The Friend of the Court has several major powers to enforce parenting time and payment of child support. These include license suspension, referral for felony non-support, booting your vehicle, property liens, credit reporting, etc. License suspension can include everything from recreational licenses such as hunting and fishing, to professional licenses such as a bar license or driver’s license. One such enforcement mechanism is the suspension of passports. The Friend of the Court can suspend a person’s passport once the payor is $2,500.00 in arrears. Once the passport denial request is in the system, it will not be released until the amount owed is zero.
In some circumstances, where there is a good reason, this cancellation may be lifted temporarily. Examples of circumstances which do not constitute good cause according to a recent publication in the Oakland County Bar Association Laches November Issue, include “a desire to attend a friend or relative’s destination wedding, a real estate training junket in the Caribbean even though the payor has stated for some time that they have not actually earned any income as a real estate agent, a honeymoon that is supposedly being paid for by the bride’s family, or to go on vacation because their significant other has a timeshare in Mexico….” The sole example given of a situation where good cause may actually exist is where international travel is necessary to secure a job which can be shown will be used to pay child support. However, in this scenario significant documentation will be required. The easier solution is to avoid getting to this point in the first place.
If you or someone you know is having an issue with Friend of the Court it is important to retain an experienced attorney to represent you. By opening up a dialogue with FOC, such enforcement measures can be avoided. If you cannot afford your child support or if circumstances have changed we can work to get your support obligation changed going forward.
Direct payments are when one parent gives a parent support payments directly, rather than paying through the friend of the court. Friend of the court provides payment coupons to send to their office with your payment so it can be properly attributed. Alternatively, you can even have support taken directly out of your paycheck.
If you have a good relationship with your co-parent, or sometimes even if you do not, at times it can be tempting to just make direct support payments. However, this is a very bad idea. When you make direct payments, instead of making payment through Friend of the Court these payments are not credited to your account. In other words, despite making consistent payments you may be accruing significant arrearages. This could include revocation of licenses, passport cancellations, real and personal property liens, booting your car, and others. You may end up paying your child support obligation twice. Unless you have a signed opt order from a judge, do not ever pay child support directly!
If you have already been making direct payments, all is not lost. Particularly if the payee is cooperative, or if you have kept a good paper trail of receipts, credits may sometimes be retroactively attributed to your account. However, this may not compensate you from all the damage that has accrued as a result of the arrearages. Credit reporting, attorney’s fees to have property liens removed, overdraft fees from bank liens, etc. None of these will be recompensated, so it is better to just pay through the system in the first place.
If you are facing a backlog of damages as a result of direct payments, our offices can help get your payments credited. To retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC, for assistance in these matters call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. We are experienced Michigan attorneys with offices in Troy, MI.
Have you received a Open Intox Charge while Tailgating in Ann Arbor, Michigan?
The tailgating season is in full force, and the University of Michigan is one of the best places to kick back and prepare to watch the game on TV or in person. Whether you are a student, an alumni, or an avid spectator it is always fun to put something on the grill, wear your jersey, and usually indulge in a few adult beverages while hanging out with your friends on State Street. Michigan rivalry games especially, Michigan State and Ohio State home games in particular, seem to result in a rash of open intoxication tickets due to overindulgence during the festivities. Most people think they are out of the woods for alcohol crimes at football games once they are over the age of 21. However, even adults of legal drinking age can be cited for open intoxication. Many treat this ticket as no big deal, but it is in fact a misdemeanor.
Misdemeanors of this nature can carry a penalty of up to 90 days in jail, a term of probation, fines, as well as court costs and fees. Further, the cases are usually open and shut cases if you were drinking public you are guilty and stand no chance of mitigating damages on your own. Through our practice though, we have been able to get many of these open intoxication charges reduced to civil infractions, or even dismissed. The difference between having a misdemeanor on your record, versus a civil infraction is a big one. A misdemeanor follows you for the rest of your life. You will have to check that you have been convicted of a crime on job applications. While a minor open intox charge might not seem like a big deal once you explain it to a potential employer, many people never get that chance since their applications are summarily dismissed. Hiring a lawyer at this time can save you a lot more trouble down the line.
So if you have received a Open Intox Charge while Tailgating in Ann Arbor, Michigan, let us help you. For more information and/or to retain Garmo & Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
In 1999 the Social Security Administration eliminated the listing for obesity. As a result, proving obesity does not end the determination of whether a person is disabled or not. To be considered obese a person must have a BMI of 30.0 or above. Currently, obesity is considered by SSA to be a “specific medically determinable impairment.” Many conditions if they do not quite meet the listings for an outright finding of disability provide a way by which if a person meets most of the listing, and has an additional specific medically determinable impairment, the person can still be found to be disabled. In this way, it is important to give your attorney a full picture of your health. Even if your case is weak in some areas, additional specific medical impairments may boost your likelihood of success.
With all of the debate about cutting government programs to reduce the deficit, it is easily to fall into the trap of thinking that the Social Security Disability program is the largest now that it has ever been. While it may be true that children’s SSI benefit awards are at an all-time high, adult benefits peaked in the early 1990s. Shortly thereafter, the legislature passed legislation that made it more difficult for noncitizens to obtain SSI, and eliminated drug addiction and alcoholism from the listings as basis for finding a person disabled. This resulted in a large increase in denials, especially for SSI. Additionally, the legislature overturned a court ruling which allowed for more findings of disability in children. Further, legislation killed the individualized function test, and limited the applicability of mental disorders disability. This legislation had an intense impact on SSD and SSI cases, and levels of awards dropped significantly. The rates of approval been slowly recovering ever since.
Other policy factors impacting the level at which applications are granted have been changes in the listings, such as the elimination of obesity. Claims rose again when the retirement age was raised to 67, as many people in their early 60s who were eligible for disability had previously been taking retirement benefits instead. Prior to 1983 recognition of mental illnesses, the primary mental disability receiving benefits was mental retardation. Many of these policies had significant effect whether they were intended to or not. The one area where the SSA has attempted to create policy for the purpose of changing behavior though, has largely fallen flat.
The SSA has, since the 1960s, been focused on getting people back to work in order to increase successful exits from the program and limit re-entry. These have included trial work periods not affecting benefits, providing re-applicants a waiver on the Medicaid waiting period, and others. Unfortunately, this has largely not been successful. In my experience, most people on SSD or SSI would really just like to be healthy enough to get back to work. This would tend to imply that these programs are ineffective not because people are lazy, but because they do not meet the needs of disabled people. Perhaps they are not realistic solutions and may require for example, a more gradual wean off benefits or more workplace support. Not surprisingly, the economy and disability discrimination may also play a role here.
So what does this all mean for you? If you are thinking about applying, or your application has been recently denied upcoming policy changes could really affect your chances of being successful. The trend seems to be towards limiting the awards by legislation followed by ALJ’s expanding the definitions in small ways until awards rise to the level they come to the attention of Congress again. This seems to reflect a tendency that I have noticed even in my own practice. Often claims don’t seem very strong on paper, which is why many initial applications get denied. However, then when clients come into our office it is clear their disability, which did not seem so severe on paper, has a major effect on their life. This is where having the benefit of an ALJ hearing comes in. We can work with you to present the most compelling argument why your application should be granted in a memo to the Judge. Then, we will see the Judge in person and have the opportunity to describe all the ways your disability prevents you from working. This is why, whenever possible, our office would rather wait and have an in person hearing with the ALJ than schedule an earlier video conference. The above research, and our record, supports this theory that it is much harder to turn down a claim once the Judge has met you than on paper.
In 2003 there were 340 deaths related to drinking and driving. The legislature acted to lower the BAC threshold for drinking and driving from .10 to .08. By 2011, drinking and driving related deaths had dropped to 253. The law lowering the limit was originally temporary. It would have reverted back to .10 on October 1st. The Senate unanimously voted to retain the .08 threshold. This was not entirely unexpected based on the relatively recent passage of the “Superdrunk” law. It seems the Michigan legislature aims to take a hard line with respect to drinking and driving offenses across the board. If you or someone you know is charged with a drinking and driving offense, it could have serious repercussions with respect to driving privileges and your criminal record. An experienced attorney can minimize this effect.
Effective March 31, 2013 prosecutors can charge you for felony retail fraud under the new “Organized Retail Crime Act.” Previously, a retail fraud, commonly known as shoplifting, must have involved merchandise valued at over $1000.00 to qualify as a felony. The new act is somewhat of a misnomer as it does not require you to act in conjunction with another person. Even if you act alone and steal something small like chap stick or a DVD can get you charged with a felony. The following activities constitute the new offense of “Organized retail crime:”
(a) Knowingly commits an organized retail crime.
(b) Organizes, supervises, finances, or otherwise manages or assists another person in committing an organized retail crime.
(c) Removes, destroys, deactivates, or knowingly evades any component of an antishoplifting or inventory control device to prevent the activation of that device or to facilitate another person in committing an organized retail crime.
(d) Conspires with another person to commit an organized retail crime.
(e) Receives, purchases, or possesses retail merchandise for sale or resale knowing or believing the retail merchandise to be stolen from a retail merchant.
(f) Uses any artifice, instrument, container, device, or other article to facilitate the commission of an organized retail crime act.
(g) Knowingly causes a fire exit alarm to sound or otherwise activate, or deactivates or prevents a fire exit alarm from sounding, in the commission of an organized retail crime or to facilitate the commission of an organized retail crime by another person.
(h) Knowingly purchases a wireless telecommunication device using fraudulent credit, knowingly procures a wireless telecommunications service agreement with the intent to defraud another person or to breach that agreement, or uses another person to obtain a wireless telecommunications service agreement with the intent to defraud another person or to breach that agreement.
If you or someone you know is charged with a retail fraud or organized retail crime, it is necessary to act fast with an experienced advocate to limit the effect of these charges. To retain Garmo &Kiste, PLC call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message.
Late last month, a 47 year old man who had been drinking decided he had some pressing errands that couldn’t wait for him to sober up. Whether a lawnmower is Mr. Walton’s vehicle of choice, or he was trying to avoid drinking and driving is unknown, but he fired up his lawnmower to head to the store. Police spotted the lawn mower parked at a local store, observed him exiting and begin to drive it. Upon determining Mr. Walton was intoxicated the police pulled him over and he was promptly arrested for felony drinking and driving. As the original article notes “Michigan law doesn’t care whether it’s a lawn mower or a Lamborghini, if you drive a motor vehicle while intoxicated” you are subject to arrest for drinking and driving. Pursuant to Michigan law, any vehicle with a motor is covered. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drinking and driving offense of ANY kind contact Garmo &Kiste, PLC, for assistance in these matters call us at (248) 398-7100 for a free consultation or contact us with a private message. We are experienced Michigan attorneys with offices in Troy, MI.
If you have ever been pulled over and suspected of drinking and driving, you might know there are a series of tests officers administer prior to the BAC known as field sobriety testing. This can include walking heel to toe, saying the alphabet backwards, and or following an object with your eyes and not your head tests (HGN). While in the past I had thought this was only to see if you were able to directions, it turns out there is a biological reason behind the last test. If you have not been drinking (absent some major neurological disorders), your eyeball will pan across a landscape following object at a consistent pace. If you have been drinking though, it will jump from frame to frame across your field of vision. Think of it like the difference between a continuously variable transmission and stick gear shifting. As such, it is impossible to mask this biological reaction. On the other hand, the interpretation of this result is entirely up to the officer so there is very little way to independently confirm the officer’s findings. If you have gotten this far in the process though, there is probably other evidence that is sufficient to uphold your DUI absent extenuating circumstances. Very, very few DUI/OWI/OWVI/DWI offenses get overturned entirely. At this point, it is best for you to focus on minimizing the consequences through strong representation. An experienced attorney knows the ins and outs of metro Detroit courts, various judge’s proclivities, and can work to negotiate a lenient plea agreement and sentence for you.
Wayne County extended a program through the end of May whereby individuals who have a bench warrant out against them for nonsupport. The purpose of the program is that Wayne County had limited resources to pursue these individuals, and by paying 1% of the amount due, of $250 whichever is greater, there could be a fast influx of cash while releasing bench warrants. There is over 800 million dollars outstanding in child support in Wayne County. Approximately 15 people per day in May took advantage of the program. What should you do though if you have missed this program? Don’t despair, you will need to be arraigned on the bench warrant. An experienced attorney though can work to minimize the damages. While child support amounts may not be modified retroactively, if a material change in circumstances has resulted the arrearages, we may be able to get the amount of child support you pay adjusted.