Adoptions

Adoptions are an exciting decision for a family! Grand Rapids Legal Advocates are experienced in helping clients through the legal aspects of the adoption. Our advocates guide you through the entire process for domestic, international, grandparent, or stepparent adoptions.

Our attorneys will help you with the termination of parental rights, contested adoptions, domestic adoptions, interstate adoptions, international adoptions, stepparent adoptions, and grandparent adoptions.

Adoptions are both a stressful and rewarding journey. Our attorneys are compassionate and thorough. Call Grand Rapids Legal Advocates today to get started!

Child Support

Are you having an issue with increasing or lowering your child support amount, or are you trying to get a support order in place?  Grand Rapids Legal Advocates can help!

In Michigan, child support is calculated according to the Michigan Child Support Formula.   Factors that are used to determine the amount of child support, medical support. and child care obligations are:

  • Mother’s net income
  • Father’s net income
  • Number of children of the parties
  • Overnight parenting time of each parent
  • Other support obligations
  • Custody of other children
  • Health care costs

Child support may be changed in the future if there are changes in circumstances that would warrant an increase or decrease in support.  If you have a change in circumstances, you should immediately file a Motion Regarding Child Support because support cannot be retroactively modified.

In Michigan, child support can always be changed.  Even if both parties agree to zero or no child support at one time, and one party returns to the Court for support, the Court can then grant child support to one party.  For this reason,  it is extremely important to contact a knowledgeable attorney to make certain that you understand your child support situation.  Furthermore, the Michigan Child Support Formula can be extremely confusing to figure out on your own.

Please give us a call at 616-466-4946 so that we can make sure your child support situation is reasonable according to the Michigan Child Support Formula.

Custody and Parenting Time

Are you having a Michigan custody or parenting time dispute?  Changing a custody or parenting time order can be difficult, which is why it is important to contact an experienced attorney as soon as there has been a change in circumstances.  Our attorneys have handled many such cases, and we are happy to advocate for a new custody and/or parenting time arrangement on your behalf.

There are two types of custody in Michigan.  The first is physical custody, and it can be awarded as sole physical custody, joint physical custody, or as a shared custody arrangement.  In addition to physical custody, both parties are usually awarded joint legal custody of their children, which allows them to participate equally in the education, medical, and religious decisions for their children.

If both parents cannot agree upon Michigan custody and parenting time, the “best interests of the child factors” of the Michigan Child Custody Act are what the Court uses to make its decision in granting custody.

If there is not an established custody order, then the court evaluates the best interests of the child factors.  If there is an established custody order, then before evaluating the best interests of the child factors, the Court must first find that there has been a change in circumstances.  If there has been a change in circumstances, then the best interests of the child will be reviewed by the Court.

The best interests of the child factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the Court are found in the Michigan statutes at MCL 722.23 and are as follows:

  • 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.

Contact our experienced custody and parenting time attorneys at 616-466-4946 today!

Divorce

Divorce can be a very emotional process and is a big life change.   Whether you are concerned about the custody of your children, division of assets, protecting your business interest or anything else, we will listen to your concerns and make sure that you have a strong advocate on your behalf. We will make the legal process of the divorce be as easy as possible for you and work hard to protect what matters most to you.

Our attorneys are experienced at handling all types of divorce proceedings, whether they are uncontested or highly contested.  We have advocated for clients with or without minor children, and for clients with limited assets or many assets.

Michigan is an “equitable distribution” state when it comes to divorce.  It is not just a 50/50 split of assets and custody, although the longer a party has been married, the more likely it is for the judge to split the marital property in half.  Other factors that judges consider when awarding marital property are: (1) the length of the marriage, (2) the needs of the parties, (3) the needs of the children, (4) the earning power of the parties, (5) the source of the property, (6) where the contributions toward property acquisitions came from, and (7) the cause of the divorce, including fault in the breakdown of the marriage. This list is not exhaustive, and the court may consider any other factors it finds to be relevant in a particular case.

If you are considering filing for divorce, please call us.  We can let you know the pros and cons of filing for divorce in your situation.  If you have already filed for divorce and want a strong advocate on your side, please call us.  We are here to guide you through this difficult time!

Guardianships

Do you need help becoming a guardian of a child? Is there a problem with a current guardianship of the child? Grand Rapids Legal Advocates can help you with the documents and legal issues involved in guardianships.

Legal guardianship is a status that allows a person to care for a minor child and make decisions on the child’s behalf. There are multiple situations where a guardianship may be appropriate for a child.

Some parents choose to name a guardian for their children in the event that they pass away or become disabled. In cases where parents have abused, neglected or abandoned their child, the court may appoint a temporary or permanent guardian for the child. If parents believe that they are not able to care for their child, they may set up a voluntary arrangement for guardianship of the child. In all types of guardianship situations, extended family members such as aunts, uncles, other grandparents or estranged biological parents may step in and challenge your request to care for your grandchild.

No matter what your circumstance is, there is a way that our attorneys can help you through the process. It is important for the child to have the best care possible. Let Grand Rapids Legal Advocates help you with your guardianship!

Paternity

Are you having or have you had a child born out of wedlock? Are you having issues regarding paternity of the child? Grand Rapids Legal Advocates can help you both during pregnancy and after the child is born.

Paternity issues involve establishing paternity, custody, parenting time schedules, child support, and confinement costs. Paternity issues come up for mothers, fathers, during pregnancy, after the child is born, after a couple breaks up, and during multiple events. Time is of the essence when it comes to paternity cases, so don’t delay in hiring an attorney-advocate!

In Michigan, there are five different ways to establish paternity. The five statutes are: 1. The Paternity Act (PA), MCL 722.711; 2. The Acknowledgement of Parentage Act (APA), MCL 722.1001; 3. The Revocation of Paternity Act (ROPA), MCL 722.1431; 4. The Genetic Parentage Act (GPA), MCL 722.1461; and 5. The Summary Support and Parenting Act (SSPA), MCL 722.1491.

In addition, our advocates can also help you with Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity, Genetic Testing, Revocation of Paternity, and Birth Records.

Depending on your circumstance, there is a way that Grand Rapids Legal Advocates can help! Contact us today so that we can get started on your paternity issue.

Prenuptial Agreements

Are you about to get married and thinking about a prenuptial agreement? Are you already married and wishing you had a prenuptial agreement? Are you thinking about getting a divorce and want to review your prenuptial agreement? Grand Rapids Legal Advocates can help!

Marital agreements are a good way to have an open conversation about finances and marital values. Often people stay in marriages too long because one of the parties is worried about the financial hardships if he or she went through with the divorce. A marital agreement is a solution to ensure that both parties are staying in the marriage for the right reasons.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are valid in the state of Michigan. Drafting the marital agreements can be complex because they are very individualized documents. It is important that the document reflects the couple’s needs and values.

Marital agreements are a great way to start a marriage with a transparent and organized understanding of each other’s finances and values. Although these documents are not very exciting to think about, they do help couples prepare for an easier separation if necessary. Contact our advocates today for more information.