Top Factors To Consider In US Child Custody Litigation

If you’re facing a divorce and you legally share a child or children with your spouse, you may already be dealing with a variety of legal issues. Many times, the process of divorce brings along with it questions regarding property division, financial responsibility and future asset obligations; however, one of the most important and difficult issues to deal with is that of child custody after a marriage has been dissolved. Before you begin the process of divorce with children involved, here are some factors to consider:

1.) Financial Means

Raising a child with two parents can be difficult enough, but when that responsibility falls on one parent or the other individually, the stress can be magnified. When considering the amount of custody you would like or can handle, it’s important to consider the income-to-expenditure ratio you and your spouse can offer in order to provide the best life for your child or children. If you feel that you may not be able to provide completely for your child or children as a single parent, you may need to consider shared custody and child support options in the future.

2.) Personal Responsibility

Along with your financial means, you should also consider the personal and social obligations that come along with child custody arrangements and parenting. Are you working late into the night each workday? Is your spouse able to offer adequate family time for your child? You may want to write out a schedule of your typical week in order to get a good, overall picture of exactly how much time you and your spouse will be able to devote to your parenting obligations. This can be done using a chart or a software program, and it may help you and your spouse to determine exactly how much custody each parent can handle versus how much each parent may be willing to give up.

3.) Family Life

While it goes without saying, being a parent means being able to raise a child in a mature, loving household. Unfortunately, you may be seeking a divorce because their spouse is not able to provide a warm, loving household, or they may have trouble with anger, drinking, drugs or other potential hazards. In some cases, abuse and neglect may even be taking place, and if these are the reasons for your divorce or custody concerns, then you need to factor in your spouse’s actions and attitudes when seeking custody arrangements. If needed, you may find yourself involving an attorney, the Department of Social Services and law enforcement agencies in making your custody decisions and arrangements.

4.) Seek Out an Attorney

If you find that you are having a difficult time deciding upon child custody arrangements, then you will want to seek out the best divorce attorney for you. A divorce lawyer can assist you with all facets of child custody, including the percentage of custody you should be seeking, visitation arrangements and more.  Consult the best divorce attorney for you and your location, such as an Orlando divorce lawyer if you live in the greater Orlando area; a local attorney will be aware of any specific jurisdictional procedures.

When you work with a divorce attorney, you can also receive expert advice regarding child support payments, alimony payments and visitation rights during shared custody. Additionally,  can represent you in court during your divorce proceedings, allowing you to concentrate on taking care of your child or children. To find such attorneys, you may want to use the Internet, or you can search through your local phonebook.

Molly Henshaw is a freelance writer living in the DC metro area. She is also a contributing author for the divorce team of Katz & Phillips. Consulting a third party professional is essential when dealing with the divorce process!

Saints Coach Sean Payton in the Process of Getting a Divorce

The most successful coach of New Orleans Saints has filled for divorce from his wife of, Beth Payton, to end a 20-year-old marriage. The time of divorce came when Sean is going through a troubled time of facing a suspension for an entire NFL session over an alleged Bounty program.

Sean filled the divorce petition on June 14, 202, seeking divorce on the ground of discord or conflict of personalities. He has asked for the joint custody of the children and for the division of the property. Beth Payton filed her divorce papers on June 26, 2012. However Beth has asked for solo child custody and exclusive authority over decisions on the medical care of the children. She has also asked the coach to pay towards child support and medical care of the children.

The divorce petition was filled in the Tarrant County district court. However, the divorce papers does not contain the full name of the divorcing parties in order to keep their identities under wrap. The papers describe their identities as two residents of Tarrant County with the initials of Payton (PSP) and his wife (BAP), their marriage date and the birth dates of both of their children.

The decision of divorce came at a time when the Saint’s most successful coach is facing suspension from the 2012 NFL session for an alleged bounty program in which defense players were paid inappropriate cash bonus for causing injuries to the targeted opponents.

Sean Payton is the most successful coaches of the Saints. Prior to Joining Saints, he was working as an assistant coach with Dallas cowboys. Sean joined New Orleans Saint’s football club in 2006 and won a super bowl in his fourth session. He managed the team on its way to win the NFC South Division with a 13-3 record and set various club and NFL records.

 

Parents Access Rights ‘Enshrined’ in Law

One of the reasons that divorce law is so complex is that very often the rules are a matter of fine interpretation. Deciding what is the best case for a child as young as two or three can come down to a few difficult paragraphs of wording or just a better argued case.

Sometimes, however, the law is perfectly clear cut and in an attempt to simplify divorce legislation, the government has recently put through an amendment which will ‘enshrine’ the rights of both parents to have access to a child. In essence, what was once a complex and subtle issue is to be made explicit and the law will serve the rights of both parents in most circumstances. So do these changes make sense? Has the government made the right move?

Protecting Fathers
Though at all times family law experts attempts to set out the proper, just way of dealing with an issue, this amendment will undoubtedly benefit fathers seeking access rights. In just under 10% of divorce cases children reside ‘mainly’ with their father and this legislation seeks to correct this bias.

Of course, this should not overrule what is in the child’s immediate interest if, say, a father or mother is violent or unfit for the role, but it does give genuinely willing fathers a leg-up.

Admin over Justice
Plenty of family law solicitors have expressed their discontent with the changes and they claim that the new legislation is simply not required – in calculating the interests of the child, courts already take into account the benefits of having influence from both parents.

When parents are given rights to access, disputes start arising over whether the right to access should be equal or properly apportioned. Undoubtedly, this will put a good deal of extra strain on courts for what will be more or less the same end result.

The Paramountcy Principle

After all is said and done, what realistically and legally matters is the interest of the child – this is the paramountcy principle. Though there are many cases in which both mothers and fathers fall unfortunately the wrong side of the legislation, family law experts do understand and appreciate the benefit of enabling joint access wherever possible. Though these changes might redress the balance between those living with dad and those living with mum, the statistics really aren’t the point – what matters is the child’s well-being and at the moment, judges do all they can to ensure fair access to children.

Though we’ll have to wait and see what the real effects of these changes will be, it’s likely that they will be pretty unpopular throughout the justice system and, as happened in Australia, we might well see a reversal of the law in the future.

Clough and Willis Solicitors have a dedicated team of family law specialists who are headed by a Resolution accredited specialist who can advise on divorce settlements and agreements. We can also advise on the appropriateness of referring the dispute to a mediator and deal with negotiation of child arrangements on your behalf. If required, we represent both parents and grandparents within Court proceedings.

What factors do the court take into account if there is a court dispute over child residence or contact?

If negotiations over child residence or contact via family solicitors or direct fail, then the may be no other option than to proceed via the court system. For example, where a non resident parent considers that the resident parent has become unfit to care for the children or where they wish to have the children reside with them, they may consider applying for a residence order themselves, but the court will take in to account the following factors to ensure that the child’s best interests are at the forefront of any decision:

(a)the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);

(b)his physical, emotional and educational needs;

(c)the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;

(d)his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;

(e)any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;

(f)how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;

(g)the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

This is called the welfare checklist and is governed by section 1 of the children act 1989. A court will have regard to this when a party applies for any order involving a child of the family. Such order could include a residence or contact order, as detailed above, a prohibited steps order, where one party wishes to prevent the other from taking certain actions in relation to the child, or a specific issues order. This type of order is usually made when the parties cannot agree on the course of action to be taken as to a certain issue, such as the schooling of the child or the medical needs of the child.

Another order that may be made is a parental responsibility order, which is an order to give parental responsibility to a person, who has not acquired this automatically. If a resident parent is worried about the threat of violence or harassment from the other party, they may wish to apply for a non molestation order, this would cover the resident parent as well as the children of the family.

For any other family law enquiries, Darlingtons Solicitors can help.

Child Support – How is it Calculated? (A Helpful U.S. Perspective)

The dissolution of a marriage, also called a divorce, is never an easy thing to deal with. It becomes increasingly more difficult and heart breaking when there are kids involved. Once you’ve decided that divorce is the only option, you’ll need to start the process if legally ending the marriage. As a part of this process, one of the parents will likely get custody of any minor children. It’s also safe to assume that the other partner will probably be on the hook for child support until a certain agreed upon time in the future, most likely when the kids turn 18 years old. There are many good child support calculators available online, find one geared towards the state that you’ll be filing for divorce in.

According to a top Arizona child custody attorney there are a few key factors in determining how Child Support is calculated, they are:

  • Family Income – Most child support guidelines take into account, the income from both parents. Some states base their formula on gross income, while others chose to use net income as a guide.
  • Child Support Deductions – In a situation where one parent is already paying child support from a previous marriage or situation, that may qualify to be deducted from their income. In most cases, there are 2 qualifiers for this deduction, they are: 1) the previous child support must be court ordered, and 2) the parent must be making the payments.
  • Child Care & Healthcare Expenses – Most states will consider child care expenses that are incurred while the parents are working. The federal government and the states have set-up child care deductions and other benefits. Healthcare can be a major sticking point in child support because it is of utmost importance to determine who will pay for the child’s health insurance. Typically, the amount spent on insurance is added to the child support order and then credited to the parent who pays for it.
  • Custody and Visitation – Many child support guidelines attempt to account for the time each parent has the child or children. The more time that the children spend with the non-custodial parent, the higher the expenses that parent incurs to support the kids. In many situations where there is shared custody, the award amount to the custodial parent will be less than if there was sole custody.

These are just a few of the things that go into calculating child support. You should always consult with a Family Law Specialist when you have decided that divorce is the only option. As a parent, you have rights and those need to be accounted for when the division or property and custody occurs. You should also research the laws or guidelines in your state as they relate to child support matters.

This post is from The Cantor Law Group a Family Law firm based in Phoenix, AZ.

What To Look For When Seeking a Family Lawyer

What To Look For When Seeking a Family Lawyer

If you’ve never been through the legal process before, realizing the amount of time, effort, and stress that go into it can be more than daunting.  Hiring a lawyer alone is intimidating; how can you determine a good lawyer from a bad one if you’ve never had to hire one before?  Below you’ll find the qualities you should look for when seeking the right lawyer for your family law case.

Background Information on the Practice of Law
There’s a misconception that a lawyer is a lawyer, in the sense that they all have the same knowledge and practice law.  However, this is simply not the case.  There are three types of lawyers you’ll come across on your lawyer search.  Specialized lawyers are those whose practice is specialized in a specific type of law, such as personal injury law.   General lawyers, i.e. lawyers that practice a broader area of law, might practice personal injury law and business law simultaneously.  Then there are Referral lawyers.  These lawyers may be either specialized or general lawyers, but they advertise as if they practice various types of law.  When clients come to them in a specialty outside of their practice area, which is typical due to referral lawyers affinity to advertise a broad range of specialties, referral lawyers then refer the client to another attorney.  The reason they do this is because referral lawyers get a percentage of the lawyer fees for all cases they refer out.  For instance, Lawyer A refers a client to Lawyer B.  When Lawyer B wins the case, Lawyer B must forfeit a percentage of his/her fees from the case.  So, put bluntly, referral lawyers get paid for doing absolutely nothing in a case they’ve referred to another lawyer.

Qualities You Want in a Family Lawyer
You should look for three factors when determining if a lawyer is right for your divorce, separation, will, children’s rights or divorce settlement legal needs.

First, you should look for a lawyer who has experience handling family law cases.  You will want to avoid “referral lawyers” as the fees they take can deter the lawyers they refer your case to from actually taking it; lawyers, like any professional, are in it for the money and if they have to forfeit percentage of their winnings on a case that already isn’t worth that much, they aren’t going to take it.  You should seek out lawyers who have a long history of experience with family law cases and who have been successful with such cases.  While a general attorney might have a lot of experience with family law cases, you should generally look for a lawyer who specializes in family law as he/she is the more likely to be adept to the legal procedures of such a case.

And do not rely on lawyer rating sites, like Super Lawyers, AVVO, and Best Lawyers to give you reliable information on a lawyer’s success rate and the like.  These sites’ “rankings” are determined by how much a lawyer is willing to pay and the information on the lawyers is not generally verified by the lawyers themselves.  For example, attorney John Smith might be stated as a family lawyer on a lawyer ranking site when in fact he is a slip and fall lawyer.  You don’t want a personal injury lawyer handling your family law case, do you?  It would be like having an accountant acting as your stock market investment advisor; it’s simply the wrong specialist handling the wrong specialty.

Second, you need a lawyer who is capable of giving your case the time and attention it deserves.  And third, you need a lawyer with knowledge about your case type.  General lawyers handle many different types of cases, which means they must have a vast working knowledge of different laws and law procedures.  For instance, a general lawyer handling a business law case, a personal injury case, and a criminal case will need to know the necessary laws for each of those law specialties as well as the procedures required by each.  That’s a lot of work and knowledge that a single person must endure and retain.  A general lawyer may be less knowledgeable about your case type and less able to spend time on your case because he/she is handling so many different types of cases.

Amber Paley is a guest post and article writer bringing to us what qualities one should look for when seeking a family lawyer.  Outraged by the prevalence of elder neglect in the U.S., Amber spends much of her professional life writing education articles to help those affected another’s negligible care find good nursing home abuse attorneys.

The Divorce Process: Family Law Information

The Divorce Process

Divorce is the legal process through which two people end their marriage and the legal status that it provides. It is usually an extremely emotional time for the parties involved and also for their children, if they have any. The best way to make your divorce process as smooth as possible is to find a solicitor who you can trust and work comfortably with.

It is important that both parties understand their legal position on divorce and know exactly to what they are entitled. A divorce solicitor can make sure finances and property are properly distributed and arrangements are made for children, leaving no room for disagreements.

Petitioning for divorce

In order to begin the process of divorce one party to the marriage must present a petition for divorce on the grounds that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. It is important to note that the parties must have been married for at least a year before they are able to make such a petition.

Whether the marriage is broken down irretrievably is not simply a matter of opinion, and there is legislation stating that at least one of five factors must be present before any court will make a ruling that the marriage has in fact broken down irretrievably. These five grounds for divorce are as follows: unreasonable behaviour, adultery, living apart for two years and both parties consent to the divorce, living apart for five years, and desertion.

Acknowledgment of service

A copy of the petition must be sent to the other party along with a statement of arrangements for the children (if applicable) and an acknowledgment of service. The respondent must inform the petitioner in the acknowledgment of service whether they will be contesting the divorce. The acknowledgment of service is therefore an extremely important document as it shows the court that the other party is aware of the petition. If the other party refuses to return the acknowledgment of service you may have to arrange for a process server or bailiff to serve the document and make an affidavit stating that they have done so.

Decree nisi

If the court is satisfied that there are valid grounds for divorce it may well grant what is known as a decree nisi. A decree nisi will generally be granted when a divorce is not being contested and there are valid grounds for divorce. The party who made the petition must then apply to have the decree made absolute which they cannot do until at least six weeks and one day from the date of the decree nisi.

Decree absolute

The decree absolute is what actually ends the marriage, as opposed to the decree nisi which merely declares there are satisfactory grounds. Once the decree absolute has been pronounced the marriage has officially ended and usually the parties will begin ancillary relief proceedings: the name given for deciding how the matrimonial assets should be split.

Ancillary relief proceedings

The ancillary relief proceedings are often fiercely contested as a judge will rule on who should have what from the matrimonial assets. The ancillary relief process can be quite long and usually involves three trips to court.

  • A first appointment in which a judge outlines his position and ensures appropriate disclosure has taken place.
  • A financial dispute resolution hearing in which a judge (a different judge from who will be in attendance at the final hearing) will give an indication of what he would order in the hope the parties then settle on similar terms and avoid a final hearing.
  • A final hearing in which an order will be made.

With the potential for several court visits, it is in both parties’ interests to try to facilitate an early settlement to avoid significant legal costs.