Erika Anderson Hayes and Cassandra Smithers are both mothers of wonderful children, and they fully appreciate on a professional and personal level how important your children are to both mom and dad. In all cases involving children, both Erika and Cass firmly believe that any schedule for the children has to be geared toward the child's best interest, and they will fight for you and your children to get that result. While Both Erika and Cass are excellent trial lawyers who will fight for you in court, they also firmly believe that when it comes to the cases involving children that the "scorched earth" approach to litigation where both parents focus on "beating" the other parent at all costs, even if this means an end result that is negative for the kids, is simply not acceptable, and they will not advance that kind of case. Instead, their goal is to always work with their clients to figure out a way to meet the goals of the client and their kids with the least amount of fighting possible. If that is the type of lawyer you are looking for, please contact Erika or Cass.
If you have found this page, you might be searching for immediate answers under stressful circumstances. Below are some FAQs to get you started. Please be reminded that to get truly accurate advice about your specific case, you will need to schedule an appointment.
We recognize that your children are what matter most to you!
If you have children 18 or younger, your divorce will be filed as a case with children.
Generally, the issues involving your children are going to be dealt with first. What are those issues? The questions and answers below will provide you with a basic understanding:
What is Legal Custody? - Major decision making for the children. Such as: medical decisions, where your children will attend school, what extracurricular activities your children will be involved in, etc. This can be joint to both parents or sole/full to one parent.
What is Physical Custody? - Where the children live. This can be joint to both parents or sole/full to one parent. Joint physical custody does not have to mean a 50/50 or equal amount of time with both parents.
What is Parenting Time? - What time is each parent going to spend with the children. This is usually divided into school year parenting time, summer parenting time and holiday parenting time. Parenting time schedules vary greatly by case and depend a lot on the facts of the case, such as the parents' work schedules, how close the parents live to each other, flexibility of the parties, etc.
What is Child Support? - The amount of money one parent is going to pay to the other for support of the children. This is calculated based on the Michigan Child Support Formula. The Formula mainly considers the number of overnights each parent has with each child and the incomes of the parents. Also taken into consideration are daycare costs and costs of insurance paid by one or both parents.
How does the Court decide who gets custody?
Michigan Compiled Laws § 722.27(1)(c). Established Custodial Environment.
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. The age of the child, the physical environment, and the inclination of the custodian and the child as to permanency of the relationship shall also be considered.
Michigan Compiled Laws § 722.23. "Best interests of child" defined.
Sec. 3. As used in this act, "best interests of the child" means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the
(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
"I felt lucky to have Erika Hayes representing me during a very difficult divorce and custody situation. She was patient in listening to my concerns and questions, and did an excellent job ensuring that I was involved in all decisions. Erika was at all times professional, ethical and well prepared."
- Ingrid N. (Clinton County)
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