FAMILY LAW AREAS OF PRACTICE

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Changed or established custody in a multitude of jurisdictions, including a state Supreme Court...

While legal custody has a governing effect  with respect to certain decision making matters, including medical care, schooling and religion (which is different than Faith), physical custody is a reflection of (in somewhat of an oversimplification) whom the child lives with, which by effect, affects the amount and type of rights you have in defending or initiating an attempt to modify those rights...  Contact me to help you navigate past what many consider among the most emotionally difficult times of their life.   

CHILD SUPPORT

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Child Custody 

Child Custody 

Child Support 

Visitation/Parenting time

Show Cause Hearings

Appeals

ATTORNEY BARNET G. LEVINE

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      Avvo Clients' Award                City Pulse Top 5 Law Firms                  Jurisprudence Award                   National Trial Lawyers Top 40                5 star reviews

  • ESTABLISHED OR MODIFIED CUSTODY IN 20+ JURISDICTIONS ​​ 

  • ESTABLISHED OR MODIFIED CUSTODY IN 20+ JURISDICTIONS ​​ 

FAMILY LAW
AREAS OF PRACTICE  

Child Support: If there was a microcosm for adversely paired litigants sharing a mutual disdain of the same law but for different reasons --neither of which apply to them or the other parent: it's child support: To be clear, child support is (supposed to be) for the child. 

Common complaint: that didn't even touch, while blaming each other for its effect: it's the dotted line separating parents who claim they're ordered to pay too much child support, from the parents who aren't getting paid despite the relatively high child support order.  From the latter's general view: a high child support payment requirement is nice, but actually receiving a payment can also be fun. And from the view of the payor, forcing an unrealistically high payment can compromise their ability to sustain themselves, and even their job, making it further unlikely that they would satisfy their support obligation. To offset some of the dysfunctional traffic associated with child support, hearings designed to hold violating non payors accountable (i.e., Show Cause hearings --see below for more information) are typically preceded by attempts to settle their outstanding support balances in a way that gives the payee at least a decent portion of money due, while offering the payor an opportunity to get his/her financial affairs in order by spreading out their outstanding debt over time. Payors are offered temporary payment plans designed to catch them up on current child support obligations, which they must comply with to avoid the same consequences that would follow their lack of entering into that settlement (which can presumably call into question the voluntariness of those temporary agreements).  Those consequences include being held in contempt which can be sanctioned in various ways... Perhaps granting the negotiators latitude to adjust payments beyond temporary payback plans, can allow payors to not feel that unaffordable obligations spread out over time merely delays consequences for their inevitable inability to pay, and eventual violation for non payment, while encouraging them to pay a more affordable payment that can result in the payee actually getting paid something on a relatively consistent basis...  

 

Notwithstanding that, there are a number of things one can done to avoid contempt for non payment of the full child support payment at the time that it was due (the largely overlooked diligence requirement can be more helpful than it seems).  But things don't have to be this slow to develop result that no one likes (recipients don't get paid while payors spend time in jail, while payors tend to get fired from their jobs (to the extent that they have one) for missing time due to being in jail, and if not employed, being in jail doesn't help with that (there's no Indeed.com section for inmates actively seeking employment).  

 

Practical option: having the initiative to account for your circumstance can help you both avoid it, and being held liable for it: filing an action to adjust your support amount can help spare you from being accused on failing to comply with an order for a greater amount (and perhaps a lack of initiative contributes to un or underemployment, so the protocol for the effect of the problem can also help solve it...).    

 

Brief conceptual overview: the Michigan statute that governs child support contains language that accounts for, among other things, the parties' income, child care or daycare expenses, health insurance for the child and the number of 'overnights' the parents exercises with the child during their visitation or parenting time.  The platform's a little mechanical, but subject to dispute as much as any other litigated aspect.

Claims of inadequate child support payment amount by payors or payees drawn from an adverse party's misrepresented, underreported or an exploited low income, whether it's considered willful unemployment or underemployment, can result in imputed income assessment against the alleged mis--or--nonreporting party: The income would be imputed in accordance with their "earning income potential" (individual and industry marketability, including education, trade, skill, talent, experience, and previous salary, etc.), and offset by finding of a disability.  This is in place to help start a discussion that exceeds the mere acceptance of volunteered financial information, by somewhat ironically asking non payor about their ability to earn more income (it relies on the distrusted litigant to account for the difference between what they can do, and have done...).   

  

Remember: Because child support is (supposed to be) for the child, it's not simply left to the parents to disclaim, despite plenty of practical steps taken daily by parents that to an extent, allow them to influence the amount of their child support payments.  For more information, call me to address your child support concerns. 

CHILD CUSTODY

DIVORCE

Property (real and personal), and debt distribution,  including bank accounts, retirement pensions, etc.; spousal support and child custody are among the matters that can get addressed during divorce proceedings.  

Divorce is not easy... But how you act during its course, can have an effect on your proceeding and on you...   

A more responsive approach:

The rebuttable presumption that equitable distribution should be equal, wasn't lost either in a sea of 50/50 jurisdictions, where my clients won more than half, or in the negotiating arena where the closer you account for things, the more you realize that parties often aren't disagreeing about the same thing...  

 

This opens the door to a greater degree of flexibility by specificity with the parties, and traditional approaches are replaced with more responsive methods that allow the parties to account for their property, debt and its distribution. 

CONTACT  

  • TOP 5 LAW FIRMS CITY PULSE

  • FORMER DEPUTY CITY ATTORNEY

 

  • CHANGED OR ESTABLISHED CUSTODY IN 20 JURISDICTIONS

  • NATIONAL TRIAL LAWYERS TOP 40 UNDER 40 

Address (Virtual during COVID 19 protocol)

State Bar of Michigan  

306 Townsend Street (Downtown)

Lansing, Michigan 48933

Email

attorneybarnetlevine@gmail.com

Phone

(702) 449-1289

 

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SHOW CAUSE/

CONTEMPT

COURT ORDER VIOLATION HEARINGS

A contempt hearing or a "Show Cause" hearing (the latter's simply an abbreviated version of the former) is not a typically structured hearing: Unlike virtually every other proponent/petitioner tasking hearing that commits to the traditional approach of requiring a petitioner/accuser to establish their allegations against the accused to a designated degree (having the legal burden to establish their cause), a "Show Cause" inverts that typical scheme: 

 

After a modest allegation by a petitioner (accusing party), the respondent (the accused) is rebuttably presumed to have inexcusably --as a legal matter-- defaulted on their obligation.  For instance, in the child support context, it would be the accused that is rebuttably presumed to have failed to pay the full court ordered child support amount at the time it (the obligation) was due; and therefore, the same (the accused) has the burden of proof of establishing that they either (a) didn't violate the court order, or (b) that there was a good reason for not complying with it --and therefore, they shouldn't be held in contempt.  Contrast this with the far more common case, where the party accusing another (rather than the accused) has the burden of proving or establishing their case (rather than the accused having to prove their "innocence"), and you'll see an unusual difference that requires the bulk of the work to be done by the accused, on the presumption that they are guilty and have to pull themselves out of that disposition (as opposed to the other way around...). 

 

What happens if those accused don't establish their case?

The effect of the accused not being able to establish their case is a finding of contempt, which can be sanctionable in a number of ways, but there are no shortage of things that can be done to rebut the presumption that the accused should be held in contempt, and there are various ways to (support, "prove" or less imprecisely) expose it.

To this end, there are several important elements within that statutory scheme that are often overlooked; and applying them, along with everything else that comes to mind during hearings has made the difference in clients' important matters (for an expansive review of show cause structures and contempt hearings, give me a call and/or view the news and resources page of this site and click on recent contempt trials link where my client was Blessed to prevail after asking one question where my clients prevailed...).  

APPEAL

While trials can focus on how you ask questions, appeals turn on how you answer them...