheck according to Federal law applicable in Michigan. For example, creditors can garnish 25% of your earnings (after taxes) or your overall earnings that are 30 times greater than the federal minimum wage. It is important to note that the percentage that creditors can garnish differs according to the debt.

Prevent Wage Garnishment

There are a few ways to avoid wage garnishment! You work hard for your money, and it makes sense to want to protect it. If you pay off the debt within 21 days of receiving the judgement, the creditor will not be able to proceed with wage garnishment. You can also try to contact your creditor directly to negotiate a payment plan.

Filing For Bankruptcy

Another option to prevent wage garnishment is to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy provides honest people with a second chance and the opportunity to regain their financial freedom. Filing for bankruptcy will prevent all wage garnishments if a creditor has a money judgement. In addition, bankruptcy can help eliminate other debts as well. When you initially file for bankruptcy, a court order called an “automatic stay” begins. This act limits creditors from garnishment and ends those countless phone calls. Ultimately, the automatic stay stops any foreclosures, evictions and creditors. In addition, this action begins as soon as you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. However, if you’ve filed for Chapter 7, child support debt does not apply to the automatic stay. In other words, if you file for Chapter 7, you will still be responsible for the payment of your child support debt.

To learn more about how bankruptcy can help with a wage garnishment, contact the law office of Stephanie Krane-Boehmer today.

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Estate planning isn’t exclusively for the wealthy. The sooner you start planning for reallocation of your assets, the better. Estate planning ensures that your chosen assets get delegated to the proper people. Otherwise, if you were to pass away, your hard-earned assets, distribution of your property and money are determined by state laws. If you are living yet unable to manage your affairs, estate planning can also provide reassurance that your financial matters are taken care of according to your terms. Creating an estate plan is a step you can take towards controlling your financial affairs if something unexpected happens to you.

Life events can be unpredictable. While we don’t have complete control over events that happen, we can control who inherits our assets and prized possessions through a completed estate plan. Consider talking to an estate planning attorney who can discuss your best options.

Do I Need a Will?

A Last Will and Testament is a document intended to outline the chosen people who will inherit your assets after you pass away. If you have an estate plan, the choice of your heirs is entirely up to you! You have complete control over where your lifelong assets go. In addition, this document can also state who will take care of your children if they’re under 18-years-old. You can rest assured knowing that your children will be taken care of by your chosen guardian if you pass away.

Without this document, any decisions regarding your assets including property, bank accounts, tangible personal items and more, will be made by the state of law. A Last Will and Testament only become actionable after you die.

A Living Will takes into effect if you become incapacitated. This document outlines the type of medical care you wish to receive. It only becomes valid when a doctor determines that you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.

Importance of a Having a Durable Power of Attorney

Choosing a durable power of attorney is an aspect of an estate plan that takes effect today while you’re living. Regardless of age, power of attorney documents is an essential piece of an estate plan. Appointing a durable power of attorney will ensure that your healthcare decisions and finances become handled by your chosen people if you are living yet unable to manage them yourself. If you are alive and become unable to make your own decisions, your chosen durable power of attorney can make those decisions for you.

Understanding the Types of Durable Power of Attorneys

There are two main types of durable power of attorneys. A durable health care power of attorney can make health-based decisions for you. You can appoint more than one person to act as your health care power of attorney. For example, if you have three children over the age of 18, all three can be eligible as your chosen health care power of attorney. This document is the only way to appoint a person(s) who will make health care decisions on your behalf.

A durable power of attorney for financial services is a document outlining the designated person(s) to handle your financial affairs. If you undergo an accident or diagnosis that leaves you incapable of making sound decisions about your finances, this power of attorney will take care of everything for you. You can rest assured knowing your bills, mortgage, and general finances will be taken care of by the person(s) you elect.

Choosing your power of attorney is an integral part of any estate plan. You might be wondering: how do I identify the right people? We recommend choosing someone responsible, trustworthy and who has your best interest in mind.

Contact Stephanie Krane-Boehmer, an experienced estate planning lawyer who will work with you to create a customized estate plan.

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