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FAMILY LAW

 

DIVORCE:  CONTESTED & UNCONTESTED

In situations where both parties can agree on all terms without trial, a no-fault uncontested divorce is the process of choice. This means that are no high financial stakes, custody/visitation issues, or property disputes. These situations are either not applicable or have already been addressed with a separation agreement. Uncontested divorces typically move much faster through the courts due to the lack of litigation and trial time.


In the event both parties are unable to come to an agreement on property division, spousal support, child custody, or any other issues, they will need for a contested divorce. In these cases, a judge is called on to resolve these disputes. Contested divorce can also describe scenarios in which the reason for divorce is in question, such as adultery. Since this type of divorce is complex and sometimes unavoidable, retaining legal counsel is strongly advised.


Our attorneys will perform an intake appointment to assess where you might be in this process.  We will advise and guide you to an agreement if that is your priority.  We can also assist you with complex litigation.  This would include helping you with responding to legal documents, preparing for hearings, and working with the other attorneys and the court.  In cases where custody and visitation issues are an aspect of your case, we can help you develop a proposed parenting time schedule, advise you on co-parenting issues, and work with the guardian ad litem, who is a court appointed attorney who advocates for the best interests of the child.

SEPARATION AGREEMENTS

A separation agreement is a contract negotiated between two spouses at the onset of divorce proceedings. This document will outline financial and living arrangements such as alimony, child support, child custody and visitation, and bill payment. If the separation will be permanent, this agreement may also specify division of property and assets. If issues can be resolved through a separation agreement, this may eliminate the need for a contested divorce, saving you expense and delay.  


Our attorneys would be happy to meet with you to develop your separation agreement.  We will assess the income, assets, and debts of you and your spouse.  We will talk with you about your concerns about your living arrangements.  We can draft a separation agreement to provide to your spouse and negotiate any changes to your satisfaction.  It is not unusual to make changes to the document to meet both spouses’ needs and to address items discovered as we are working through the process of winding down your marriage.

CUSTODY/VISITATION

We understand issues with your children are very personal to you.  During a divorce or separation, determining child custody and visitation can be the most emotionally trying part of the process. If you need to establish custody and visitation of your children, we can assist you with filing initial petitions to establish legal custody and your children’s schedule between the parents’ homes.  If you have an order that is no longer a good tool to meet your family’s needs, we can assist you with filing a motion to amend to address changes needed to the order.  Changes might include expanding or reducing one of the parent’s schedules with the children, addressing items that were left out of the previous order like the division of holidays and school breaks, and changing legal custody if the parents need to address making major decisions together.  This process can be accomplished through agreement and uncontested litigation.  This process may also be contested and require a trial in either juvenile court or circuit court for a judge to determine what is in the children’s best interests.  Our attorneys can meet with you to assess your concerns and guide you through the process of developing a parenting time plan that will address your family’s needs.  If necessary, we will guide you through the court process, prepare you for hearings, and assist with the guardian ad litem’s investigation, if there is a guardian ad litem involved.  A guardian ad litem is an attorney appointed by the court to investigate the matter and make recommendations to the court.

SPOUSAL & CHILD SUPPORT

Alimony is the legal obligation of one spouse to give financial support to the other after separation and/or divorce. Spousal support is gender neutral, and may be awarded to either husband or wife. Many factors are taken into account when deciding alimony such as the needs of the requesting party, as well as the other's income and ability to pay. Other factors to be considered may include the length of the marriage, the physical and/or emotional condition of each spouse, and the standard of living created during the marriage.  Child support is generally determined by statutory guidelines.  Setting the  correct amount for support requires a thorough investigation of the financial needs of the child and the financial resources of the parents.

We are happy to meet with you to review your financial situation and that of the other party.  Our attorneys can assist with running provisional guidelines and with the discovery process to obtain the full financial picture of the other party.  We can develop a trial strategy to present your best case in court for maximum results.

ADOPTION

There are a variety of types of adoptions.  These include stepparent adoptions, close relative adoptions, parental placement adoptions, and adult adoptions.  As with other types of cases, adoptions can be done by agreement with all parties’ consent.  In these situations where the parties agree about the terms of the adoption, the process can be completed relatively quickly.  The process would include executing consent documents to be signed by the parties, as well as the children depending on their ages.  This process can also include drafting a post-adoption communication agreement, which allows the biological parent whose rights are being terminated to retain some contact and communication with the children in accordance with the terms of the document.  Entering a post-adoption communication agreement is often a win-win situation for all involved.  In situations where the parties do not agree to the adoption, the process becomes more complex.  The process would include a contested hearing in either the juvenile court or circuit court.   


Our attorneys would be happy to assist you with growing your family.  We will meet with you to develop a plan for the adoption.  We will determine what steps need to be taken to start the process with the other parties and the court.