Going solo

Family law attorney aids military service members

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News   

Family law attorney Lori (Heisler) Herr works with military service members who are facing divorce or post judgment issues, especially in the wake of deployment.

Her goal is to provide them with judgments or orders that help protect their rights once deployed. She enjoys aiding service members who have given to this country, and ensuring their sacrifice does not become or lead to a negative implications in the courts.

This field of law introduced her to the alphabet soup of military terminology, including Leave and Earnings Statement (LES), Retirement Points Accounting System (RPAS), and Court Order Acceptable for Processing (COAP).   

“It’s an interesting part of family law – knowing how to read a LES, looking for additional income on the military tables, reviewing an RPAS for ‘marital points’ opposed to the standard all encompassing ‘date of marriage’ and ‘date of divorce,’ and preserving additional parenting time for a service member pre-deployment and post-deployment,” she says.    

She often is surprised on how many people don’t know that a service member can have two forms of incomes, i.e. reservist and civilian technician and that a service member can have several types of retirements.   

“I’m also surprised on this misnomer that a spouse is not entitled to a portion of the military pension if the couple has not been married for 10 years,” she says. 

A solo practitioner at Heisler Law Office in Lansing, Herr specializes in family law, including divorce, separation, child custody, child support, spousal support, domestic abuse, adoption, prenuptial agreements, co-habitation agreements, military support issues, military retirement, military separation agreements, and more.

“I knew I wanted to practice family law after taking ‘Family Law’ from the Honorable Janice Cunningham in my last year at the former Thomas M. Cooley Law School,” she says.   

Herr recently obtained her mediation certification in civil and domestic relations mediation. 

“I believe in mediation and I encourage mediation as an avenue for settlement. At the very least, it gives the parties the opportunity to speak with each other openly and honestly in an orderly fashion. The parties have the opportunity to tell the other spouse things they have wanted to say for months or years …often once that is done, settlement can begin,” she says.    

“Most of my family law cases are resolved through mediation. Mediation not only helps to preserve some of the relationship that the parties have, but it can save the parties time and money as well.”   

After hanging out her shingle as a solo practitioner, Herr had to learn not to take her work home at the end of the day.

“I used to take calls all times of the day, any day of the week,” she says. “I still take calls on the weekends but I do my best to assess whether or not there is an actually emergency that needs immediate attention.”   

Herr is a member of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM) Mid Michigan Region, where she enjoys meeting other attorneys and judges.

“The WLAM judges are so gracious to come to these events and show support for new and seasoned attorneys,” she says. “As a sole practitioner, I don’t get the opportunity to meet a lot of attorneys and the WLAM provides the avenue to do so.”   

A member of the American Bar Association, State Bar of Michigan, Eaton County Bar Association, and the Ingham County Bar Association, Herr is currently working on the ICBA Bench Bar conference, a new role for her. She also serves on the board of the Oasis Family Center in Lansing.

A native of Bellevue, southwest of Lansing, Herr’s childhood ambitions wavered between being a ballerina or a lawyer — but legal briefs won out over ballet.

After attending Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek during her senior year at Bellevue High School, she started her freshman year at Olivet College with college credits and earned her undergrad degree in English, with a business minor. 

She earned her J.D. from Cooley Law School, where she appreciated the flexibility of the class schedule.

“I was always on a fast track, college three years, Cooley three years, just trying to get my life started,” she says.   

Herr and Jacob, her husband of four years, live in Charlotte, with their daughter, Ellee – name after Herr’s mother, Eleanor. Ellee celebrated her first birthday in September.
“I love watching her develop,” Herr says.

In her leisure time, Herr enjoys working out, and fishing.

“My husband and I go salmon fishing, in the fall — we stand in the river for 10-12 hours at a time and I love it.”

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