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Lana A. Panagoulia

Lana Panagoulia’s Answers

9 total

  • What is the benefit of filing for legal seperation as opposed to getting a divorce

    We have been married almost 12 years and have had lots of genuine problems. Ihave two children and of course want whats best for all the family. I guess I am holding out any last hope before a final move is made. I am a stay at home mom and have b...

    Lana’s Answer

    Dear Avvo Subscriber,

    You should consult with a family law attorney regarding all your options and rights. If your husband is willing to attend family therapy, this may be beneficial for you and your children. If there is a breakdown in the marriage, you may want to mediate the issues before you attempt to file for either an action for separate maintenance or divorce.

    In Michigan, what you refer to as "legal separation," is called "separate maintenance." The legal procedure for both actions is identical. The relevant statute is MCL 552.7.

    The time periods for when a certain event may occur, however, can be different. Unlike a divorce with minor children, an action for separate maintenance with minor children does not require a 6 month waiting period to finalize and enter a Judgment. Nor is there a mandatory 60 day waiting period requirement in entering judgments involving minor children. Most courts, however, treat both actions similarly and generally courts will wait at least 60 days to enter a Judgment of Separate Maintenance. The relevant statute pertaining to the applicable waiting periods is MCL 552.9f which makes no reference to actions for Separate Maintenance.

    In the end, the real difference between divorce and separate maintenance is that you are still married to your husband even after a "Judgment of Separate Maintenance" is entered by a family law judge.

    You should know that if you file a complaint for separate maintenance, your spouse my file an answer and counter-claim for divorce. You cannot force your husband to enter a Judgment for separate maintenance in this event, but you may be able to negotiate with your spouse for the entry of a judgment of separate maintenance instead of a judgment of divorce if your husband is willing to agree to this. One reason for doing this is because you may have religious or personal reasons for wanting to stay married.

    Again, you should consult with a family law attorney to assist in marshaling all the relevant facts of your case relative to your applicable legal issues which will help you make a more informed decision that is best for you and your family.

    I wish you and your family the best of luck.

    Lana Panagoulia

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  • My ex is always leaving my daughter with her boyfriend and he is verbally abusing her. What do I have to do to get her out?

    It is getting to the point where something needs to be done ASAP. My daughter don't want to be in the same house with him, my ex is showing complete lack of responsibility and my daughter has mentioned they are smoking marijuana around her. I want...

    Lana’s Answer

    Dear Avvo Subscriber,

    The standard in changing a custody order between parents in Michigan is whether there is sufficient proper cause or change of circumstances warranting revisiting the custody order. If there is, the court must determine if the proposed order will change the established custodial environment ("ECE").

    In defining the ECE, the Michigan Child Custody Act states that "the custodial environment of a child is established if over an appreciable time the child naturally looks to the custodian in that environment for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort." An ECE can be with both parents or one parent.

    If the proposed order would change the ECE, the proponent of the change must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that it would be in the best interests of the child to change the custody order.

    If the proposed order would not change the ECE, the proponent of the change need only demonstrate that the change would be in the child's best interest by a preponderance of the evidence, which is a lower burden than clear and convincing evidence.

    Case law is always evolving regarding child custody issues. Also, arguing that the ECE would or would not be changed, and attempting to change a custody or parenting time order can be a difficult and daunting task to accomplish, and you should consider consulting with a family law attorney to discuss your particular facts and options.

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  • Amendment to divorce decree?

    I have been divorced since August 2010. In the divorce it states that my ex husband is responsible for all payments of mortgages (2 cabins and 1 $250,000 home mortgage). I am off of all mortgages except the big one. He cannot refinance it into ...

    Lana’s Answer

    The specific language in your divorce judgment will be relevant regarding your rights and obligations vis a vi your ex-spouse. The judgment of divorce, however, cannot force the bank or government to not go after you for deficiencies or taxes, respectively.
    That being said, you should carefully review the entire judgment and make sure that there is a provision providing terms holding you harmless from liability and whether the specific obligation of your ex to be responsible for the mortgage payments is a domestic support obligation. This may assist the family law judge in binding your ex to reimburse you and may also be a debt to him that is not dischargeable in bankruptcy. The judge may be able to do that by way of a spousal support order.
    Hindsight is 20/20, but you probably did not want to sign over your rights to the home until the home was refinanced and the debt not in your name. Of course, that may not have been possible in your case if there was no way the home could have been refinanced, or if you and your husband agreed that you would sign over your rights to the home despite still being on the mortgage.
    There are facts that may be missing in the scenario you provided, so you should not rely on these recommendations. You should provide a copy of your divorce judgment to a divorce attorney and discuss the terms of your divorce judgment to see what your options are, what you can expect, and what you should plan for. If y

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  • Going for final decree for divorce in Feb. What does the judge consider in dividing the property. michigan.

    My wife left and lived with x husband. I had two heart attacks and while in the hospital she got p.p.o. I stayed in the family home and paid all the bills and while I was recuperating she changed locks on the doors. I am on dis s.s and staying at ...

    Lana’s Answer

    Dear Avvo subscriber,

    The answer to your question depends upon what the hearing in February is noticed for. You should consult with an attorney to determine what the Court expects at the hearing and if you should file a response ahead of time or have any paperwork ready to present to the court. Family and divorce law depends a lot upon the facts of your case and more facts would be needed to provide you with a more concise answer.

    In any event, you should know that Michigan follows the rule of equitable distribution, and although there is no hard and fast requirement that a divorce judge should award each party exactly 50 percent of the property, that is what courts do typically do.

    Applied to the facts you provide, if the property in question was purchased during the course of the marriage and you acquired your earnings that allowed you to purchase the property during the marriage, in all likelihood, the court may find the property is marital and subject to division.

    However, if the court finds that you are in need of support, the divorce judgment could address this need and award you more than half of the property. If it is not possible to equalize all of your assets and award you or your wife the home, and the other spouse other assets, the property may be ordered to be sold. If there are any mortgages on the property that exceed the value of the home, neither of you may end up with anything at all and both of you may suffer financially.

    Although there appears to be much animosity between you two at this time and despite the PPO, If it is possible to agree to mediating your disputes, you may want your lawyer to contact your wife's lawyer and see if you, your wife and counsel would be willing to mediate the dispute. Mediation provides creative alternatives to litigation that a divorce judge may not otherwise be able to provide you with.

    Your best bet however, is to consult with a divorce lawyer to determine what your best options would be and also so you can be prepared at the February hearing.

    Very truly yours,
    Lana Panagoulia

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  • Can a 17 year old move out without parental consent in Michigan?If so will the people they move in with be charged?

    This teen is being abused and his mother ( the abuser ) is very controlling and he is afraid if he does move out, his mom will press legal action against his friends family who he is moving in with potentially.

    Lana’s Answer

    Dear Avvo susbscriber,

    Before you take any action you should consult with an attorney in your area. More facts need to be considered in this situation.

    In any event, and assuming the teen is financially independent, it sounds like this teen may be a good candidate for considering filing a petition for emancipation. This can be accomplished by referencing the applicable Michigan statute, MCL 722.4a:

    "(1) A minor seeking emancipation shall file a petition for emancipation in the family division of circuit court in the county where the minor resides. The petition shall be signed and verified by the minor, and shall include all of the following information:

    (a) The minor's full name and birth date, and the county and state where the minor was born.

    (b) A certified copy of the minor's birth certificate.

    (c) The name and last known address of the minor's parents, guardian, or custodian.

    (d) The minor's present address, and length of residency at that address.

    (e) A declaration by the minor indicating that he or she has demonstrated the ability to manage his or her financial affairs. The minor may include any information he or she considers necessary to support the declaration.

    (f) A declaration by the minor indicating that he or she has the ability to manage his or her personal and social affairs. The minor may include in this section any information he or she considers necessary to support the declaration."

    The form can be found at the Supreme Court Administrative Office website at www.scao.org and it is form PC 100.

    From the factual scenario you provided, it does not sound like the friend's family has done anything inappropriate. The mother may accuse the friends of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, but if the minor can support himself/herself and manage their own social and financial affairs, the mother would be hard pressed to accuse the friends of any inappropriate conduct.

    You may also tell the teen to contact the local county bar association office. The local bar association may provide resources or refer the teen and his mother to private mediation. Mediation can be a very emotionally rewarding process.

    In short, more facts are needed in order to assess a complete evaluation of this situation. Referencing the applicable statute and petition should be a good start.

    If you have any questions further questions please feel free to contact me.

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  • How can my exhusband terminate my parental rights if I am current on my support and cannot afford to visit my children?

    We divorced in 2006. He gained custody in 2008. I filed a restraining order against him in Aug 2011.

    Lana’s Answer

    Dear Avvo subscriber,

    Parental rights may be terminated for any reasons listed in the Probate Code, MCL 712A.19b.

    If your ex-husband is seeking to facilitate a step-parent adoption, MCL 710.51 must be complied with. He would have to meet the following requirements under that statute:

    "(6) If the parents of a child are divorced, or if the parents are unmarried but the father has acknowledged paternity or is a putative father who meets the conditions in section 39(2) of this chapter, and if the parent having legal custody of the child subsequently marries and that parent's spouse petitions to adopt the child, the court upon notice and hearing may issue an order terminating the rights of the other parent if both of the following occur:
    (a) The other parent, having the ability to support, or assist in supporting, the child, has failed or neglected to provide regular and substantial support for the child or if a support order has been entered, has failed to substantially comply with the order, for a period of 2 years or more before the filing of the petition.
    (b) The other parent, having the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the child, has regularly and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of 2 years or more before the filing of the petition."

    Applied to your factual scenario, your ex-husband would not be able to terminate your rights since you are current on your support obligation. Note that under the statute referenced above, your husband would have to meet both requirements.

    If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

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  • Last year i filed for a divorce an called it off bc he wouldn't give me any money

    He would not give me half of r tax money or give money at all so i felt no choice but to cancel the divorce, I really don't want in this marriage, what can i do?

    Lana’s Answer

    Dear Avvo subscriber,

    In general, it is always best to consult with a family law attorney on all the relevant and particular facts in your matter.

    The answer to your question first depends upon which state has jurisdiction over the matter. My answer will assume Michigan courts have jurisdiction.

    If I were in your position I would consider requesting the court for attorney fees. The relevant Michigan court rule, MCR 3.206(C) provides guidance. Pursuant to this court rule, you can request attorney fees at any time and you must demonstrate enough facts to show that you are unable to bear the expense of the action and that your spouse is able to pay. Whether you are awarded attorney fees heavily depends on the facts of your case.

    This request for attorney fees can be done in the form of a "Motion for Attorney Fees." Of course, you must have already filed a complaint for divorce prior to filing the motion.

    If it is a pre-judgment motion it is typically cheaper than motions filed post-judgment.

    Another option is to ask your attorney to try and negotiate with your spouse's attorney for the provision of attorney fees even before you file. If you both agree, you may be able to get into pre-filing mediation which can be a lot cheaper as well.

    Lana Panagoulia Law handles all types of domestic cases and you are welcome to contact us for a free telephone consultation. Hopefully we will be better able to assist you.

    Very Truly Yours,

    Lana Panagoulia
    Attorney and Counselor at Law
    (734) 769-LANA (5262)
    www.lanalegal.com

    Lana Panagoulia Law, PLLC
    The use of the Internet for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent
    *****

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  • How old does a child have to be before he can say what parent he prefers to live with

    my son wants to live back home with my other son & myself. the father has sole custody & wont let me him see hardly . my son has said he wants to be back home with us. how old does a child have to be before i can ask the judge to let him come back...

    Lana’s Answer

    There is no definite age that a child has to be in order for the judge to consider the child's preference to live with one parent or the other. A judge cannot simply say the child is too young to express a preference. There must be a factual record showing why a child is incapable of expressing a preference. Generally, 8 years old is old enough for a child to express a preference, but there is also case law that says a 6 year old may be old enough. Preference cannot be considered alone in changing custody.

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  • How old does a child have to be before he can say what parent he prefers to live with

    my son wants to live back home with my other son & myself. the father has sole custody & wont let me him see hardly . my son has said he wants to be back home with us. how old does a child have to be before i can ask the judge to let him come back...

    Lana’s Answer

    There is no definite age that a child has to be in order for the judge to consider the child's preference to live with one parent or the other. A judge cannot simply say the child is too young to express a preference. There must be a factual record showing why a child is incapable of expressing a preference. Generally, 8 years old is old enough for a child to express a preference, but there is also case law that says a 6 year old may be old enough. Preference cannot be considered alone in changing custody.

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