No two cases in family law are exactly the same. But there are some issues that come up again and again. These answers to several Frequently Asked Questions should be taken generally – your case could be different! If you need help, Contact Us for a free initial consultation.
Giske Law Center
How Much Does a Consultation Cost?
The initial 30 minute consultations are always free at the Giske Law Center. You can use this free appointment to get to know Attorney Staci D. Giske and to figure out whether she is the right lawyer to handle your case.
How Can I Pay My Bill?
Giske Law Center accepts cash, checks, and major credit cards including Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Checks should be made out to the “Staci D. Giske, P.C.” can be mailed to the office at 2669 Coolidge Highway, Berkley, MI 48072. Payment plans are also available for those who qualify.
How Will I Be Billed?
The typical family law case is charged based on Attorney Staci D. Giske’s hourly rate. Some cases can be handled as a flat rate, depending on the issues and what you need the lawyer to do. Discounted rates are available for fixed income and in special circumstances. Talk to the Giske Law Center to find out if you qualify. Hourly clients will get a monthly billing statement explaining all the time spent on the case that month.
Do You Have Evening / Weekend Appointments?
While most meetings will be scheduled during normal business hours, late appointment, evening and weekend appointments are always available with advance notice. Call (248) 399-7700 to find out availability or to schedule an appointment.
Any time the court gets involved, it takes time. If you are filing a divorce, Michigan requires a 60 day waiting period from the day the Complaint is filed until the earliest day a Judgment of Divorce can be entered. If there are children involved, Michigan law imposes a 180 day (6 month) waiting period. Most courts will waive this waiting period on request if all the issues have been resolved. Some cases will require mediation or more time to work everything worked out and could take up to a year. Practically speaking, you should expect your divorce to take between 2 months and a year.
How Much Does it Cost?
The cost of a divorce depends on the parties – both you and your spouse – and on your circumstances. There are a few set expenses, like filing fees, but most of the cost comes from the time it takes to come to a resolution. If you both agree on everything, hiring a lawyer for your divorce can be relatively inexpensive. But if you disagree on the children’s living arrangements, the division of your property, or whether you should get spousal support or alimony, divorce can cost each party thousands of dollars. Staci D. Giske will always make sure she is prepared to negotiate for your best interests, and that means sometimes she has to do the work to discover your assets and debts. Because every case is different you should schedule a free consultation for an estimate about how much you can expect to pay.
Will I Get Alimony?
Spousal support (or alimony) is available in some divorce cases. It is most often awarded in long-term marriages where one spouse was the primary bread winner and the other stayed home, where one spouse makes much more than the other, or when you need help paying you bills and your spouse has the ability to pay. If you are physically disabled or otherwise unable to work, that may increase the chance of an alimony award. However, in most two income households with marriages less than 10 years long, spousal support is unlikely or limited.\\
What If My Spouse Doesn’t Show Up?
Michigan law does not require both parties to participate to get a divorce. It just requires that you give your spouse the opportunity. If your spouse decides not to show up, Attorney Staci D. Giske can file “Default” papers with the court to get your case done. This applies in all family law cases, including custody, paternity, parenting time, and child support cases.
Will We Go To Trial?
Over 90% of all divorce cases settle without going to trial. Even if you and your spouse disagree at first, many times you will be able to come to an agreement at mediation or through negotiations with the other attorney. That said, family lawyer Staci D. Giske has experience in the courtroom and at trial including calling witnesses, arguing your case, and advocating for your best interests.
Child Custody & Parenting Time
The Michigan’s Child Custody Act gives the court the ability to award “custody” in divorces and between children’s parents. Legal custody is the authority to make decisions for and about your child including what doctors they will see, whether medical procedures will be done, what schools they will attend, whether they get braces, and so on. In most cases both parents are awarded joint legal custody which means they are required to consult with each other before making these big decisions.
Parenting time has more to do with where the children spend most of their time and can affect what school they go to and the activities they participate in, and who they celebrate holidays with. While custody orders can be harder to change (but not impossible), parenting time can be reviewed and adjusted based on your child’s changing needs.
Can a Father Get Custody?
If a biological father has been identified as the legal father of a child, whether through marriage, by signing an Affidavit of Parentage at the hospital, or through a Paternity order, then he can request custody of his child. Michigan law is gender-neutral when it comes to awarding custody. That means dads have just as many rights as moms. If you are a father seeking sole custody, be prepared to show you have played an active role in the child’s life, and not just as a bread winner.
Does He (or She) Have to Have Visitation?
Michigan law assumes that it is in a child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents – mom and dad. That’s why in almost every case some parenting time (or visitation) is awarded to the non-custodial parent. If you can show that it is not in the best interests of your child to have contact with his or her parent, you may be able to have that parenting time supervised or even suspended. Most often this happens in cases where one parent doesn’t have a relationship with the child, is abusive, has mental health issues, or is addicted to controlled substances in a way that significantly affects the child. Even then, the non-custodial parent has the right to ask the court to reconsider parenting time later on when circumstances have changed.
Child Support is calculated according to the Michigan Child Support Formula based on a multitude of factors. The three most important factors are
- each party’s income,
- the number of children, and
- the number of overnight visits each parent is awarded.
If either party is unemployed, their income can be “imputed” or assumed based on their work experience or education level. Child support will also include offsets for child care and medical insurance paid for by either party. The formula does provide for special needs children and self-employed parents. The Giske Law Center has the technology to give you an estimate on child support and alimony (spousal support). Ask Lawyer Staci D. Giske to run a calculation to get a better idea of what you can expect to pay or receive.
Why Is the Prosecutor Involved?
When a custodial parent signs a child up for public assistance, including MI Child or Medicaid, the state agency is authorized to seek child support from the non-custodial parent. This can include filing a paternity action to determine who the legal father is. The prosecutor can also file a child support case to see how much the non-custodial parent should be paying to the state, or reimbursing the hospital for birthing costs. In these cases, the prosecutor typically does not negotiate for a party on the issues of custody or parenting time. Staci D. Giske can defend the father, make sure the the amount he pays is fair, and enforce his parental rights. She can also represent the mother, along with the prosecutor, on the issues of custody or parenting time.
Why Do I Have to Pay If I Don’t Get Parenting Time?
Parenting time awards and child support are entirely separate under Michigan law. Even when the court terminates a party’s parenting time because of abuse or other serious conditions, that party can still be required to pay child support. On the other hand, a custodial parent is not allowed to refuse parenting time just because the non-custodial parent is behind on their child support payments.
What If I Can’t Pay My Full Child Support Order?
If something has changed in your life that keeps you from paying the full amount of your child support order, Staci D. Giske can help you change the order by filing a motion with the court. Because your child needs support whether you can pay it all or not, Staci recommends paying what you can each month until the order can be changed. This also protects you from building a large past-due balance and helps you avoid potential criminal charges.
What If My Ex Is Not Paying Child Support?
If there is a child support order that requires your ex to pay support for your child and he or she has fallen behind, Attorney Staci D. Giske can help you enforce that order. If there is not a child support order, the Giske Law Center can help you file a new case to get monthly support.
What If My Ex Lives In Another County or State?
Family lawyer Staci D. Giske can practice law in all Michigan counties and can represent you as long as your case has ties to a Michigan court. Even if your ex lives in another state, sometimes you may still go to court in Michigan to start or modify your custody order, change your parenting time, or get child support. Where your case can be heard in Michigan depends on your circumstances. Schedule a consultation with Attorney Staci D. Giske to find out more.
The content of this website is intended for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship should be implied from access of this website and its content.