Family Law – An Overview
Family Law is the term used to describe the body of laws and rules that apply to family relationships. Family Law rules define not only the relationships between different family members, but also between each family and society as a whole. More than any other area of the law, Family Law reflects the values society shares regarding how family members should treat each other.
Typically, Family Law attorneys assist people with the making and breaking of family relationships. Specific areas of representation usually include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, paternity, child custody, and child support. Our office also provides sophisticated assistance in the areas of adoption and asset division. When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of an experienced Family Law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family-related concern.
Marriage is a voluntary, private contract between a man and a woman or two parties of the same sex. While it is a personal and emotional commitment, it is also a legal relationship that changes the legal status of both parties. The legal rights and obligations associated with marriage have evolved with society over time, and today are equitable between both parties.
Deciding to pursue Divorce may be one of the most difficult and emotional decisions you will ever have to face, particularly if you have children. Divorce often involves the resolution of sophisticated business and legal questions. An experienced Family Law attorney can approach the process rationally and help you understand and work through the unique circumstances involved with your Divorce.
Grounds for Divorce
Traditionally, every state required a person filing for divorce to prove “grounds” or some type of spousal fault in order to obtain a divorce. Today, the majority of states allow at least one form of “No-Fault” divorce, which does not require proof of fault. If No-Fault divorce is available in your state, either spouse may obtain a divorce, even if the other party does not consent to the divorce. California is a No-Fault divorce state.
Custody & Visitation
When parents divorce, they need to learn which child Custody and Visitation options are available to them, and the legal standards applied to each different option. In most cases, divorcing couples can ultimately reach an agreement on Custody and Visitation issues without needing to obtain a court order. When an agreement cannot be reached, knowledgeable advice and representation from an experienced family law attorney often makes the difference.
There are more than 13 million divorced parents with sole custody of their minor children in America. Federal legislation and uniform state laws exist to make enforcement and collection of Child Support easier for America’s single parents. Regardless of whether you are the parent paying or receiving Child Support, an experienced Family Law attorney can guide you through the process and ensure you are treated fairly by the court.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO, is a judgment, decree or order for a retirement plan to pay child support, alimony or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent of a participant. Our firm prepares and reviews the court documents needed to transfer pension plan benefits and retirement accounts from one spouse to the other in the event of a divorce or legal separation.
It is important to consult with an experienced Family Law attorney if you need help with a child support related issue. If you are ending a marriage or already divorced, an attorney experienced in the area of child support will help you understand the laws in your state and the rules for child support collection and enforcement that apply to your particular situation, whether you are the parent paying or receiving support.
Mediation – An Overview
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party attempts to open and improve dialogue between two individuals in hopes of finding an acceptable resolution to a dispute. Put more simply, Mediation involves two people hiring an impartial mediator to help them reach an agreement.
The primary benefit of mediation is that it far less expensive than a trial, it allows you to maintain privacy, and you can set your own timeline and terms without involving the court.
Family Law Mediation
In the context of Family Law, mediation can be used to resolve disputes involving divorce, child custody and support, alimony, division of assets, paternity, and actions for modification.
How long does mediation take?
Mediation can vary greatly in length, but on average divorce mediation last between four and ten 2-hour sessions. A case with fewer issues, such as a Modification or Paternity case, will take less time. A case that is more complex, such as a divorce involving complicated businesses, self-employment income, or custody disputes, can often take longer. The length of the mediation will depend on the attitude of the individuals, how complicated their disputes are, and how flexible their schedules are.
Are there disadvantages to mediation?
Mediation is not an appropriate for everyone. For example, when there is a history of abuse between the parties, mediation often fails because the parties cannot reach the necessary level of trust to mediate their dispute amicably. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that mediation will result in an agreement, which could end up costing you more in the long run. You should honestly evaluate whether you and your spouse are willing to participate in an open process before entering into mediation.