Upstate New York Family Law and Criminal Law Attorney

Guidance and Representation for Family Law and Criminal Matters

If you are facing a family law or criminal issue in Upstate New York, you should have a skilled advocate on your side as soon as you can. Our principal, Livingston County divorce lawyer Jeannie D. Michalski, has practiced law for over 20 years and is familiar with judges, district attorneys’ offices, and the other attorneys in the region. She handles matters related to divorce, child custody, child support, and domestic violence in family court. She also handles criminal matters like drug possession and trafficking, assault, theft, and DWI.

Ms. Michalski runs an integrated practice because she has observed an intimate overlap between family and criminal cases. For example, people in the middle of an acrimonious divorce or custody battle may be served with an order of protection because of a dispute with a spouse or co-parent. Sometimes the accusation is motivated by a desire to gain an advantage in family court. Conversely, if you are arrested for a DWI or another criminal charge, you may be sued in family court because of the charge. It can be critical to hire a lawyer who understands both types of legal issues, and who can see the bigger picture of how certain outcomes could affect your life. Many people have faced challenges in their past, such as mental health conditions, addiction, or a criminal record. We are not here to judge you but only to help you out of a difficult situation.


The criminal and administrative penalties for a first-time DWI in New York can depend on the driver’s blood alcohol concentration and how impaired the driver was. If your blood alcohol concentration is .08% or more, or you are impaired to a substantial extent, you can be charged with a DWI. If your blood alcohol concentration is .18% or higher, you can be charged with an aggravated DWI. If your ability to drive as a reasonable and prudent driver would drive has been impaired to any extent by alcohol or drugs, you can be charged with driving while ability impaired (DWAI). There are other circumstances, however, that could affect the possible penalties, such as whether somebody was injured or whether there was a minor in the car.

Family Law

As a divorce attorney serving Livingston County residents, Jeannie D. Michalski understands that family law matters can be stressful for everyone involved. Both New York Family Court and the Supreme Court, Matrimonial Part have jurisdiction to hear these cases. The Supreme Court can hear divorce cases. Both courts can hear issues concerning child custody and visitation, child support, paternity, family offense petitions, spousal support, guardianships, and petitions related to abuse or neglect. The Family Court will grant standing to people who share a blood relationship, have a child in common, or have a close intimate or personal relationship. In New York, a father married to the mother at the time that a child is born is presumed to be the legal father. However, if the mother is unmarried at the time of a child’s birth, paternity can be established through an acknowledgement of paternity signed by the father when the baby was born or an order of filiation arising from a petition to establish paternity.


During a divorce in New York, certain issues related to marital property and debts, spousal support, child support, and child custody often must be addressed. There are seven grounds for divorce, including irretrievable breakdown, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment, adultery, and separation by judgment or agreement. When a couple divorces in New York, their property will be divided equitably, which means that it will be divided according to what the court thinks is fair. This does not necessarily mean that the property will be divided in an even split. A Livingston County divorce attorney can advocate for an arrangement that would meet your needs. The court will consider a range of factors, including how long the marriage lasted, what each spouse earned and the property that each spouse held when they married, each spouse’s health and age, any pension or inheritance rights that either spouse will lose because of the divorce, whether the court has awarded spousal support, and whether either spouse has an equitable claim to marital property to which that spouse does not have title.

Child Custody

When determining custody, the court considers the best interests of the child. There are two parts of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody involves who will live with a child, and it can be joint or sole. Legal custody involves important decision-making related to education, medical care, and religion. When parents have joint legal custody, they need to make big decisions about the child together, regardless of which parent is living with the child. If there is sole legal custody, only one parent is entitled to make those decisions. New York courts can make orders about a child’s custody only until the child is 18 years old. A Livingston County divorce lawyer can fight to preserve your role in your child’s upbringing.

Criminal Law

Jeannie D. Michalski is a former narcotics prosecutor who has tried more than 200 misdemeanor and felony cases. She worked with undercover narcotics officers for years before entering private practice and now puts her insights to use in defending people accused of drug crimes. She also defends against charges such as assault, grand larceny, harassment, and endangering the welfare of a child. All crimes need to be established beyond a reasonable doubt, and what must be proven depends on the specific crime charged.

Domestic Violence

Both family courts and criminal courts in New York have jurisdiction over what are known as family offenses or domestic violence. In New York, domestic violence crimes can include assault, stalking, strangulation, sexual misconduct, and menacing crimes. They are perpetrated by someone who is related to the victim by marriage, related to the victim by consanguinity or affinity, related to the victim by having a child in common, related to the victim by being formerly married to them, or related to the victim by having had an intimate relationship with them, regardless of whether they ever lived together. Victims of domestic violence can ask a court for an order of protection, including a requirement that the defendant keep away from the victim and any children involved. This order can have significant consequences in family law matters.

Consult an Experienced Livingston County Attorney

The stakes can be high in issues related to a divorce, child custody, or child or spousal support. This is also true of DWI or other criminal charges. Call the Law Office of Jeannie D. Michalski at (585) 351-2500 or contact us via our online form to set up an appointment with a divorce lawyer in Livingston County. We also represent people facing criminal charges in Livingston, Monroe, Genesee, and Ontario Counties.

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