Complex Family Law Issues
Guardian Ad Litem:
High-conflict family law cases are difficult and present the court and family with unique challenges. Sometimes it’s necessary for the court to appoint a Guardian Ad Litem to represent the interests of the child. The court can do this on its own initiative, or either parent can petition the court and ask that a Guardian Ad Litem be appointed. The Guardian Ad Litem represents the best interests of the child, and is entitled as a matter of law to full participation in all proceedings, access to all information regarding the child, and access to the child. The Guardian Ad Litem must conduct an independent investigation to determine the best interests of the child and must then advocate for that position in court. The ability of a court to protect a child's interests is often enhanced by the skill and expertise of the Guardian Ad Litem. Always consider asking for a Guardian Ad Litem when your child’s voice needs to be heard. Debra Keehn has been appointed to represent the interests of children in many high conflict family law matters.
Parenting Time Coordinator:
Complex cases often involve difficult family dynamics that require ongoing management to serve the best interests of the child. Debra Keehn is not only an attorney but was also trained as a clinical social worker and has more than two decades of clinical experience. Her training as both an attorney and social worker makes her uniquely qualified to understand the emotional issues that characterize high conflict family law matters. She understands how to manage difficult family dynamics and can communicate with family members in a way that informs them without being judgmental or harsh. She is well respected for her diplomatic approach to difficult cases and for her ability to communicate effectively. It’s important that children have as full a relationship with both parents as safely possible. Debra Keehn will work with your family to achieve that important objective.
Parents who can’t agree on child custody and parenting time leave these important decisions up to the court. There are two aspects to custody – legal and physical – and custody may be either joint or sole. Joint legal custody makes sense when parents can cooperate in making decisions that affect major areas of the child’s life including health care, education, and religious upbringing. Joint physical custody implies that children enjoy a home with both of their parents though it does not necessarily mean that the child spends equal time in each household. Sole physical custody implies that the child lives primarily with one parent Sole legal custody implies that one parent is responsible for making major decisions regarding the child. In Michigan, child custody determinations are based on the twelve “best interest factors” which are set forth in Michigan’s Child Custody Act. These factors are:
- the love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;
- the capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and continuation of the educating and raising of the child in a religion or creed, if any;
- the capacity and disposition of the parties to provide food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care;
- the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- Permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
- Moral fitness of the parties involved;
- Mental and physical health of the parties;
- Home, school and community record of the child;
- the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;
- the willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent;
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child;
- any other factors considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
When parents cannot agree on custody, sometimes the court or either parent will request a custody evaluation. These evaluations are conducted by a forensic psychologist with special training in custody evaluations. They often include psychological evaluations of each parent. If you are involved in this kind of complex case you need an attorney with mental health experience who can help you and the court understand the strengths and weaknesses of any given evaluation. Complex Family Law Representation in Ann Arbor, Michigan | Call 734-213-2775