Frequently Asked Questions

LGBTQ Questions

Q: Can my partner handle my financial affairs if I am incapacitated?

A: No, you have to do estate planning in order to allow your partner to have that authority. Specifically, by designating your partner as agent under a General Durable (Financial) Power of Attorney, he or she can make decisions on your behalf regarding financial matters.

Q: Can my partner make medical decisions for me if I’m sick?

A: No. Unless you are in a registered domestic partnership, civil union, or same-sex marriage, your partner cannot make those decisions for you. Unless you do estate planning, state law allows your family of origin to make such decisions. However, you can override state law and give your partner the authority to make such decisions by signing a Health Care Power of Attorney. With such a document, when you are unable to make your own medical decisions, your partner can step in and speak for you. Further, this document will designate your partner as your choice to be guardian for you if one needs to be appointed. Without such a designation, your family of origin would have priority for such an appointment.

Q: How can I be sure that I will be allowed to visit my partner in the hospital or assisted living facility?

A: If you are in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships and you register as such, proof of such registration would be sufficient. Otherwise, you would need to have your partner designate you as agent under their Health Care Power of Attorney. The agent also can limit other visitors.

Q: Can I make decisions about my partner’s remains?

A: No. Provided you’re not in a registered relationship described above, state law allows your partner’s family of origin rather than you to make those decisions. However, if your partner designates you as agent under their Health Care Power of Attorney, then you would be able to make such decisions.

Q: Will my partner be appointed guardian of my minor child?

A: Unless your partner has adopted your minor children, a court would decide what would be in the child’s best interest. Typically, your family of origin and that of the child’s other biological parent are given preference by the court. However, in your last Will, you can nominate your partner to be the guardian for your minor child. The court will then give weight to your suggestion while weighing what is in the child’s best interest.

Family Law / Divorce Questions:

Q: What are my parental rights?

A: In a divorce or paternity case, your parental rights are governed by statute which is the Best Interest of the Child Statute. In most cases, there is joint legal custody, with one parent having physical custody, or there is shared physical custody. Your parental rights include being actively involved in decision making regarding issues affecting health and welfare of your child or children, including school related issues, economic issues, health issues, religious issues, and items such as extra-curricular activities. Please contact us for further information since every situation so that we can advise you and answer specific questions you may have.

Q: Can mediation help?

A: Mediation is a cost-effective process where you are actively involved in deciding your future and that of your family. It is much more effective than litigation, not only from a cost standpoint, but also from an emotional standpoint. It is a way to handle everything in a private manner, with the assistance of a skilled mediator. In most cases it is a win-win for most clients.

Q: When is alimony awarded?

A: Every case is different, and we are glad to advise you about alimony. In some cases, there will be little or no alimony, and in some situations, there can very great amounts of alimony that can last for many, many years. We are glad to answer your specific questions, as every situation is different.

Q: What is joint physical custody?

A: Joint physical custody means that you and your former spouse are sharing custody. There are numerous arrangements ranging from alternating weeks to dividing the weeks in some fashion to one parent having more time during the school year and the other more time during the summer and vacation periods, with everything being done on a case by case basis. Every case is different, contact us so that we can discuss these issues with you.

Q: How much will my divorce cost?

A: Attorney fees for divorce matters are based upon many factors, including whether the case is going to be contested, whether child custody is an issue, along with whether or not there is a business, and other issues that make the case more complicated. Every case is different, contact us so that we can discuss these issues with you.

Criminal Law Questions:

Q: What happens if I get arrested?

A: If you are arrested, the officer may:

  • Issue you a citation and release you. The citation will generally include a date for you to appear in district court for your arraignment before a judge or magistrate.
  • Issue you a citation and take you to jail. If the officer takes you to jail for a misdemeanor, you will generally have to post bond before you can be released from jail. You may be able to post bond and be released shortly after arriving at the jail for some misdemeanors. For others, such as drinking and driving offenses, you will be required to spend a certain number of hours in jail before you can post bond and be released. You will be given a date to appear in district court to be arraigned when you are released.
  • Take you to jail with the expectation that the prosecuting attorney will issue a warrant while you are in jail. If you are arrested and taken to jail for a felony offense you will not receive a citation. The arresting officer will be seeking an arrest warrant from the prosecuting attorney. If you are being arraigned for a felony offense the judge or magistrate will not ask you how you plead—he or she will advise you of your rights and read the charges against you. The judge or magistrate then discusses and sets bond. The court schedules a preliminary examination within 14 days. After the prosecution presents evidence at the preliminary examination, the district court judge determines whether probable cause exists to believe that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed it. The case is bound over to the circuit court for trial if the court determines that probable cause exists.

If you have been arrested or issued a citation, contact us immediately to discuss your case.
Early representation is key to possible positive outcomes of your legal matters. It helps you understand the charges against you and provides you with legal guidance in very difficult and uncertain times.

Q: What are my legal rights?

A: If you are investigated by the police, have been arrested, or are in custody, you have certain rights provided by the U.S. Constitution and Michigan State Law that protect you from police brutality, false arrest, illegal detention/false imprisonment. Under these laws, you have the right to remain silent, right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, right to counsel, right to trial, et. al. If you feel that these rights have been violated contact us immediately.

Mediation Questions:

Q: Why use mediation if we have already negotiated and were unable to settle?

A: A mediator can bring a new perspective to the proceedings. Through the mediator”s own knowledge of the subject matter, he or she can assist parties in exploring alternatives that they might not have previously considered.

Q: What are some of the advantages of mediation?

A:

  • Parties are directly engaged in the negotiation of the settlement.
  • The mediator, as a neutral third party, can view the dispute objectively and can assist the parties in exploring alternatives which they might not have considered on their own.
  • As mediation can be schedule at an early stage in the dispute, a settlement can be reached much more quickly than in litigation.
  • Parties generally save money through reduced legal costs and less staff time.
  • In most cases, mediators can be carefully chosen for their specific knowledge and experience.
  • Parties greatly enhance the likelihood of continuing their relationship, be it business or personal.
  • Creative solutions or accommodations to special needs of the parties can become a part of the settlement.
  • Currently, information disclosed at a mediation may not be divulged as evidence in any arbitral, judicial or other proceeding.
Q: How long does mediation take?

A: Most cases are settled in a few hours. Others may require additional time, depending on the complexity of the issues.

Q: As mediation is non-binding, is the settlement enforceable?

A: Yes. A signed settlement agreement is as enforceable as any other contractual agreement.

Q: Which types of cases are suitable for mediation?

A: Virtually any civil matter is suitable for mediation.

Estate Planning/Elder Law Questions:

Q: What is included in Estate Planning?

A: Each estate plan is different depending on one’s own personal needs and assets. Estate plans generally can include wills and trusts, creating long-term care arrangements (such as nursing home or Medicaid) or power of attorney plans, and drafting guardianship arrangements.

Q: Can my partner make medical decisions for me if I’m sick?

A: No. Unless you are in a registered domestic partnership, civil union, or same-sex marriage, your partner cannot make those decisions for you. Unless you do estate planning, state law allows your family of origin to make such decisions. However, you can override state law and give your partner the authority to make such decisions by signing a Health Care Power of Attorney. With such a document, when you are unable to make your own medical decisions, your partner can step in and speak for you. Further, this document will designate your partner as your choice to be guardian for you if one needs to be appointed. Without such a designation, your family of origin would have priority for such an appointment.

Q: What happens if I die without a will or trust?

A: The state of Michigan has specific regulations for when people die without a will or trust, which is called intestate. Generally, the court gives control over asset distribution to the spouse or to the children of the deceased. Therefore, if you want to determine how your assets will be distributed, you must create a will or a trust.

Q: Can a will be made public?

A: Yes. When a will is probated, it will become a matter of public record.

Q: Should spouses have their own wills?

A: Yes. Joint wills have a lot of potential problems. For instance, after the first spouse dies, a joint will cannot be changed. In addition, there could be adverse gift and estate tax consequences.

Q: What's the difference between a personal guardian and a property guardian?

A: A personal guardian is someone you nominate in your will to care for your minor children should something happen to you. A property guardian is someone you nominate in your will to manage your child’s finances.

Have additional questions? Contact us for a consultation regarding your legal matter.

The materials on this website are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. See full disclaimer.