Experienced Family Law Attorneys
Protect Yourself and Your Family with a Successful Divorce Attorney.
The Law Offices of Gerkin & Decker in Brighton, MI offers expertise in all areas of family law. Compassionate, knowledgeable and committed, we specialize in protecting your interests and helping you make informed, rational decisions at a highly charged and emotional time. We put our time and talents to work for you, utilizing all available resources — including in-and out-of-court solutions — to obtain the best possible outcome.
Family Law FAQ’s
What is “family law”?
Family Law is an umbrella term used to describe several areas of the law that impact families. These include divorce, legal separation, custody, paternity, parenting time, post judgment issues, child support, and spousal support/alimony. It also may include pre- and post-nuptial agreements.
Why do I need an attorney?
Protecting your rights as a parent, or your assets in a separation or divorce, is crucial. Gerkin & Decker can help you understand how the law applies to your individual circumstances, so you can make informed rational decisions.
Does having an attorney create a hostile settlement atmosphere?
While different attorneys have different approaches to their involvement with clients that may create a hostile atmosphere, it is Gerkin & Decker’s view that having an attorney should not add to an already stressful and difficult time. Gerkin & Decker strives to be as amicable yet as effective as possible while advocating for your interest. We will explain how the law applies to your particular situation and how we can help you achieve the best possible outcome based on your wishes. When necessary, we will aggressively protect your rights following all ethical and legal guidelines.
When it Comes to Dissolving Your Relationship, You Have Legal Options:
When you say your “I dos,” you never believe there will come a time to say “I don’t,” “I won’t” or “I can’t." But the sad truth is a high percentage of Livingston county marriages end in divorce. Divorce is an incredibly emotional and trying time, especially when there are minor children involved.
We can help with:
- Custody issues
- Parenting time issues
- Alimony and/or child support needs
- Division of assets and liabilities
Many, if not all, of the same issues faced in a divorce – child custody, parenting time, support and property issues – are present in a legal separation. The key difference is that, by virtue of a legal separation, neither party can remarry.
- The most common reasons for legal separation versus divorce are religious and medical.
- Despite the fact that a legal separation divides all property and debts, you are still legally married.
- If you choose to end your marriage after a legal separation, you will need to file additional documents with the court.
Before you pursue a legal separation over a traditional divorce, discuss your circumstances with Gerkin & Decker, P.C. We know the law and how it affects you and your situation. We can explain your options before you make any decisions about dissolving your marriage through legal separation or divorce.
Whether the question of custody arises as a result of divorce, or a child born out of wedlock, the court is guided by the “best interests of the child.” There are many considerations taken into account in this determination. Among the factors considered and evaluated by the court before determining custody are:
- The love, affection and other emotional ties between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties to provide the child with food, shelter, medical care and other necessities of life.
- The moral fitness, mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- 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.
Once the court has made its determination based on the “best interests of the child,” custody may be shared or awarded to just one parent. Call Gerkin & Decker to see how the Child Custody Act applies to your family circumstances and how we might best represent your interests.
Every case of child support is calculated using the Michigan Child Support Formula Manual – however, each factor used in the guidelines has variables which, if not raised correctly — and at the right time —can negatively impact the court’s decision.
- The Child Support Formula uses a variety of factors, including parental income, spousal support, number of children involved, health and childcare costs, among others, to determine the child support obligation owed.
- Once the financial information is presented to, and accepted by, the court, the child support payment is determined.
- Should either parent’s financial circumstances change, child support payments may be reviewed — and modified — as a post judgment issue.
Don’t let your spouse mislead the court and short-change your children. Be sure your legal team has ample opportunity to review any financial information before it is presented. Call Gerkin & Decker for help today.
Parenting time is generally granted to the non-custodial parent and each county has its own guidelines. No matter your situation with the other parent, your children need you now perhaps more than ever. It is imperative that you talk to Gerkin & Decker to maximize the role you have in your children’s lives.
- Parenting time, as ordered by the court, may be as specific or as general as you and the other parent can agree.
- Parenting time is dependent on a number of issues, including parental work schedules, children’s ages, living distance between parents, school schedules, extracurricular activities, holidays and summer vacations.
- Individual county guidelines governing parenting time and its allocation can be accessed through Friend of the Court.
Spousal Support / Alimony
The law provides important guidelines for the payment of spousal support (also known as alimony) but there is no black and white formula. Many factors play a role. Discuss your specific situation with Gerkin & Decker to understand how the court may view your claim. Our goal is to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to.
- There are 11 key factors — ranging from duration of the marriage to the ability of the parties to pay — that determines who receives spousal support and to what extent.
- Spousal support claims may be amended long after the final divorce decree is handed down, depending on changes in circumstance such as needs of the parties, earning ability and other criteria.
- Spousal support is decided on a case-by-case basis and may be impacted by the overall asset and debt division that occurs in the divorce.
Before you agree to terms that may not be in your long-term best interest speak with the Law Offices of Gerkin & Decker. We’re here to help you get what you deserve.
Is the father of your child avoiding his parental responsibilities? Has he refused to sign an affidavit of parentage acknowledging paternity? Or maybe you want proof-positive that the child is yours? You have recourse. By filing a paternity action you can force the noncompliant parent’s hand. Ask the family law attorneys at Gerkin & Decker how they can help get a court ordered DNA test (often as easy as a simple swab of the mother’s, child’s and alleged father’s cheek) to get the process started.
- The natural father of a child is obligated to pay child support and, in some instances, confinement or birthing expenses even if he is not married to the child’s mother.
- The natural father of a child also has a right to seek custody and parenting time with his child.
As of June 12, 2012 the Revocation of Paternity Act gives a biological father, who is not married to the biological mother, the right to bring an action in court seeking a determination of paternity as well as assert his rights to custody and parenting time with the child.
Post Judgment Issues
Long after their family law case has been closed, clients may ask the court to revisit and modify the final judgment or order as originally handed down. These post judgment issues are common in a variety of scenarios:
- Child custody
- Change of domicile based on parental relocation
- Spousal and/or child support modifications
The Law Offices of Gerkin & Decker are well versed in post judgment issues and can help you in supporting or opposing any modification request.
Pre & Post Nuptial Agreements
You’re getting married and you’re head over heels in love. Yours is the perfect relationship, right? What could ever go wrong? The truth is, plenty.
Gerkin & Decker has extensive experience with both pre- and postnuptial agreements. We can offer a perspective that is based on Michigan law, rather than emotion, to protect your assets and loved ones in case of divorce or legal separation.
- A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract created by the couple prior to marriage.
- Prenuptial agreements typically contain a list of personal property and debts as well as what each party is entitled to receive should the marriage be dissolved.
- Postnuptial agreements are binding contracts written after marriage.
- Postnuptial agreements may help avoid a “messy” divorce by clearly stating the intentions of both parties. They may also protect children from prior marriages during estate planning.
Do you have questions about how to go about preparing a pre- or postnuptial agreement? Our family law attorneys are standing by with the information you need. Schedule your free consultation today.
If you are considering a divorce in Brighton, Chelsea, Howell, Fowlerville, Fenton and the surrounding areas, call Gerkin & Decker, P.C. at (810) 222-6424. You can speak directly to an attorney and understand your rights before you make a decision.