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Oakland County Law Blog

Who gets the dog? Divorcing couples battle over the family pet.


As Americans, we love our dogs (and cats, of course). Many married couples opt for a pet rather than having children because they’re cheaper and less demanding. Further, many couples see no difference between the affection for their pets and the love parents have for their children.

When Divorce Extends Beyond International Borders


Divorce is never simple. Even divorce and family law cases where both parties agree on what the outcome should be require poring through complex legal documents and processes. 

What happens when the parties in a divorce or custody battle don't agree? What if they not only don't agree but also don't share the same state or country of residence? 

That's where an experienced international divorce and family law attorney can make all the difference in the outcome. 

Sign The Prenup and You're Done? Not So Fast...


We've written about prenuptial agreements before and we think they are a good idea for couples who plan to tie the knot. While no one wants to think about their marriage ending in divorce, think of it as divorce insurance. After all, no one wants to die but that doesn't make life insurance any less of a good idea. 

But, like any legal contract or insurance policy, it is important to make sure a prenuptial agreement covers all the bases before putting ink to paper. A recent Michigan Court of Appeals decision highlights just how important it is. 

How To Handle A Dispute With A Business Partner


Partnerships can fail for a multitude of reasons. Perhaps the partners did not have a strong business plan and cannot agree on how to run the business. One of the most important reasons for failure, from a legal standpoint, is that the partners failed to have a written partnership agreement in place.

Military Divorces Just Got Harder

The following is a re-post of a letter sent to members of the Family Law Listserve by Col. Mark E. Sullivan, author of the "Military Divorce Handbook."
It outlines a major change in a federal law that will impact property division in every divorce cause involving a member of the military. 

Dear Colleagues, 

On December 23, 2016, the President signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. Hidden away in the Act is a little known provision that applies to division of military retired pay when the military member is still serving. 

Updated Statute Removes Hurdle For Stepparent Adoption

Many family law practitioners were shocked when, in the case of In re AJR, the Court of Appeals construed the provisions of MCL 710.51(6) to mean that a stepparent adoption could not occur when the parents of the minor child at issue shared joint legal custody. This holding (affirmed by the Michigan Supreme Court on June 25, 2014), became a complete bar to stepparent adoptions in situations where parents share joint legal custody. Because joint legal custody is routinely granted by courts -- even in situations where the non custodial parent is not involved the child -- this holding added a new step to the adoption process by requiring that a parent with joint legal custody to petition the court for sole legal custody. As practitioners know, the threshold for changing custody is not an easy one to clear. The decision in AJR thus made it significantly difficult for anyone to obtain a stepparent adoption. This changed in September 2016 when the Legislature amended the statute.

Lame Duck Legislature Abolishes Michigan Dower

In its lame duck session of 2016, the legislature passed a package of bills abolishing Michigan dower. Effective 90 days from the date the bills are signed by the governor and filed with the Secretary of State, transfers of real estate in Michigan will no longer be subject to a potential dower claim (with the exception of property owned by men who die before the effective date). These bills can be found on the Michigan Legislature's website (see SB 558, SB 560 and HB 5520). This package amends MCL 552.101, which required all Judgments of Divorce to address a wife's dower rights. For family lawyers, this means that Judgments of Divorce will no longer contain this language. As a note of interest, Michigan was only one of about 10 states that still had dower and the only state which had dower but not curtsy (a husband's right to an interest in a wife's property). It will be interesting to see how the Michigan probate code will change over the next year or so, given the recent decisions of Obergefell v. Hodges and DeBoer v. Snyder, which held that states must license marriage between two people of the same sex and recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex in another state. 

Divorce & The Holidays


There is no pause button in life. We do not have the luxury of pausing the world around us in order to enjoy a festive time of the year. This is a sad reality for people trying to navigate a shaky relationship as Christmas approaches. Being at parties surrounded by happy couples and enduring endless advertising about the joys of the season is enough to send a struggling relationship over the edge.

If you are considering a divorce during this holiday season you are not alone. According to a survey by Wevorce, 1 in 12 people were considering divorce or separation during the holidays as recently as 2013.

Read on for some helpful tips for navigating a divorce during the holidays.

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