Meet the Team2020-01-31T19:40:19-05:00


Lori B. Schmeltzer

  • 2011: JD – University of Detroit Mercy

  • 2005: BBA – Walsh College of Business

  • Licensed in Michigan and Indiana

  • Admitted to Practice in the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and District Courts of Northern and Southern Indiana

Drawing upon life and work experiences, Lori B. Schmeltzer serves clients by providing practical legal solutions to life’s complex problems. She works with each client to understand needs and goals and to determine the best plan of action to help them succeed.

Lori does not take a cookie-cutter approach to any case, but listens to her clients’ needs to tailor a legal approach to fit budget, family needs and legal goals. She will work hard to tip the scales of justice in your favor.

As a long time resident of Michigan, Lori has made Traverse City and Northern Michigan her forever-home. She grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan and graduated from Walsh College of Accountancy and Business in Troy, MI in 2005 with a BBA, majoring in Business Management. While at Walsh College, she earned the annual Golf Outing Scholarship for excellent academic performance.

In 2011, Lori graduated from the University of Detroit School of Law. During law school, she interned with Wayne County Family Court Judge Cholack and participated in the Criminal Law clinic where she appeared in local courts providing pro bono defense representation to clients with misdemeanor charges. Following graduation, she interned at the Michigan Supreme Court under former Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly.

Lori focused her internships on judges that had a strong background in family law, where she learned the practical procedures and issues that arise in divorce, child custody and parenting time cases, as well as learned how trial courts and appellate courts balance and weigh the facts to render decisions on important legal issues. This experience allows her insight in how to properly present your case before a court, whether at the trial or appellate level, to give you the best chance of succeeding in reaching your legal goals.

In 2012, Lori relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana, sojourning into private practice with the law firm of Ciyou & Dixon. While practicing in Indiana, she focused primarily on Family Law and Appellate practice, winning reversals in Divorce cases, Adoption Matters, and Child Custody Modification cases.

In 2014, she argued before the Indiana Supreme Court, prevailing on an important adoption/third party child custody issue in the State of Indiana, setting precedence for all future adoption cases in Indiana. Additionally, she has briefed well over 30 cases to the Indiana Court of Appeals and Indiana Supreme Court. Her appellate and family law trial experience allows her to understand your case top to bottom and work with you to ensure that you and your family’s needs are met now and into the future.

Lori continues her practice here in Northern Michigan in all matters involving the family, including adult and minor child guardianships, divorce, child custody, child support, estate planning, probate administration, and small business matters.

In her spare time, Lori likes to remodel and renovate her home and office space, using her one semester of interior design school experience. Lori had a variety of interests outside of her law practice, like skiing, kayaking, hiking, sewing, and baking… you might find a fresh batch of cookies or cupcakes at the office from time to time.


Jarka Caughran

  • Originally from the Czech Republic

  • 2003-2013: Sue Kelly Group – Real Estate One

  • 2019: Joined Schmeltzer Law

  • Currently manages all billing and office tasks

Originally from the Czech Republic, Jarka moved to Traverse City in 2003 where she continued her career taking a position with the Sue Kelly Group – Real Estate One as a licensed assistant/office manager. After taking some time off to have children in 2006, Jarka returned to Real Estate One in 2013. She grew her career within the real estate community and obtained her agent license, learning about buying and selling homes.

In 2019 Jarka joined Schmeltzer Law as the office manager and changed directions in her career to focus on the legal industry. She now manages all billing and other office tasks for Schmeltzer Law and continues to be a great asset to the office. In her spare time Jarka is the superstar mom to her two children Michael (13) and Veronika (12), where she uses her organizational skills just as much as she does keeping everything on track and in order at the office.


Adoption is a legal process where a person, or persons, assume the role of a parent, usually of a minor child, but in some circumstances an adult may be adopted.  In our ever changing society family dynamics are in flux, and there are many children being reared by persons that are not their natural parents, from grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends of the family, and step-parents.  Adoption is a permanent legal process for the non-natural (biological) parent to step into the legal role of the parent.

There are generally two types of adoptions: a new family adoption, and step-parent adoption. A step-parent adoption is where the step-parent assumes the legal parenting role but still preserves the legal ties with the natural parent that is married to the step-parent.  For example, a step-father assumes the father role, and the mother’s natural parent rights are preserved and remain intact.  A new family adoption involves two new parents and all legal ties are severed from the natural parents (mother and father).

Adoption is a special time and step in the legal process of making your family legally whole.  Being a parent is far more than a DNA bond.  Instead, it is being there for the daily parenting of a child, and making major life decisions for your child regarding their education, religion, medical treatments, and even tax and inheritance rights.  Adoption is important to establishing legal rights when a person or persons have stepped into the shoes of a natural parent or desire to continue to do so.  At Schmeltzer Law, I will help you to understand the adoption process and work through the legal process to help you achieve your family’s legal goals.

Schmeltzer Law, your Adoption attorney in Traverse City and Northern Michigan!

Schmeltzer Law is based in Traverse City, Michigan, and practices throughout the state of Michigan.

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