Trusted Legal Guidance for Divorce and Custody Cases
Divorce brings change not only for adults, but also for children. Every family member must adapt to a new way of living. The more parents know about divorce, the better they are able to cope with the changes and help their children to adjust.
Divorce is painful. Children feel hurt and helpless when parents divorce. They are emotionally attached to both parents, and most children want their parents to stay together. When divorce occurs, children, as well as parents, go through a grieving process that creates feelings of disbelief, anger, sadness, and depression.
Children experience a number of losses, including the loss of important relationships with family members and friends, change in environment, loss of family traditions, and loss of their sense of who they are. Parents experience hurt and helplessness from what happened during the marriage, events that occurred at the time of separation, and the divorce process.
Divorce is an extremely difficult time, and parents tend to blame each other for problems. They sometimes do and say terrible things to each other and are unaware of the negative impact their behavior has on children.
Children’s ability to cope during the divorce process and afterwards is based on the parents’ relationship after the divorce and the parents’ relationships with their children. Parents’ attitudes and actions make a big difference in how children adjust to divorce.
While parents may not be able to be friends after divorce, their dealings with each other and their promotion of positive relationships between their children and the other parent are key to children’s ability to cope.
Contact the Law Office of Cindy L. Thomas today for a no obligation consultation and let us discuss your legal needs with great care and consideration. You'll get an experienced guidance from our empathetic attorney.
Learn How to Deal with the Stages of Divorce
Divorce is emotional for adults as well as children. Stages of divorce include denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and acceptance. Due to the extensive nature of divorce disputes and the law involved, this subject is best left to an in-depth discussion with your attorney.
- Denial is where it is hard to comprehend the relationship is over. Denial insulates from fear about the loss of the relationship and the feelings of rejection, loneliness, and depression. Both adults and children may become withdrawn and isolated. Alternatively, they may become highly active to block out the pain
- Bargaining is where adults attempt to determine ways the relationship may be saved suggesting steps, such as counseling or otherwise working together to resolve differences. Bargaining may also be where children make promises to do chores or to be good to save the relationship
- Anger occurs when the realization hits that needs have not been met in the relationship. Anger may be directed inward or toward others. Children may place blame on the parent they believe to be “at fault”
- Depression may set in when adults admit the relationship is over and are saddened by the failure. Children may also go through depression displaying feelings of inadequacy about their ability to be loved
- Acceptance is when adults and children are able to adjust to the changes and move forward. When anger, grief, and guilt dissolve, focus on the future becomes possible
- Children need their parents to help them through the losses and changes they are experiencing. To make healthy adjustments, children need predictability including regular routines, healthy environments, frequent and regular contact with both parents, continued contact with friends and relatives of both parents, and parents should put their children’s need for priority above the parent’s need for a new relationship
- Children need relationships with both parents, including each parent being respectful to the other parent, the ability to have family photos with the other parent, the ability to express their feelings for the other parent, the ability to have regular quality contact with the other parent (regardless of whether it is “scheduled” parenting time), and encouragement to maintain a strong bond with the other parent
- Children should be kept out of the middle. They are not messengers or spies or weapons against the other parent. Parents should not question children as to the other parent’s home, should not argue with the other parent in front of the children, and should never discuss legal actions or encourage children to take sides
- Children need parents as appropriate adult role models, including parents who are courteous and civil in their dealings with one another, parents who follow through with their promises, parents who are open to their children’s changing needs, and parents who parent and allow children to be children
- Children need parents who communicate openly and honestly, reassuring them the divorce is not their fault and although the marriage is over, the parent’s love is unending
Sensitive Care for Custody Cases
This issue is the most emotional and traumatic part of the majority of family law cases and is frequently the hardest battle in which an adult will engage. Under Michigan law, there is both legal and physical custody of minor children.
Legal custody is the decision making part of raising children and physical custody determines who physically raises the child. The basis for determining child custody is the “best interests of the child” pursuant to the factors under the Michigan Child Custody Act:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this State in place of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
Due to the extensive nature of custody disputes and the law involved, this subject is best left to an in-depth discussion with your attorney.
Learn More About Paternity
An action to determine paternity may be brought under the Paternity Act, or the Acknowledgement of Parentage Act. A putative father may also establish paternity under the Revocation of Paternity Act (ROPA).
Putative fathers may not seek custody under the Child Custody Act of 1970 without prior acknowledgement of paternity or order of filiation.
Under the Paternity Act, an action may be filed by the child’s mother, putative father, or, if the child is a recipient of public assistance, by the Department of Human Services. The filing party must allege that the child was born out of wedlock – the mother was unmarried for the entire time from the child’s conception to birth, or a court has previously determined that the child was not an issue of the marriage.
Under the Acknowledgment of Parentage Act, if the mother and father of a child born out of wedlock sign an acknowledgment of parentage form and the signatures are notarized, parenthood is established without Paternity Act proceedings.
Upon signing, the parties consent to the court’s general jurisdiction regarding child support, custody or parenting time. After signing, the mother is presumed to have custody of the child unless the court orders otherwise or the parties agree in writing.
Parents may sign an Acknowledgement of Parentage at any time after the birth of the child. An Acknowledgment of Parentage will generally only be set aside based upon an affidavit showing a mistake of fact, newly discovered evidence that could not by due diligence have been found before the acknowledgment was signed, fraud, misrepresentation or misconduct, or duress in signing the acknowledgment.
Due to the extensive nature of paternity disputes and the law involved, this subject is best left to an in-depth discussion with your attorney.