Battle Creek Michigan Law Blog

Understanding the 20/20/20 rule

As a military spouse, you have likely come to rely on the many benefits you and your family enjoy in Battle Creek due to your spouse's service. Yet such benefits do not make military marriages immune to hardships. Many have come to us here at Vandervoort, Christ & Fischer, P.C. after having seen those hardships bring an end to their marriages with concerns over whether their access to military benefits would continue. If you find yourself in the same position, then understanding what to expect following your divorce can help you in planning your post-separation life. 

The good news is that if you have children (who are also the biological children of your servicemember spouse), you do not need to worry about them; being his or her children, their benefits will continue to until they reach they age of majority (and even beyond in certain situations). Yet what about yours? Typically, you lose your entitlement to benefit coverage as soon as your divorce becomes final. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule. 

Know when a police officer must read Miranda rights

We can thank years of police procedural television shows for the public's basic knowledge of their Miranda rights. They can protect several rights of a suspect, but it is important to understand the limitations of these rights and the instances when an officer must read and when the officer may not.

Unfortunately, many suspects do not understand these limitations, leading them to accidentally incriminate themselves by giving police information that Miranda rights might protect. If you recently received criminal charges and believe that your arresting officer did not properly inform you of your Miranda rights, you can speak with a defense attorney to assess your available legal options.

What is a domestic asset protection trust?

In 2017, Michigan became the 17th state to adopt a law that enables residents and property owners to establish domestic asset protection trusts. For those with a lot to lose, a DAPT can help protect a lot of their assets from being lost.

At Vandervoort, Christ & Fisher, we understand your wish to protect your assets. Our team is experienced in guiding clients through the ins and outs of estate planning and asset protection, including the use of a DAPT. 

Father fighting for custody case to be decided in Japan

Child custody cases in Battle Creek can become extremely complex, particularly when the issue of jurisdiction is in doubt. Acrimony may exist between the couples working through them, which may prompt one side to attempt to change the circumstances of such cases to their favor. Fleeing to a different jurisdiction may certainly qualify as an example of this, as those who choose to do so may believe that the different statutes and standards enforced there will be beneficial to their causes. Yet in such cases, it is not uncommon for the court officials from their home jurisdictions to continue to assert their authority to decide the outcomes. 

This can be seen in full display in the ongoing custodial case currently being heard in Mississippi. At the center of it are two boys who their father alleges were abducted by their mother from their adopted home country of Japan. The family had lived in the U.S. until late 2015, when mother and sons rejoined the father after he had been living for months in Japan. The couple then decided to split. Yet before a Japanese court could address the issue of the custody of the boys, the mother returned with them to the United States. The father is now seeking sole custody so that they may return to Japan, stating that their ongoing residency there gives the Japanese court jurisdiction in the case. 

Can I go to jail for a drunk driving offense?

If you face drunk driving charges in Michigan and are wondering whether you can face a jail sentence as one of the potential consequences, the short answer is yes. However, for first time offender, and assuming it resulted in no injuries or deaths, the chances of finding yourself behind bars is slim.

According to the State Of Michigan's law regarding DWI offenses, if you are visibly impaired or operating under the influence, you will face a fine, license suspensions or restrictions and have points added to your record. It is possible to have up to 93 days in jail as well as community service added to your sentence along with a few other penalties. However, if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.17 or higher, the potential for jail time increases to a sentence of up to 180 days along with a higher fines cap and a mandatory yearlong license suspension.

What kinds of custody should we consider when splitting up?

The fact that you both are giving consideration to how you may both agree to custody in Michigan is a great start. As you likely know, as parents, you can come to an agreement and unless unreasonable or not in your child’s best interests, there is a good chance the judge will sign off on it. So then, what kind of custody arrangements should you be reviewing?

If you both consider and agree on joint custody, the court will most likely grant it. This is because the court must order it unless he makes specific findings as to why that arrangement would be contrary to your child’s best interests. Generally, a joint custody arrangement will involve joint legal custody as well as joint physical custody, or a mix of both.

Challenging the validity of breathalyzer results

Breathalyzer results often seem like a silver bullet that brings down any chance you have of fighting the charges, but this is not always the case. In many cases, the results themselves may not withstand scrutiny, or other elements of suspects' interactions with the officers who arrest them may undermine the strength of the charges.

In most cases, those who spend the time and resources necessary to build a strong legal defense find that they have more options than they expected. Even if a suspect ultimately does not succeed in dismissing the charges, simply accepting the charges is foolish. Prosecution teams often see these cases as easy wins and may recommend unreasonable punishments that truly do not fit crime.

Can I contest a pre-nuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is decidedly unromantic to many people. However, if you have financial obligations to family members, partners, shareholders or other interests in Michigan, it can be the right tool to smooth your path to the altar.

If you later decide to go your separate ways, you may feel the document is unfair, now that you are looking at it through more experienced eyes. Is there anything you can do about it? Perhaps.

My son wants to live with my ex, can I stop this?

If you currently have custody in Michigan, your child’s preference does not automatically mean you must comply with that preference. You need not turn your son’s residence over to the other parent based on his wants. Rather, the other parent would file a petition with the court, asking for a change in custody based on your son’s stated preference.

The court would then decide based on all relevant circumstances, including, possibly the child’s stated preference.

What else can I do to protect myself in our high-asset divorce?

Yes, there is much more. In addition to the considerations in Part 1, it may be that the more organized and documentary you can be as early on as possible, the less stressful the process will be and the better off you will land once the divorce is complete.

Much of the documentation may be more accessible before the divorce filing occurs and things potentially get competitive.

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