Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Michigan Change of Domicile Issues

Melissa A. Cox, Esq.

A “change of domicile” is where one parent, who is a party to a child custody matter, seeks permission to relocate from the State of Michigan and move the minor child to another state. Historically, it has been difficult to change domicile because of the Court’s desire to keep both parents close to their children. However, in more recent years, judges have more readily granted changes of domicile due to the poor economic climate in Michigan.

Generally, if the parent seeking a change in domicile can establish that he or she has unsuccessfully made a good faith effort to locate a job in Michigan, yet has located a fruitful job in another state, the courts will more liberally consider the request for change of domicile. However, to be successful in such a motion, the parent should establish an actual job offer in another state and not just that he or she has commenced a search for such employment. 

Additionally, the parent must establish that the relocation is not an effort to take the children away from the other parent and that there will be a reasonable parenting time schedule offered to make up for the loss of parenting time resulting from no longer living in close proximity.

The parent must further show a clear economic benefit for the children if the move is permitted.  Development of a regular electronic and phone communication schedule is also highly recommended. 

While Michigan continues to rank in the top several states with regards to unemployment rate, judges are forced to show leniency as to requests for change of domicile, so long as the statutory and case law requirements are met. Each scenario, of course, must be analyzed on a case by case basis. We are prepared to assess whether or not you have a legitimate case and a reasonable basis for seeking or defending a change of domicile. 

If you have any questions regarding domicile, please contact attorney Melissa A. Cox at 248.380.0000 or mcox@fb-firm.com.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This Week in Michigan History: “The Real McCoy”

In the Michigan Rocker/Rapper Kid Rock’s song “Cowboy,” he claims to be “The Real McCoy.” Contrary to Kid Rock’s lyrics, the Real McCoy from Michigan is actually Elijah J. McCoy, who patented the first automatic lubricator cup 142 years ago this week.

McCoy’s device revolutionized the railroad business to such an extent that the term “The Real McCoy” came into the common vernacular. Railroad engineers would request it by name to avoid receiving inferior copies – they wanted to make sure their parts fit “the real McCoy” system.

McCoy’s story is actually quite fascinating. The son of former slaves, McCoy was born in Canada in 1843. In 1870, after studying in Scotland and working as a mechanical engineer in Canada, McCoy began working for the Michigan Central Railroad in Ypsilanti.

There, he invented the automatic lubricator cup for steam engines, which eliminated the need for trains to take time-consuming stops to oil the train’s locomotive bearings.

Over the course of his career, McCoy produced 57 US patents – more than any other African American inventor at the time. 

The Impact of Social Media on Marriage

Melissa A. Cox, Esq.

Certainly couples choose divorce for a litany of reasons. Some of the most common include infidelity, domestic violence, addiction issues, financial matters, and communication breakdown. In my practice, I also experience many marriages impacted by social media. Facebook, in particular, impacts upon every aspect of our lives.  Online dating websites are also becoming more common tipping points in a marriage.

The Internet makes everything more accessible.  With the use of Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, life events do not occur gradually any more. I have had cases where people meet strangers online to commence a relationship or even just a sexual encounter. Temptation and impulses are certainly preyed upon by the speed of the internet and social media. The perceived anonymity afforded by the internet makes lying and cheating much easier than face-to-face encounters.

The internet also triggers addictions. Pornography, prostitution, and online gambling are a keystroke away. People obtain prescription and illegal drugs online today. I have had several situations where a marriage breakdown is caused by one spouse spending his or her entire day on the internet. 

All relationships, as well as basic human functioning, are highly and increasingly impacted by the internet and social media. I have experienced it having a greater influence on my family law practice and on the lives of my clients. 

If it has impacted your marriage, please contact attorney Melissa A. Cox at 248.380.0000 or mcox@fb-firm.com.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stiggy’s Dogs Helps Veterans and Dogs Heal Together

Stiggy’s Dogs is a great charity dedicated to helping get veterans – and dogs – back on their feet. Stiggy’s rescues and trains shelter dogs to be psychiatric service dogs for military veterans living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The service is at no cost to the veterans.

The veteran-dog match making charity scored some nice publicity on Channel 4 recently (you can check out the report online at: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/live-in-the-d/Live-in-the-D-Stiggy-s-Dogs/26726778).

While the charity has experienced growth in recent years, their mission has always been the same: to reintegrate veterans back into society. Veterans are matched with the dogs, and they train together for six months to one year, with each dog individually trained to meet its veteran’s unique needs.

With recent studies showing that one in eight soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan will experience some form of PTSD symptoms, the work of Stiggy’s Dogs is becoming even more important and pressing.

Stiggy’s Dogs was founded by Jennifer Petre in memory of her nephew, Benjamin (“Doc Stiggy”) Castiglione. Doc Stiggy dedicated his life to preserving and improving the physical and emotional health of those serving in his unit, and all who serve. He gave his life working as a Hospital Corpsman Third Class (HM3) in Southern Afghanistan, taking care of “his Marines” until September of 2009.

Since its founding, the charity has rescued countless dogs in addition to helping veterans. There are an estimated five million dogs sitting in shelters across America, many of whom will be euthanized. Many of these dogs could make an excellent service dog for a veteran living with PTSD or a TBI.

By uniting these dogs with those who have served our country, Stiggy’s Dogs is “Rescuing One to Rescue Another.”

Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone (ret.) and the team at Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC has had the pleasure of working with Stiggy’s Dogs and helping them grow over the years. General Fausone currently serves on their board of directors. Please visit www.stiggysdogs.org to learn more about how you can help!

Like Stiggy’s Dogs on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stiggysdogs

And Follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/StiggysDogs

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It’s Time for a Stronger Commitment to Women Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been wrapped-up in scandal and jumping from one crisis to the next. Amid all these stories, another important issue is getting lost in the tumult: the VA’s commitment to women veterans’ health care.

A recent report by the Associated Press sheds light on the fact that a stronger commitment to caring for our women veterans is needed.

And just as more and more veterans are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan, more and more of them are women. Even the head of the VA's office of women's health acknowledges that persistent shortcomings remain in caring for the 390,000 female veterans seen last year at VA Medical Centers and Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) — despite an investment of more than $1.3 billion since 2008.

Despite this investment, problems abound, which are listed below in more detail. The bottom-line is that the VA is falling behind on care for all of our veterans. And for women in particular, VA Medical Centers and CBOCs have yet to keep pace with the rising numbers.

With more than $1.3 billion spent in the past six years on women’s health, the problem is delivery and execution. The same is true for the veterans enduring egregiously long wait-times. So while the VA is ironing out its other problems, this is also an opportune time to re-evaluate the processes related to how care is delivered to our women veterans.

Among the shortcomings for women’s care:
  • Nearly 25% of VA Medical Centers do not have a full-time gynecologist on staff. And 140 of the 920 CBOCs serving rural areas do not have a designated women’s health provider.
  • When a CBOC refers veterans to a university or other private medical facility to be screened for breast cancer, more than half the time their mammogram results are not provided to patients within two weeks, as required under VA policy.
  • Female veterans are placed on the VA's Electronic Wait List at a higher rate than male veterans, meaning their wait times are often over 90 days.
  • And according to a VA presentation last year, female veterans of child-bearing age were far more likely to be given medications that can cause birth defects than were women being treated through a private HMO.

With their numbers increasing, there is no choice but to put more focus on women veterans and confront these issues head on. Indeed, we need to elevate the level of care for all our veterans, and ensure the men and women who served our country get what they deserve.

Read more on this issue on the AP Report published online in the Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/22/veterans-affairs-womens-health_n_5519796.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone (ret.)

General Fausone served her country for 36 years in the US Air Force and Michigan National Guard as a nurse and medical officer. Carol Ann continues serving by “Taking Care of Our American Heroes and their Families” to obtain the benefits they deserve.

If you need help with your VA benefits claim, contact Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC and learn more at www.LegalHelpForVeterans.com

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Police Patrols will be Watching for Drunk Drivers on July Fourth Holiday

Mark Mandell, Esq.

As another holiday approaches with the Fourth of July, police officers across the state will be keeping a closer eye out for drunk drivers, especially on Michigan’s highways. Summer holidays are a very busy time for travel and officers will be making sure that everyone gets to their family gatherings safely.

Not only is drunk driving extremely dangerous, but there are hefty consequences associated with drunk driving. A person is considered “over the limit” if they are operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 or greater. There are enhanced penalties for “Super Drunk Driving” if an individual’s BAC is 0.17 or higher.

The severity of the penalties depends on what number offense it is and the level of intoxication. The penalties include the following:

  • If BAC is below .17 and it is a first offense the penalties includes up to a $500 fine and Up to 93 days in jail;
  • If BAC is above .17 and it is a first offense the penalties includes up to a $700 fine and 180 days in jail;
  • If it is a second offense within 7 years the penalties include one or more of the following: a $200 to $1000 fine and/or 5 days to 1 year in jail;
  • If it is a third offense within a lifetime the offense is considered a felony and the penalties include one or more of the following: a $500 to $5000 fine, 1 to 5 years imprisonment and/or probation with 30 days to 1 year in jail;
  • Additionally, convicted drunk drivers are subject to a $1,000 penalty for two consecutive years under the Driver Responsibility Act, for a total of $2,000 in additional costs.

There are a number of safer alternatives to drunk driving. Safer alternatives include: designating a sober driver; calling a friend; taking a cab; walking or staying overnight at a family or friend’s home.

If you are facing drunk driving charges, or have questions regarding the law, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Mark Mandell at 888-674-1189 or online at www.MichiganFraudLawyer.com.

Wisconsin Governor at the Center of Alleged Campaign Finance Conspiracy

Matt Worley, Esq
Wisconsin Governor and potential Republican candidate for the presidency in 2016, Scott Walker, appears to have found himself in the center of an alleged campaign finance criminal conspiracy.

The conservative groups in this case are called “independent expenditure committees,” often referred to as Super PACs.  This type of political committee is allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money advocating for or against candidates for office and for ballot issues.  However, there are very specific requirements that these groups must follow. Specifically, they are prohibited from coordinating in any way with a candidate’s campaign.  This means that they cannot communicate or work together with the candidate himself.  They are also prohibited from coordinating with other committees that support specific candidates.

Prosecutors allege that Governor Walker and several of his top aides did just that – illegally coordinated fundraising and spending among 12 conservative groups in order to help his campaign.  It is also alleged that these groups coordinated with several state senators who faced recall elections in 2011 and 2012.

Responding to these allegations, the independent groups do not deny that they coordinated; however, they do deny the coordination was illegal.

The moral of this story is that political campaign financing regulations, and specifically those relating to political committees, are complex.  Attempting to operate a PAC, without knowledge of the many laws and regulations, creates the potential for disaster.  As the situation with Governor Walker illustrates, violators may face fines, fees, and even criminal charges.

If you are interested in creating a political committee, but don’t know where to start, contact the experienced legal professionals at Fausone Bohn, LLP.  We can help you create your PAC and set up a compliance program to satisfy the state’s reporting requirements.  Contact John Walsh or Matthew Worley at (248) 380-0000 or online at www.fb-firm.com. 

To read more on the Governor Walker case, please visit: