Family law encompasses a wide variety of legal issues. Below are brief explanations of many of the areas of family law with which our experienced attorneys can assist you:
Divorce and Legal Separation
Going through a divorce or legal separation can be one of the most painful experiences one ever deals with. Emotions are high, yet there are many important decisions that will affect both spouses and children that need to be dealt with in a rational manner. Divorce and legal separation issues are vast and include. child custody and placement, child support, maintenance, and property and debt division. Because these matters can get complicated, an attorney is usually recommended to aid one through the process.
Paternity refers to a legal action which establishes a man as the father of a child when the father is not married to the mother. Establishing paternity can be an important first step in addressing issues of custody, physical placement and child support.
Adoption is a legal proceeding that transfers all rights and responsibilities of a natural parent to an adoptive parent. The adoption process is usually preceded by a termination of parental rights of the natural parent. The procedures for terminating parental rights and adoption of a child are intended to protect the best interests of the child and the rights of parents or guardians. Our firm is experienced in adoptions by relatives including step-parents, domestic adoptions and adoption of foreign children.
Custody and Physical Placement
Unfortunately, the issues of custody and physical placement cause more controversy than any other issue in a family action. In determining matters of custody and physical placement, i.e. the time a child is placed with each parent, the court will consider the best interests of the children, which include, but are not limited to, the desires of the parents and the children.
Guardian ad Litem
When parents are unable to agree on the custody and physical placement of their children, a Guardian ad Litem, an attorney appointed by the court, evaluates the situation and gives a recommendation to the court as to what he believes is in the children’s best interest with regards to custody and physical placement.
Maintenance, another word for alimony, refers to a monthly or other periodic payment one party pays to the other during and/or after the parties become divorced. The court considers a number of factors when determining whether maintenance should be paid. Considerations for the court include age and health of the parties, the respective incomes of the parties and length of the marriage. If maintenance is included in the final divorce order, it may be amended if there has been a financial change in circumstances.
Marital Property Agreements
Generally, property purchased or used during the marriage, debts accumulated during the marriage, and income earned during the marriage is considered to be the property of both the husband and the wife. Marital property agreements, sometimes referred to as prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, refer to contracts between married couples or couples to be married that better define their property rights so as to deviate from the general rule.
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