Family Law Information

Family law pertains to the rules and laws that apply to relationships between family members and between families and society in general. Family law embodies generally accepted societal values about how people who are related should treat each other.

Family law attorneys are often involved in helping people both make and break family relationships. This includes relationship and marriage planning, adoption, divorce, paternity, child custody, and child support.

Marriage

Marriage is a legal contract. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with an attorney about the benefits of a premarital agreement. It can be very helpful to discuss and resolve before marriage, the financial issues and the disagreements they often cause.

Divorce

For most divorces, the issues to be addressed are property division, spousal support or alimony, and, if there are children, child support, child custody and visitation.

Child Custody and Visitation

Child custody, visitation and support after a divorce are often a continuing source of conflict. Custody pertains to both physical and legal custody. Physical custody generally involves where the children reside and how their time is allocated between the parents. Legal custody addresses the rights of parents in making decisions related to the children in such areas as health care, education, and activities.

Child custody and visitation laws consider first and foremost the best interests of the child.

Collaborative law and mediation are less contentious alternatives to traditional litigation, including when it comes to determining child custody and visitation rights. With either approach, the clients maintain control.

In traditional litigation-based divorce, you leave the control up to the courts to decide when, where, and how you will see your children. Courts are often overworked and understaffed and despite their best efforts it can take months before your case is even heard. The courts make critical decisions their children, after spending very little time investigating factors of each individual case. Furthermore, traditional litigation is expensive for you and may be traumatic for your children.

In collaborative law clients often enlist the assistance of child psychologists and other trained professionals who understand child development and child psychology who can help to work out a plan concerning custody and visitation.

Child Support

Children must be financially supported their by their parents. This is an obligation that lasts until the child is 19 or 18 and no longer in high school. A child support order may be entered either during a divorce or after a divorce. Depending on how custody is established, either parent may be ordered to pay child support.

There is relatively little an attorney can do by traditional litigation methods concerning child support. Attorneys and courts use predetermined statutory child support guidelines to make the decisions for you. Child support calculations are based on a mathematical equation that factors in visiting time and the income of both parents.

Collaborative law and divorce mediation, however, allow divorcing spouses to bypass rigid child support guidelines. Such alternatives allow couples to negotiate solutions that satisfy the basic needs for their children. Rather than based on inflexible child support guidelines that don't account for individual circumstances, support amounts are what you and your spouse choose, rather than what the statutory child support guidelines dictate. And parents can make agreements that are broader in scope by providing for support past the age of majority or agreements to help fund their children’s post-secondary education.