A family law attorney may become an immediate objective support system during unwanted, but necessary interruptions to stable family lives, including divorce actions, child custody, and child support matters. Divorce has been identified as second in the top ten most stressful life events, often creating a wide array of unbridled emotions and irrational actions by divorcing parties in some cases. The importance of an impartial and reasonable family lawyer is a fail-safe to accomplish the changes necessary for a fresh start that addresses financial, emotional, and housing concerns for families as they move forward.
Divorce actions can be time consuming and cause emotional and financial battles that require professional support from a divorce lawyer. At the outset, a divorce attorney can draft and submit paperwork to the court for emergency financial support for separated spouses and/or children to maintain stability until the divorce can be finalized by addressing household expenses and spousal/child support matters. The venue, or state where a divorce action takes place has requirements for filing that include:
Residency. Usually at least one party to the divorce action must be a resident of the venue and follow the state’s designated time requirement. A divorce attorney can assist with documenting residency requirements.
Separation. Some states require formal separation with designated timeframes, while others do not. Divorce attorneys can assist with drafting separation agreements so both parties understand what is required of them until a final divorce action is signed by a judge. Agreements address the division of assets and debts, time sharing schedules and financial support responsibility for household expenses, spousal support, and children. Divorce attorneys may draft separation agreements to make it easier when divorce proceedings begin, and to minimize disagreements until the marriage has formally ended.
No fault versus fault action. Some states are considered “no-fault” divorce states where it is only necessary to admit that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and only one spouse has to want the divorce. Fault actions have more requirements with some states specifically identifying grounds for divorce including:
- Felony conviction
- Willful abandonment
- Confinement to a mental hospital
- Both parties living separately for a period of time before formal divorce action
- Physical abuse upon the petitioner, or child(ren) of a divorce action
Experienced family law attorneys can utilize alleged causes for divorce to strengthen a case in favor of their client that may involve a better outcome, such as the ability to maintain the family home, receive prolonged financial support, generous child support and limitations on family interruptions going forward. Alternately, divorce lawyers can defend claims of unfounded fault against a party to the marriage. Divorce attorneys are skillful communicators with opposing counsel, or spouse, and during mediations to iron out disputes over alimony, child support, marital assets/liabilities, and other concerns toward drafting a final divorce agreement document. They can represent parties in court when there are contested matters, or other legal matters involving child custody, or child support.
A child custody lawyer can explain state child custody laws, as they pertain to both parents’ legal responsibility to the children. Legal battles involving child custody are best addressed with an experienced child custody attorney, as the outcomes can be devastating for parents and children alike. Custody issues are resolved by addressing physical custody, timesharing, visitation, and household stability matters as well as means of financial support.
- Physical custody – custody that is in the best interests of the child, considering a multitude of factors such as age, parental preference, mental and physical health of parents, child’s community, school, and home environment; parental history of violence; relationship with child and moral standing.
- Visitation – a parent not granted custody, or joint custody of a child is entitled to reasonable visitation. Some states have timesharing requirements versus custody per se.
- Family violence impact – in cases involving a history of family violence, or domestic abuse, a court may determine an award of custody, or visitation in accordance with state laws regarding family violence.
- Parental education – some states require parental education before a divorce action can be finalized and an experienced child custody attorney can assist with this requirement.
A child support attorney can help with filing distinctions when children are involved, including a child support information sheet; support obligation income affidavits; child support guidelines forms; and a child support guideline notice of compliance depending on the requirements of the state where the divorce action is initiated. When one party is delinquent, or refuses to pay child support, a child support attorney can be of assistance in locating them through judicial processes and initiating wage garnishments, or fiscal levy to collect child support arrears.