Battle Creek Michigan Law Blog

How alcohol consumption increases risks of drowning

If you are planning to take your boat out on the water, you might want to think twice about indulging in alcoholic drinks. Not only can intoxication impair your ability to navigate your boat off the shores of Michigan, but it increases the risk of drowning. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, one in five boating deaths results from alcohol and 70 percent of drowning deaths during water recreation activities involve alcohol as a factor.

There are multiple reasons why alcohol boosts your risks of drowning. As the Guardian Interlock website explains, alcohol consumption inhibits your ability to abstain from reckless behavior. When sober, you typically exercise better judgment, but while intoxicated, you would feel confident about taking chances. If you were driving a car, you would become more reckless on the road. You would be no less reckless while operating a boat or swimming in the water.

Making it through a divorce when you are deployed

While a divorce can shake your life regardless of your situation, if you are currently deployed and your spouse in Michigan informs you of his or her plans to divorce you, that kind of information can be incredibly distracting and discouraging when you are far from home. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take that may help to prevent unnecessary stress and effectively keep you from losing too much. 

When you receive news of your spouse's intentions, take a minute to process the information. Do not make any irrational decisions or question what you have done that has resulted in his or her decision. Listen carefully to your thoughts and allow yourself time to process the difficult emotions you may be experiencing. 

Modifying parenting time or custody orders

After the dust settled and your Michigan divorce was complete, it may have taken time for your child to adjust to the new living arrangements, including splitting time between different residences. Over time, the schedule that once met everyone’s needs now adversely affects one or more parties. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., we often assist clients with necessary modifications of a court order.

According to Michigan Legal Help, a judge may change the parenting time when requested by one or both parents. A significant change in the established custodial environment may result in a custody change. The court looks at a variety of factors before approving the modification. Have circumstances altered since the original or last custody orders? You or your ex must show proper cause. This means that the change is more than routine and has significantly affected your child. There are 12 best interest factors that the court uses as a basis for altering custody orders, and the request must relate to at least one of them.

Divorce and estate-planning go hand-in-hand

When you walked down that aisle, you intended to be married "until death do you part." But somewhere along the line, the marriage faltered and was never able to get back on track.

Now, your divorce is pending and you're worried how you will be able to afford your post-divorce life. Even if you receive spousal support, will it be sufficient? What happens if your ex dies during the alimony period? You worry that you could be left financially adrift just as you are entering your golden years.

What to do when you suspect your spouse is hiding assets

If you are heading for a divorce in Michigan, you and your spouse may already have trust issues. When a marriage includes businesses, collectibles, property and financial accounts, it is not unusual for the spouse with the highest net worth to hide assets, exacerbating the mistrust. They are often the party that takes care of the finances as well. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., our experienced team of attorneys has the expertise and resources to help ensure clients receive an equitable settlement.

Divorce Magazine reports that there are several steps you can take that uncover hidden assets and unreported income:

  • Look through old tax records. A forensic accountant can use a 4506 form to give you an idea of the asset value you have. Look for large withdrawals or other unusual activity on old investment account and bank statements.
  • If you have joint bank accounts with debit cards, examine the recent transaction history. Large cash withdrawals or an inordinate amount of activity may indicate your spouse is trying to hide funds.
  • Offshore accounts may exist, especially if your spouse travels out of the country. Review the passport activity to see where they are most likely to have hidden assets.
  • Do you own a business with your other half? Investigate large sum write-offs. This could indicate that they are funneling funds through the company to a personal account.

Estate planning provides for your family after your death

Do you know what happens to your money and other assets when you die? If you do not have a will in Michigan, your estate will go to probate, which can be time-consuming and expensive. It also means that distribution of your assets may not occur as you wish. At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, P.C., our experienced team helps clients create wills, trusts and other aspects of an estate plan that is valid, per state law.

According to U.S. News & WoMichiganrld Report, estate planning is critical for unmarried couples and blended families. The court awards assets to biological family members, without considering your partner. In blended families, the state may split your estate evenly among the children of the current and previous marriage. Having a will enables you to ensure your loved ones receive the assets as you planned after your death.

What are MI's custody laws for active duty military personnel?

If you have recently obtained a divorce, have children and are in the Military, you may worry about your status as a parent when you deploy. Can the other parent file a change of custody while you are away and terminate your parental rights in the process? Do the courts favor the parent who remains stateside? Prior to 9/11, there were few laws in place to protect the parental rights of active duty military personnel. However, after 9/11, as the war tore apart more families, the federal government and many state governments took measures to change that.

According to the Michigan Guide for Military Family Law, prepared by the Michigan Department of Attorney General and Thomas M. Cooley Law School Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism, Michigan is bound by the Servicemember Civil Relief Act. The SCRA states that if a parent files for a change of custody during the other parent's deployment, the deployed parent may file an application for stay, which the court must grant. The court may not, during time of deployment, issue a new order that changes the custodial arrangement that was in place on the date the military called the parent to deployment.

What happens when you’re arrested for drunk driving?

Receiving a drunk driving charge in Michigan is no laughing matter. The process can be complex, and in some cases you may find yourself paying exorbitant legal costs and fines as a result of your transgression. Very Well Mind explains what occurs after a DUI, from the initial arrest to the probationary period.


Helping parents make hard estate-planning decisions

Some senior citizens acknowledge the inevitable and plan accordingly for their golden years. They purchase long-term care plans and arrange to move into assisted living facilities of their own volition once their mental or physical health dictates it is prudent to do so.

But others may lack the foresight — and often the means — to make such pre-need estate-planning provisions. It's in these situations that the adult children of the aging parents often must step in and take action to protect them from themselves.

How can I make a parenting schedule?

If you’ve recently gone through a divorce in Michigan, you probably have a lot on your plate. Making a solid and reasonable parenting schedule with your ex is just one hurdle, and it may be difficult for you to create a plan that works for everyone. Very Well Family offers the following tips in this case, which will allow you and your ex to put the needs of your children first.

Get your kids input

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