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Westland MI Family Law Blog

Michigan bankruptcy law: Understanding a Chapter 7 filing

There are a lot of misunderstandings out there about bankruptcy and how it can help people get the financial freedom that they desire. This week, this column will work to give a basic overview of Chapter 7 bankruptcy law. At the end of the day, it can be a great option for Michigan residents who literally cannot afford to pay their bills.

In order to qualify for a Chapter 7 filing, one's income level cannot be higher than the state's median income level -- with few exceptions. To figure out if an individual qualifies based on income, one takes the means test. All that is required to do this is a little bit of personal information and some data from the most recent census records.

Annulment or divorce, a family law attorney can help

When a marriage falls apart, it is not always easy trying to decide how to officially end it. For some Michigan residents the answer is simple: file for divorce. For others, there may be a desire to seek an annulment. No matter which one a person is interested in, a family law attorney can help.

When pursing a divorce, there are a number of ways in which it can be approached. There is litigation, private negotiations or various alternative dispute resolution process available. All of them can help a person achieve a satisfactory dissolution settlement.

Modifying a child custody order

When you and your child's other parent split up, the court usually hands down a custody order to provide guidelines around how you divide up parenting responsibilities. However, if you're like many parents, you eventually find that the original order simply does not fit your lives anymore.

If this rings true for your, you share that conflict with many parents. Child custody plans written for children at a certain age may not apply to their needs after even a matter of months, depending on the child. Similarly, you may find that the other parent does not abide by the order, or that changes in your own circumstances make abiding by the order unreasonably difficult.

Michigan bankruptcy law: The truth about debt settlement firms

Ever hear those advertisements from companies that claim that they can work with one's creditors in order to settle debts? They make it sound so easy. They also make bankruptcy sound like it is the worst option in the world. The truth is, for many Michigan residents, a bankruptcy law attorney and the protections offered by a bankruptcy filing may be their best bet when it comes to achieving the financial relief desired.

What steers people to debt settlement firms? The promises and the false statements. Having debt amounts cut in half would sound appealing to anyone, as does leaving the negotiating to someone else. However, there is a lot of information that these companies fail to share upfront, such as:

  • Fees
  • Time line
  • Taxes
  • Effect on credit score
  • Lack of legal protection from creditors

Michigan divorce law: A look into the Macklowe divorce

Billionaire Harry Macklowe is set to divorce his wife so that he can move on and marry the woman that he really loves. Figuring out how to divide their massive fortune has not proved to be an easy task, however. While it is safe to say that the vast majority of Michigan residents do not have the complex assets involved in this case, it is still an interesting look into how divorce law works for anyone, regardless of their financial circumstances.

According to a recent report, Mr. Macklowe offered his wife $1 billion to sign the divorce papers and walk away from the marriage. She ended up refusing this offer and instead opted to have their case heard in front of a judge. After reviewing the case, though, a judge strongly recommended that they work to achieve a settlement out of court.

Michigan divorce law: Divorce facts

A lot is said about divorce, with some estimates indicating up to 50 percent of all married couples end up getting divorced. That is a fact many divorce law attorneys disregard as simply not true and greatly overexaggerated -- as are many other "facts" out there. This week, this column will go over some actual facts regarding marriage dissolutions that some Michigan residents may be interested in knowing.

Fact number one is: divorce rates have been at an all-time low. According to a study out of Bowling Green State University, the U.S. divorce rate is lower than it has been in several decades. In 2015, research showed that there were approximately 17 divorces per every 1,000 women. That is certainly far less than the 50 percent that keeps being reported.

Michigan bankruptcy law: Can't pay off your debts?

Numerous Michigan residents are among the many Americans who are drowning in debt. When it all becomes too much, it is normal to question how one should address the issue. Thankfully, this is not a problem that one has to figure out all alone. A bankruptcy law attorney may be able to help.

According to a recent report, Americans are said to be over $12.7 trillion in debt. The most common types of debt include student, medical, mortgage and auto. All of these can add up pretty fast, and if one experiences the loss of a job or anything else that creates a financial hardship, the ability to continue meeting one's debt obligation can get pretty hard.

Keeping your house with Chapter 13 bankruptcy

One of the most common concerns of people considering using bankruptcy is whether or not it is possible to file for bankruptcy and still keep the house. If you're like millions of Americans, your home is your most valuable possession, in addition to being the roof over your head.

It is not simple to say whether a specific person may or may not keep their home while completing a bankruptcy, because there are so many factors that contribute to this determination. However, it is possible to lay out the broad strokes of bankruptcies that allow a person to keep their home.

Where does bird nesting fit into Michigan family law?

Whenever a parent has to go on a business trip, the other parent is there to care for the children during his or her absence. When it is the other parent's turn to go on a trip, the roles will be exchanged. That has given families nationwide, including in Michigan, the concept of birds nesting. Although this is not a custody or parenting option included in statutes or family law, it has proved to be ideal for families who want to spare their children the upset of moving between the homes of divorced parents.

Nesting was named after the manner in which birds leave their young in the nest while the parents fly in with food. Divorced parents leave the family home to find separate apartments or other accommodations from where they alternate parenting time in the family home. Parents can work out a schedule that will fit their other commitments and make sure one of them is always at home with the children. Children can remain in familiar surroundings rather than having to adapt to new strange places.

When divorce and bankruptcy law comes together

When people are young and in love, they may never contemplate they will get a divorce or face overwhelming debt from which they cannot escape. Sadly, for those in Michigan and elsewhere, the reality is that many couples experience financial hardship that leads to disputes. As they spiral deeper into debt, their differences become irreversible, and divorce seems to be the only solution. However, it will not resolve the financial problems, many of which may be marital debts for which both spouses will be responsible. This is where the bankruptcy law can bring relief.

Under these circumstances, bankruptcy can be a financial survival tool. The question will be whether to file for bankruptcy before or after the divorce. Some advisors suggest it benefits both parties if it is filed before the divorce. One reason is the fact that, regardless of the agreements reached by the two spouses about who will pay which debts, their creditors will continue to keep them both liable for joint debts. If both spouses can cooperate, and there is no threat of one party hiding assets, filing for bankruptcy can save money and ease the divorce process considerably.

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The Smith Law Offices, P.C.
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