Family advocate


U-M grad helps ease the impact of divorce

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Family law attorney Sara Aretakis German is passionate about easing the negative impact of divorce on children and families.

"I enjoy this niche because it challenges me to lessen the potentially devastating effects divorce can have, both financially and emotionally," says German, an attorney with Woll & Woll in Birmingham. "It's rewarding to work towards a resolution that will save my clients money and avoid stress."

One memorable case involved severe fault allegations, including drug abuse and an extra-marital affair involving a miscarriage. German represented the father, who adopted his stepson, and the parties also shared a daughter together.

"It was particularly rewarding to witness both mother and father set aside their immense personal differences and share their continued strong belief that the role of the father is very important to the development of the stepson," she says. "They worked together to maintain the family unit by a joint custody arrangement, which allowed both parents to play an active role in the children's lives, despite their marriage ending."

Another divorce involved a couple with significant real property including rental and commercial land, as well as financial accounts in two other countries. The parties had entered into two, separate, foreign post-nuptial agreements concerning these properties and assets.

"It was particularly challenging evaluating the property together with potential income production overseas as well as interpreting and determining the effect of the foreign post-nuptial agreements on the property and spousal support issues," German says.

According to German, who joined the firm in 2008, the practice of family law has become a more congenial practice, overall.

"Given the downturn in the economy, I find clients are opting to participate in early mediation and choosing to use joint experts to avoid the cost of extensive discovery and litigation," she says.

She also notes that the ever-changing climate of domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage has resulted in some interesting challenges, and the new health care laws have been an issue in some of her cases.

Earning an undergrad degree in communications from the University of Michigan, German followed in the Wolverine footsteps of her father, Harry Aretakis, M.D. and her older sister, Kari.

"Kari was only one year ahead, so it eased my transition into college and I was able to enjoy campus life in Ann Arbor with her, including going to football games, dining at local restaurants and bars and strolling the Ann Arbor Art Fair," German says.

German went on to earn her law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law where she was invited to participate in the American Inns of Court, and enjoyed the campus location in the heart of downtown Detroit, with opportunities for students to provide legal aid to the community through clinics and externships.

"I was drawn to the study of law by the idea of being a strong advocate and fighting for someone who is in need of help during a difficult time it's a very rewarding profession," she says.

German brings to her work a valuable understanding of family dynamics and childhood development, in part gained by previous work as a legal intern representing the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services in the Cook County Juvenile Court under a supervising attorney.

"It was often a challenging position to ensure that vulnerable children were receiving the appropriate services to provide them safe homes, therapeutic programs and educational resources to aid in brighter futures," she says.

During college, she volunteered at Camp Detroit, an after-school program for children ages 4 to 15, where she developed an after-school art and reading program, using limited resources.

"It was a very fulfilling opportunity to have a part in shaping children's futures and encouraging them to achieve success," she says.

A native of Troy where her parents Harry and Karen Aretakis still live German now lives in Birmingham with Micah, her husband of four years. Her older sister Kari, now a urologist, lives down the street, while her younger sister Mary lives in Fort Collins, Colo., and plans to study veterinary medicine. Mary was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis in infancy, and German often participates in fund-raising run/walks for the Arthritis Foundation.

German relaxes from her legal work by swimming laps; walking in the park with her dog, Olive; searching for seashells at her family's vacation home in Sanibel Island, Fla.; and with trips overseas including to St. Lucia, Australia, and her family's homeland, Greece.

"I love to travel because it allows me to spend quality time with family and friends, and explore different cultures," she says.

Published: Mon, Apr 27, 2015