A recent Supreme Court decision makes immigration applications more accessibl The recent Windsor v. United States ruling by the United States Supreme Court may have unexpected benefits for same-sex couples dealing with immigration issues. In their landmark ruling, the Supreme Court determined that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act stated that the term ”spouse” could only be applied in cases of marriage between a man and a woman. This meant that many benefits that heterosexual couples enjoyed were denied to same-sex couples. In regards to immigration, one important right denied to same-sex couples was the ability to sponsor a same-sex spouse for a green card. This led to circumstances where legally married same-sex couples, where one was a United States citizen, could not have their spouse come to the United States with the same ease as a heterosexual United States citizen could. However, the Supreme Court’s decision now allows for those applications to be placed, meaning that an immigrant validly married to a same-sex partner who is a United States citizen can be allowed to come to the United States in an oftentimes easier and quicker manner than previously available. Oftentimes, there is trouble in exercising the rights newly granted after a federal court case, as federal government administration can take time to implement new changes. There are also times where government agencies do not adhere to new ruling changes without being told to. However, the Department of Homeland Security, through a spokesman, stated that the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Department of Justice, would work to make sure that same-sex international couples will also be able to apply for a spousal green card. While implementing the changes can take time, in some areas of the country, the effects of the Supreme Court’s ruling are already being felt. After the ruling was handed down by the Supreme Court, the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals lifted an injunction on same-sex marriages, prompting marriages to be conducted, most notably in several highly-visible marriages in California. Lawyers for certain groups opposed to the Supreme Court’s ruling filed to have the injunction reinstated until a certified copy of the Supreme Court’s ruling had been given to the Ninth Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Those same groups also have a rehearing request before the Supreme Court, which may not be ruled on for some time by the Supreme Court. The recent Supreme Court ruling may also have indirectly helped the possible passage of upcoming immigration reform bills. The Senate recently passed a proposal on immigration reform. Had the Supreme Court decided not to rule that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, an amendment would have been requested asking that same-sex marriages be recognized for purposes of of immigration actions. This requested amendment could possibly have stalled, or even stopped, progress and an affirmative vote on the immigration proposal, both in the Senate, as well as in any companion proposal brought before the House of Representatives. But due to the Supreme Court’s decision, immigration reform faces an easier path in Congress. And while it may take some time for the Department of Homeland Security to implement changes after the Supreme Court’s ruling, changes are indeed underway that could radically transform the immigration process for same-sex international couples. By: Christopher Acklin
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Adoption can bring new love to a family, but a successful adoption takes some skill. There are several important items to successfully adopting a new son or daughter. First, it’s important to thoroughly consider and plan ahead when looking to adopt. Are you ready to commit to a child, particularly one that you know wasn’t born to you? While it is easy to say yes, it is key to really think about this. Some parents adopt without considering how having a child not biological related can affect them. You should have clear goals for adopting, but also factor in why you are looking to adopt. Many couples adopt because they are incapable of having children, despite repeated attempts. This is a very typical and logical reason to adopt. Often, prospective adopting parents start the adoption process without a full understanding of the adoption laws in Michigan. They soon find out how picky agencies can be and how complex adoptions and their requirements and forms can be. This can frequently lead to delays in the adoption procedure, or even a failed adoption. Adoptive parents can benefit from proper legal representation for all forms of adoption. Whether you are looking at an agency adoption, an independent adoption, a direct adoption, or even an international adoption, an adoption lawyer can be crucial. Particularly with international or interstate adoptions, as there are often different forms, as well as different requirements and office to contact, depending on the jurisdiction. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the adoption process, saving you valuable time, and ensuring you are following all of Michigan’s Adoption laws. In a direct placement, and in many agency placements, the prospective birth parent or parents will often be choosing you, as much as you will be choosing the child. You’ll be asked to create a profile showing your family and life. Birth parents will then decide, based on this profile, on who to give their child to. It is very important to stay in contact with the agency, the court, and the birth parents in a direct placement. This may seem minor, many adopting parents are hard to reach during crucial stages, which often leads to costly delays. Having an attorney to field and respond to calls from various agencies, and the court, can help save you time and hassle during your adoption. Additionally, when dealing with interstate or international adoptions, there is often an adoption agency in that state or country that handles these adoptions. A prospective adoptive parent, or their attorney, must contact this office, and work between that office, the Michigan adoption authority they are working with, and the birth parent(s) to make sure the adoption process continues smoothly. While adoptive parents are often the focus of the adoption process, the system is designed to protect children. Therefore, it is important to remember that the focus of your adoption is your desire and love for the child. Further, it is crucial to be honest about any issues that could be a concern to the court, birth parent(s), or adoption agency. An adoption attorney can help you review your case, and make sure that you properly address any issues that may be presented before they become a problem for your adoption. It is much easier to address these issues before they arise, rather than reacting to an agency or the court bringing them up. Adoption can be a wonderful time for prospective adoptive parents, but it is key that you make sure you are prepared for the process. In addition to the paperwork and contacts back and forth regarding the process, the procedure itself can be time-consuming and complex. The average adoption can take between 6 months to over a year to complete. There are also reporting requirements once the child is placed, particularly in a temporary placement, which is often done prior to a final adoption placement. If you are looking at proceeding with an adoption, a good first step is to schedule a consultation with an adoption lawyer to go over the requirements and process for adopting.
If you are facing a divorce where you and your spouse have children, determining each parent’s custody and parenting time relationship with the children is vitally important. There are several key factors that the court will look to in determining a reasonable custody and parenting time order. For custody decisions, these are generally labeled as the ”Best Interest of the Child” factors, and are given in MCL 722.23. These factors are all considered in a custody determination, although there is no set weighting for how the court must use the factors in making its decision on custody. With no distinct test for weighing these ”best interest” factors, and with each case being different, the courts’ rulings and findings can often vary somewhat between courts. Some of the ”best interest” factors that are often contested in custody determinations are: the parent’s emotional ties and affections with their children; the ability of the parents to provide love, affection, guidance, and continuing educational and religious upbringing; the ability to provided for the children’s medical, food, and other material needs; the duration the children have lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity; the permanence of the proposed custodial home; the home, school, and community record of the children; and the ability of the parent to foster a relationship with the other parent. In making it’s determinations, the court takes on several assumptions. One is the public policy that it is generally in the best interest of the children to have joint custody and parenting time with both parents. Generally, this appears as both parents having joint legal and physical custody. However, often one parent is listed as having primary physical custody when the split of time is unequal. This can happen many times when the parents live farther apart, and schooling is an issue. The factors used in determine parenting time are given in MCL 722.27a(6). Some of these factors include: Any special needs of the children; any nursing requirements for the children; the possibility of abuse or neglect due to parenting time; the level of burden placed on the child due to transportation for parenting time; whether either parent has exercised parenting time prior to, or would exercise parenting time according to, a court parenting time order; and whether either parent might be a risk to conceal or flee with the children. New parenting time guidelines, updated in Kent County for 2013, have a variety of parenting time scheduling options. They include one, two and three day alternating weekends, overnights during the week; some plans even include no overnights, but daytime visits during the weekends. Additionally, the updated parenting time plans provide for weekday visits, ranging from 2 hours for one or two days to two straight overnights. Beyond the standard weekly parenting time provisions, the parenting time guidelines also look at things like splits in holidays, spring, Christmas, and summer break. Often, spring breaks are split with each parent getting alternating spring breaks. Christmas breaks are similarly split, although often they are split in half, with each parent given a week. Summer breaks can be divided many different ways, but typical splits include each parent alternating weeks, one or both parents getting consecutive weeks with the children (block scheduling), or the parent that gets less time during the school year getting extra time during the summer. The parenting time guidelines are created, reviewed, and used by the court to further the public policy of ensuring that children have strong relationships with both parents. To further ensure the best interests of the child, it is always preferable for the parents to work together to craft a parenting time plan that they can both use to co-parent their children. However, there are times when parents can not agree on a parenting time plan. If you find yourself in such a situation, or would just like help in drafting a parenting time plan, the family lawyers at the Grand Rapids Law Group, PLLC would be glad to assist you.
A recent NPR article discussed the effects of the economic downturn on marriages and the reasons behind the trend. The same reason that many couples may want to divorce is the same reason that is keeping an increasing amount of them together. As the recession hurt families, many of them found themselves increasingly fighting over… Read More »
Driver’s License Restoration What are the steps for driver’s license reinstatement after an OWI conviction? After an OWI in Michigan, first offense, your license can be suspended for up to 6 months. You are eligible for a Restricted License status after 30 days. A restricted license only allows you to drive to and from work…. Read More »
A number of outlets have provided commentary regarding the proposed Senate Immigration Bill, S. 744, the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act.”, which will continue going through discussion, negotiation, and alteration in the upcoming days, weeks, and months. This crucial bill is a great step in the direction of immigration reform, and the Grand Rapids… Read More »
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