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Family Law

Friday, December 20, 2019

What Are Safe Haven Adoption Laws?

Women who find themselves with crisis pregnancies often don't know what to do. They may be scared and unsure who to turn to for support. To respond to this, many states have adopted some version of what are known as Safe Haven Adoption Laws. These laws are intended to prevent infant abandonment and child endangerment by allowing mothers to safely relinquish their children without fear of prosecution. While every state's Safe Haven law is different, they each share some common features.

Safe Haven laws generally allow the mother, or her agent, to anonymously give up a child for adoption. Every state has its own list of specific designated locations where children can be taken. Usually these are places such as hospitals or other medical facilities; law enforcement agencies; and fire stations. Other states also allow children to be given up at EMS stations or houses of worship, provided they are staffed. A child that is taken to a designated facility must be left in the physical care and custody of a proper individual. In other words, the child cannot simply be left on the doorstep. It's a good idea to check your state's list of acceptable drop-off facilities before deciding to adopt out your infant.


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Friday, December 6, 2019

What Do I Do If The Other Parent Interferes With My Custody?

You've made it through your custody battle and finally have an order from the court. This should mean the end of conflict with the other parent, right? For many parents, unfortunately, the answer is no. Interference with the other party's custodial rights frequently occurs and can perpetuate the fight far beyond the courtroom.  

What is custodial interference?

Custodial interference can occur in a number of different ways. Sometimes it involves improperly affecting the parental relationship, such as denigrating the other parent in the child's presence.  Other times it involves direct physical interference with the other party's custodial or visitation rights. This includes, for example, refusing to return the child after a weekend visit. In less extreme situations, the other parent will return the child but is consistently late in doing so. Still other cases concern communications between parents and their children; for example, a father may try to call his son when he is with the mother, but the mother refuses to let the child answer the phone. Anything that takes away from one parent's time or relationship with his or her child may be considered interference.


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Friday, November 1, 2019

What is the Home Study Requirement in an Adoption Proceeding?

Most adoptions require a home study, the goal of which is to make sure the prospective adoptive parents are ready to take on the responsibilities of caring for a child. The best way to prepare for a home study is to seek the advice and guidance of a family law attorney. In the meantime, this article is a brief discussion of how a home study is conducted.

Home Study 101

All types of adoptions require a home study, however, one is not required for stepparent adoption in some jurisdictions. The study is similar to a background check for parents who want to adopt.  Usually a social worker will interview the prospective parents to ensure they are emotionally and financially prepared for the adoption process.

The social worker will also review a variety of records, including:


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Friday, October 18, 2019

Why You Need An Attorney For Your Family Law Case

It can be tempting to handle a family law case on your own. After all, you're familiar with the facts and have a personal interest in the outcome.  Aside from the stress, time, and emotions involved, there are some concrete reasons to hire a lawyer rather than try to represent yourself.

First and foremost, you need someone who knows the domestic laws relevant to your matter.  When most people think of this critical element, they think of statutes. But familiarity with the law extends to court decisions that could have a bearing on your case. You also need someone who understands rules of civil procedure and local rules of court. There are also rules of evidence you need to follow.

Understanding the discovery process is important as well. Discovery is the collective name of methods used by either side to gain relevant knowledge about the case. Included within the umbrella of discovery are things like subpoenas, requests for production, and depositions.  A lawyer will be familiar with these and other tools, along with procedural objections that can be raised.

The court system relies upon deadlines to keep cases moving. A skilled attorney will know deadlines as they pertain to pleadings, discovery, and answering subpoenas. Keeping track of deadlines is a significant part of the process, and missing one could jeopardize your case.

In any family law case, there are potentially endless parties beyond the plaintiff and defendant.  There are witnesses for either side. There may be school professionals or therapists in custody cases. Some matters require expert witnesses, especially when complex financial issues are at stake. Still others involve custodians of records such as hospitals and banks. An experienced family law attorney will know who may be called upon or contacted for information concerning your case.

Another key task for your lawyer is to manage communications. This includes correspondence with the opposing counsel or opposing party. It also involves communications with the judge, clerks, and other court personnel. Sometimes the role of an attorney is to know what to say – or what not to say. A major responsibility of your lawyer is to protect confidential knowledge and to avoid disclosing potentially damaging facts unless necessary. This plays into settlement negotiations as well; there's a time and place to reveal sensitive information.

Finally, having a skilled attorney will help maintain objectivity.  When the subject matter is one's spouse, children, or marital finances, it's easy to see the facts in the light most favorable to you.  But not maintaining objective judgment can prove damaging to your case.  Having a full view of the facts, including those that don't help your case, is vital.  

Domestic litigation matters can be difficult endeavors.  The last thing you need is to be taken advantage of by a skillful opposing counsel. If a family law case is in your future, invest the time and money in selecting a good, experienced attorney.


Friday, November 9, 2018

An Overview of the Residential Real Estate Sales Process

Residential real estate sales can be overwhelming and confusing. Thankfully, the  process is similar for every transaction. This means t you can prepare long before you find the right home, here’s how.

The Listing Agreement

If you are selling your home, you will start with creating a listing agreement. This agreement sets the asking s price,   the commission your real estate agent will be paid, and also specifies the length of time the property will be listed, that is, remain on the market.

In a listing agreement, , you may also be required to disclose certain physical information about the property, such as the age or condition of the roof and any significant problems you have experienced. You are also required by  federal law to disclose any known lead-based paint used in the home.


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Friday, October 12, 2018

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage has existed since, at least, 1877. While many states no longer recognize it, some states do, if you meet specific qualifications. The concept can be useful in some situations, particularly as it relates to making healthcare decisions or inheritance.

Requirements for Common Law Marriage

It is a common misconception that if you and your partner live together for seven years, then you are automatically considered common law married. The truth is that common law marriage requires a few more steps than merely living together. The requirements for common law marriage in most states are set out below.


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Monday, September 17, 2018

Preparing For Your Child Custody Case

Your child is often the most important aspect of your life. That is why your child custody case is so critical. Your child custody hearing can determine how your child will be cared for and raised for years to come. It should not be taken lightly.

You know that you need to be prepared for your case, but you may be unsure what specific steps you should take to be as ready as you can be. Your family law attorney will be able to provide particular guidance for your unique set of circumstances. However, you can also use these general guidelines to point you in the right direction.


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Monday, January 22, 2018

What Happens When Spouses Work Together and Get Divorced?


We spend so much of our lives working, it is understandable that many of us end  in relationships with co-workers. In fact, CareerBuilder.com reports that 39% of people end up dating a co-worker and 30% of those people end up marrying the co-worker. Additionally, many small businesses are co-owned by couples. In as far back as 2000, an estimated 3 million of 22 million U.
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Monday, January 15, 2018

What Happens to Debt in Divorce?

With all the focus on division of property in divorce, an important aspect often gets looked over. Where does the marital debt go? Marital debt will be subject to division just like the assets. From mortgages to credit card debt, someone will be responsible for taking on the repayment of these debts assumed during marriage.

If you cannot agree to who will assume debt that has accrued during the marriage, the trial court will do so for you. Factors to consider during this process will vary between states, but often, the court will consider:

· What was the purpose of the debt?

· Did one spouse or another incur the debt? Who was responsible for taking on the debt?

· Which spouse benefited from assuming the debt? For example, if the debt was a car loan, the court would look to see who drives that car.

· Which spouse is best able to repay the debt? One spouse may be in a better financial situation to have the ability to consistently make payments on the debt.

The trial court will use the answers to the questions above to attempt at dividing the marital debt in the best was possible. It is important to note that only marital property will be subject to division. Debt incurred prior to the marriage will stay with the spouse that brought the debt into the marriage, with some exceptions. Sometimes a spouse will assume responsibility for the other spouse’s debt for credit and other reasons. This may lead the debt to be included in the marital debt evaluation. Generally speaking, however, marital debt includes those debts incurred by either spouse individually or both spouses jointly during the marriage. This means that any debt incurred from marriage up until the date of the final divorce hearing is considered marital debt.

The fact that any debt taken on during the divorce process will still be considered marital debt may be disconcerting to many. Malicious or simply irresponsible spouses may try to put you in a bad financial situation by assuming as much debt as possible during divorce proceedings. If you have a valid basis for these fears, you may request that the court order certain spending restrictions, including:

· Making high risk investments
· Spending money for the sole intention of harming you
· Over spending or frivolous spending
· Excessive gambling.

If you are considering divorce or are beginning the divorce process, be mindful of all of the above. Division of debt, just like division of property, can have substantial and lasting impacts on your finances. Additionally, and this is very important, remember that while the court may order who will be responsible for paying a specific marital debt, you can still be held responsible by the lender should your former spouse fail to make the required payments. A creditor may go after either spouse when payments are not received. Some states even have a stipulation in divorce decrees that states each party acknowledges that assignment of responsibility for paying a debt incident to the divorce does not necessarily change the creditor’s ability to go after either spouse for a debt owed.

 


Monday, April 24, 2017

Uncovering Hidden Assets in a Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a difficult process, especially when the proceedings become contentious. In fact disputes about spousal support and child support often arise, and it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to attempt to conceal their assets from each other and the court. While this is illegal, it happens more than many realize.

If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, there are number of steps you should take. First, since many financial transactions are conducted over the internet, viewing a web browser on a computer or smart phone can reveal vital information about sites that were visited. In particular money being transferred out of and into accounts is a telltale sign that someone is hiding assets.

In addition, social media may also offers clues that a spouse has money her or she claims not to have to pay spousal support or child support. Are there comments or pictures posted about purchasing a luxury item or taking an expensive vacation? If so, this is valuable evidence that an attorney can use at trial.

Many individuals may not be aware that retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and pensions are considered to be marital property that will be divided in a divorce. If your spouse claims not to have a retirement account, a quick check of the company's website can reveal whether these benefits are offered to employees.

In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a forensic accountant in order to uncover hidden assets such as investments, saving accounts off shore accounts or to track transfers of large sums of money.  In addition, tax returns can be examined to determine if there is income, interest, and dividends that a divorcing spouse may be trying to hide.

Ultimately, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, it is best to speak to an experienced attorney who can take the appropriate legal measures to uncover any assets and present this evidence to the court.

 


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