PRACTICE AREA

FAMILY LAW

//Family Law
Family Law2019-05-23T19:49:00+00:00

Few legal areas are as emotionally charged as family law. We work to minimize that stress for you by ensuring you know your options and are prepared for the changes ahead.

In divorce and child custody cases in particular, the adversarial process may increase tensions between the parties that do not abate, even when the process is complete. As a result, many states have begun to explore other, non-adversarial alternatives, such as mandatory mediation, which can help save time and money and preserve relationships. Mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes provide an option for those who prefer to stay out of court. ADR provides many potential advantages for most cases, including reduced cost, faster resolution, less emotional stress, and the ability to construct solutions outside the authority of the courts.

While adopting a child can be an immensely rewarding experience, it is often accompanied by a host of legal and bureaucratic complexities. Those who approach the process with the aid of a knowledgeable adoption attorney often find they are spared much of the delay, frustration and expense it entails.

Whether you are a parent struggling to find the right home for your child, a couple looking to welcome a new member into your home, or a relative hoping to assume responsibility for a minor in your family, you should contact our family law attorneys to ensure no detail is overlooked. We will take the time to explain all of the adoption issues to you, assist in the preparation of required documentation, represent you at the adoption hearings, and advocate on your behalf should any challenges arise in the future.

Stepparent Adoptions
When most people think of adoptions, they picture a couple adopting a child from his or her birth mother. However, stepparent adoptions are actually believed to be the most common form of adoption in the United States.

Stepparent adoptions commonly occur when one biological parent is no longer around, and the parent with custody gets remarried. The stepparent may play a large role in the child’s life and desire to “make it official” by adopting the child. Once the stepparent adopts the child, the child is considered the child of the stepparent, and therefore the child has the same legal rights a biological child would have, such as inheritance rights and parental support.

Although the stepparent adoption process varies from state to state, typically the stepparent files a petition with the court to adopt the stepchild. In order for the adoption to occur, the legal rights of the other parent must be terminated. A parent’s legal rights can be terminated fairly easily if the parent agrees. This may be done in order to avoid future child support payments (however, any unpaid prior child support payments still remain due).

If the parent does not agree, the court can choose to terminate parental rights if legal grounds exist, such as abandonment or abuse. Once parental rights are terminated, the parent loses all rights to the child, including the right to visit with the child or make decisions for the child. Once the petition is filed and the parental rights are terminated, there is typically some type of home study or investigation. Finally, there will be a court appearance to finalize the adoption.

As you may imagine, the most difficult part of many stepparent adoptions is the termination of parental rights. Although a parent may not be involved in his child’s life at all, he may not want to give up his legal rights to the child. Or, the parent may be unable to be located.

Our firm has the experience and expertise to guide your family through this difficult process. When you retain us, you can be certain we will take time to learn more about your family, your unique circumstances, and ensure the adoption proceeding is done in the most efficient manner possible.

The dissolution of any marriage or partnership raises a plethora of issues. When children are involved, the resulting issues are even more complex as custody and child support come to the forefront. We help you ensure a fair arrangement, based upon the children’s best interests.

Our law firm routinely handles child custody cases and can help to determine the best parenting plan for you and your children. We will review the custody evaluator’s recommendations, identify the children’s preferences and explain how local and state laws impact your specific family situation. Considering these factors, we work with you to devise a plan of custody for your children.

Child custody is dual-faceted in that it encompasses both the physical and legal custody of the child. Physical custody is where the child primarily resides, while legal custody entails the decision-making process for the parents, including the right to decide education preferences, religious practices, medical treatments, and activity involvement. Both of these aspects must be addressed during child custody proceedings.

Our team of child custody attorneys will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome, while preserving your parental rights and protecting your children’s best interests.

Each year millions of parents across the country seek judicial intervention in child support matters. Courts generally adhere to an objective process when determining the proper child support amount. Whether you are a single parent seeking child support or a non-custodial parent with questions about your current support order, our family law attorneys can help to ensure your children receive the necessary financial support, consistent with the parents’ relative earnings.

Calculation of Child Support
Child support calculation is generally based upon a number of financial factors. We will help you compile your financial information, as well as ascertain the other parent’s current situation, in order to make certain your support obligation is fair and accurate. Factors commonly considered by family court judges include:

  • Monthly employment and investment income
  • Childcare expenses
  • Medical expenses for the child
  • Each parent’s contribution to extra-curricular expenses
  • Number of children involved in the action
  • Number of dependents of either party
  • Contributions to qualified retirement plans or other support orders

Modifying a Current Child Support Order
If you already have a child support order in place, you may be in need of a modification of the monthly obligation. In general, a court may modify a child support order if it finds the financial status of either party has substantially changed and the current support obligation is no longer fair. For instance, if the parent paying support suddenly becomes disabled and is no longer able to work, the court will likely consider reducing his support obligation to meet his current income level. Conversely, if either parent experiences a sudden increase in monthly income, the court may decide to adjust the monthly support amount accordingly. If you require a modification to your child support order, we will help you compile your financial documentation and present your case to the judge child support referee.

Whether you are the obligor or obligee, we can work with you to obtain a child support amount that reflects the best interests of your children. If you are having difficulty meeting your monthly support obligation or believe your child’s parent is able to pay more than the amount in the current order, contact us today.

Divorce proceedings usually involve intense emotions and significant expense. Our dedicated matrimonial attorneys can work with you throughout the divorce process to minimize the emotional strain and cost normally associated with these proceedings. We handle complex contested and uncontested divorces.

During the divorce proceedings, we will assess all of the assets and debt and strive to attain the largest possible distribution of marital assets for our clients.  When appropriate, we will work closely with you to guarantee proper financial support through alimony. If children are involved, we will work with you to help you obtain custody of your children, child support payments, or help in the development of a parenting plan.

If you and your spouse choose to keep your divorce proceedings private and away from the courts, our law firm will work with you through voluntary mediation known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). During this process, both you and your spouse will meet with a neutral mediator to help resolve issues by bringing both parties to an agreement. With ADR, there is complete disclosure and no litigation. Many individuals prefer this method as it tends to be faster, less costly, and produces a more amicable outcome.

For most people, going through a divorce is an absolutely terrible experience. The legal process of divorce can be emotionally and financially draining. Divorce mediation is becoming an increasingly popular way to resolve issues in a divorce in a less adversarial manner which can reduce stress and yield more mutually beneficial results. In divorce mediation, rather than both parties going to court and using a trial to resolve divorce issues, such as a property settlement, child support, and child custody, the parties will sit down with a neutral third party, called a mediator. The mediator helps both individuals come to a solution agreed upon by both parties.

For most people, going through a divorce is an absolutely terrible experience. The legal process of divorce can be emotionally and financially draining. Divorce mediation is becoming an increasingly popular way to resolve issues in a divorce in a less adversarial manner, which can reduce stress and yield more mutually beneficial results. In divorce mediation, rather than both parties going to court and using a trial to resolve divorce issues, such as a property settlement, child support and child custody, the parties will sit down with a neutral third party, called a mediator. The mediator helps both individuals come to a mutually agreed upon solution.

Divorce mediation offers many advantages to a couple working through a divorce. The divorce mediation almost always takes less time than litigating a divorce, especially for those couples who have not worked everything out in advance of the divorce. Divorce mediation also helps spouses tell each other what they want, without lawyers speaking for them or telling them what they should do.

Mediation also helps spouses reduce the tension involved in a divorce. Couples who mediate are generally happier with the outcome than those who go to court, primarily because they are more directly involved in the outcome. The mediator can help couples with both immediate concerns and long-term concerns. Mediators assist couples to focus on present issues, rather than bringing up hurts from the past, which can be counterproductive to reaching an agreement. Another benefit to mediation is that it is private, unlike a trial.

However, divorce mediation is not for everyone. Some couples are dealing with spousal abuse or substance abuse. In those situations, it is probably best for an attorney to speak on each spouse’s behalf.

If you are interested in learning more about divorce mediation, contact our qualified law firm.

Unfortunately, domestic violence occurs in many relationships and may include harassment, assault, sexual abuse, or neglect.  If you or someone you love has been physically or emotionally abused by their spouse or another relative, you should contact the police and an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your rights. We will help you obtain an Order of Protection to ensure your physical safety.

In the case of marital abuse, if you wish to pursue a legal separation or divorce, our legal team can advise you on the best steps to keep you safe and dissolve the marriage as quickly as possible, while keeping your best interests in mind.

Our entire staff understands the sensitive nature of domestic violence and will strive to provide you with peace of mind throughout the proceedings. Should you require additional support beyond the legal realm, we can refer you to other professionals and resources to address all your needs and begin the healing process.

Family law raises emotional and legal challenges for all parties involved. In such cases, it is essential that you surround yourself with trusted advisors and friends. Our law firm provides you with the legal and emotional support needed to get you back on your feet.

Paternity lawsuits may be necessary to determine parental rights, custody, or support matters when the identity of the biological father is in question. In these instances, the court will order a genetic test. The results of this test are then used to establish a legal relationship between the parent and child and determine the extent to which the father has an obligation to support the child. Even if the biological father does not wish to play an active role in the child’s upbringing, he still has the obligation to provide financial support to the minor.

These suits may be brought by the mother, the presumed father (in many instances the husband of the mother), the man alleged to be the father, a government agency, or the child (if he or she is underage, a representative must act on his or her behalf). Our firm is available to offer you legal guidance, assist in filing a paternity suit with the appropriate court, or defend you against paternity action.

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