The practice of Family Law includes all matters that become before the Family Division of the Circuit Courts for the State of Michigan.
Divorce is an area of law that is assigned to the Family Division of the Circuit Courts for the counties where one of the parties reside. Divorce includes, not only the dissolution of a marriage between spouses, but also involves decisions as to the rights and interests of the parties to their child/children. The court will make determinations as to physical custody of the child/children, legal custody, or whether those rights are shared. The court will also make decisions as to parenting time for a non custodial parent and child support. The court has broad latitude in making these decisions and these decisions are made based upon what the court determines is in the “best interests” of the child/children.
Divorce also involves decisions of property matters. The Court decides the valuation of property to be divided, the determination of which property is separate and should be kept separate. The court makes decisions regarding the division of pensions, IRAs, checking /savings accounts and other property acquired during the course of a marriage. The Court will decide if spousal support should be provided by one party to the other.
Child neglect and abuse matters are heard in the Family Division of the Circuit Courts. Persons can be unjustly accused of neglect and/or abuse of a child or children with dramatic implications. Such allegations can result in the break-up of the family unit with children placed in out of home placement – called foster care. Neglect/abuse allegations can ultimately lead to the termination of parental rights and possible criminal prosecution.
Personal Protection Orders
PPOs are issued by the Family Court in cases where there are allegations of threatened or actual physical harm to another. If an application for a PPO is alleged and attested to by a party, and left unchallenged, the court will enter an order directing the offending party to not contact, harass or even be in the physical presence of the complaining party. PPOs can stay in effect up to two years if not contested or challenged. Violations of PPOs can lead to incarceration, fines and costs. It is important that PPOs be challenged out of fear of subsequent inadvertent violation of the court’s order.
Adoptions are granted by the Family Court – be it step-parent adoptions, grandparent adoptions or adult adoptions. Adoptions are the creation of a legal relationship much like a natural child/parent relationship. Adoptions have ramifications as to inheritance, rights of legal control of the adoptee and the making of decisions for the adoptee that is akin to those decisions a parent would make for a naturally born child.
Juvenile delinquency is another area that is adjudicated by the Family Courts. These are basically criminal proceedings of persons under the age of 17 years. Serious delinquency/criminal matters can lead to a waiver to the adult courts resulting in a conviction as an adult. It is important that delinquency proceedings are aggressively defended for fear of a juvenile record, or a possible conviction as an adult with lifelong ramifications.
William J. Campbell has over 35 years experience in the area of Family Law.