Geoffrey S. Wagner

 litigation

Curriculum vitae

EXPERIENCE

Geoff Wagner is an equity shareholder in the GMH Litigation Group. He concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, employment law, family law and personal injury. Geoff has an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible ranking for ethical standards and legal ability. He has been named a Top Lawyer by DBusiness Magazine, a Rising Star by Super Lawyers, and a Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Media.

Mr. Wagner graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School, where he served as Managing Editor of the Journal of Law and Society. He is also a member of the Order of the Coif, the nation’s preeminent law school honor society. Geoff received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Boston University, where he played #1 singles and captained the Men’s Tennis Team.

Mr. Wagner is also an accomplished writer. His publications include: The I-864 Affidavit: Practice Pointers for Dealing with a Complex, Confusing and Potentially Very Costly Legal Document, Michigan Family Law Journal (May 2016); and Virtue and Vice: A Reassessment of Gentrification, 7 J.L. Soc’y 271 (2006).

CONTACT GEOFFREY

P  (248) 457-7193
E  gwagner@gmhlaw.com

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

EXPERIENCE

Geoff Wagner is an equity shareholder in the GMH Litigation Group. He concentrates his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, employment law, family law and personal injury. Geoff has an AV Peer Review Rating from Martindale-Hubbell, the highest possible ranking for ethical standards and legal ability. He has been named a Top Lawyer by DBusiness Magazine, a Rising Star by Super Lawyers, and a Leading Lawyer by Law Bulletin Media.

Mr. Wagner graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School, where he served as Managing Editor of the Journal of Law and Society. He is also a member of the Order of the Coif, the nation’s preeminent law school honor society. Geoff received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Boston University, where he played #1 singles and captained the Men’s Tennis Team.

Mr. Wagner is also an accomplished writer. His publications include: The I-864 Affidavit: Practice Pointers for Dealing with a Complex, Confusing and Potentially Very Costly Legal Document, Michigan Family Law Journal (May 2016); and Virtue and Vice: A Reassessment of Gentrification, 7 J.L. Soc’y 271 (2006).

Practice Areas
•  Litigation
•  Family Law
•  Employment & Labor Law
•  Medical Malpractice Defense
•  Municipal & Government
•  Real Estate
•  Police Liability/Excessive Force Matters
EDUCATION

•  Boston University, magna cum laude, B.A
•  Wayne State University, cum laude, J.D, Order of the Coif
•  Leadership Detroit, Class XXXIV

Admitted to Practice

•  Michigan: 2007
•  U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, 2007
•  U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 2010

Memberships

•  Michigan Association for Justice
•  State Bar of Michigan
•  Detroit Athletic Club
•  Indian Village Tennis Club

Distinctions

Peer Reviewed

top lawyers

Rising Star

leading lawyers

Peer Reviewed

top lawyers

Rising Star

leading lawyers

FAQ’s

Can I file for divorce in Michigan?

To file for divorce in Michigan you have to have resided in the state for the 180 days prior to filing, and in the county you will be filing in for 10 days prior to filing. Residing in the state or county does not mean you have to be present in the state during that time. This is technically true, unless the Defendant is not domiciled in Michigan, then it is one year.

What are the grounds for filing for divorce in Michigan?

Michigan is a no fault divorce state. This means you do not have to prove fault to get a divorce. However, the words no fault can be misleading, because the judge may consider fault in deciding spousal support, property, parenting time, or custody. The party who files needs to state that there has been a breakdown of the marital relationship to the extent that the bonds of matrimony have been destroyed and there is no reasonable likelihood that they can be preserved. (this is the actual statute)

Do I need to hire an attorney?

Yes; bottom line. This is the time to hire on expert on your behalf. Divorce law and courtroom procedure vary from county-to-county and judge-to-judge. Having someone well versed with your specific jurisdiction and the laws of Michigan is essential.

Does fault matter?

Although Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, fault can still come into play in a divorce case. Fault, especially egregious circumstances, can effect the property settlement, spousal support and custody of the children.

How long does a divorce in Michigan take?

Every divorce in Michigan has a mandatory 60 day waiting period. Divorces that involve minor children have a 6 month waiting period, which can be waived under certain circumstances. Ask your attorney about how long an average case takes in the county you are filing. THE LENGTH OF TIME THAT YOUR CASE WILL TAKE TO COMPLETE AND THE COST TO YOU CANNOT BE PREDICTED AND NO PROMISE REGARDING THESE CAN BE MADE.

Can we just get divorced and worry about the financial issues later?

No. In order to be divorced in Michigan, all issues must be fully resolved. These include: Custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support and property division. These issues need to be resolved by agreement of the parties or ruled on by the judge after a trial.

I filed for divorce but now I am not sure I want to proceed, what can I do?

Some divorce cases end in a reconciliation of the parties. If there is a chance to save your marriage, we will be pleased to help you do so, including recommending a marriage counselor. If you believe the marriage is over, we will do our utmost to obtain a judgment of divorce that is satisfactory to you.

When can my child have “a say” in custody/parenting time?

There is no law that says a 12-year-old or older child can choose where he or she lives. The following factors are those considered by the court in deciding what is in the child’s best interests:

1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;

2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance
and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any;

3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing,
medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place
of medical care, and other material needs;

4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of
maintaining continuity;

5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;

6. The moral fitness of the parties involved;

7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved;

8. The home, school, and community record of the child;

9. The reasonable preference of the child. If the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to
express preference;

10. 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 or the child and the
parents;

11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the
child; and

12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
These factors are the law and can be found at MCL 722.23.

A divorce will typically include the following documents:

1. Complaint. The complaint begins the divorce action. It states the facts of the case and the relief that the filing party is requesting (for example, custody of the minor children, child support, a share of the property, etc.). The complaint includes information about previous divorce or support cases of either party. It also includes the minor children’s residences during the past five years and states that no custody action involving the children is pending (it is only needed when minor children are involved). You will have an opportunity to read, review, and ask questions about the complaint before it is filed. The party that files the complaint is the plaintiff and the other party is the defendant.

2. Summons. The summons notifies the other spouse that he or she has been sued and tells him or her where and when to answer and that a default may be entered if he or she does not appear and answer. The summons is served by mail (certified), by the defendant appearing at our office and signing for service, or by a private process server (private investigator or sheriff).

3. Affidavit of service/return of service. This document shows that the defendant has been provided a copy of the papers filed with the court.

4. Verified statement to the Friend of the Court. This statement informs the Friend of the Court of facts about child or spousal support. The statement is not necessary if you and your spouse do not have any minor children from your marriage to each other, unless you are seeking spousal support.

5. Record of divorce. This document is a statistical record required by the Michigan Department of Health.

6. Ex parte orders. Ex parte orders are issued without prior notice to the defendant. The order must be served on the other party, who may then file objections. An ex parte order must contain an affidavit that is a sworn statement that affirms the facts stated.

7. Notice of hearing, motions, and filing fee. A motion is a request to the court for some type of relief. A motion asks that the matter be set for hearing, and the notice of hearing says where and when. Each motion that is filed costs $20, plus you will be charged attorney time for the preparation of the motion and time at the court hearing. Examples of motions include requests for exclusive use of the house, child support, spousal support, or the return of tangible property. Any time you want the court to do something, we must file a motion asking the court to decide the issue and make a decision in the form of an order.

8. Temporary orders. These orders control the case until your divorce is final. An order is the document that is entered with the court after the motion. The motion is the request to the court and the order is the court’s decision regarding the request. There are generally three types of orders: (a) ex parte, (b) an order from a motion hearing, and (c) stipulated orders meaning the parties reached an agreement without the need of a hearing. Temporary orders may be requested at any time after your case is started and before a judgment of divorce is entered. Only the lawyers are allowed to speak at motion hearings unless the judge asks you a specific question.

9. Judgment of divorce. This is the document that grants you a divorce. It also provides for custody, parenting time, support, and property division. YOUR DIVORCE IS NOT FINAL UNTIL THE JUDGMENT OF DIVORCE IS ENTERED WITH THE COURT AND SIGNED BY THE JUDGE. A SETTLEMENT PLACED ON THE RECORD IS NOT A JUDGMENT. THE JUDGMENT IS THE FINAL WRITTEN DOCUMENT IN YOUR CASE. IF WE ENTER A CONSENT JUDGMENT (AGREED ON BY THE PARTIES), IT IS A CONTRACT BETWEEN YOU AND THE OPPOSING PARTY. ONCE THE JUDGMENT HAS BEEN ENTERED WITH THE COURT IT CAN BE MODIFIED ONLY UNDER VERY LIMITED CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS FRAUD, DURESS, MISTAKE, ETC. THEREFORE, IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU READ AND UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE TERMS OF THE JUDGMENT BEFORE YOU SIGN AND IT IS ENTERED WITH THE COURT.

Who’s Who and What They Do

The Plaintiff is the party who starts the lawsuit by filing the complaint.

The Defendant is the opposing party.

The divorce is resolved by the Family Court Division of the Circuit Court.

The Friend of the Court is an office of the family court that investigates and provides recommendations about child support, child custody, and parenting time; collects and distributes support payments; and may request the enforcement of court orders for support and parenting time.

The Judge is the individual assigned to hear and decide your case if you and your spouse do not come to a settlement. We have no control over the judge selection as it is a random selection made by the clerk’s office. Once assigned, the judge will be assigned to your case for pre- and postjudgment issues. Unless one of the parties knows the judge selected, we cannot change the initial judge selection. Every judge is different and has different views. Once selected, we will be able to provide you with some of the preferences of your judge.

News / blog

December 2019 Blog

This month’s case is one of our own – DuPuis v City of Highland Park (Wayne County Circuit Court Case No. 18-005616-CL, Murphy, J.). In DuPuis, John Clark and I represented the City of Highland Park in a whistleblower case filed by a controversial member of City’s...

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Honors

US News Best Lawyers Best Law Firms
Detroit Free Press Top Places to Work
Leading Lawyers
DBusiness Top Lawyers
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Reviewed
Fortune Magazine Top Ranked Law Firms

Contact

P  (248) 457-7000
F  (248) 457-7001
E  contact@gmhlaw.com

Honors

US News Best Lawyers Best Law Firms
Detroit Free Press Top Places to Work
Leading Lawyers
DBusiness Top Lawyers
Martindale-Hubbell Peer Reviewed
Fortune Magazine Top Ranked Law Firms

Contact

P  (248) 457-7000
F  (248) 457-7001
E  contact@gmhlaw.com