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Each individual case is different, with its own unique individuals and, therefore, its own unique set of facts. The following information is intended to give you a general ideal of how family law matters are handled. The answers do not necessarily apply to every case. I recommend you consult a knowledgeable family law specialist to receive answers to specific questions regarding your case.

How much will my case cost?

Mark Kistner PLC charges a nominal initial consultation fee. If you choose to retain us to handle your case, we will negotiate a retainer agreement that will cover the estimated costs of the case. The retainer can be paid by cash, check or major credit card. If the retainer is used up, we will then charge an hourly fee. The total fee will depend on the degree to which the opposite party contests your action. For example, some divorce matters are uncontested, that is, the defendant does not hire an attorney and does not appear in court to argue against the relief you are seeking. These cases, which require few court appearances, will often cost less than $1,000.00. A matter in which the opposite party vigorously opposes your action will cost more, due to numerous court appearances, research work, mediation and possibly a trial. Most family law matters fall somewhere in the middle, where the opposite party hires a lawyer, both sides engage in some discovery, perhaps work with a mediator, then arrive at a settlement. The more items that the parties work out for themselves, the lower the attorney fees will be.

How do I begin a divorce?

You may file a divorce in Michigan if one of the parties has lived in the state for at least 180 days and in the county in which you file your case for at least 10 days immediately prior to filing. Cases are filed in your county's circuit court. Your initial filing includes a summons-which informs the opposite party that the case was filed-and a complaint.

The complaint states the ground for divorce (Michigan has only one ground: "There has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood of a reconciliation."), and gives basic information about the parties, their children, and whether there is property to be divided

In some cases the Plaintiff, who files for divorce, will ask for an "Ex Parte" order. This is an order that is signed by the judge after hearing from only one party. Ex Parte orders may include temporary provisions for child custody, child support, spousal support and may include instructions to the parties that they may not use any joint money or property for anything other than basic living expenses. If the judge signs an Ex Parte order, the opposing party has 14 days to file objections. If objections are filed, the judge holds a hearing with both parties.