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11 Situations Where a Family Law Attorney Can Help

on Oct 8, 2017 in Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce

There are many reasons someone might need a family law attorney.  Family law attorneys work to both establish rights, where appropriate, and protect the interests of families.  Below are some of the most common reasons people need family law attorneys.

1.    Adopting a Step Child

Not every blended family adopts.  However, there are some times when adoption makes sense.  This includes situations where a biological parent has died, is incarcerated for an extended period, or is otherwise unavailable or uninvolved in a child’s life.  In those circumstances, adoption may be the right answer for a particular family.  Of course, courts have certain requirements before an adoption occurs.  Family law attorneys assist in making certain all of the necessary requirements have been met.

2.    Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are a good idea prior to marriage for any couple who has assets.  These assets could include property, such as a house, or it could include an inheritance, a retirement plan, a stock portfolio.  A family law attorney can review assets and debts to determine whether a prenuptial agreement is a good idea.  They can also assist by drafting the agreement.

3.    Establishing Paternity

In many cases, paternity is established at the time of birth.  However, there are certain times wherein paternity is not resolved when the child is born.  There are a number of reasons for this.  However, when someone wishes to establish paternity, and be involved in their child’s life, a family law attorney can assist in that process.  The steps taken depend on the circumstances at the time the father seeks to establish paternity.  Consequently, there is no easy “one size fits all” approach to establishing paternity.   As such, an experienced family law attorney is a must.

4.    Establishing Obligations During Separation

In Maryland, most couples must wait a year before a divorce can be granted.  In the interim, the law requires the couple maintain separate residences.  Establishing obligations during the separation period in a legal document serves several purposes.  First, it outlines the expectations and understanding of both parties.  Additionally, the agreement may address child custody and support, where applicable.  Further, an agreement might address spousal support.  Finally, it may detail financial expectations, such as who is responsible for paying the student loan debt, the mortgage, or provide maintenance and upkeep on a family cottage.  Couples themselves are often overwhelmed during the separation process.  An attorney removed from the situation, who has prior experience, knows common pitfalls and can help you avoid them with their legal guidance.

5.    Establishing Child Custody

Not every child is the product of an intact relationship.  If parents divorce, the divorce decree or separation agreement address child custody.  Where the parents were never married, child custody arrangements can still be established and agreed to.  Reducing the agreement to writing accomplishes several goals.  First, it details clearly the agreement of the parties so there is no confusion or misunderstandings.   Second, it creates a contract which cannot be changed on the whim of one of the parties.  Third, it provides the child stability and routine.

6.    Family Name Changes

A family attorney can assist those families who seek to change the name of one or more children so all can share the same last name.  While not every family feels this is important, for those that do, a family law attorney can assist in making that happen.

7.     Securing an Order for Protection

Unfortunately, sometimes relationships turn violent.  Other times, one party threatens violence.  Domestic violence is a very real problem.  Seeking an order for protection or a restraining order to protect a party and, where appropriate, the children, is a daunting prospect.  A family law attorney can assist in this process.

8.    Locating Hidden Assets

Sometimes, one party may feel their spouse is hiding assets.  This could include cash, stock options, real property, boats, and other things of value.  An experienced family law attorney has access to professionals such as forensic accountants, who know what to look for to identify and locate hidden assets.

9.     Enforcing a Previous Court Order

Sometimes, people don’t pay child support or alimony as directed.  When this happens, a family law attorney can assist in obtaining obligations owed.  Possible options a family law attorney can help one explore include:

  • The suspension of their driver’s license;
  • The suspension of their professional license;
  • Intercepting state and federal tax refunds;
  • Garnishing wages; as well as
  • Administrative liens.

10.         Modifying Child Support or Alimony

When there are significant changes in circumstance, which affects one’s ability to pay child support or alimony, a family law attorney can assist in determining whether modification of a previous order is appropriate.  This may involve a reduction or an increase in the amount owed.  Not every situation change will result in a change to child support or alimony.  A family law attorney is familiar with the legal standard, precedent, and relevant case law which may directly impact a given situation.

11.        If You Think Your Spouse is Planning a Divorce

If you think your spouse is planning a divorce, a meeting with a family law attorney can provide you valuable information.  Discovering your options early, and being proactive, won’t hasten a divorce that isn’t already coming.  It will, however, prepare you for possible outcomes.

Contact the Family Law Attorneys at Fait & DiLima

At Fait & DiLima, we focus our practice exclusively on family law issues.  Our attorneys and staff have over 50 years of combined experience.  Additionally, our firm has worked on several landmark cases.  At Fait & DiLima, our team works with you to achieve a positive result.  We recognize there is an emotional component to most aspects of family law.

Whatever your family law issue, we can help you and your family resolve the issue as quickly and painlessly as possible.  Contact our office for a consultation.