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.
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.
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.
Mom Who Left Children in the Car While Filling out Job Application May Face Charges in Rochester Hills
A 35 year old Troy woman left her two children ages 1 and 5 in her vehicle in a parking lot as she went inside to fill out a job application. From a shopping center located at Hamlin and Rochester Roads, observers called the police around 3:30 pm. When the police arrived the woman had just returned to her car, which had one window slightly open. She reported that the children had been asleep when she left them, although they were reportedly crying by the time she returned. Witnesses allege she was inside for more than twenty minutes. The children were taken to a local hospital where it was determined they were safe. They were released to their father’s custody. The potential case is under review by Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office who may issue charges, or may decline to prosecute. It is unclear if she would be charged with child endangerment, neglect, abuse, or another charge.
As part of a larger court of specialized courts such as the Drug Court, or Mental Health Court, Wayne County recently instituted the Solutions Oriented Domestic Violence Prevention Court. On April 25th, 2011 it heard its first case.
Funded by federal grants, the Court is meant to address the larger problem of domestic violence within families through combining all cases involving the parties which will then be heard by one of three judges who are specially trained in issues of domestic violence.
Cases are selected for referral to the SODVPC at the time a Personal Protection Order petition is filed. If the filing clerk believes there is a high probability of fatality, or the abuse alleged is very severe, a representative will interview the Petitioner to further assess the probability of mortality. If it is considered probable, the Petitioner will be offered the opportunity to transfer the case to the SODVPC.
If it is transferred, all pending cases will be consolidated and heard by one of following Judges: Halloran, Elder, or Kelley. Other than that, the PPO matter will be handled in the same way as usual.
As a new court it is hard to know whether SODVPC will turn out to be advantageous or disadvantageous to a Defendant/PPO Respondent. On one hand, if your case is assigned to SODVPC it means it has been evaluated and found to be very severe. However this does not mean the allegations are true or not. If Petitioner’s claims are false, you stand just as good of a chance of being exonerated in SODVPC as any other court. Additionally, the Judge’s additional training may be to your advantage in rooting out the truth of what really happened.
If you have violated a Personal Protection Order, you could be in real trouble. Courts do not take lightly such a violation, and you could very likely end up spending 93 days in jail for contempt of court. PPO’s are often unrealistic, or fail to take into consideration factors such as children in common. However, even violating these unrealistic or formalistic provisions carries serious consequences. Judges are often hesitant to excuse any violation even if it is harmless or victimless because they don’t want run the tiniest risk of being the Judge who excused a violation for a person who ultimately hurt someone. Judges are always thinking about their re-election campaigns and how they are going to explain their actions to their constituencies. An experienced attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to attempt to negotiate a plea deal where the charges may be reduced, modified, or even dismissed. Our attorneys have experience these matters and have worked with the prosecutors and judges assigned to your case.
If you have been putting off getting your estate in order, you may surprised when you find out how easy it can be to make a plan for your affairs. A lady bird deed is an option outside of a traditional will where you can convey property on the condition of your death, without losing homestead exemptions, and avoiding probate entirely. This can be a good option for someone who is receiving Medicaid benefits to avoid Medicaid making a claim on your property after you death. The name comes from the fact that Lady Bird Johnson was the recipient of property under this scheme. If you think this type of deed may be a good option for you our experienced attorneys can advise you as how best to draft it to protect you, your family, and your property interests.
There are some other unique estate planning options available to you including a Quit Claim Deed (QCD for short). A quit claim deed is a means to transfer ones interest in property to someone else. There is no warranty of title, so quit claim deeds are often used between family members as gifts, in the case of divorces where one spouse must transfer their interest to the other, and in tax sales. If you think a quit claim deed might be a good option for you and your property, you must consult with an experienced attorney to ensure there are no outstanding issues.
When a child is born, the father generally signs the birth certificate thus “acknowledging” that he is a legal parent. If this does not happen, at a later date both parents can sign off that he is in fact the father. Additionally, if the mother and father are married there is a rebuttable presumption that the husband is the child’s father.
In today’s modern world though, families don’t always look the same. Whether the parties aren’t married, the father was not present at the birth, or the mother withheld information to prevent the father from being aware of the child or the birth sometimes the father does not get to sign the birth certificate. However, if the father does not sign the birth certificate, and has never “acknowledged” the child legally, he has no legal rights to parenting time or custody. In order to regain these rights, one must get the Judge to sign an “order of filiation” stating that you are the legal father. This comes with rights to spend time with your child, and also responsibilities of paying child support. If you wish to proceed and assert your legal right to your children, contact an experienced attorney to discuss the pros and cons with you, and make a motion to the Judge.
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.