Starting a family can be one of the most exciting facts of your life. But sometimes even the happiest events need the help of the courts to be officers. Family law is a broad area of practice that covers domestic relationships, such as divorce and property division, child custody and support, spousal support, and adoption. Whether you seek to protect yourself in case of divorce by signing a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement, escaping an abusive relationship or attempting to start a new chapter in your love life, the Family Law section of Lawyer includes information that will guide you.
Many of these issues become emotional, contentious and complicated. If you are facing a problem related to family law, you may find it helpful or even essential to consult and hire a specialized lawyer.
Divorce, annulments and legal separation
All states allow divorce without fault, rather than spouses must state a reason to divorce. In a no-fault divorce, one of the spouses simply states that the marriage has been broken and cannot be preserved, and the court gives the divorce decree to end the marriage. While some contentious divorces can go to trial, most are resolved through some kind of agreement or mediation.
If the marriage itself was legally invalid, the spouses can obtain the annulment. In the case of annulments, the law treats marriage as if it never existed. Some examples of invalid marriages are those with bigamy (marriage with more than one person), false statements, fraud, concealment of truth, lack of consent and incest.
In some cases, couples opt for legal separation instead of ending their marriage permanently. This usually happens in cases where issues such as tax and health care benefits weigh more than the desire to divorce. In addition to paving the way for child custody agreements, legal separation can also be an option for couples who want to live apart for a while to determine if they really want to divorce.
Child custody and support
Legal custody determines which parent will make important decisions regarding the child, while physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child lives primarily. There are a variety of custody and visitation agreements. In all cases, the courts make decisions regarding the custody of the child based on what they determine to be the best interests of the child.
The livelihood of children , usually by a parent to the other parent who has primary physical custody, serves to provide the child a similar standard of living to which would follow if parents together. In many states, judges use child support guidelines to determine the monthly amount to be awarded.
Spousal support or food quota (¨alimony¨) is the monthly amount paid by the spouse with higher income to their ex-spouse. It can be requested for a short time, indefinitely or not requested, depending on several factors.
Sometimes, couples enter into a prenuptial agreement before getting married. Normally, it is written by a lawyer. Some frequent issues addressed in a prenuptial agreement are how the property will be divided in case of divorce, the waiver of future rights to spousal support, the duties and responsibilities of each spouse and other varied issues. The agreements cannot include provisions on child custody or child support.
Divorce cases are mostly about how assets will be divided . Some cases are handled in states under the regime of society of property and others in states with an equitable distribution .
In the states with the marital property regime, the courts consider marital property as jointly owned by both spouses and are divided equally. In states with an equitable distribution, judges divide marital property according to what they consider a fair division (but not necessarily the same). For example, the judge may decide that the fair thing for the custodial parent is to maintain ownership of the house until the youngest child graduates from high school, at which time the house will be sold, instead of forcing the sale and equitable distribution as part of the divorce process.
A lawyer specializing in family law can assist you to determine the value of the assets and help you understand which possessions qualify for the division and which ones are exempt.
Whether you intend to enlarge the family by adopting a child or wish to equate your stepchild with your biological child in the eyes of the law, the law that governs the legal process that you must go through is adoption. The adoption process differs depending on the type of adoption you choose and where it takes place. An adoption attorney will guide you through this potentially complex process.
Need help? Get a free case evaluation from a family law attorney
No matter what stage you are in, making changes in your family can be an emotional roller coaster. A family lawyer will guide you during these changes and explain the process and options you have. Whether you plan to marry, enlarge the family or “separate conscientiously”, if you need qualified legal assistance, get a free evaluation of the facts that make up your situation from a specialized lawyer with experience in family law.
Talk to a lawyer qualified in Family Law today
This article is intended to be useful and informative, but legal issues can become complicated and stressful. A lawyer qualified in family law can attend to your particular legal needs, explain the law and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a qualified family law attorney near you to discuss your particular legal situation.