In the U.S., roughly one out of every 25 families has adopted a child. But while this process is quite common, it can also be incredibly confusing and tedious. Most families determine that they’ll need help from adoption lawyers to navigate them through this time. When it comes time to choose an adoption lawyer, you’ll need to weigh your options carefully and ask a lot of questions to determine the individual who will be a good fit for your needs. In today’s post, we’ll highlight just a few of the most important questions you’ll want to ask during an initial consultation.
What is Your Experience With Adoption?
When hiring any kind of lawyer, you’ll need to assess that lawyer’s experience with cases like yours. Because each area of law practice comes with its own set of challenges, you’ll want to ensure your lawyer has an innate understanding of adoption cases and is equipped to handle any situation you might encounter. Adoption lawyers aren’t always completely focused on these types of cases, but the attorney you choose should have handled more than one or two adoption cases in the last year. It’s also important to ask whether your adoption attorney has handled non-relative adoptions, contested adoptions, out-of-state or international adoptions, and other special cases. This can provide you with some valuable insight into their level of expertise and how comfortable they might be taking on your case.
What Services Do You Offer?
Many adoption lawyers will actually offer services in addition to their legal recommendations. In some cases, they may be able to connect you with adoption opportunities, facilitate birth parent expense payments, or set up an open adoption contact agreement. They might also be able to refer you to other professionals for services like counseling or matching services. Although not every lawyer can offer these extraneous services, having a lawyer who is connected to other professionals in the adoption realm can be of great benefit to clients.
What Can I Expect During This Process?
Before you agree to hire one of the adoption lawyers you meet with, you’ll need to get a better feel for their style and for the type of communication you can expect. No doubt, adoptive parents will have a plethora of questions to ask. Will you be able to readily get in touch with your lawyer, even outside of business hours? Will they be the only lawyer working on your case, or will you need to become acquainted with the whole team? How will time-sensitive issues be handled? If you get the feeling that communication isn’t a priority for a given attorney or that they handle too many cases at once, you may want to consider continuing your search until you find someone who understands the unique needs of adoptive families like yours.
What Will Your Services Cost?
It might not be the most pleasant topic to discuss, but you’ll need to find out more about the fees your adoption lawyers might charge. Many adoption attorneys will charge for their services on an hourly basis, while others will charge a flat rate. Be sure to ask how many hours your lawyer would spend on a typical case to get a clearer idea of how affordable their services will be. You should also find out whether any fees you pay to your attorney will be non-refundable even if the birth parent changes their mind about pursuing adoption. Since you’ll need to establish an adoption budget before beginning this process, you’ll need to have a clearer picture of how much you’ll need to devote to legal services.
Using these questions as your guide, you’ll be able to find an adoption lawyer New Jersey families trust to help them navigate this process. For more information on how our family lawyers can assist you, please contact our firm today.
American is no stranger to divorce: approximately 40% to 50% of married couples will end up divorced. What may be shocking is that 25% of divorcees cited domestic abuse as their reason for seeking separation.
The definition of domestic violence spans over several categories: emotional, verbal, physical, and financial abuse can all be defined as domestic violence. Physical is the most well-known form because it tends to leave evidence behind; it is also the main reason people get protection orders against their spouse or significant other. Though they don’t always go by the same name (California refers to them as restraining orders and New York considers them orders of protection), all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer legal remedies to help people protect themselves from further abuse. There are two main types of protection orders.
- Emergency Protection Orders: Most states require one of the two parties involved in a domestic violence dispute to leave the home if the police are called to the scene. Around two-thirds of states allow police officers to remove weapons, including guns, from the home without further investigation. Some states also allow police to give the victim an emergency protection order (EPO) if the abuser is arrested onsite for domestic violence. This protection is short-term — usually between three and seven days — and is meant to give the victim time to file a longer-term protection order themselves. EPOs act as the basis for an individual to seek a more permanent order of protection.
- Protection Order: Protection orders last between one to five years, though they can extend a lifetime in extreme cases. If the victim is still feeling threatened by the abuser when the term ends, they can renew the protection order. Protection orders have many different provisions defining the rules of the order. These can involve a no-contact limitation, a move-out demand, or a forced surrender of the abuser’s weapons; they vary from case to case.
If you’re dealing with abuse in your relationship, it’s time to contact a domestic violence lawyer. Divorce lawyers, while skilled in the legalities of marriage, are less equipped to handle more nuanced cases where abuse is involved. Domestic violence lawyers are able to offer advice and help you file an order of protection against your abuser; they also tend to overlap with family lawyers, so they will be able to assist if you’re not the only recipient of the domestic violence.
Divorce is almost never an easy experience. You’ve got a lot to think about: who’s getting what, how are the finances getting untangled, what is the timeline, etc. Even when both parties are amicable, the legalities and documentation involved in the dissolution of a marriage is confusing at best and maddeningly frustrating at worst. To help manage some of the chaos, we’ve picked out a number of useful legal terms relating to divorce.
- Ancillary Relief: When related to divorce, this term refers to additional things asked for beyond a simple judgment of divorce, such as maintenance (alimony) payments, division of property, debt responsibility, child support, etc.
- Emancipation: The release of a child from the responsibility and control of a parent or guardian. If the child marries, enters the military, or becomes self-supporting (usually before turning 21 but ages vary based on what state you’re in), the court considers the child emancipated and child support may be terminated.
- Family Court: This specifically refers to the jurisdiction of cases involving child support, custody, visitation, spousal support, and family offenses.
- Guardian ad litem: If a minor or incompetent person needs representation, they will be appointed a guardian (usually a lawyer) by the court. In divorce cases, the guardian ad litem does not act as the child’s attorney but rather reports to the court on what is and isn’t in the child’s best interest.
- Mediation: A neutral member (called the mediator) is called in to help the parties reach a mutually-acceptable resolution of the dispute. They do not decide the case, they simply help each side communicate so they can settle the dispute themselves, which can save a lot of money.
- Prenuptial agreement: This document — signed before both parties enter into marriage — decides how assets will be divided should the marriage be dissolved. Around 51% of divorce lawyers are seeing prenup agreements on the rise among millennials.
Though you may feel overwhelmed and like you’re going through this experience on your own, you’ll have a qualified and knowledgeable divorce lawyer sitting by your side the whole way. Whether you require the help of a specialist (such as a child support lawyer or and domestic violence lawyer) or just need the assistance of generic divorce lawyers, you’ll have someone to turn to for support. With the depth of their experience, family lawyers are experts at handling legal jargon in a way that everyone can understand.
Although more than 90% of people in Western cultures marry by the time they turn 50, the sad reality is that many of these couples will eventually divorce. If and when they do, they will likely require assistance from a divorce lawyer. And if there are minor children involved, the situation may become even more complicated. Child support lawyers can typically ensure that the rights of all parties are protected during this process and that the needs of any shared children are taken care of.
If you’re in the process of a separation or a divorce and you’re worried about what goes into determining child support payments, you’re not alone. We hope this post will answer some of your questions and help you see the important role that child support lawyers will play during this period.
Why Are Child Support Orders Necessary?
Legally speaking, each parent has an obligation to support their children. Children also maintain the right to financial support from their parents. Having a child support agreement in place can ensure that a child’s needs are taken care of, that both parents share economic responsibility for their child’s upbringing, and that neither caregiver has to take on an unfeasible financial burden in order to support their child.
What Should Child Support Payments Cover?
As your child support lawyer will inform you, these payments are meant to cover basic expenses and living necessities for your shared children. These can include food, clothing, shelter, and medical expenses, as well as expenses for school and recreational activities. Parental needs and luxury item purchases are not covered by child support payments. The essentials for rearing a child are covered, while extras are not.
How Are Payment Amounts Determined?
The payment amount a parent is responsible for can vary quite a bit depending on state laws, the child’s age and development, health concerns, parental income level and earning capacity, financial backgrounds, educational backgrounds, marital status, and more. Custodial agreements also come into play, as well as the costs of daycare or educational programs. Ultimately, the state wants these payments to be fair for the child. However, some parents might argue that their payments are too high (particularly if they’ve recently been laid off or took a pay cut) or that they aren’t high enough (like when a child’s medical or educational needs have changed). It’s helpful to have assistance from a child support lawyer when these payment amounts are first determined, but their guidance will also be beneficial if these payment amounts need to be renegotiated after the fact.
Can My Ex Be Forced to Pay?
In many cases, yes. If the child has turned 18 and there was no agreement to support their secondary educational pursuits, you may not receive any financial help. However, if one parent fails to pay support, this is typically referred to as “past due” support. The court will keep track of payments that are owed or are missing and the parent will be obligated to pay them. The custodial parent should also report these instances to the court, as failure to pay support can prompt the serving of a contempt order or in the filing of criminal charges. In some cases, a parent’s property or assets could be seized, their wages could be garnished, or their credit could be affected. Those who experience these situations should contact a child support lawyer immediately to ensure all the proper avenues are taken.
Can Child Support Agreements Be Made Amicably?
For many parents, yes. While it’s not possible in every case, the ideal scenario is for both parents to agree on a child support arrangement without ongoing issues in court. That said, both parents must agree to an amount that’s either equal to or greater than the support amount that would have been granted through the state’s calculator tool for child support. This ensures that the agreement is not in any way harmful to the child(ren) involved.
Keep in mind, however, that these matters can be extremely complicated and warrant input from someone with ample experience. That’s why you should seek out a reputable family lawyer New Jersey residents can trust. For more information on child support issues and other divorce situations, please contact our firm today.
Is Your Case an Alimony Case?
Aside from child custody, nothing sparks more anxiety in a divorce matter than the prospect of alimony. Whether the expected recipient or anticipated payor, both sides want to know how much and for how long. While there is no exact formula, the following “cheat sheet”, can help give you an idea of whether alimony will be an issue in your divorce matter:
How long have you been married?
- Per statute (revised in 2014), marriages of less than twenty (20) years generally do not qualify for open durational (“permanent”) alimony which is paid until good faith retirement. Instead, the recipient of alimony can expect to receive support for a term of years, roughly half the length of the marriage, give or take, depending on the specific factual circumstances of the case.
Who was the breadwinner during the marriage?
- Generally, there needs to be a decent-sized discrepancy between the parties’ incomes for there to be an alimony award. As such, if you and your spouse historically made close to the same income, there will not likely be spousal support paid from one to the other.
What is your (or your spouse’s) earning potential?
- Just because your (or your spouse’s) income is low or non-existent does not end the inquiry. In most cases, where a supported spouse has the potential to earn an income (or a higher income than they are presently earning) based upon educational background and/or prior work experience, same will be factored into the alimony analysis. The Courts of New Jersey have the authority to impute income to a party who is found to be underemployed.
Who will shoulder the bulk of the childcare post-divorce?
- Did one party stay at home with the children while the other was in the workforce? Contributions to the household as a “homemaker” are considered in the alimony calculus as part of New Jersey’s conceptualization of marriage as a partnership. New Jersey case law considers a stay-at-home parent’s contributions to the marriage as equivalent to a monied spouse’s financial contributions. If one party will bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities post-divorce such that their ability to work is impacted, this will also be taken into consideration.
What was the marital lifestyle?
- Did you take lavish vacations and dine at expensive restaurants or did you clip coupons and live frugally? As each party is entitled, as far as possible, to continue to live at the marital lifestyle post-divorce, the way you spent money as an in-tact family will come into play.
Are there any special circumstances?
- If there is a disability or other unique circumstance which impacts a party’s ability to be self-supporting, same will also be considered by the Court in determining alimony.
As can be gleaned from the above, there are a lot of different factors which can impact the calculation of alimony in any given case. Contact the attorneys at Eveland & Foster, LLC to discuss your specific circumstances.
Choosing to divorce is rarely an easy decision to make, but escaping a bad situation can feel like a breath of fresh air. For many men and women, divorce provides a rare opportunity for a new beginning. If you want to get back into the dating scene during this next chapter of your life, you might catch yourself wondering: is dating during my divorce considered adultery?
This isn’t just a moral question. Because adultery can be used as grounds for divorce in the first place, you may be wondering how dating could affect your divorce settlement.
So if you’re dating while divorcing, here is some of the key information you should know before your divorce is finalized.
The definition of adultery
Technically speaking, going on dates is not an act of adultery. Family lawyers will tell you that adultery is only committed when sexual contact is made between a married individual and someone who is not their spouse. Just going to the movies or grabbing a bite to eat isn’t considered adultery, even if the participants have more than friendship on their minds.
How does adultery affect my divorce?
The way adultery will impact your divorce depends on your state’s laws, which is why it’s wise to hire family lawyers to guide you through this process. For instance, in no-fault divorce states like New Jersey, it is no longer necessary to prove that your spouse committed adultery or abandonment to file for divorce. And while some states do still use adultery as a partial basis for alimony, this is also becoming less common.
However, in some states, proof of adultery could have an impact on your divorce settlement. If you and your spouse have separated but not divorced, you may be in a legal gray area when it comes to adultery. Again, consult a family law firm to understand the risks, if any, to dating while divorcing.
So, should I avoid dating?
Most dating experts and family lawyers recommend waiting until your divorce is finalized. Unfortunately, some divorces can take years. During this time, you may feel like you’re ready to re-enter the dating world. The best course of action is talking to your divorce lawyer. Each divorce is different, and your state may have specific laws regarding separation prior to divorce.
Why people may date during their divorce
People date during a divorce for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is that it’s a welcome distraction during a stressful time. Gaining positive energy and contemplating future relationships is one of the many reasons people get divorced in the first place. Others may seek out dates for a sense of empowerment that they may not have had during the course of their marriage.
Between 40% to 50% of married people will get a divorce, and it’s not a surprise that some people will inevitably date during the divorce process. When you want to discuss your rights when you’re going through a divorce, contact divorce lawyers in your state to give you the advice you need during this trying time.
Eveland And Foster Law believes that no two family law cases are the same. That’s why we offer legal advice specific to your unique situation and zealously fight on behalf of our clients’ rights. If you’re looking for family lawyers, domestic violence lawyers, or divorce lawyers in New Jersey, then call or contact us for more information.