Divorce and Children
CHILD CUSTODY AND DIVORCE ATTORNEYS WEST BLOOMFIELD
Children frequently are the top concern when parents end a relationship. At Mellin Robinson, P.C., our Oakland County child custody and divorce lawyers make every effort to protect your rights and your relationship with your children.
Our firm is focused entirely on family law issues, which provides us a thorough understanding of the Michigan Child Custody Act and all other state and federal laws that pertain to your parental rights following divorce or the end of a nonmarital relationship. Our experienced Michigan family law attorneys work with clients to resolve:
Child custody — Determining both legal and physical custody
Parenting time — Creating a plan for time spent with each parent
Child support — Determining each parent's financial obligation for support of the child
Paternity — Determining the biological parent of a child in order to establish child support or custody/visitation rights
FINDING EFFECTIVE AND EFFICIENT RESOLUTIONS
We encourage both parents to resolve these issues through negotiations whenever possible in order to minimize the disruption to the child's life. Attorneys Irika N. Mellin and Kristen L. Robinson are both certified Michigan family law mediators. They have extensive experience helping parties reach fair agreements through negotiations and mediation.
Our lawyers also are experienced litigators. If disputes regarding custody, visitation, child support or any family law matter cannot be resolved amicably, we are always prepared to advocate aggressively on your behalf.
We work closely with child psychologists if necessary and other specialists who can help frame the issues so that your outcome is as favorable as possible.
WEST BLOOMFIELD CHILD CUSTODY LAWYER
When parents end a marriage or a nonmarital relationship, maintaining a strong relationship with their children often tops the list of concerns. Michigan courts determine custody and parenting time based on the best interests of the child.
The courts favor both parents remaining actively involved in their children's lives whenever circumstances warrant. However, the laws regarding custody and parenting time (often referred to as visitation) intentionally provide substantial leeway and allow for numerous factors to be considered. As a result, it is imperative to retain the services of an experienced and accomplished family law attorney who can protect your rights regarding custody and parenting time.
At Mellin Robinson, P.C., serving West Bloomfield, our Michigan child custody lawyers advocate aggressively to protect our clients' rights in child custody negotiations and — when an agreement cannot be reached amicably — in litigation.
TWO TYPES OF CUSTODY
The courts award two types of custody for any minor children — legal and physical.
Legal custody refers to a parent's right to have a say in important life matters regarding a child's education, health care, religion and other key decisions. In many cases, joint legal custody is awarded, allowing both parents to share the decision-making authority.
Physical custody refers to how the child divides his or her time between the two parents. Physical custody can be shared or awarded to one parent. Often, one parent is designated the "custodial parent" with whom the child spends a majority of overnights and the other parent is awarded parenting time, including a certain number of overnights per week or month.
It is important to note, however, that every child custody case is unique and the outcome is dependent upon the facts of that case.
FACTORS INVOLVED IN CHILD CUSTODY DECISIONS
The Michigan Child Custody Act identifies 12 factors to be considered in determining what is in the best interest of the child. Some of these include:
The love, affection and other emotional ties that exist between the child and each parent
The length of time that a child has lived in a stable environment and the desirability to maintain continuity of that environment
The moral fitness of the parties involved
The willingness of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent
The reasonable preference of a child if the court determines the child is of sufficient age to express preference
What was once referred to as visitation is now called parenting time. Michigan law starts with the presumption that it is in children's best interests to have a strong relationship with both parents. Children have a right to have parenting time with a parent unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence the parenting time would be harmful to the child, either physically, mentally or emotionally. Further, parents have a right to have a specific parenting time schedule that includes regular dates and times.
Parenting time can be established in a custody action, a divorce action and even in a child support case. Parents can agree on a parenting time schedule which the court will enforce or in the alternative the court can dictate a parenting time schedule that it believes is in the children's best interest. Parenting time can be modified on the motion of either parent if there is a change in circumstances or proper cause.
Parenting time conflicts can be as emotional and as hard-fought as custody disputes. Ultimately the court will determine a parenting time schedule for both parents if they are unable to come to their own agreement. The court's primary concern is the well- being of the child and will act in the best interest of the child. Parenting time disputes can ultimately affect custody. If faced with a motion to modify parenting time, it is imperative to seek advice of an experienced family law attorney. If a parent feels it is in his or her child's best interest to seek modification of parenting time it is important to consult with a skilled family law attorney to discuss strategy and timing in filing the appropriate motion.
WEST BLOOMFIELD CHILD SUPPORT ATTORNEYS
In Michigan, child support is determined by following the Michigan Child Support Formula. Generally, courts set the amount of child support based on this formula unless factors warrant deviating from the formula.
The factors used to determine the amount of child support payments include:
Time spent with each parent
The net income of both parents (with "net income" being defined by the Michigan Child Support Formu
The number of children the parties have together
Any child support payments the noncustodial parent is paying to someone else
Whether the noncustodial parent has custody of children from a different relationship
Child care costs for all minor children
Health care costs
At the law office of Mellin Robinson, P.C., serving West Bloomfield, our family law attorneys advocate for parents in the determination of child support. Whether you are seeking child support or you expect to make child support payments, we protect your rights and ensure that the amount of child support ordered is fair.
Sometimes, there are concerns that a party is hiding assets or income in order to lower the amount of child support or spousal support that is paid. We ensure that accurate financial information is provided and work with forensic accountants, valuation experts and other specialists if necessary to obtain accurate financial information.
SEEKING A DEVIATION OF SUPPORT
If a child has proven special needs as a result of health issues or in cases involving substantial family assets, the court may order above-guideline support be paid. We work with highly regarded medical professionals and other specialists who help us build strong cases proposing or defending against petitions to provide above-guideline child support. Additionally, there are situations where a downward deviation of child support is warranted.
We also assist individuals who must seek modifications to original court-ordered child support as a result of a substantial change in circumstances, as well as enforcing support that is not being paid and collecting arrearages.
ABOUT PATERNITY ISSUES AND FAMILY LAW Paternity refers to determining the biological and/or legal father of a child. Either the mother or the putative father can bring action to establish paternity. Additionally, the State of Michigan (through the County prosecutor's office) can file a paternity case against the alleged father if the mother and child are receiving state aid. As attorneys with experience in family law and paternity matters in particular, we can assist you with your case. In fact, we offer a free consultation to talk about your specific case and what we can do to help. If you are a father, you may wish to establish paternity in order to gain custody of your child or seek visitation rights. As a mother, you may wish to establish paternity so you can seek child support that will help provide for your child. Or, you may wish to challenge paternity to avoid responsibility for a child that is not yours, or to keep someone from gaining custody of your child who is not the biological father. Whatever specific paternity matter you are attempting to resolve, we are confident that we can offer you the information and guidance you need to make the right choices about your case.
CONTACT A PATERNITY ATTORNEY TODAY!
Resolving a paternity matter may be simple due to the fact that DNA testing can easily prove the biological father, but there can be complex legal matters to address as well. For example, if a child is born to a woman who is married, the husband is presumed to be the father, regardless of who may be the biological father.
The process of attempting to establish paternity or challenge paternity can involve complex legal arguments, and it is therefore important to have competent attorneys, such as Mellin Robinson P.C., at your side.