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What Does a Family Law Attorney Do?

We live in a world where family problems arise on a daily basis, even in the most united and happy families. Marital issues, divorces, paternity rights and juvenile delinquencies are just a few of the most common problems that families have to deal with on a daily basis. Many family member are experiencing problems for the first time, and really don't know where to turn for help. They know that certain attorneys specialize in family issues, but don't know to what extent. In order to get the help they need, they need to know where to turn and find out if they need to seek the help of a legal professional. What exactly does a family law attorney do? Here are the most common issues they handle.

Family law attorneys generally handle all the legal matters that arise with people within a family. They will represent husbands, wives, children, grandparents, guardians and domestic partners in many legal aspects, including but not limited to divorces, child support cases, child custody cases, visitation rights, paternity rights, premarital agreements and more. Adoptions and juvenile delinquency cases are also handled by family law attorneys.

Depending on the case, the attorney can act as a buffer between both parties, at times making sure that their client receives the rights deserved and at other times trying to establish better communication and understanding between the parties. The other party will probably have a family attorney as well, and mediation meetings will most likely be scheduled in order to come to an agreement on the specific matter. If the parties do not settle during the mediation proceedings, the case will most likely be taken to court and presented in front of a family judge. The judge will then decide the outcome of the case base on the information and facts provided.

Family attorneys can also handle criminal issues, like domestic violence and juvenile delinquencies. Not all of them will specialize in the same areas, so a person must do some research to find the lawyer that is most suitable to their specific case.

When a married couple is looking to adopt a child, legal steps must be taken in order to make the adoption official. They will most likely seek the help of a family attorney who will guide them through the needed paperwork and procedures based on the requirements of the specific jurisdiction in which they reside.

Wealthy and famous individuals will usually also seek the help of these attorneys, especially before getting married. The lawyer will most likely create a document known as a prenuptial agreement, which clearly and legally states how the assets will be divided in the case of a divorce, and how child support and visitation should be handled. It is very well known that famous stars that do not have prenuptial agreements go through very difficult times when they are faced with divorce. For this reason many of them find the best family attorneys to create strong and well-crafted prenups.

Family Law Overview

Family law or domestic relations law involves many topics related to the status of family and its members. These include marriage, divorce or dissolution of marriage, adoption, guardianships, conservatorships etc.

Although family law comprises many facets, they are all directly or indirectly related to the marital relationship. Marriage is the legal union of one man and one woman, for the purpose of creating a family. The right to marry is a basic freedom that is protected by the U.S. Constitution, provided that parties meet the legal qualifications for marriage under their state law.

Legal Requirements to Marry - Every state has established legal requirements to enter into a valid marriage. These include competence to marry, gender, and a good faith agreement to create a genuine marital relationship.

Legal Restrictions to Marry - The legal restrictions or reasons to debunk a marriage include consanguinity, being under the minimum age of consent, mental incapacity, health or a preexisting marriage.

Consanguinity - This is the blood relationship between persons who intend to marry. Every state has laws that forbid marriage between parent and child, brother and sister, as well as uncle and niece. Marriage between first cousins also is forbidden in thirty states. A purported marriage between relatives in this group is void.

Minimum Age - All states have established a minimum age that must be reached before a person legally may consent to marry.

Mental Capacity - To be competent to marry, parties must have the mental capacity to understand the nature, effect, and consequences of marriage at the time of the marriage. The level of capacity is different for marriage than it is for entering into other types of contracts. To annul a marriage on this ground, the petitioning spouse must prove lack of capacity by clear and convincing evidence. (If you ever get married in Vegas to someone you just met and you were severely inebriated, then this would be an example of a marriage that will be annulled, or never existed.)

Health Standards - States require parties to a marriage to meet certain health standards before they can marry. An example would be they must be free from venereal disease.

Preexisting Marriage - This is self explanatory in that no party to the marriage can be married to someone else at the time of the marriage. If one does marry another while still being married could face possible criminal prosecution for bigamy.

Mutual Consent - Both parties must consent to the marriage voluntarily and in good faith. Consent given under duress can lead to an annulment.

Gender - Every state has statutes in place that require individuals to be of opposite gender.

Family Law Covers a Variety of Issues

Family law matters represent a sizable chunk of any jurisdiction's docket and can be among the most emotionally charged matters seen in court.

Family law deals with family related issues and domestic relations, including marriage, divorce, paternity, child and spousal support, child custody, adoption, long-term care for elderly parents, civil unions and other related matters.

Divorce and child custody cases make up the vast majority of family law cases. It requires that a divorce must be certified by the court system to become effective. The terms of the divorce are usually determined by a law court, and may take into account prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements. A contested divorce may be stressful to the spouses and lead to expensive litigation in family law courts regarding issues such as child custody, spousal and child support and property division. Less adversarial approaches to divorce settlements have recently emerged in the practice of family law, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, which use a cooperative process and sometimes a single attorney working for both parties to come to an agreement.

Adoption makes up a smaller, but significant area of family law. In adoption, some or all of the rights of the original parents are terminated, and the adopting family gains these rights in a law court. Attorneys in these cases handle negotiations with birth parents or the state, and finalize any agreements among the parties.

Paternity is yet another area of family law. Paternity cases determine the biological parents of a child and establish these parents' rights and responsibilities with regard to the child. As traditional marriage becomes less common, paternity suits and related child support and custody cases are on the rise.

Civil union litigation are an emerging area of family law, as traditional marriage has been joined by civil unions as a legal option. It is litigation that may arise related to civil unions include the dissolution of civil unions, adoption and child custody issues and property and legacy issues.

Our aging population is also giving rise to an increase in guardianship and power-of-attorney actions regarding elderly relatives no longer able to manage their affairs. Attorneys can help the adult children of elderly parents settle disputes and collaborate in the long-term care of their loved ones.

Family law is a dynamic and growing area of the law and parties involved would be well-advised to become as well-informed concerning the subject as possible to better be able to ask and answer questions of their attorney.

Family Law

Attorneys and lawyers practicing family law take up cases relating to all kinds of family related issues. These can be adoption, prenuptial agreements, marriage, divorce, separation, legal separation, annulment, alimony, division of the property accumulated during the marriage, domestic violence, negotiation, adjudication, child custody and support, child abduction, kidnapping or child seizure, emancipation, abuse in the marriage, parental rights, paternity, juvenile, felonies etc., and many such cases related to family. Other than this they also deal with regular cases relating to criminal laws, property related laws, probation law, trusts etc. However, the majority of the cases that come to family lawyers are the divorce, separation, abuse or child custody cases. A number of details need to be considered when it comes to these cases and family lawyers are specialized in all the legalities involved in such cases.

A number of questions tend to arise when a couple is getting separated legally or getting divorced. One is the process of getting divorced with a minimum fuss, as getting separated or divorced can in itself be a traumatic experience on both the parties. Add to this a contesting from either party and the whole thing becomes quite messy to handle without a lawyer to offer sufficient moral and professional support.

One other important issue that must not be neglected is the child custody and child support if any children exist as a result of the marriage. Even though the court finally approves all the aspects regarding the custody and support for the children, both the parties must be able to reach to a decision even before filing the papers. Attorneys and lawyers practicing family law will be able to provide immense assistance in such cases.

Family lawyers will be able to assist with all the usual questions that might arise in such cases. Child support laws vary in each state as the law is governed by each state individually without any input from the federal level. However, certain issues such as deciding the parent who is liable to receive the custody and the parent who is supposed to pay for the support, calculation of the amount of child support to be borne, etc., are the questions a lawyer from a particular state would be familiar with.

Family lawyers can also be of a big help if the supporting parent is missing or if the payment is not on time, or even in some cases when the individual does not care enough for the court orders to cough up sufficient amount for the child support. Deciding on other criteria such as visitation rights, receipt of money if both the parents are in different states, or when the child supporter is unable to make payments duly on time due to pecuniary problems.

Family problems can be very upsetting and distressing and the best way to handle them is with the help of a lawyer practicing family law. An exhaustive list of lawyers that are qualified, experienced can be found either from the yellow pages or on the Internet with some effort. A word of advice, it is the best option to always go for a new lawyer chosen on basis of qualifications and experience instead of the ones recommended by friends or acquaintances or relatives to avoid any problems or explanations later on.

Family Law: Law That Deals With Family Related Issues

If you are in need of a family lawyer to handle your divorce, or matters that stem from your divorce, you should get expert legal representation from an experienced and knowledgeable attorney. Dealing with divorce issues can be both difficult and emotionally draining, which is why it is important to get an attorney to handle your case that has extensive experience dealing with family law cases. This may be the best solution to help you make rational, clearheaded decisions that will benefit all involved.

A family lawyer can be just what you need to get an objective advice at this time. If you are looking to file for divorce, make sure you have an informed family law attorney on your side. Some of the areas this lawyer can help you with on your case include:

Negotiating custody and child support issues, helping you to maintain your desired maternal rights, resolving property issues, helping with special issues that are specific to your needs.

A family law attorney is also an excellent choice when you need someone to handle a child custody issue you are facing. Child custody issues include determinations involving a minor child or custodial awards. The determinations of who gets custody of a minor child involve legal custody or who had the right to make a decision concerning the child. The kind of attorney you need for case like this depends on what your goals are. If you and your spouse are not able to come into agreement on a child custody arrangement, you need a lawyer that has a reputation for adversarial, difficult divorce disputes.

People may also need a family law attorney to handle and adoption issue. The laws that surround an adoption differ from state to state and you are going to need to work with an attorney that is knowledgeable about your states adoption laws. This is true even if you decide to adopt from a private person or through an adoption agency. Additional cases that may call for a person hiring a family attorney include: alimony, premarital agreements, abuse or child neglect cases, grandparent's rights, visitation rights, paternity, and drug or alcohol abuse.

It can be complex, exhausting, and difficult going through a family law matter and having great legal representation can increase the chances you get your desires met. If you want someone that will fight aggressively for issues that will affect the rest of your life, hire an attorney that has a reputation for compassion, expertise, and success.

Family Law Mediation As an Alternative Dispute Resolution Method

As a conflict resolution specialist my experience in family law mediation has given me a great deal of insight into relationships, what keeps people together and what breaks them apart. One important aspect of family law mediation is to educate the people who contact me on a daily basis on the benefits of the mediation process as an alternative dispute resolution method to litigation.

A family mediator serves the exact opposite purpose of what a traditional divorce attorney would in a divorce or custody battle situation. Although every divorce can have many different circumstances where a divorce attorney may be necessary, it is more often the case where the attorneys interfere with the process of creating a resolution that both parties can be happy with. A family mediator approaches the situation as an unbiased third-party with only this goal in mind from the onset.

When couples decided to pursue traditional courtroom litigation with attorneys present it can be a very tense and painful experience. Courtroom proceedings sometimes rage on for months and months with no end in sight. Why would anyone want to put themselves or their children through that? Family law mediation is a means for divorcing couples to control their situation and have more say in deciding their future so that they can move forward in life with an agreement that both sides can live with. Now with the innovation of online mediation neither party has to be in the same room to conduct a mediation session. I can effectively mediate both sides at the comfort of their own home while saving them both travel time and expenses.

If you or someone you know is going through a divorce or child custody battle and want to seek an alternative to the stressful traditional methods of going through a divorce then you should consider family law mediation either in person or online.

Family Law - The Differences Between Married and Cohabiting Couples

Cohabiting couples are unmarried couples who live together. There are now more cohabiting couples than ever, with over two million in the UK. The family environment in many of these cases is very similar to married couples, but the legal rules applying to them are very different. There are many differences in Family Law between married and unmarried couples who live together.

Contradictory to common belief there is no such thing as a common law husband or wife. Many believe that after a couple have lived together for a certain period they are for all intents and purposes a married couple, but this is not the case. They do not benefit from any matrimonial legislation; in fact the same rules apply as anyone else who live together, such as two friends living as flat mates. Whereas a married couple are treated by the law as a family, cohabiting couples are not. This means that if there is a break up of the relationship one can't claim maintenance from the other. If one half of married couple leaves work to look after children the couple may have, and there is a divorce, the working parent will usually have to compensate the other party. This is not the case with cohabiting couples.

If the couple share a home and only one of their names is on the mortgage, then (s)he is the legal owner of the home. This means that if that person dies, the other party does not inherit the home unless stated in a will. If the couple separate the person whose name is on the mortgage will own one hundred per cent of the property and can sell it as they please. This will be automatically the case even if the other person has been contributing towards the mortgage or other parts of the up keep of the household, such as bills.

If a couple have separate bank accounts then neither person has any rights to the others account. This remains the case if the couple separate. Whereas in a divorce the finances will be split according to a magistrates decision, with the separation of an unmarried couple each person will keep his/her assets. If they have a joint account and can't agree on who is entitled to what, then a court will decide. With a divorce there is no real difference in whether the couple have separate accounts or a joint one. This is not the case with a cohabiting couple.

Something that is surprising to many is that Family Law differs with married and unmarried couples when it comes to Father's after a relationship break up. It is a lot easy for a Father who was married to his children's Mother to get rights to see his children. Up until December 2001 a Father who was not married to his children's Mother had no rights to see his children at all. This meant that the Mother could stop him seeing his children without any reason. This has changed for children born after December 2001, but it is still easier for Father's who are, or have been, married to the child's Mother.

Unmarried couples who live together can enter into a cohabiting agreement. This records assets that belong to each person, and which they share, and therefore how things will be split in the unfortunate circumstance of a split. It also sets out who will contribute towards certain things such as mortgage or rent payments, or children. Anything can be recorded in this agreement, with the most common being homes, finances and children.

The common belief that Family Law is the same, or very similar, with married couples and cohabiting couples is incorrect. There are many differences between the two, something that becomes particularly important in the eventuality of a separation.

Andrew Marshall ©

Family Law Software - How to Lower Child Support and Make Your Custody Schedule

There can be many advantages to using a family law software in your custody case and there are many various types of software programs that have been developed to help with family law and custody cases. Some of the programs allow you to create child custody agreements. Others help you calculate child support payments. Many family law attorneys use these programs in their cases, and more and more parents are downloading them and finding them to be helpful.

There are a number of programs that help you create your child custody agreement. Oftentimes the programs will let you set up a basic, rotating custody schedule and the program maps it on a calendar for any length of time you specify. This lets you play with the calendar and try out different options for visitation and custody. Because there are so many programs available, you want to make sure that you get the software that lets you do everything you need to. Some of the programs calculate time share percentages and overnight percentages while you create your calendar. This is important for the parents to know how much time they have with the children, and it also can help you figure out child support payments. You also want to make sure that the interface is intuitive and easy to use. The nicer programs let you click and drag on the days of the calendar to create visitation days and special events. They should also allow you to easily put in the holiday schedule you want. Again, the better programs will have a list of the holidays that you allocate to each parent--and the program applies it to the calendar. Then you can print off your calendar and have all of the custody and visitation time laid out (with different colors of days for mom and dad).

Along with creating a custody and visitation schedule, a good program will let you include provisions and stipulations for your child custody agreement. These are the basic rules that the parents want each other to follow while raising the kids. It can include that the other parent is notified when a parent gets the child a passport. Or, the other parent can request an itinerary when a parent takes the child on vacation. Some programs have a list of provisions that you can check if you want included, and sometimes you can even add your own personal ones.

Child support software is also another important part of the family law software. Every state uses a software to accurately calculate child support payments. It can be helpful for parents to get this software so they can know how much child support they will be paying. Using a combination of the programs, many parents find that they can lower their child support payments. This is because almost every state uses some form of time share percentages or overnight percentages to calculate the child support. However, these numbers are very difficult to calculate. Many times the courts estimate or guess these percentages. A parent who has a software that figures these numbers out according to the calendar can know exactly how much the child support should be. The parent can also try several different custody and visitation schedules to figure out how to lower the child support payment.

Family law software is being incorporated by more and more attorneys, and divorced parents are also finding it useful. Look through all of the options before purchasing a software to make sure that it can help you with your case. If it's possible, download a free trial of a program so that you can try it out before you buy it. Then you can put it to work to help with your custody issues.

Who Needs a Family Law Solicitor?

Most people will never need a family law solicitor, but if you do, then you'll want to make sure that you get the best advice for your circumstances, as it could affect you for the rest of your life.

Here's why you might need the services of a family law solicitor.

1. Divorce is the most common reason for needing a family law solicitor, and in the event that your marriage does break down, then you'll want to get the right advice, and quickly

2. As part of the divorce procedure, or if you're not married, you will want to make sure that you can still see your children, and that you are able to afford somewhere appropriate for when they come and stay with you. There might be an easy solution to spending time with you children, or it might be much more difficult and involve going to court.

3. Other relatives such as grandparents have the right to still see their grandchildren, and so you'll want to make sure that the wished of grandparents or other relatives are acknowledged. A family law solicitor will be able to advise on this matter.

4. If you're not married, but your relationship ends you might be anxious as to what happens next, and what will happen to your own personal possessions and joint assets. By taking legal advice early, you'll know what to expect.

5. You might be thinking about selling your home or other possessions after the breakdown of your family. You'll need the right advice so that you don't financially cripple yourself, or sell off things you don't need to.

6. You'll probably want additional financial advice when getting divorced or separating, such as with bank accounts, savings accounts and stocks and shares.

7. You'll want to know more about cohabitation laws if you're moving in with your partner. Perhaps you're unsure of what your legal status will be, or if there will be any issues if one of your dies.

8. If you're considering a civil partnership, then you might want to make sure that you're aware of the legal implications, and your rights.

9. For some people, a pre nuptial agreement will be important. A family law solicitor can advise on this. Although it is not strictly legally binding in the UK, they are often seen as the wishes of people before they get married. It might be that one partner is significantly wealthier, or is expecting a huge payout, or has other personal or business assets thet they want protecting.

10. Instances of domestic violence and abuse require speedy legal intervention and assistance. So if you're being subjected to violence whether verbal, mental or physical, then you'll want to make sure that you get the help you need quick.

Now you know more about how useful they can be, do you need to speak to a Family Law Solicitor?

10 Situations When You Might Need a Family Law Solicitor

When a relationship breaks down, it can be painful for not just both parties but also the rest of the family. If you're not able to sort things out amicably, it may be worth speaking with a family law solicitor to help.

Here are 10 situations where a family law solicitor could be of great help to you.

1) If a marriage has ended and the reasons for its breakdown cannot be resolved, a divorce may be the chosen course of action. When that happens, it's important to get right legal advice, so you know what needs to be done to make the process as smooth and as painless as possible.

2) If you live with a partner, but aren't married, and that relationship comes to an end, it's important to know what rights you have - especially if you have children together - so legal advice could be very useful.

3) If you are coming out of a relationship where you and your ex-partner had children together, then it may be that your children will no longer be living with you. If this happens, you may want a solicitor to help you to arrange when you can see them - or vice versa, if you're the parent who has the children full-time.

4) In addition to parental rights, you may be interested to know that grandparents also have rights with regards to their grandchildren. If you're a grandparent who has been told you can't see your children's children, then speak to a family law solicitor for advice.

5) If, following a divorce or relationship split, you have shared property or possessions that need to be sold, then you may need help with many of the legal aspects of the sale and dealing with the money they generate.

6) Legal support could help if you need help and advice with regards to your finances. It could be that your situation has changed significantly as a result of the divorce.

7) A family law solicitor can be extremely helpful for couples planning a civil partnership or even if one comes to an end. They can provide advice on what your rights are going into the partnership.

8) 'Pre-nups' may be more associated with American marriages, but they still have a place in relationships where a couple decide assets should be protected. Although not enforceable by law, it can help demonstrate the initial intentions of the two parties prior to the marriage should it then break down at a later stage. A solicitor can help you draw up the pre-nupitial agreement and ensure it's done professionally.

9) If you're not married and want to move into a new home with your partner - or move into your new partner's current home - a legal expert could help inform you of cohabitation laws and how it might effect paying the mortgage.

10) If you are the victim of domestic violence, then you need to escape your current situation as soon as possible. A family law solicitor can help with advice, securing new accommodation and, through untraceable phone lines and other methods, they can also help keep you hidden from them and safe.

If you're involved in any of these situations, then it could be time to find a family law solicitor to help you with your situation.

Family Law and Divorce

Are you looking for more information on family law and divorce? If so, you have come to the right place. If you are considering a divorce with your partner, your first step will be to hire a family law attorney to help you through the process. Throughout this article we will take a brief look at what family law is, and how a family law requires you to go about a obtaining a divorce.

Let's begin by briefly discussing what family law is. Family law deals with any legal family matters. These matters can be pleasant things such as adoption or marriages, or less pleasant things such as divorce or child custody battles. Any time your family is facing a difficult time or change, a family law attorney can help you explore your options and reach a decision that is suitable for you and your family. One common issue dealt with by family lawyers is divorce. Let's take a closer look at the process involved in obtaining a divorce from your partner.

Like many issues, the steps contained in the process of divorce will depend on your individual situation. For example, the proceedings for a couple who have been married for a short period of time and who have no children will be much different than the proceedings for a couple who have been together for long periods of time and who have children to consider. In any case, divorce is much simpler when both individuals agree to having it. Cases in which one party does not want a divorce can become very time consuming and slow.

If you are considering obtaining a divorce, you will begin by filing a petition. Within your petition you will state the grounds for the divorce. Grounds for divorce include things such as adultery, abandonment, or, if allowed by the state, irreconcilable differences. It is important to hire a lawyer as early as this stage, as an educated lawyer can help you determine whether you are eligible for divorce based on your grounds.

On top of the petition, the person filing for divorce will also need to provide proof of service of process. The service of process is a document that proves that the divorce petition was shown to the spouse. In this document, the party can choose to agree with or dispute the grounds behind the divorce. If there is any disagreement for the divorce or child custody issues, it is to be addressed within this document.

If you and your partner have children together, one spouse will also have to file for temporary orders. Temporary orders include things such as temporary custody and temporary child support to last until the divorce has been finalized.

If parties do not agree on the divorce, a negotiation will take process. If things still are not resolved, the case will go to trial. Finally, once all issues have been dealt with the order of dissolution will be given, finalizing the divorce and providing information on how any debts are to be divided, as well as information on child custody and child support.

If you are considering divorce from your partner, your first step is to hire a family law attorney. A law attorney will guide you in the process of your divorce, answering any questions you may have along the way.

Family Law

Family Law is the sets of laws that relate to any family and relationship matters. These include marriage, divorce, civil partnerships and many areas relating to children and parenting.

When two people get married they must sign a marriage certificate to confirm that they are a married couple. This must be witnessed by at least two people and the ceremony, whether it be in a church, registry office, or anywhere else, must be conducted by someone who is authorised to register marriages. This is necessary for the marriage to be recognised under UK law. Those marriages that take place in another country according to their own law, still stand in the UK. Anyone in a legally binding marriage must go through divorce proceeding if they no longer wish to be married.

Anyone getting married in the UK must be over 16 years of age; those under 18 must seek written permission from their parents. It is illegal to get married at the age of 16 or 17 without this permission, but the marriage will still stand. You cannot be married to more than one person at a time, although this is not the case in all countries. If you are married to multiple people it is called bigamy, and this can carry a jail sentence. Another legal requirement is that two people who are closely related can not get married to one another.

To get a divorce a couple must go through a legal process. This can sometimes be simple, but it can be extremely complex depending on the couples circumstances. This can especially be the case if the couple have children together. During the divorce process possessions and finances have to be split and this can be a long and arduous process. Around 10 per cent of divorces end up going to court.

When a couple separated (whether married or not) and have children together there are family laws that play their part in dictating with which parent the child or children live with, although this can be split. This is the most common point of dispute with separating couples and can often end up be deciding in the courts. Visiting rights for the parent who doesn't have custody can also be determined by a Judge. Family law with regard to children is often criticised for the fact that in the majority of cases custody goes to the Mother, especially if the couples had not been previously married. Maintenance payments also have to be determined.

A significant development in family law in the last few years was the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005. A Civil Partnership is essentially the registration of a partnership of a same sex couple. In many ways it is like marriage under a different name. Civil partners have many of the same rights, such as tax breaks, as married couples and there is also a process that must be followed to end the relationship - this is called a civil partnership dissolution.

There are stringent adoption laws put in place for the safety of children who are to be adopted. If someone adopts a child it means that they are the legal parent, and for this to happen there is a sometimes lengthy process to go through. Adoption authorities have to make sure they have done everything necessary to make sure children are adopted by the right people.

How Is an Immigration Solicitor Different From Family Law Attorneys

There are a number of areas where an immigration solicitor differs from family law attorneys. While an immigration solicitor is more concerned with solving issues related to entering a foreign country, family law attorneys deal with cases that are related to the various legal issues that may surround families. Both have their specialized areas of expertise which is why they need to contacted for completely separate roles altogether.

Let us have a look at both these lawyers to get a clear idea on how they can help us and when we need to get in touch with them - if at all we need to!

Who is an Immigration Solicitor?

These legal professionals help us with almost every bit of counselling and legal help that a person may require as far as immigration and related issues are concerned. You need to get in touch with these professionals whether you are planning to enter a country or if you are already in the country but require some legal help and advice with your stay or occupation.

The general areas that these professionals may cover are obtaining the various different types of visas and filling out related paperwork. Sometimes an immigration solicitor acts as a translator helping a non-English speaker to work with the English documentation while filing a request for a visa or a permit.

Visas can be of various types. There are tourist visas, work visas, business visas, student visas and more. You require a visa to enter a country. On the other hand when you are already in the country, you require a permit to carry on with your activities. Therefore a person already living in the country holding a valid visa may request the immigration authorities to offer them a permit that may allow them to look for employment (work permit), engage in studies (student permit) and so on.

The immigration lawyer will help you understand what the best visa or permit for you to apply is based on the nature of your requirement. They will also help you with applying for the visa or permit and with the processing work involved to get you the visa.

How do Family Law Attorneys Help?

family law attorneys play a very different role in our lives. They are the professionals that need to be referred to when the questions of legal issues surrounding a family comes into the picture. Starting with prenuptial agreements to divorce and child custody, these lawyers help with a wide variety of cases that revolve around family units.

Family lawyers work with cases that relate to adoptions, estate planning and will settlements as well. They assist in legalizing same sex marriages through domestic partner registration and cohabitation agreements. However, just as immigration solicitor is not the best person to handle a case revolving around a family affair, family law attorneys are not the right person to get in touch with for settling immigration related issues. This holds true even when you are planning to help a family member enter a foreign country where you already live!

Choosing the right lawyer is always important, be it the immigration solicitor or the family law attorneys. Consult a legal expert to understand who should be the person to reach out to for you to see the best results come to your case!

Family Law - Divorce, Annulment and Child Support

The subject of family law is a broad and diverse subject. It covers a wide range of issues and topics mainly involving the subject of marriage and the rights of children under marriage. Some of the subjects that pertain to family law are divorce, annulment and child support.


Typically the formal definition of divorce is worded in various ways, but generally it is designated as a decree or order from a court judge stating that a marriage is (from that day forward) terminated and dissolved.

What we consider divorce and how we handle it is different than how it was handled many years ago. Ancient civilizations considered the subjects of marriage and divorce (or marriage dissolution) to be matters of privacy and while certain religions have always had opinions regarding divorce governments did not generally get involved.

Since the time that the United States claimed its independence, the subject of divorce and family law developed on a regional basis, obviously because during the early years there was a lot of differing opinions on how the country should be run and the subject of family law was included in that development. The U.S. Constitution specified that divorce should be regulated individually by the states. For many years it was generally accepted that divorce would only be granted after one spouse showed evidence of fault, or breach of the marriage contract on the part of the other spouse.

Nowadays every state in the U.S. has accepted what is called a "no fault divorce." A no fault divorce means that the person in the marriage who is filing for divorce does not have to provide legal proof that their spouse did something specific to violate or breach the marriage contract.


Annulment in its most basic definition is a legal determination (by a court judge) that a marriage to be null and void, usually because the marriage was formed and took place under disputable circumstances. In the U.S., the rules that allow a marriage to be considered for annulment vary from one state to the other because individual states have varying family law regulations.

Most of the time a marriage is annulled when a marriage involves parties that are under legal age; and act of duress (one party claiming to be forced into the marriage); one party purposely concealing their previous life history to the to the other party, or any number of other factors. The difference between divorce and annulment is that whereas a divorce decrees that a marriage no longer exists, an annulment decree states that the marriage never legally existed.

Child Support

Child support is the provision of financial support or payment of monies to ensure that a child whose parents have divorced will receive continuous, future financial support from both parents. It is commonly accepted by courts and society as a whole that such children need to have solid financial support system from both parents, even if they are no longer married and/or living together.

In most U.S. states child support is a form of a financial support payment plan that is determined or ordered by a judge in a family law court. It is also considered to be good public policy to require divorced parents to provide monetary support for their children so that the children do not become neglected and become dependent on already overburdened state and public welfare systems.

When is it Necessary to Hire a Family Law Attorney?

Not every individual in a marriage that is experiencing trouble should begin looking for a family law attorney. There does, however, come a time when it is prudent to begin searching for a Houston divorce lawyer. Many people who eventually decide to dissolve their marriage believe that they will be able to do so without unnecessarily involving legal professionals, unknowingly exposing both parties to potential frustrations and dissatisfaction.

Divorce attorneys in Houston are usually helpful no matter how amicably the marriage ends, and they are particularly advantageous when parties consider the following:

o Division of Property and Assets: An attorney is able to draw up legal documents that will fairly and clearly divide up the property and assets that were purchased or earned during the marriage. Regardless if you and your former spouse believe you can divide these assets without legal assistance, you need to protect everyone involved by creating documents recognized by the Court.

o Establishing Custody Rights and Visitation: If you have children, it is imperative that both parties establish who will have primary custody of the kids. While it may be easy to assume that both parents will want to do what is best for their children, sometimes it is hard to agree on what exactly is "the best thing". Your family law attorney will work with both parties to make sure that everyone's legal rights are met and that parents get the visitation time they deserve-even if they are not the primary custodial parent.

o Legal establishment of child support and any alimony/palimony: Whether or not both individuals have professions that allow them to earn a living after the divorce, attorneys in Houston will likely look into the legal aspects of alimony or palimony. This often occurs when one spouse has sacrificed personally or professionally in order for the other partner to further his or her own career, reducing the ability for the recipient to earn an income that is as high as it would have been otherwise. Not every divorce will require this type of payment, but divorcing spouses should not assume that they are not eligible for this reimbursement without speaking with an attorney.

Cost of Litigation Versus Mediation in Family Law

Law is a business. And lawyers are in business to make money. In many cases, lots of it. In most civil cases, you need the sage advice of a person educated in statutory and case law to protect your legal rights and interests, and to advocate on your behalf. However, there are some civil disputes, such as divorce or modification of child support, which do not require legal counsel. Do-it-yourself divorces and pro se (representing yourself) litigants are on the rise, especially as the economy continues to put the squeeze on families financially and people simply cannot afford to hire lawyers. Remember: You didn't need a lawyer to get married, and you don't need one to get divorced.

Whether your relationship is contentious or amicable, once attorneys are involved in resolving your domestic dispute, costs begin to soar. It is an incontrovertible truth that lawyers are financially incented to work up a file, and often get in the way of timely and reasonable resolution. It is an unfortunate truth that the court system, despite its best efforts, is not adequately set up to adjudicate domestic disputes. At best, it takes a sidelines approach by forcing the parties to mediate before even having the privilege of being heard by the court, or, by taking a "cookie cutter" approach by forcing decisions upon the parties that may not be in their family's best interest.

Attorneys Fees and Costs - Perhaps you are leaning towards litigation because you believe that your opponent will be forced to pay your legal fees. Perhaps your original agreement actually articulates that the party who breaches an agreement will be forced to pay the non-breaching party's attorneys' legal fees and court costs. Perhaps your attorney has even told you that your attorneys' fees will be paid for by the opposing party. Here's the reality: Courts routinely disregard the language in these prior agreements, instead focusing solely on "need and ability to pay." If there is a need and the opposing party has an ability to pay, attorneys' fees may be awarded. What this means, however, is that additional discovery will have to be issued seeking financial information of the parties ($$$), subpoenas will be issued seeking financial and employment documentation ($$$), motions will be filed objecting to the subpoenas or for failure to timely comply ($$$$), hearings will be scheduled ($$$$$), and in the end, the legal fees have dramatically increased arguing over attorneys' legal fees... and the underlying dispute hasn't even been addressed! This chapter of the litigation process can easily run up an additional $5,000.00. In the end, the court will typically award only partial fees, meaning that you are still responsible for the balance. Was it worth it?

Even if you are able to approach your dispute in a cooperative manner, engaging an attorney to speak on your behalf is a costly proposition. Attorneys are trained to "zealously represent their client." This often translates into stoking the already-burning embers into small fires, to keep the file active. Maybe it's not done purposefully or maliciously, but certainly, there is a rationalization that they are justified in their actions in order to best represent their client. Unfortunately, this tactic seldom results in resolution of the original disputes, and often creates new ones.

The costs involved in mediating versus litigating family law disputes are dramatic. Of course, the complexities of a particular family law case must be factored into any formula, however, generally speaking, a typical case negotiated using an alternative dispute resolution method such as mediation may range in cost from $500.00 - $3,000.00. The same family law case may cost anywhere from $15,000.00 - in excess of $35,000.00 to litigate. Consider the following:

Costs to Mediate:

Initial 2-hour consultation ($250.00 - $500.00)
Follow up meeting (4 hours at $300.00/hour)($1,200.00)
Preparation of Mediated Settlement Agreement ($500.00)
Preparation of additional documents, such as Parenting Plan, Child Support Worksheet, and/or Dissolution filings (if necessary) ($500.00)


Costs to Litigate:

Initial Consultation ($250.00 - $500.00/hour)
Retainer ($2,500.00 - $5,000.00)
Filing Initial Pleadings (Summons and Initial Petition) ($1,200.00)
Responding to Answer and/or Counter Petition ($1,000.00)
Serving Discovery ($500.00)
Responding to Discovery ($750.00)
Preparing Financial Affidavit and Mandatory Disclosure Compliance ($1,800.00)
Preparing Motions ($750.00)
Preparing Motion for Attorneys' Fees ($750.00)
Responding to Motions ($750.00)
Hiring Experts ($2,000.00)
Hearings/Court Appearances ($4,500.00)
Mediation (Court-Ordered) ($1,200.00)
Co-Parenting Classes and Preparation of Parenting Plan ($500.00)
Trial ($7,500.00 - $10,000.00)
Appeal ($5,000.00)


Mediation isn't a "let's hold hands and sing Kumbaya" approach to dispute resolution. However, mediation does allow the parties to control their own destiny, considering their unique issues to find a resolution that is mutually agreeable by the parties... at a reasonable cost. The sheer volume of family law disputes clogging the court systems, in contrast, forces a tendency to approach these cases in a "cookie cutter" fashion, often resulting in resolutions not particularly agreeable to either party... and extremely expensive and unreasonable cost.

** These are approximations and are contingent upon complexities of each individual case and time involved with the parties.

Improving American Education Requires Family Law Reform

The recent release of Davis Guggenheim's film Waiting for Superman has contributed to a flurry of discussion over how to fix failing American schools. But nearly nobody mentions that American kids are often underperforming because of the conflict and insecurity created by the broken divorce courts and family policies of the United States. While some progress on education reform is possible by firing bad teachers and hiring new ones, it is clear that much of the potential improvement in educational performance of American children cannot be fully realized without fixing the broken family policies, laws, and courts in this country.

America's academic performance has been on a steady downward slope for decades. This decline parallels the destruction of families via no-fault divorce that has made divorce far more common as well as the laws and court behaviors that create conflict and place children into traumatic and contentious custody battles. Often these children are stripped of most or all contact with one of their parents due to wrongful sole custody decisions and the courts enabling and encouraging parental alienation child abuse. The two phenomena of poor school performance and poor family life are directly related. While parents do make their own share of mistakes, failed government policies are the glue that binds together these interconnected disasters into a destructive spiral.

Divorce Hurts School Performance And Graduation Rates

Studies show that divorce has a major negative impact on student performance. This impact has grown as divorces have become more common and contentious. In 1920, a divorce cost a student about 3.6 months of educational progress. By 1970, with the rise of no-fault divorce, the impact was 12 months of lost progress.

Divorces impact high school graduation rates severely. Students whose parents stay together average a high school completion rate of 78.4% by age 20. One divorce drops the rate to 60%. Two or more divorces drop it to 40%. The drop in high school completion roughly matches that related to the death of a parent.

While divorce is damaging, that damage can be mitigated. Kids who have experienced one divorce followed by a parental remarriage have a similar rate of high school completion as those kids whose parents didn't split up. But if the parents divorce yet again, the damage increases.

Parental Behaviors Affect Children's School Performance

In their book NutureShock, writers Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman describe research that shows that even small changes in the way parents praise and correct their children have huge impact on their achievement.

Psychologist Carol Dweck found that parents who praise their children's intelligence, rather than their effort, induce their children to take fewer risks at stretching their learning and experiences. The kids fear that they may fail doing something new and will not be praised. But children who are praised for their good effort are more willing to try new things, be it a new hobby, sport, or area of study.

Other research shows that variations in corrective style also have huge impact on kids. Bronson describes research that shows what happens when mothers are told their children did not do well on a test and take differing approaches to help their children cope. Psychologist Florrie Ng did an experiment with American kids in Illinois and Chinese kids in Hong Kong. She found that after telling mothers their children didn't do well on a test, American moms don't bother to try to help their children do better, unlike Chinese moms. The Americans ignore reported poor performance and talked about anything but the test, as if to shield their children from failure. The Chinese instead try to encourage their children to do better. The results? On a retest, Chinese students improved their performance by 33%, more than twice as large a performance improvement as their American counterparts. The American kids seem to get the message that it doesn't matter how they do, the Chinese get the message that they are loved but can do better.

From this research, it is clear that minor differences in how children are praised or corrected can create enormous differences in outcome as measured by academic performance.

Given this, how do you think big differences like having two loving cooperative parents versus two warring parents will affect academic performance?

Custody Battles and Missing Parents Hurt Kids

Parents are often being driven to fail their children by failed government policies. The government and its "child protection" agencies and family law courts pit parents against each other in custody wars, sapping the family's resources that could have been better allocated to education and raising children.

The parental warfare often results in children learning that being emotional manipulators is a path to success as parents cave in and reward these behaviors due to the fear their children will turn against them and the courts will strip them of their roles as parents if they do not. A parent in a custody battle may shy away from telling little Johnny and Jane that they need to work harder in school because that parent might never see them again as a result. All it takes for that to happen is the other parent making false accusations of emotional abuse or using the corrective comments as propaganda in a parental alienation brainwashing campaign.

Most of our readers know people who have lost their children to parental alienation, false child abuse allegations, or bribery by a selfish parent. Many of them have had it happen to them.

High-conflict parents driven by high-conflict courts create narcissistic children who will engage in their own selfish and high-conflict behaviors in the future. Such children are often emotionally immature, suffer from increased insecurities, and are frequently exposed to damaging conflicts between parents that teaches them severe conflict is normal and they can't count on the people who supposedly love them. Their troubled lives mean they cannot effectively focus on education, taking reasonable risks, and "just being kids" like most children used to be able to do.

The parental warfare also means that educational enrichment opportunities are fewer for them as their parents are paying their life savings to the divorce industry that is destroying their families and are so busy writing declarations, testifying, scheming, and/or defending against false allegations that they pay much less attention to their children.

Family Conflict Impedes Academic Achievement

The connection between divorce and poor school performance is not a new discovery. A 1991 study entitled Academic performance in children of divorce: psychological resilience and vulnerability found children of divorce suffered lower academic performance compared to children of intact families. Yet the researchers noted that not all children of divorce fared equally poorly. There appeared to be two subgroups of children of divorce, those who were not far different from their peers in intact families and those who performed drastically worse. I call the second subgroup the "children of conflict" to emphasize that it is not merely a divorce that is causing the trouble, it is a conflict-prone family life that leaves children feeling very insecure.

Why do the children of conflict fare so much more poorly? There is more than one answer to this.

First, the level of conflict they experience hurts their emotions and mental health, leaving them less able to focus on schooling. If you're being taught to hate your other parent and don't know when you'll see dad or mom or grandma and grandpa next, a lot of your attention and mental energy is being wasted on conflicts and feelings of insecurity rather than learning.

Second, the economic resources sucked out of their families into the greedy hands of the divorce industry and the government probably would have been spent in part on enrichment activities. Some parents might choose camps, others may choose educational vacations, others arts and crafts or fix-it projects, and still others might work part-time to spend more time with their kids. But American style divorce means that all of these options are largely lost except for the very wealthy.

Third, even if somehow the money wasted doesn't preclude opportunities, the wasteful court process causes many parents to spend countless hours hiring and consulting with lawyers, writing court papers, testifying, and attending hearings and mediations. The courts often pile on mandatory counseling and parenting classes in a deceitful attempt to make it look like they are trying to pour water on the conflict when in reality they are doing all they can to light a fire under both parents to scare them to death and motivate them to pour their time and money into the war. After all of this, there is a lot less time remaining for the children and a lot less energy for them, too. Parents are emotionally burned out by the warfare and it drastically worsens the quality of time many of them have with their children. Some parents no longer see their children at all despite all their efforts. The children suffer badly from this.

Is Having Married Parents the Key to Children's Success?

Although it is clear that many children of divorce suffer greatly in their academic performance, I am not convinced that it is marriage in and of itself that helps children be more successful. I suspect it has more to do with the children getting the benefit of two loving and involved parents along with their extended families who nurture, teach, socialize, and provide for the children in different ways. The benefits of increased economic resources also likely has something to do with the difference in results.

Kids get a greater diversity of experience to different ways of thinking, interests, and ways of living when they have two involved parents rather than one. Having two involved parents also means it is more likely that the kids will be around somebody with an advanced education who will encourage them to pursue college and graduate school. If their parents get along, even if they are not married, they also see that people can cooperate and that it benefits the children. They may also learn successful coping and negotiating strategies for when family members are not in total agreement. This is likely to help them cope with difficulties in their own relationships, be it with friends, family members, and love interests.

But American family policy does not encourage intact families. It doesn't encourage parents to get along, either. Instead, it rewards malicious parents who kick the other parent out of the home, falsely accuse them of being criminals or abusers, and keep the children from seeing them. VAWA, divorce laws, the pervasive tendency for courts to issue sole custody orders, and a child support system that rewards abusive parental alienators with money all hurt children and rightly infuriate the target parents, causing them to fight for justice and expend large quantities of time and money doing so. These problems are part of the systemic abuse against children and families by the government.

The single biggest enemy of American children is the American government and its destructive policies towards families.

Problems with underperforming American school kids cannot be fully fixed without fixing the broken family policies in this country. Any politician who advocates school reform without also advocating reform of this country's abusive family policies, laws, and courts is uninformed, a coward unwilling to fight the strong lobby of divorce industry profiteers, or has some agenda that is not good for the nation and its children.

A Family Law Specialist Can Help Protect Your Rights

Many relationships are involved in family law, which can include interactions between wife and husband, children and parents, and even domestic partners. Although these relationships are of a personal nature, there are laws in place that govern the boundaries of personal relationships and provide necessary legal intervention. Many issues that arise from adoption, domestic violence, and divorce situations call for individuals to hire a professional and experienced family law attorney to protect their rights.

It can be extremely frustrating, hurtful, and stressful to have to deal with a legal matter that involves your family member. The outcome can significantly affect you both financially and personally. If you have a knowledgeable attorney handling your case, they can provide you with the support and advice you need during this difficult time in your life. If your family law matter has to do with a domestic violence or divorce situation, a competent lawyer can provide you with the compassion and sensitivity needed to handle your case. Many of these cases involve grandparent rights, father rights, paternity issues, guardianships, and visitation rights. Your attorney will be able to provide you with the legal support you need to protect your rights.

Family law issues are usually stressful and emotionally charged. For this reason, you need professional and experienced counsel that is able to deal with delicate matters. If you attempt to handle your case on your own, it could result in you becoming even more stressed due to an unfavorable outcome. If you hire a strong and encouraging attorney, you get the assurance of competent legal representation and receive an emotional benefit at the same time. Your attorney will alleviate the stress of handling your case on your own and allow you to focus on moving ahead in your life.

You can receive the support and personal attention you need when you allow a family law attorney to alleviate the anger, helplessness, and frustration you have felt because of your case. You can call and schedule a consultation so you can discuss your case with the attorney and find out about your options and rights regarding your divorce, adoption issue, custody dispute, or other domestic situation. Hiring this lawyer will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision regarding your case. Through the information gathered on your consultation, and additional investigation, your attorney will be able to formulate a legal strategy that will represent your interest so you have a better chance of achieving your goals.

How to Choose a Family Law Attorney

Speaking with a family law attorney is a tough decision to make. But even tougher is knowing whom to hire when legal advice is needed. Many people feel desperate and hire the first family law attorney they find in the Yellow Pages. While some people get lucky doing it like this, it is more likely that individuals become frustrated and extremely dissatisfied with the final outcome. This dissatisfaction and frustration can be completely avoided by knowing how to choose the right family law attorney to help.

The relationship between the attorney and the client is a personal one as most family law cases are very delicate and sensitive in nature. These cases deal with marriages and/or children, so it is extremely personal. If an individual is not comfortable speaking about these highly personal matters with an attorney, look for a new one. It is okay to be selective. The attorney needs to listen and provide a feeling of confidence that they are competent and able to properly represent.

When an individual needs to have a surgical procedure done, they go to a specialist, not a general practitioner. The same is true about attorneys. While any attorney may state that they are competent enough to handle a divorce or child custody case, it is essential to locate an attorney that does nothing but family law. This ensures they know the "ins and outs" of the law in this field and are up to date on all new laws and regulations. When selecting an attorney, individuals should ask the attorney how many cases they handled similar to their own, if they are a member of the family law section of the state bar association, and if they have practiced family law in a specific county.

The right family attorney will make the time for the client. If they seem too busy to provide 100 percent of their attention to the case, look for a new attorney. To find out about their commitment to the case, ask them questions such as how many cases they are actively involved with right now, their policy regarding returning emails and phone calls, and how often they communicate with clients.

Many people think they need a shark in the courtroom when it comes to family law cases, but often times the peacemaker is the best family law attorney. Individuals should want an attorney that will settle the conflict without it having to see a courtroom. People should think about it like this, the longer the fight goes on, the more money the attorney will make. A shark tends to create further conflict, making it longer to settle on an agreement. Do not underrate civility.

The last item to think about when choosing the right attorney is their fee. While this may seem like an uncomfortable topic, it is vital to discuss fees. The fee agreement needs to be in writing and provide details as to the representation the attorney will provide. Ask questions such as what is the hourly rate, how often are invoices received, what billable rates are for others that may work on the case, and how to keep fees to a minimum.

Family Law Attorney Q&A

When should I consult with a divorce attorney?

It is never too early in the process to consult with an attorney. Engaging with legal counsel early allows you to make informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls - increasing your ability to achieve your goals. Remember, consulting with an Austin divorce attorney does not mean that you will be divorced; you may need information about the family law legal process. A common problem that I see is clients wait too long to contact an attorney to obtain legal advice and could have ended up with a better result if they had been informed about their options earlier.

What should I bring with me to the initial consultation?

Because family law matters can be very stressful, it is a good idea to write down any questions you have and bring them with you to the first meeting so nothing important is forgotten. You may also want to bring any documents relevant to your case if available - such as federal income tax returns, or documents concerning your assets and debts. If you signed a pre-marital agreement or any other kind of property agreement prior to or during your marriage, bring a copy to the consultation.

I was just served with divorce papers. What should I do?

You should retain a divorce attorney as soon as possible so they may provide legal advice regarding what has been requested and any hearings that have been scheduled. Once retained, your divorce attorney will file an answer on your behalf.

My spouse and I would like to only hire one attorney for our divorce. Is that possible?

In Texas, one attorney may not represent both spouses. Nor may a divorce attorney retained by one spouse give legal advice to the opposing party. Do some research to find out if your state allows representation by one attorney.

I understand that I have to go through mediation for my divorce. Is that true?

In Travis, Williamson and Hays Counties, mediation is required before a final hearing will be held in a family law case. In mediation, a trained, neutral third-party acts a facilitator for the settlement discussions between the parties and their respective attorneys. If an agreement cannot be reached during the mediation process, the parties may decide to resolve their issues via litigation.

How long will it take to get a divorce?

The time required to develop the final terms of your divorce is highly dependent on the number of issues to be resolved and the willingness of both parties to reach an agreement. In Texas, there is a statutory waiting period of 60 days after the Petition is filed before the divorce may be finalized.

Do both spouses have to consent to the divorce? What if one of us does not want the divorce?

Texas has a "no-fault" divorce statue. This means that a divorce can be obtained, even if only one spouse desires it. You do not need the agreement of your spouse to file the Original Petition for Divorce or to pursue a divorce.

What does it mean when an attorney is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization?

A family law attorney who wants to be Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization applies to the Texas Board of Legal Specialization to take a day long written exam to become Board Certified in Family Law. Of the 78,032 attorneys licensed to practice law in Texas, only 691 are Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, or less than one percent of the lawyers in the state of Texas.

* In addition to taking a written certification exam, family law attorneys applying for board certification in family law must have demonstrated extensive expertise in matters such as divorce, property division, child custody, child support, paternity and other matrimonial matters. Specific requirements include:

  • Must have been licensed to practice law for at least five years
  • Have devoted at least 35% of his/her practice to family law for the last three years
  • Have experience handling a wide variety of family law matters
  • Have received recommendations by fellow attorneys and judiciary members
  • Must pass a day-long written exam on family law issues such as divore and child custody
  • Demonstrate regular participation in family law continuing education seminars

Proposing Major Reforms For Family Law Court in Sonoma County - Elkins Task Force Report

In Sonoma County most people are likely to be effected to some extent by family law, whether it is personally or through family and friends. Given the current condition of the family court system in California, can it be repaired?

Because family law is an area of importance, where courts resolve issues important to the futures of our families, children and local communities, bringing change is multifaceted. On April 23, 2010 in San Francisco, The Judicial Council of California accepted the Elkins Task Force Report of 117 recommendations.

Developed by a 38-member task force, including several Sonoma County legal experts, this sweeping report is designed to increase access to justice for the thousands of Californians who appear before court judges. The problems which exist in California family court are legendary.

In 2007, the California Supreme Court faced a difficult question. Were procedures used in court, intended to make the process easier for the litigants, in fact violating their rights to due process? The Court concluded that more needed to be done and it issued a call for action which was what lead to the task force being established.

From the Elkins website, "Throughout its work, the task force has sought input from individuals and organizations with experience and interest in California's family courts, through focus groups, a survey of attorneys, and extensive opportunities for public input via the task force's Web site, letters, and phone calls."

Experienced attorneys in Sonoma County are looking forward to the change that the Elkins Task Force is sure to bring to the current system for their clients.

Appearing in Sonoma County since 1997, Family Attorney Joann Campoy says of the approved Elkins Task Force Report "It is a significant study which provides many recommendations which I would like to see implemented in our courts". Ms. Campoy based in Santa Rosa also stated that this report is "bound to "improve the processes for everyone involved in family court proceedings and better meet the needs of the public".

The Council initially charged the Elkins Task Force with two different duties: (1) to conduct a comprehensive review of family law proceedings; and (2) to make recommendations to the Judicial Council designed both to ensure due process, and to provide more effective and consistent rules, policies and procedures in family law matters.

Now accepted, the recommendations are aimed at improvements-from securing more judicial officers for historically under-resourced courts with huge caseloads all the way to expanding legal services for the many people who cannot afford an attorney.

The Judicial Council also approved on the same day, the establishment of a committee that would implement the task force's recommendations. People all await future news in Sonoma County to see what change the committee will bring once established to the family law courts.

Is it Time to See a Family Law Attorney?

When faced with the possibility of a divorce or custody issue, here are specific reasons why seeing a family law attorney right away can save you from problems later:

- To Learn Your Options: A good family law attorney can discuss the different legal options you have when you face a domestic dispute. Is divorce the answer? Is there an alternative? How should I protect myself during reconciliation attempts? A family law attorney can give you information as to your options, even if you're not sure about divorce.

- To Obtain Information On Your Rights: The decisions you make during a family law case can affect you and your children the rest of your lives. No one should make these decisions without properly being informed of their rights under the law. You should not trust the other side to properly explain your rights under the law. You should educate yourself to your rights through a consultation with a qualified attorney. Many attorneys will provide consultation on an hourly basis without the necessity of a big retainer. You should get the information you need to make these very important decisions as soon as you can. Ignorance is not bliss... in Family Law, ignorance can cause great harm to your family, your assets and your finances.

- To Preserve Your Assets & Protect Against Unnecessary Joint Debt: During a divorce, the families' finances can be examined and divided by the Court. It is important to get legal advice as soon as possible to protect your financial future. If you have a will, living trust, life insurance policies, and other assets with named beneficiaries, it is important that you seek the advice of a lawyer as soon as possible to determine the effect a divorce may have on your estate planning. Many times waiting until someone has filed for a divorce is too late.

- To Get Information On Parental Responsibilities During the Dispute: During a family law dispute it is important to remember that the parents' decisions and behavior can change the lives of their children. Parents need to be especially sensitive to their children during a custody battle. It is important that the children are not emotionally battered and dragged into the conflicts between their parents. A good lawyer can provide advice as to parenting plans that will work in the best interests of your children. In addition, a good lawyer can refer you to counselors and therapists who can help your family get through the difficult times.

A good family law lawyer should approach your case as a "problem solver," not to escalate the issues between the parties. Seeking advice when the problems develop could make a difference in the future of your family.

Collaboration is More Common in Family Law

At one time in the not so distant past, family law was practised at an oppositional stance. Two partners would consult their own personal lawyers privately, divorce would be acrimonious and custody proceedings were bitter. However, now lawyers have stated that family law is being practised much more collaboratively between two partners. This applies to every stage of a family beginning. Mortgage and co-habitation are looked at together, pre-nuptial agreements are drawn up by both partners and mediation is increasing before divorce proceedings are begun. Couples are actively seeking to start their life together on a more equal and open footing. Official documents are drawn up together with mutual consent.

Mortgage And Co-Habitation
Often, when two partners start to live together, they will move into a house that one of the partners already owns. This can be difficult if the couple were to split up, because the party who had no ownership over the house would want some recompense if they had to move out. Now, more couples are using a lawyer to draw up living arrangement contracts or to help them make the mortgage a joint contract.

By law, family courts are now more transparent than ever. This has led a number of couples to draw up a collaborative pre-nup before they marry which ensures that the details of any divorce proceedings will remain private, should the couple split up. Couples are also showing more enthusiasm for beginning their married life on equal terms. When drawing up the pre-nuptial agreement, lawyers have cited that they are less likely to be rejected by a family law court because both parties were witness to them and signed them with no objection. This collaborative approach is much more popular as the disparity between men's and women's finances has shrunk and partners who stay at home are recognised as contributing to the marriage in ways other than financial.

The rise of the pre-nuptial has made divorces much more straight but in some cases. However, where there is no pre-nup in place, a collaborative approach to divorce is now becoming a popular way to end a marriage. This has come about because we are now more aware of how a bitter divorce can emotionally impact on children involved, and parents want to reduce the amount of stress that the split causes to themselves and their offspring. Mediation before a divorce case goes to court can help to reduce hostility and work out the best outcome for all parties involved.

Collaborative family law is a much more open way of dealing with family life. It helps couples to respect each other, think of each other as equals and prevent any unfair dealings if the marriage was to come to an end.

Family Law Solicitors - 10 Things You Need To Know

Family Law solicitors aren't only needed when things go wrong in a relationship, although that's when the majority of people turn to them.

Here's how family law solicitors can help you.

1. If your marriage has broken down, and you're instigating divorce proceedings, you'll want to make sure that you get the right legal advice and assistance. A firm of family law solicitors will be able to help you.

2. If you're not married, but have decided to call it a day and you're your relationship, there may be a house and other assets involved. You'll want to speak to a family law solicitor who specialises in separation so that you get what you're entitled to.

3. Many divorces and separations involve children. If you need legal help regarding access, schooling, or holidays, then you'll want to speak to experienced solicitors.

4. Custody battles are not uncommon, and so if your ex spouse is threatening to move house, or stop you seeing your children, or moving in with a new partner, you'll need to make sure that you do the best for your children, and that you know your legal rights.

5. Resolution is a family law association that promote a non confrontational approach to resolving cases involving children. If your family solicitors are members, then you will be persuaded to talk to your ex spouse in order to try and come to a suitable agreement.

6. You'll want to know more about cohabitation law if you're planning on moving in with your partner, so that you both know where you stand legally, and what to do if things don't work out.

7. If you're thinking about undertaking a Civil Partnership, then you'll need to make sure that you know what's involved and your legal rights.

8. Inheritance claims and disputes can upset within families. If you want to dispute a claim, or need ensure that you or your children are adequately provided for if you were financially dependent on someone who has died, or want to know more about inheritance tax, then you'll want to speak to a family law firm.

9. Pre nuptial agreements are becoming more and more common, and although they are not yet legally binding, recent cases have shown that judges are taking note of them, and acting accordingly. If you want to make sure that you're protected before you get married, it's a good idea to speak to a family specialist firm.

10. There are many financial implications associated with family law, including having to sell your home if your get divorced, inheritance tax, other assets and pensions. You'll need to make sure that you get the advice you need so that you're not out of pocket.

Now you know more about it, you'll be able to get the family law advice you need in order to help you out.

Benefits of Hiring a Family Law Attorney

Family law attorneys specialize in a variety of cases, including cases that involve divorce, child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support and guardianships. There are many reasons to hire a family law attorney and many benefits that can be reaped when retaining the services of a legal professional.

Familiarity with Cases
If you receive paperwork regarding a family law matter or you initiate a proceeding regarding a family matter, you are likely a novice who has never dealt with the issues at hand previously in your life. Even if you have contested the matter on a previous occasion, your familiarity with the family court system is likely limited. Family lawyers are familiar with all aspects that pertain to cases and will know how to handle paperwork that you receive.

Procedural Issues
Family attorneys are aware of various civil procedures that can affect your case. Each state has its own set of rules pertaining to how a party can be properly served with papers pertaining to family law cases. Attorneys are also aware of jurisdictional restraints and will comply with these restraints so that your case is not immediately thrown out. These matters are very important and can dictate whether a subsequent ruling is valid or not. If a party was not served properly or if the court does not have jurisdiction, the case must start all over and any decisions that were made in the interim will be overruled.

Family lawyers make their living convincing judges and other parties of the merits of his clients' cases. They are knowledgeable about all aspects pertaining to family law and the various elements that must be proven in each family law case. For example, a lawyer must prove that a change in custody is in a child's best interest. This standard is determined based on numerous factors, including past physical violence, alcohol abuse or drug abuse, the child's relationship with both parents, the amount of time that he has spent with both children and other factors. Most lay persons do not have this knowledge of the law and do not know which information may be relevant during court proceedings.

One of the most important reason to hire a family attorney is to protect your rights. The stakes of these type cases are often high, including children being removed from the home by a child protection services agency, losing custody to another parent, losing assets through a divorce or not being able to protect a family member who is not capable of caring for himself. When the stakes are so high, it is important to hire a professional who can handle these matters and advocate for your rights.

Likelihood of Success
Hiring a family lawyer increases the likelihood that you will succeed in your case. Judges recognize when parents hire attorneys that they are serious about the family law matter and are willing to sacrifice financially in order to pursue a matter in which they believe. A party who does not have adequate counsel is less likely to be taken seriously.

Level Playing Field
When one party has an attorney and the other party does not have his own legal representation, this can quickly cause an imbalance of power and bargaining power. The party with legal counsel will likely intimidate the other party and will have an advantage inside and outside of the courtroom.

Family Law and the Division of Marital Assets

Determining what assets should be included as marital property and who gets these items can be a pretty big argument between divorcing couples. Property acquired before marriage may or may not be considered marital property. When a prenuptial agreement exists, it can help determine the marital assets and protect anything owned prior to marriage. Stay at home moms and other non-working spouses are protected by the court in some states and can receive part of the assets or compensation for them. Other factors such as who will be raising the children and who has more income can sway how everything is divided.

With the exception of rare circumstances, everything acquired throughout the marriage is included as marital property. These are things such as the home, vehicles, and bank account funds. By being married both parties agree to share financial gains and losses. Marital assets can be divided in two ways depending upon the standards of family law set in each state. Approximately ten states follow community property laws while the others use equitable distribution. Knowing the particular states laws can be very helpful in being prepared for the divorce and proceedings. Divorce lawyers can help determine which assets will be included as marital assets and most reasonable way to divide them.

Equitable distribution is the more common of the two ways to divide assets. Distribution of assets is not necessarily guaranteed to be 50/50 in these states. The court itself decides what division percentage is fair and reasonable for both parties. A court makes this decision based on many different factors. Some of them include the length of the marriage, both parties' income, responsibility for the children, and debt. Another factor is what each person had when they entered the marriage. A prenuptial agreement takes precedence over the laws definition of distribution and can make determining the marital assets much easier.

Remember these things when it comes to equitable distribution. Everything bought during the marriage will be divided. Who bought it or whose name is on the item does not matter. It is the responsibility of the divorcing couple to prove which assets are marital assets. This includes proving a spouse got rid of certain assets knowing divorce was inevitable. Having knowledge of the state laws can make it easier to work with divorce lawyers in getting desired items or compensation. Finally, each party is also responsible for debt accrued during the marriage.

Community property results in a 50/50 distribution of all marital assets. All debts are also marital property and will be equally split between both parties. Spouses who know their state follows community property laws may hide debt or increase it as a way to get even. When a home is owned in more than one state, it may be possible to file for divorce in either state. Consult with someone familiar with family law to determine which state's laws will be most beneficial when filing for the divorce. People with higher incomes benefit more from equitable distributions states whereas someone who has no or very little income would benefit more by community property laws.

What Can a Family Law Solicitor Do For You?

A Family Law Solicitor can help you with all of the legal aspects of family life, at what are, for many people, extremely difficult times. 

The end of a relationship can be a very traumatic time for all involved, and there may not be anyone to blame for the breakdown.  The relationship may have reached its natural end, or those involved may want different things.  Alternatively, one party may be to blame.

Divorce proceedings need to handled sensitively and efficiently so as not to prolong the suffering unnecessarily.  It's a very difficult time, and the last thing you want is for solicitors to be slow to act or to delay matters.

If domestic violence is involved, it is essential that your solicitor is able to help you immediately and provide you with all the help and guidance that you need to leave a violent partner, and be in safe in secure accommodation.

Children are often caught in the middle of separations and divorce, and can have an extremely hard time, not just at home, but at school as well.  A swift resolution can make sure that the children are not affected or involved any more than they have to be.  The issue of custody and access may be more complicated, depending on the circumstances. 

Separation and divorce may have far reaching implications, not just for the immediate family. Grandparents are often forgotten about, but they shouldn't have to give up the right to see their grandchildren.  If you are facing the possibility of not being allowed to see your grandchildren, perhaps due to the children having to move away, or because of other reasons, a family law solicitor can provide you with the information and help you need.

An experienced family law solicitor will be able to provide the necessary legal guidance the need, whether you are a husband or a wife, and whether or not there are children involved.  Although each and every case will be unique, family law solicitors are used to advising with divorce and separation cases, so they will know to expect, and what you can expect.

If you are undertaking divorce proceedings, you might also need to consider selling your home, or providing a home for your children.  You might also need to change your will, or to rethink your inheritance tax provisions.  The family law solicitors you use might well be able to help with all of these associated legal requirements and more.

Whether you are going through a divorce or want to make sure that you can still spend time with your grandchildren after a divorce, a family law solicitor will help you to make sure that you know what to expect, and can answer all of your questions.

How to Choose the Right Family Law Solicitor

If you need a family law solicitor, then you'll want to get it right, so that you've got more chance of getting the help and advice you need, and the results you want.

Here's what you need to know.

1. You'll need to establish what area of family law you need. Are you getting divorced? Do you want to have a pre nup written? Are you the victim of domestic violence? Are you considering moving in with your partner and want to know what the legal implications are?

2. Once you've worked out what sort of family law solicitor you need, you can then decide whether a local solicitor or a solicitors known for specialising in family law will be best for you.

3. You'll want to ensure that your solicitor is in constant communication with you, so that you know what's going on, what will happen, and what's expected of you.

4. It's important that your solicitor shows you empathy, and understands what you're going through, and doesn't just see you as just another case number, and more work to do.

5. You'll want to get the right advice from your solicitor, and so you'll need to be prepared to provide lots of information. If your solicitor doesn't ask the right questions, then you might not be getting the advice you need.

6. You'll want to choose a family law solicitor with plenty of experience. You'll want to be reassured that they not what they are doing, and can help you in your situation.

7. As well as experience, you'll want your solicitor be able to get the results you want. No matter whether you want more access to see your children, or want to end your civil partnership, you'll want to get the right results.

8. It's essential that your solicitor remains professional at all times, you won't want to be unable to contact your solicitor, or be waiting whilst they find your case notes.

9. You'll need to like and trust your solicitor. You'll be giving them lots of personal information about you, and possibly your family. You might also be spending quite a lot of time with them too, so it's important that you get on.

10. Although you might be worried about the cost, you should have far more important things on your mind, especially if your children, or grandchildren, are involved. You can't pick a family law solicitor solely on cost.

Now you know what to consider, you'll be able to make sure that you get the right family law solicitor.

Family Law Update: Queen's Park Tries To Toughen Things Up

In response to public outrage about a few unusual incidents related to cases before the Family Courts, the Ontario Government has passed the Family Statute Amendment Act. It came into force on March 1, 2010 and it makes three changes to Ontario Family Law. First, it changes "restraining/non-harassment orders" made in Family Court. Second, it requires people seeking custody or access to file new court documents requiring extensive information with the court. Third, it makes specific provision for courts to make orders controlling how people parent children in their care.

The changes to "restraining orders" are designed to "toughen up" the orders and extend more protection to more people. These provisions are already in force. Under the new Act, you can get a restraining order against a person you lived with for any period of time (maybe even only a day) or with whom you have a child. The changes have also created standard restraining orders. They will set out exactly who is not allowed to communicate with whom, where a person is not allowed to go and if there will be any exceptions.

Public outrage over the death of a child placed in the custody of a parent's friend resulted in significant new requirements for documents to be filed with the court. The changes require all the parties to file a parenting affidavit that includes a lot of detail about the children and a detailed parenting plan. If a party is not a parent, he or she will also have to file a criminal record check, provide every address where he or she has lived since birth, and provide authorization for every children's aid society in every jurisdiction where that person has ever lived to search their records and provide information to the court.

The last change is not really much of a change at all.

Section 28 (1) of the Children's Law Reform Act has been amended to allow orders prohibiting:

a- speaking disparagingly about the other parent in front of the child,
b- changing a child's residence, school or daycare with the other parent's consent or a court order,
c- the removal of a child from Ontario;
d- one parent from withholding a child's passport or health card,
e- withholding consent documents to allow the parent to get information about a child; and
f- a parent from blocking contact between a child and another person. The courts have made these orders as part of custody orders for a long time. This change may simply be designed to assist parents in understanding that a judge can make these types of orders.

The changes outlined above respond to public concern about safety and security, codifying some measures and introducing new ones.