Family Law Services
Family law deals with the branch of law pertaining to all matters that are related to family unit or other domestic relations such as surrogacy, domestic partnership, marriage, divorce, child abduction, child neglect, child maintenance, paternity cases, child custody, alimony, division of family property and any other family matters.
Family law is very different from other branches of law as it involves private matters. Mostly the family lawyers act as mediators and negotiators. The court too acts as a mediator and tries to reconcile members of the family to solve their issues among themselves while preserving their relationship. The law provides a structured process that allows the parties involved to resolve their disputes amicably rather than through costly lengthy litigation process that can go on for years. Modern family lawyers discourage families from going to the court as the court decision can have a win-lose outlook and can take years to solve the issue.
In collaborative family law, mediated by an experienced lawyer, disputes are settled amicably so that everyone wins something. It not only helps families to stay together, but also is less stressful for all parties involved. It results in speedy resolution of disputes within the family without going to the court.
Mediation is a method of resolving issues between two or more parties without resulting to litigation. Mediation makes use of a neutral third party, a “mediator,” to help guide the parties to the dispute toward a solution that all can agree to. Most commonly, mediation is a voluntary method of alternative dispute resolution, but on occasion, the court may order the parties to attend mediation.
A divorce is the dissolution of a marriage by judicial decree. Getting married symbolizes more than just an emotional commitment, it entails a life-long commitment to mesh lives, commingle assets, and parent children. Ending a marriage through divorce also has life-long consequences, both legal and financial, as well as consequences for any children of the marriage. Because separating joined lives can be difficult and messy, each state has specific steps that must be taken in the process of divorce, from the couple’s separation, to the final divorce decree ordered by a family court judge. Requirements for, and the process of, getting a divorce vary by jurisdiction.
A couple that no longer wants to be married, but needs time to work out certain financial issues, may obtain a legal separation in most states. Also referred to as a “judicial separation,” a legal separation must be obtained through a court order, and is usually a prelude to actual divorce, though not always. It is not necessary to obtain a legal separation order for a trial separation, but it may help if issues of child custody and support arise.
Parents navigating the mine field of child custody laws often become confused, as there are many legal terms bandied about. For instance, legal and physical custody are separate issues, visitation, rights to attend a child’s functions, and even financial support are issues decided by the court in the event parents cannot agree. The court-ordered custody arrangement often becomes part of the divorce decree, though it may later be altered if there is a change in circumstances.
In the eyes of the law, the raising of children, and the maintenance of a standard of living adequate for their development, are the responsibilities of both parents, and fundamental human rights for the children.
When parents separate or divorce, financial responsibility remains with both parents, regardless of where the children live, or with whom they spend time. In family law, the term “child support” refers to regular payments made to one parent by the other for the financial benefit of the children. Child support is often written into the divorce decree, or the child custody and visitation order.
In the United States, the legal system has recognized the importance of confirming a child’s paternity, which refers to who a child’s father is. Modern technological advances have made it possible to determine, without question, whether or not a man is a child’s father. This is important in the legal system, as it affects a man’s parental rights, as well as his financial and other responsibilities toward the child.
A man may acknowledge paternity for legal purposes by allowing his name to be listed as the father on the child’s birth certificate, or in a legal document filed with the court. In the event paternity is disputed, either party may request a DNA paternity test, or the state child support or child services division may request a court order for paternity testing.
A restraining order is issued by a court to protect a person from physical abuse, threats, or harassment by another specific person. A restraining order is obtained after the court determines that the applicant has a reasonable belief that he or she is in imminent danger, or may be in danger due to the actions of another. In some jurisdictions, restraining orders are referred to as “protective orders,” and the person to whom it is issued is referred to as the “protected person.” The court order specifies the rules of the protective order, and clearly states that a violation may result in arrest.
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract made between two people before they become married. The contract details the property rights of each party, as well as the financial remedies in the event that the couple divorces. Prenuptial agreements are also referred to as “prenups,” “antenuptial agreements,” or in modern cases, “premarital agreements.” Such agreements are designed to protect the property and assets of one or both spouses should the relationship dissolve in the future.