What Unwed Fathers Should Know About Gaining Custody

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[caption id="" align="alignright" width="409"] Establishing paternity is the first step in getting custody[/caption] Many fathers who are not or were never married to their child’s mother may think the likelihood of them obtaining custody is slim to none. The truth is unwed fathers can gain custody of their children through filing a parentage action. Each state has its own laws and statutes regarding this, but in many states, it is called a Complaint to Establish Paternity, a Petition to Establish a Father-Child Relationship, a Petition for Paternity, or a Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship, (all of these are just different names for a paternity lawsuit filed to prove that someone is the legal and biological father of a child). Petitioning the court for a paternity suit is the first step unwed fathers need to take to obtain custody or visitation with their children. The outcome of the paternity suit, however, is not based on a procedure but more on many factors that a judge considers throughout the case. Judges look at a wide array of factors, most notably the relationship the father has with the child and any parenting concerns the father has regarding how the child’s mother is caring for or raising him or her. These factors play a major role in how the judge decides the case and whether the father gets the outcome he desires.

Filing a Paternity Suit

When an unwed father files a paternity suit, he is petitioning the court to provide him with access to his child, which is based on the idea that contact with both parents is within the child’s best interests. In this petition, the father can request custody, visitation, or both, but it is important to note that custody and visitation are not the same things. Once the petition has been filed with the court, the father needs to ensure that the child’s mother is served with a notice that a petition has been filed.

Making a Custody Case

Fathers will want to hire an attorney to help build their custody case. If fathers have any concerns or evidence that the mother is improperly parenting the child, it is important they inform their attorney of these facts, including reports of neglect, any cases with child protective service agencies, or evidence of unfit behavior. If the mother does not have any negative parenting attributes, the father may want to consider petitioning the court for visitation/parenting time as a backup plan. If a father has been denied parenting time with his child, depending on how long the absence has been, a father might look at setting a long-term goal of obtaining custody. This long-term goal might involve first establishing paternity while obtaining as much overnight parenting time as possible, and then preparing to file a follow-up motion or petition with the court (a year or two later) to modify that parenting plan and make the father the primary residential parent. This requires strategic planning and a father must be at his best at all times – even a small slip-up can derail this plan.

The Custody Decision

Depending on the circumstances of the case and the evidence presented, the judge decides on the father’s petition. The father’s request for custody or visitation will either be granted, denied, or some compromise will be made between both parties. It is important to know there is no such thing as a “final decree” when it comes to child custody issues – there is always an opportunity to have child custody agreements modified or changed depending on the circumstances of the case. When the judge makes a decision on custody-related matters, a father should expect that he and the mother will both be testifying under oath and that the judge will be relying on numerous factors that are presented in the form of evidence to the court. This might be report cards, letters from counselors, or even the advice of a court-appointed child representative (a lawyer that represents minor children). The judge will base their decision on what is in the best interests of the children, not necessarily based on what a child or either parent wants. Getting started on the path to getting parenting time or custody of your child means first establishing paternity – and an experienced child custody lawyer is likely the first and most important step to take for your family.

FAQs about Family Law

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1,440 Family Law Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock This page is provided as a public service by the ABA Section of Family Law. Nothing in this site should be construed as legal information, legal advice or legal representation. Divorce laws vary from state to state. Our answers reflect the laws applied in most states. We make no warranties to the accuracy of information contained herein. We assume no responsibility for any information, advice or services provided by any site that is linked from this site. You may also wish to visit our Family Law in the 50 States tables for more specific information. I am getting divorced. Do I need an attorney? It ordinarily is a good idea to consult with a lawyer about major life events or changes, such as a divorce. S/he will protect your rights, as well as the rights of your children. S/he keeps current with the laws in your state concerning marriage, divorce, marital property, child custody and visitation, and family support. How can I find an attorney? One of the best ways to find an attorney is via referral from other family members, friends, colleagues or professionals (i.e., accountant, therapist, clergy). For a list of state and local bar association referral programs, see www.findlegalhelp.org for more information and resources. What are the legal grounds for obtaining a divorce? The grounds for divorce depend on the state, and may be based on no-fault or fault. A no-fault divorce is available in some form in all 50 states; many states also have fault-based grounds as an additional option. A no-fault divorce is one in which neither the husband nor the wife officially blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. Common bases for no-fault divorce are "irreconcilable differences," "irretrievable breakdown" or "incompatibility." Another common basis for no-fault divorce is that the parties have lived separately for a certain period of time (varies from state to state) with the intent that the separation be permanent. The list of grounds for a fault-based divorce may include: adultery, physical cruelty, mental cruelty, attempted murder, desertion, habitual drunkenness, use of addictive drugs, insanity, impotency, and infection of one’s spouse with venereal disease. Who determines how assets are divided in a divorce? Generally, spouses are free to divide their property as they see fit in what is called a "marital settlement agreement," which is a contract between the husband and the wife that divides property and debts and resolves other issues of the divorce. Although many divorces begin with a high level of acrimony, a substantial majority are settled without the need for a judge to decide property or other issues. However, if the division of property cannot be settled, then the court must make the determination. Laws vary from state to state. As a starting point, many states allow both parties to keep their "nonmarital" or "separate" property. In dividing marital or community property, the laws vary from state to state. Some states are community property states. Some states, such as California, believe that marital property should be divided equally unless a premarital agreement specifies otherwise. Most states, however, apply the concept of "equitable distribution," which means the court divides the marital property as it thinks fair. That division may be 50-50 or something else. Some of the factors considered include: the amount of nomarital property each spouse has; each spouse’s earning power; services as a homemaker; waste and dissipation; fault; duration of the marriage; and age and health of the parties. How do courts determine who gets custody of children in a divorce? How do Courts Determine Who Gets Custody of Children in a Divorce? | Parent HeraldIf the parents cannot agree on custody of their child, the courts decide custody based on "the best interests of the child." Determining the child’s best interests involves many factors, no one of which is the most important factor. Source: Atkinson, Jeff, The American Bar Association Guide to Family Law, 1996. What is joint custody? Joint custody has two parts: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. A joint custody order can have one or both parts. Joint legal custody refers to both parents sharing the major decisions affecting the child, which can include school, health care and religious training. Other considerations under these types of custody agreements can include: extracurricular activities, summer camp, age for dating or getting a job, and methods of discipline. Joint physical custody refers to the time spent with each parent. The amount of time is flexible, and can range from a moderate period of time for one parent, such as every other weekend, to a child dividing the time equally between the two parents’ homes. In situations where the time spent with both parents will be divided equally, it helps if the parents live close to one another. How is child support determined in a divorce or child support case? All 50 states have adopted child support guidelines. Some states use tables that indicate a support amount for different ranges of income, similar to tax tables. Although some states base support on the payor's income, many states use an income shares model, which is based on the income of both parents. Usually, the parent without the child the majority of the time will pay support, but if both parents share time with the child equally, the parent with the greater income usually pays support. The support may be reduced based upon the amount of time the payor spends with the child. Some states also cap support at a certain income level. If a parent is intentionally not working or is working at less than he or she is capable of earning, the court can "impute income," which means setting support based upon what the parent is capable of earning rather than actual earnings. States vary on what expenses are included in child support. For example, some states include medical expenses and day care, while other states add those costs on top of the child support. What happens if a parent does not pay court-ordered child support? In 1994, 5.4 million women with children were due child support (far below the number eligible for such orders). However, of the 5.4 million, only slightly more than half received the full amount, while a quarter received partial payment and a quarter received nothing at all. Various enforcement mechanisms exist against these so-called "dead-beat parents," including automatic withholding of the obligor’s income. The court has the power to hold a party in contempt for violating a court order. The contemnor must be allowed an opportunity to "purge" the contempt, meaning to comply with the order. If the contemnor does not purge the contempt and has the ability to pay, the court has the power of incarceration, although usually for a limited amount of time, such as six months per contempt citation. In addition, many states have criminal penalties for failing to pay child support. Recently, Congress has enacted many new enforcement mechanisms, creating greater collaboration between federal and state governments. These include suspension of driver’s licenses and professional licenses, seizure of tax refunds, seizure of bank accounts and investment accounts, and even publishing the name and picture of the "dead-beat parent" on posters and in newspapers. The law also improves interstate enforcement by bolstering federal services to locate parents across state lines and by requiring all states to have common paternity procedures in interstate cases. Do grandparents have visitation rights to their children? Custody and Grandparents' Rights: Here's What You Need to Know | legalzoom.comTraditionally, the common law denied grandparents visitation with a child over a parent's objections. But since 1965, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation enabling grandparents to petition the courts for visitation rights with grandchildren. The laws do not make granting of visitation rights automatic—they merely give grandparents the right to ask for a visitation order. Many states permit only grandparents to petition for visitation, but some have extended the right to other relatives, such as great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings, stepparents, and even non-relatives with whom the child has a close relationship. In these and other areas, state law governs. Most commonly, a grandparent (or other permitted third party) may petition for visitation after the death of a parent or upon divorce of the parents. Some statutes allow petitions when a parent is incarcerated when a child is born out of wedlock, and when the child has previously lived with the grandparent.

7 Important Traits of the Best Family Law Lawyers

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It's hard to choose the right family law lawyer for your case. The process can be challenging and stressful, especially when you are not sure what you're looking for. Finding the Right Family Law Lawyer For Your Divorce - CDT Throughout the pages of our website, we have worked hard to bring you useful information that will help you learn the law and also help you choose the best family lawyer for your particular case. In this article, we are going to review some of the traits that we believe are important and should be part of the right family law attorney. Think of this as the 7 golden traits.

1. The lawyer's integrity

Reasons You Need a Family Lawyer After You're Divorced | Texas Integrity is a big deal and, perhaps to your surprise, a necessary part of any family lawyer you hire. What do we mean by integrity? Simple. A family law lawyer should be honest with you about the strengths and weaknesses of your divorce case. I swear, some family lawyers should have pom poms in their office. All they do is cheer-lead, just to get you to retain them. That is foolish on their part and dangerous on yours. Imagine going to a doctor. You know you are ill but you don't know what is wrong with you. Imagine then the doctor not telling you what is medically wrong with you but instead telling you that you are fine…would you feel better in that moment? Sure. Is that in your best interest? No, not unless you don't mind becoming more ill. It's not that different with choosing the right lawyer. How are you going to know what the right direction and strategy is on your family law case if your lawyer only gives you part of the information you need? How are you going to set reasonable expectations? How are you going to avoid being surprised in court when results occur that you never saw coming? These are not good things and when you consult with a family lawyer who assures your everything is fine, you have nothing to worry about and makes you promises that (just using some common sense) don't sound right, run the other way.

2. The family law lawyer's diligence

You can tell the diligence of your lawyer from the moment you call him or her. Did the lawyer take your call or did you talk with a secretary? Did the lawyer take the time to speak with you about the issues by phone or just got right to how much he or she would charge? Did the in person consultation happen? Did the lawyer go over the facts, the law and the issues? When you are choosing the right family attorney for your case, keep these things in mind. They are a "preview" of the type of diligence you can expect when you hire him or her. Don't get diligence from the moment you call? Move on.

3. The lawyer's communication skills

Lawyers, as a profession, have a poor reputation for their communication skills. You know why that is? Because they deserve it. Your family law attorney should be accessible to you. When you call, he or she should take the call. You should not be talking with the lawyer's secretary or paralegal more than the lawyer. Legal advice should come from the lawyer. Your lawyer should email you. Your lawyer should be in regular contact about the status of your case.

4. The lawyer's objectivity

Objectivity is more than giving you the strengths and weaknesses of your case. It is also making sure the analysis of your case includes the reasonable options the family court has. The best lawyers will not look at your divorce case and its issues in a vacuum. Instead, they will understand the court has "discretion" on certain issues and there is rarely a black or white, clear-cut issue in family law. That discretion means options and it is important your lawyer give you those options. Does that mean they can predict results? Of course not. Nobody can and nobody should. But it does mean an objective look at the facts, evidence and issues can prepare you for different scenarios and help you and your lawyer plan accordingly.

5. The family law lawyer's patience

You know that lawyer that loses his or her patience, yells at you, yells at the other lawyer, yells in court and then calls him or herself "aggressive"? Don't hire that type. It's one thing to be blunt and to the point. It's another to let your emotions get the better of you.
You are going through a difficult time. You may be emotional. You need your lawyer to be calm and patient. That doesn't mean you can just let your emotions take control of you and let the lawyer figure out the rest. The best family law attorneys help you manage those emotions, if you will let them.

6. The family law lawyer document preparation skills

By the time you walk into court, your lawyer or law firm should have prepared all of your paperwork. Did you know a lot of times, the family law judge has made his or her decision on the case before you walk in? Did you know that decision is often made based on the paperwork submitted? Don't underestimate the importance of the document preparation in your divorce case…and if you hire a lawyer who has his or her secretary or paralegal do all of the work and he doesn't even read it carefully and make sure it is accurate, complete and properly advocates your case, you should consider changing lawyers.

7. The family law lawyer skill and experience inside the courtroom

Birmingham Family Law Attorneys » Free Consultations Here are three ways to know if you have a talented courtroom, divorce lawyer. a. Look at what his or her actual clients say about the lawyer; b. Look at the types of case results the lawyer achieves; c. Go see the lawyer in court. Sound easy? It is. Do you need an initial consultation with an experienced and skilled family law lawyer? If so, our lawyers are ready to help you. Contact our law firm today for a consultation. We will get your case on the right track.

Top 6 Tips For Choosing A Good Family Attorney

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When a family problem is at its worst and reaches the courts, the need for a good attorney is the answer. Hiring a legal counsel requires specific measures to ensure that the desired outcome is achieved. Before you hire a lawyer, look for qualifications such as professionalism, trust and confidence, and expertise that can help you win the case.

This post will help you decide on choosing a good family attorney

When to Hire a Family Attorney

1. Ask Around Or Check Reviews

Your family and friends can help you search for the best lawyers. These referrals can provide the widest search range as the experiences and recommendations of your referrals will help in shortlisting the best lawyer among all possible candidates. Further, other professionals, such as psychologists and accountants, who usually work with divorce lawyers, can give you the best possible recommendations. Asking previous clients of a lawyer can also help you visualize how professional they are in dealing with the same case problems. Moreover, reviews on websites can help speed up the search for good lawyers. For instance, Emily McFarling’s firm in Las Vegas, NV has a website that lays out their services and provides updated client reviews that can help you decide in hiring the best attorney.

2. Choose An Expert

Family law is complex, and trends are constantly evolving with the latest cases. The perspective of the judge on a specific case may change in the future. Thus, it’s important to hire specialist family lawyers with deep expertise and experience in family law. Also, verify if the lawyer has a specific set of skills that suit your needs. For instance, choose a lawyer who has ample courtroom experience. If you’re dealing with divorce matters, make sure that the lawyer is a good negotiator. It’s important to do your research and find out the attorney’s record.

Family Attorney3. Meet With Your Lawyer

Meeting the lawyer in person can give you a bunch of information and the first impression you need to make an informed decision. Personal interviews with them can provide you with ideas on the lawyer’s work ethic and professionalism towards the case. It’s important you can trust and confide with your chosen lawyer. After all, they’ll be working on personal issues involving your family. Make sure that you’re compatible working with them.

4. Find Someone Accessible

A good lawyer is attentive to the client’s needs. If the lawyer can be reached out easily and provide prompt feedback, then that could be your choice. It would be nice if the lawyer talks or explains in a converse manner, avoiding legal jargon that’s difficult to comprehend. Furthermore, the location of the lawyer is also a factor. It’s much convenient hiring a lawyer in your local area to avoid stress in traveling during meetings. It’s a plus point for a lawyer who updates their clients by keeping them informed during each step of the case.

5. Look For Warning Signs

Be cautious with red flags. If you’re sensing unethical behavior from your possible legal counsel, then it’s a downside. When carefully selecting a family lawyer, here are some of the warning signs you should avoid:
  • Sharing confidential information from previous clients
  • Unresponsive and distracted with phone calls and other consultations
  • Attitude issues like aggressiveness and laziness
  • Bold promises to clients
  • Poor reputation
  • Pushing deadlines
  • Not providing references
  • No personal connection

6. Pick A Lawyer With Reasonable Fees

Generally, family lawyers are expensive. Of course, some might choose a cheap lawyer to save themselves from the huge expense, but this might not always yield the most positive outcome overall. Family attorneys with a high hourly rate can be due to their efficiency at the job—that’s doing less time, but performing the best strategy for the case to win. However, there is always a less expensive lawyer who has lower rates, probably due to their lack in demand and popularity. However, this doesn’t always correlate with their level of expertise, dedication, and professionalism. It’s important not to rely on cost alone when deciding which family lawyer to hire. Look for the lawyer who can properly represent you and your family in court.

Bottom Line

The Traits Of A Successful Family Law Firm | by Jennifer Roberts | Medium The tips above can help you decide on choosing the right lawyer. Selecting a family lawyer is like searching for a name on the internet: it takes a lot of consideration, yet if you pick the right lawyer, you’ll find relief after that. A good family lawyer practices good work ethics and is an expert in the field. A compassionate and experienced legal counsel can provide effective representation in several areas of family law. After all, they should be your best representation in court, which is why professionalism, experience, expertise, personal compatibility, accessibility, and cost are taken into consideration. In the end, these measures will be worth it when you win the case.

THE ROLE OF EXPERT TESTIMONY IN DIVORCE CASES

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When a couple files for a divorce in Florida, the court has ultimate authority in declaring whether the parties’ marriage has legally ended. However, divorce cases involve more than whether the marriage has legally come to an end. Issues such as the division of marital propertyspousal support, and the organization of parenting time and parental responsibilities are all important matters that the court must resolve before rendering its final judgment of divorce. Because many of the primary issues in a divorce case may deal with sophisticated concepts of property ownership and finance, it may be necessary for a party to rely on the testimony of a witness with specialized education and background concerning a critical issue of the litigation. Such witnesses are known as expert witnesses and are often help to these issues. In a divorce case, expert testimony is often beneficial in the following proceedings:

  • Valuing marital assets for equitable distribution
  • Valuing legal services for attorney’s fees
  • Analyzing finances spousal and child support
  • Developing parenting plans

QUALIFICATIONS OF EXPERTS

Unlike other witnesses, the opinions of experts may be relevant to certain issues in a divorce case. Whereas the court probably will not admit the opinions of non-expert witnesses—also known as “lay witnesses”—the opinion of a qualified expert may be admitted in court as evidence. However, before getting to the opinion testimony of an expert, a party must first lay a “foundation” or “predicate” that demonstrates that the particular witness is an expert. To lay a foundation for expert testimony in Florida, a party can question the purported expert witness about the following:
  • Their education in their particular field of expertise
  • Their training in their chosen profession or field of study
  • Their professional background
  • Any certifications they achieved in their profession or field of study
  • Other relevant work experience showing the witness to be an expert in their field

TEST FOR ADMITTING EXPERT TESTIMONY

In addition to proving the qualifications of an expert witness, the testimony offered by the witness must qualify as admissible expert testimony under Florida’s evidence code. Under Florida Evidence Code § 90.702, the court may admit expert testimony as evidence if the following criteria are met:
  • Specialized knowledge will assist the court in “understanding evidence or determining a fact in issue”
  • The expert’s testimony is based on “sufficient facts or data”
  • Their testimony is “the product of reliable principles and methods”
  • The expert has “applied the principles and methods reliably to the facts of the case.”
However, it was not until recently that the current test regarding the admissibility of expert testimony was adopted in Florida. Until last year, Florida courts applied a stricter analysis for admitting expert testimony as outlined in the case U.S. Supreme Court cases Frye v. the United States, which held that expert testimony based on sufficiently established and accepted scientific methods. Then, in 2019, the Florida Supreme Court decided to adopt the more flexible standard regarding the admissibility of expert testimony featured in the U.S. Supreme Court case Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc., which reflects the current test outlined by Florida Evidence Code § 90.702. The court reasoned that adopting the Daubert standard promoted consistency between state and federal courts as well as fairness and predictability in the justice system overall.

CONSULT BAUER LAW GROUP, P.A. FOR LEGAL ADVICE

You can benefit from the help of someone with the education, training, and background necessary to help protect your legal rights and interests in a Florida divorce case. At Bauer Law Group, P.A., our legal team has experience dealing with a variety of divorce issues—such as property division, spousal support, and child custody—and other matters involving Florida family law.

Can I Oppose a Divorce?

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Divorce in Thailand

When you took your marriage vows, you likely promised to stay committed until death. However, in today's modern times, divorce has become more and more common, and no longer holds the stigma it once did. It's challenging to face the end of your marriage. The court proceedings, custody of your children, dividing up your property, and the severing of ties is often an emotional and bitter battle.

Contested or Uncontested Divorce

If you agree on everything, then you can file for a dissolution or an uncontested divorce. However, if you are unable to agree on the terms of your divorce, then eventually the court will be forced to render a decision, which makes it a contested case. Never step into the courtroom with unresolved issues without proper legal representation. Your future depends on it.

If you've been served with divorce papers, the other party doesn't need your participation to receive a decree from the court. If you do nothing, then the judge will take your silence as an answer in absentia. However, you can and should oppose the divorce if you don't agree with the terms. It pays to have a legal team looking over the paperwork to ensure things are being split fairly and your rights and future are protected.

Filling A Divorce Petition

Q&A: Professor Sets the Record Straight on 2020 Divorce Rate | UVA Today

When one party files a divorce petition, they must also file other documents required by the state of New Jersey. When the other party is served there will be a summons included that instructs you to respond to the claims or dispute anything that you don't agree on. The petition has all your pertinent information, including your names, date of marriage, the names and ages of your children and what you are generally seeking from the divorce. You are required to be served these documents by personal service or by mail if you sign an acknowledgment of service.

Once you have received the paperwork, the court will be notified of service, and the proceedings will continue. You will find a date that you must respond by, which is 35 days after you were served. It's your right to dispute anything that you don't agree with, but you should have a Middlesex County family law attorney help you in this matter.

Default Judgment

If the allotted time passes and you have not responded, then your spouse may file for a default judgment. The other party can ask for a final hearing date, and the judge will award the divorce decree. The judge has no additional information except the original petition and a document your spouse will submit stating in detail what they are seeking. Thus, unless you respond the judge will grant the award based on the facts at hand. Don't let your spouse get a divorce on their terms. You have rights and should dispute anything that is not true or was erroneously stated.

Filing A Counterclaim

Matters of the heart often get messy, especially in a court of law. It's best to have a family law attorney to answer the petition. They will ask for your side of the story and dispute anything that was told to the court in error. You can raise issues regarding child custody, child support, alimony, assets, division of debts, and any other applicable issues. The response can be used to say that you disagree with the petition, but you don't want to delay the proceedings.

Oftentimes a counterclaim will be filed. This paperwork will include your proposed terms. It's not uncommon for the court to hold pre-trial hearings on motions made by either party, and things can be extended way beyond the intended hearing date. It's imperative to have a family law attorney guiding you as things can get quite heated. A Middlesex County divorce attorney doesn't get involved in the dramatic or emotional aspects of the case. They stick to the law and will handle the drama on your behalf.

Hiring A Team To Handle These Emotional Proceedings

Healthy divorce: How to make your split as smooth as possible

If you are facing a divorce and not sure which direction to turn, don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance. Contact us for more information.

What Happens if I Don’t Sign My Divorce Papers?

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Signing Divorce Papers: What Does That Mean? | Julie Fowler Law Office If you have been blindsided by divorce papers, it can be natural to want to ignore them. Maybe if you ignore the problem it will go away. However, there are few things in life that work this way and divorce isn’t one of them. Contrary to what you may have heard or what you might think, refusing to sign divorce papers will not stop your divorce. Instead, what will happen if you refuse to sign your divorce papers is that you will give up your rights to negotiate a settlement that takes into consideration what you want. All matters related to property divisionchild custody, and spousal support will be determined solely by your spouse.

Types of Divorces

What Happens if My Spouse Does Not Sign the Divorce Papers? – Divorce  Attorney in NJ | Monmouth County Divorce Attorney The dissolution of a marriage is a legal process, a form of litigation. The party that is suing for divorce is known as the petitioner, while the party that is served with divorce papers is the respondent. Typically, the respondent has 30 days to respond to divorce papers. If he or she fails to do so, the judge could rule in favor of the petitioner. This is known as a default judgment. The respondent has no rights and will have no ruling that favors their interest should a default judgment be handed down by the judge. Most of the time, when people think of a divorce they think of a contested divorce. In a contested divorce, the respondent hires a lawyer of their own and files a petition with the court disputing the terms laid out in the initial divorce papers. Perhaps the respondent didn’t like the way his or her spouse divided the property or allocated time with the children. With the help of a lawyer, the respondent can seek to get terms more favorable to what they want (most likely more of the property and more time with the kids). The securing of these more favorable terms can occur either through a courtroom verdict or an out of court settlement. While contested divorces can be contentious, there are several ways to work through them without going to court. Collaborative divorces and mediation are two ways all parties involved can work together to reach a settlement. Finally, there is a type of divorce where the petitioner and respondent agree on the terms of the divorce from the very beginning. This is known as an uncontested divorce. While uncontested divorces might be rarer than contested divorces, they are not unheard of. Usually, before a couple can pursue an uncontested divorce, they have to be in agreement on issues like:
  • Who will pay child support and how much
  • Which spouse will pay spousal support (if any)
  • How to divide property and debts
  • Which parent will get custody of the children and the terms of visitation for the other parent
In reality, a failure to sign divorce papers is a type of uncontested divorce, since the respondent is choosing not to contest any of the terms of the divorce. The difference, however, is that in traditional uncontested divorces, both spouses have come to an agreement before filing for divorce.

What You Should Do If You Are Served Divorce Papers

5 Celebrity Couples Who Opted For A Quick, No-Fault Divorce - Fastest  Divorces Ever | The Economic Times If you are served with divorce papers, you should hire the services of an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. You will have 30 days to respond to the divorce papers, and your lawyer will need as much time as possible to consider your case and how you can best respond. Even if you think you and your spouse can reach an out of court settlement, it is best to proceed with the help of a lawyer. Divorce can be one of the most difficult parts of anyone’s life and a lawyer can help ease your burden during this challenging time.

Choosing the Right Family Law Attorney

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Choosing a family law attorney in Raleigh, NC can be a very difficult decision. The right lawyer can make a real difference both in the outcome of your divorce and how you make it through the very emotional process. You want a trusting relationship. You want a lawyer who is serious about your case and listens to your needs. You want a lawyer who moves your case forward to the conclusion. Here are some tips on choosing the right lawyer. Our family law attorneys offer tips on how to pick the right family law attorney. Whether you’re considering a divorce, attempting to work out custody and support issues, planning an adoption or facing another family law issue, choosing the right family law attorney can ease your mind and produce better results. Your lawyer becomes your partner in the process, helping you achieve the outcome you want within the boundaries of the law. Here are some tips to help you select an attorney whom you can trust, who listens to your needs and who keeps your case moving forward until it is concluded.

Find an attorney you can work with.

Your lawyer will be your partner throughout your case. You may need to confide sensitive or embarrassing information to your attorney – things you would prefer not to tell anyone. You’ll be speaking to your attorney frequently, and you’ll need to be able to provide information and understand your lawyer’s explanations of certain steps in your case or how the law applies in your situation. Consequently, choosing a lawyer you trust and can communicate with is crucial. While a law firm’s website and other materials provide a good start, don’t base your decision solely on the law firm. Instead, speak to each attorney you’re considering. Ask questions like: Does the attorney have experience with cases like mine? Do they explain things in a way that makes sense to me? Do they answer my questions? Do I feel like I can trust this person?

Interview prospective attorneys with your needs in mind.

Interview prospective attorneys with your needs in mind. When you contact a law firm to speak to a prospective attorney, be as clear as you can about what you’re looking for. Many lawyers will agree to speak to you for no charge so that both of you can determine whether you’ll be a good “fit” for one another. While speaking to a prospective attorney, keep the following issues in mind:
  • Does your personality mesh with the attorney’s? No matter how experienced a lawyer is, if you do not get along, your case will be more difficult.
  • Communication and promptness. Ask each lawyer how you can contact him or her and how long it will take them to get back to you. Excessive delays or “radio silence” from your lawyer can cause unnecessary aggravation, so choose an attorney who is dedicated to regularly touching base.
  • Willingness to work within your budget. It’s important to talk about money, so that you can get the results you need without draining your bank account. Most attorneys are accustomed to discussing fees and costs up front and will appreciate meeting a prospective client who also understands the need to budget wisely.

Ask for advice, but make your own decision.

Asking friends, family members and co-workers to recommend an attorney is one way to collect information about family law attorneys and law firms in your area. Attorney guides like Martindale-Hubbell or Avvo can also point you to local law firms, as can reading law firm websites and reviews. No matter where you gather your initial information, however, speak to the lawyer before making your decision. Remember that every family, and every family law case, is unique. Your needs are different from the needs of friends or family members, even if they faced a similar problem. Also, remember to take online reviews with a grain of salt. It may be impossible to tell who posted them or what agenda the writer had when they made the post. Get help from a family law attorney to get you through troubling times to a brighter future. At the law firm of Charles R. Ullman & Associates, Raleigh family law attorneys Charles Ullman and Kelly K. Smith work together to help families move through troubling times to a brighter future. Contact us today to learn more about us and how we can help you.

Pick a lawyer, not a law firm.

The most important relationship is not between the law firm and the client, but between the law partner and a client. Seek out a relationship with an individual partner in a firm as your lawyer. Never have a relationship with a law firm — have a relationship with a lawyer. Make it that partner’s responsibility to manage your case. If your case is passed off to an associate, demand an explanation and demand to know the associate’s experience. If the law partner that drew you to the law firm wants to pass off your case to an associate, then you should be thinking about another firm. Ask the lawyer you meet with this question: “Will you be handling my case?”

Ask yourself: “Do I like this lawyer?”

You must be able to get along with your lawyer. The initial interview is as much about deciding if you can have a working relationship with your attorney as it is finding out about how the law applies to your case. If the lawyer you are meeting with is abrasive, distracted, disorganized, or acts in any other way that does not give you confidence, consider how you will feel later on in the case if you chose this lawyer.

Demand expertise and experience.

It used to be common for North Carolina lawyers to handle all manner of cases from divorce to traffic to real estate. More and more lawyers are limiting their practice to specific fields, including family law. You would not go to a general practitioner for open heart surgery, and you should be very hesitant about going to a lawyer who does not limit his or her practice to family law matters if you need a divorce.

Fees: Don’t give your lawyer a blank check.

You should be able to get a very good idea of the cost of your case from your Wake County lawyer. Ask if there is an option for a flat fee so you will know what the case will cost you. Unless a lawyer can offer you a flat fee option, you have no way of knowing how much legal representation will cost.

Settlement and litigation.

Settlement and litigation are two sides of the same coin. Most family law cases settle out of court. Some do not. You need a lawyer that is equally comfortable in settlement negotiations and the court room. Ask your lawyer what training and experience he or she has had in family law negotiations, mediation, and collaborative law. Ask your lawyer if he or she has the experience to handle your case in court should attempts at settlement fail.

Why Family Law Clients Feel at Home at Gray Reed

Blogging

Legal issues surrounding the family can be challenging. At Gray Reed, we strive to guide clients through the process as smoothly as possible. We educate our clients, both individuals, and family offices, about their options, learn their objectives, and work to resolve the legal issues with our client's goals in mind. All of our family law attorneys are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and have the experience and determination to be prepared - no matter what the situation entails.

Gray Reed Legal Services in Family Law

Our family law practice and family law mediation practice were ranked in the U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers (a Woodward/White company) 2021 "Best Law Firms" ranking.

Adoptions

Adoption is a golden opportunity for all parties. A child is placed with a family who needs him, and parents who are not quite ready for the experience of raising him can give another couple their chance. However, while adoption can be a joyous event, there are many legal issues that can stop the proceeding in its tracks. Working with an experienced adoption attorney is important in any type of adoption. The laws governing the adoption process are complex. There are specific requirements and limitations on what attorneys and prospective adoptive parents can do. This is especially true in interstate adoptions because there are at least two states involved and the laws may differ and even conflict. If the wrong legal documents are used, or if state or federal statutes are violated, the adoption could be challenged at a later date or a court may refuse to finalize the adoption. At Gray Reed, we are intimately familiar with the procedures and laws surrounding adoptions. We will make sure that you understand adoption requirements for independent, stepparent, relative, or international adoptions, as well as legal issues involved in adopting from an agency.

Asset Protection

Asset protection is nothing other than the use of legal instruments for the preservation and accumulation of wealth. In essence, asset protection planning revolves around the minimization of risk and careful analysis of all client exposure. When implemented by a qualified, competent attorney, asset protection is a powerful legal tool that can protect clients from future unforeseen risks. Gray Reed provides private counseling to clients on the tools and techniques of asset protection and privacy planning. There are numerous tools available to assist you in protecting your assets. Firm services include the formation and maintenance of various legal vehicles to accomplish the tax planning and estate planning goals and objectives of individual clients.

Child Support

Child Support: Common Questions | Éducaloi Our attorneys are considered experts in negotiating child support payments in high-income cases. When the parties are unable to resolve child support issues, we can explore alternative ways of reaching a settlement such as mediation and arbitration, and collaborative law. Our attorneys are experienced with the collection of past-due support, defense of county Child Support Enforcement actions, and other arrearage issues.

Collaborative Law

Collaborative law is a relatively new way to resolve divorce issues such as asset division, child custody and support, and maintenance out of court. Like mediation, the outcome of the collaborative law process is not binding on either party unless and until a final agreement is signed. The entire process is confidential. Information exchanged in collaborative law is not public record or admissible in court. This may be appealing to public figures or persons of high net worth. In a collaborative law divorce, the parties use specially trained lawyers and neutral experts. The parties commit to achieving a settlement without litigation. Those professionals also commit to working cooperatively to make the divorce process as much of a "win-win" situation as possible. If the parties don't reach a settlement but proceed to litigation, the parties agree that the lawyers will have to withdraw from the case. This creates a huge incentive for all parties to settle, and the lawyers do not benefit from prolonging the case in court. If both parties are committed to the collaborative process, this option creates a setting that allows for the give and takes that can result in an amicable divorce settlement. Oftentimes those settlements include terms a court could not have ordered. However, collaborative divorce is not for everybody. Success depends on the personalities of the parties and their attorneys. If one party or lawyer has a combative personality, is dishonest, or cannot refrain from threats of violence, the case is not right for the collaborative process. For more information, visit our Collaborative Law section.

Custody

Who Has Custody of a Child Born Out of Wedlock in New Jersey - Herbert &  Weiss At Gray Reed, all child custody and support issues are determined based upon what is in the best interest of the child. We advocate for our client's rights in mediation or fight for their interests in trying to determine parental rights and resolve all issues involving child custody including legal custody, physical custody, visitation/parenting time child support, and post-judgment modifications.

Division of Estate

Asset division in divorce is complex and requires an attorney with knowledge of accounting, asset valuation, tax issues, and other financial matters. It also requires an attorney who has experience with family law judges and understands how they tend to treat various items of property. When it comes to the division of an estate, our asset valuation and division lawyers have handled divorce cases with assets ranging from very modest holdings to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Divorce

Every client engaged in divorce has a unique set of needs and priorities. Gray Reed is committed to addressing those needs on an individualized basis. While thorough and aggressive, we counsel clients to resolve their cases in ways to minimize the emotional strife attendant to divorce. We work hard to protect your parental rights and property interests. We are committed to doing whatever is necessary to help you and your children achieve the best possible outcome in an otherwise difficult situation.

Enforcement

Although it is unfortunate, circumstances arise when parents who are supposed to pay child support do not meet their obligations. Our child support attorneys work with clients who are not receiving the amount of child support they are entitled to and helps them collect that support from the parent ordered to pay it.

Mediation

A mediator is a neutral third person who helps the two parties in a divorce resolve issues such as asset division, child custody and support, and maintenance out of court. Mediation can be particularly useful when only a small number of issues remain to be resolved to reach a divorce settlement. The mediator could be a lawyer or another professional. If the issues involve parenting time and decision-making responsibilities, the mediator could be a mental health professional. If the issue is financial, a mediator could be a certified public accountant (CPA). Our lawyers also serve as mediators. Mediation is not binding on either party unless a signed agreement is reached, and either party can proceed to litigate the issues in court if no resolution is reached. However, judicial decisions can be unpredictable, so it's often better to attempt mediation first. A skillful lawyer can discuss with the party, before and during mediation, the pros, and cons of various settlement options. The parties frequently have their lawyers attend mediation sessions with them.

Child Support Modifications

In any divorce, child support is subject to the continuing jurisdiction of the court. Things like changes in a parent's income, changes in the need for or cost of childcare, or other major financial changes may justify a reexamination of child support. What is in the best interests of a child will evolve over time, as they grow and their needs change. We have a great deal of experience requesting these kinds of modifications to child support and custody orders.

Paternity

Proving paternity has become much easier because of DNA fingerprinting. Such technologically advanced techniques can establish paternity to a 99 percent probability. Our firm's attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable with respect to each step in a paternity proceeding and the resulting child support payments and parenting time issues if paternity is established.

Prenuptial Agreements

For those concerned about the possibility of divorce down the road, premarital agreements or "prenups" are a perfectly reasonable response. Prenups are most popular with people who enter a marriage with large assets. Some of these assets are not easily divisible, such as an interest in a family-owned business or a large tract of real estate.

Facts About Injury Law: Why To Hire A Professional Lawyer

Personal injury law

The injury law or personal injury is a legal term that addresses any injury on your body, emotions, or mind. If you have suffered any injury physically, mentally, or emotionally by a person due to some of their activities, you can file a lawsuit against them. In this case, you will need a personal injury lawyer who can provide you with the essential legal services and guide you through the entire legal proceedings. To know more about the laws related to personal injury in South Carolina and why it is essential to consult a professional, read on.

When to hire an injury lawyer?

If you or anyone who is close to you has been injured due to someone else’s fault such as a car accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. You can file this lawsuit if you or someone you know has been hurt or injured physically, mentally, and emotionally by another person’s negligence. This case can be filed against any company, organization, persona, or driver. But in order to file the case or the lawsuit claiming compensation and medical bills, you have to hire a personal injury lawyer.

 

Benefits of hiring a professional injury lawyer

In South Carolina, you have a limitation of 3 years to file a personal injury case from the date of your injury. You can do this under the civil court system of the state. Whether you have to file a case for personal injury or someone has filed a case against you for the same, calling for professional help is the best idea. Hiring a personal injury lawyer or law firm can help you in many ways. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Professionally experienced: The main reason for hiring a professional injury lawyer is that they can help you with their experience. As they are well-experienced, they have the right knowledge about the laws of South Carolina and its procedures too.
  • Help with claims and medical attention: Hiring a lawyer for personal injury can help you with immediate medical attention and treatments. Also, these records are important for legal proceedings. A professional lawyer can help you.
  • Better decision and proper guidance: The next reason why you should hire a professional is to guide you in the right direction. If you are not a lawyer and don’t have any idea about the legal matters, it can be quite confusing for your to go through the complicated process. Having a professional legal expert by your side can help you in making better decisions and guide you in the right way.
  • Faster compensation: One of the main reasons why you must hire a professional for covering the injury law is to get faster compensation. They will help you to speed up the entire legal proceedings by providing evidence. This can help you to get faster compensation.

While looking for the best lawyer, make sure to look for an experienced, reliable, and reputed lawyer for your case.

Hire the best personal injury lawyer

If you are looking for the best lawyers for personal injury cases, then you can look out for The Law of Office of Scott E. Kegel. He is one of the most experienced injury lawyers and has handled many such cases over the years. Scott E. Kegel is quite a reputed name in the personal injury sector of law as he meticulously investigates the accident and builds a strong case to help you claim your compensation. The injury attorney also offers a completely free consultation so that you can consult your case with him before hiring Scott E. Kegel.

Why hire The Law Office of Scott E. Kegel?

If you are wondering why you should hire Scott E. Kegel as your personal injury attorney, then you must know the following points:

  • Customized approach

No two legal cases are the same. Hence, the proceedings can be completely different from one another. Scott E. Kegel understands this very well and his offer provides a customized approach to each and every personal injury case that they take.

  • Proper assessment of the case

The best part is that the office of Scott E. Kegel will properly and thoroughly assess the case once they take it. First, they will consult with you about the case and you can provide them with all the details. Once the details are provided, the lawyers will take some action and investigate the entire case in their own way.

  • Expert research and fact-finding

It is not possible for everyone to do thorough research. The Law Office of Scott E. Kegel has all the essential resources and tools that are needed for the researches. Hence they can find some of the essential facts and reconstruct the accident which will help you to prove your claim about the personal injury case.

  • Identifying liable parties

This South Carolina law office can help you by identifying all the parties that are liable for the personal injury claim. Often more than just one party is liable for the damages you or your loved one has gone through. Their office will help in identifying all the parties that are liable and claim compensation from everyone.

  • Great experience in this field

Lastly, one of the biggest reasons for hiring The Law Office of Scott E. Kegel in South Carolina is that the firm is highly experienced with professionally experienced lawyers. They have enough expertise, knowledge, and resources to help you in building a strong case that you will be able to win and claim maximum compensation from all the liable parties.

Conclusion

It is quite clear that if you want to file a lawsuit regarding injury law or personal injury, then it is always better to call for a professional lawyer. The Law Office of Scott E. Kegel in South Carolina is the perfect choice for you as it is a well-experienced, reputed, and reliable law office with best-in-class personal injury attorneys. They can help to file the lawsuit in the right way, collect evidence, build a strong case and get the necessary compensation from the liable parties. Call them now if you are looking for the best personal injury attorney for you or anyone you know.