In divorce cases litigated in Michigan, the amount of child support is determined by a formula developed by the State office of the Friend of the Court. In most cases, we have no say in the amount of support after providing documentation of income sources.
Child support is the term for money paid by one parent to the other to help provide for their children.
Support is intended to cover day-to-day living expenses, such as shelter and food costs, and includes components for health insurance, healthcare expenses, and childcare.
Plus, it divides the financial responsibility for the children between parents based on each parent’s monthly net income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
The Differences in Collaborative Divorce
In Collaborative Divorce cases, however, we embark on a conversation between the divorcing parents to determine not only their own living expenses, but also the expenses attributable to the children specifically.
The parents can evaluate the amount determined by applying the Child Support Formula against their real-life expenses. Then, they make a decision if it is appropriate to deviate from the Formula.
The parents can also decide if they can arrange the children’s budget in a more creative and equitable fashion.
Here’s How it Happens in Litigated Divorces
In a Court-based, litigated divorce, the amount of support can deviate from the Formula IF it is in the best interests of the child. However, proving this is difficult, cumbersome, and costly. Divorcing couples only achieve deviation in Court where the parties actually agree on the issue.
When a couple decides to divorce, they must accept that child support is a simple formula in which they have little to no say. However, the process they choose for divorce can make a difference in how support is decided.
Check out this resource from the state of Michigan for more information.
When you are up late wondering about your next step, think about this…
Just speaking to a lawyer doesn’t commit you to leaving. It’s good to have information. With more information, you can make better informed decisions.
Talking to an attorney can help you strategize what you want to do. Playing out the what-ifs and the possible scenarios paints a clearer picture of what going through a divorce would be like and whether that is even what you want.
Listen to your body. When you think these thoughts or talk to experts, you’ll likely have a physical feeling somewhere in your body. That’s your instincts speaking, and you should listen. It will tell you what to do next.
If you do decide to divorce, I’ve got your back. I’m here to protect you and represent you. Whether you choose me or another lawyer, our job is to be your rock. You will not go through this alone. We do this work because we care. About you, your future, your feelings, and your family.
Divorce is not an overnight decision. And it shouldn’t be. This is a big change, and one that you should weigh and measure and evaluate before going forward.
Hello! My Name is Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, and I am a Divorce Lawyer
Hey there – you may already have met me on my “About” page or on the bio page of my website listing my experience. If you haven’t, let me introduce myself:
I am Alisa Peskin-Shepherd.
I have practiced family law for more than 30 years, and I love my work.
Why would Alisa Peskin-Shepherd enjoy helping people end marriages, you may ask?
It’s not the ending of marriages that I love; it’s the opportunity to work with different kinds of people and to help people understand themselves and their emotions better.
I love making people feel better. And working in family law as Alisa Peskin-Shepherd, attorney and counselor at law, I can do that.
The other day, I mentioned to a client that I was thinking about inviting co-counsel into our case who had an expertise that would help. The client said she didn’t want that person joining our team because “she was very cold and she didn’t feel a connection with her” the way she feels a connection with me.
I get it, says Alisa Peskin-Shepherd.
I am the kind of lawyer who wants my clients to feel a connection with me. That makes us a good team in the divorce process.
Some things you might want to know about me:
I’m not very tall, so when I was a new attorney, I made sure to dress conservatively (and wear heels), so judges and other attorneys took me seriously. It was how I stepped into confidence as a lawyer. I looked younger than my age, but I dressed the part! (I still do. And I love to wear bright colors.)
I still get butterflies in my stomach before a court appearance. The adrenaline helps me prepare.
I do a TON of research and preparation. For trial, I use a Trial Notebook to go through the steps and stay organized, so I don’t forget any detail.
I love being outside – even more since this pandemic hit! Some days, I’ll leave the office in the middle of the day to take a walk, and my favorite kind of time off is time spent in nature – hiking, kayaking, anywhere beautiful (these days, in Michigan).
The best part of my work is my clients. I love the one-on-one, hearing their hopes and dreams, and doing what I can to make them come to life.
How a Jameson Law Manages a Virtual Divorce Case in Colorado
This blog first appeared on the website for the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Read the original blog here.
In the era of COVID-19, everyone is using virtual meeting software to conduct business. However, my Collaborative Divorce colleagues and I were already doing it.
A Case Follows Its Clients
This case began in the typical in-person format in Michigan. The husband met with me several times over nine months as he contemplated filing for divorce. Shortly after it became clear that ending the marriage was his next step, he and his wife decided to sell their home and move to another state, where two of their married children live.
It is not like any case can go virtual; attorneys are bound by the parameters of the State Bar and can only practice in states where they are licensed to do so.
Based on my state’s laws, if my client moved to Colorado and then filed for divorce, I could not represent him.
But he wanted to work with me in a Collaborative fashion on his virtual divorce. Accordingly, we filed in the state of Michigan before they moved, which relegated the case to the state where they had lived during their marriage.
Committed to the Collaborative Process
They agreed to proceed in a Collaborative fashion, and the wife hired Collaborative Divorce attorney, Tucson divorce attorney. We created a team that included divorce financial planner Jacqueline Roessler and divorce coach Judith Margerum. Everyone agreed that this case would be conducted through video conferencing.
I assumed the professionals would be together in one place, and the parties in another place, but this did not happen. For scheduling convenience, each professional joined from her own office, and our clients were in their home in different rooms.
As the case progressed, I thought it would be better for the team to gather in person, especially for a pre-meeting and a debrief after the client meeting. As it turned out, due to the pandemic, we connected via our own shelter-in-place locations.
For the most part, the virtual divorce case proceeded beautifully with Zoom as our means for communication and meeting. There were drawbacks of course. For example, it was harder to take side meetings with a client or team member on Zoom. However, it was possible using the Breakout Rooms feature.
On the positive side, the Collaborative tone remained in this virtual format.
Collaborative Focuses on the Family
As usual with Collaborative Divorce, we were able to focus the process to suit the family. This family was in transition, so we created virtual meetings to accommodate their desire to move, rather than having to wait for their divorce to be final in Michigan.
Another plus is that you can see people’s reactions and responses, which is crucial for the mental health professional on our team. While we cannot read the energy as we would in-person, we can still see, really close up, each face.
And, scheduling meetings is a breeze – no need to plan around drive time or calendar conflicts.
Today’s technologies make it easy to expand our Collaborative world while still getting the same great work done.
Here are some tips for making video conferencing work for divorce law cases.
Pay attention; make sure you are looking at the screen. People often get distracted during a video conference and might look to another screen, thus missing reactions and responses.
Because everybody is on a computer, the person taking notes can type it on their own device. I could look at the meeting and type while it was going on.
It is easy to record the meeting for future review. People sometimes forget what they said or agreed to, or perhaps different parties have different interpretations of the proceedings. Having the ability to record the meeting eliminates confusion. Professionals should be aware of the most current privacy standards that apply to them in regards to use of this technology, specifically around recording. In addition, mental health professionals may need to determine whether their technology platform is HIPPA compliant prior to hosting or recording meetings.
Choose a platform that you’re comfortable with. We use Zoom, but there is also GoToMeeting, AnytimeMeetings, and others. Choose one that offers the option of breakout rooms.
Be prepared. Learn how to share your screen, know the software, know the technology before the meeting begins.
Plan your pre-meeting and your after-meeting, especially if professionals are not in the same room. Planning is still very important.
During this time of pandemic shutdowns, legal process and procedure were forced to change.
Suddenly, we had no choice but to practice differently, and the court system had to accept drastic changes to legal processes. The way we always knew to practice law simply does not work in a pandemic.
Is Change Good?
I’ve pondered whether this change prompted all of us in the legal field to become more creative. Or did it just bring us into the 21st century? Are we finally embracing a new face of law that was inevitable, but which we resisted until we had no choice?
This happened in a lot of industries and fields. Companies that did not embrace work-from-home did so quickly and completely to protect the health of employees and clients.
Surprisingly, they found productivity did not wane! In many cases, productivity improved because people were trusted to get work done and do it well.
Image by Ohioduidefense from Pixabay
How Divorce Law Happens
The legal field is an interesting mix of independent and communal work. A lot of my work happens in my office, on my computer, pulling research and precedent and templates to create motions, judgments, and other written pieces of legal process.
There is also work I cannot do alone. For litigation cases, I must appear in court, beside my client.
Their spouse must appear as well, with his or her attorney. We appear in a court room, before a judge, with the courtroom clerk, Friend of the Court representatives and witnesses, too.
That’s a lot of people in a small space. In normal times, there are also other people awaiting their turn before the judge