Deciding to end a marriage can be a highly emotional and difficult decision. Divorce often involves resolving issues concerning children (child custody, parenting access, child support, e.g.), spousal support/alimony and the division of property.
We believe that educating our clients about the process and supporting them emotionally minimizes the fear and trauma that divorce and other legal action often brings.
We keep you informed about your case and offer honest advice as to the positives and negatives of your position, including your chances of success. If you need to go to court, we thoroughly explain the procedures and what will be expected of you.
Studies suggest that separation and divorce rank second only to the death of a loved one in terms of the emotional turmoil and stress that an individual may experience. We believe that effective communication and an honest and open dialogue enables you to make major decisions in your case with confidence. We encourage you to ask questions and to be actively involved in each stage of the process.
Mediation is a negotiation between two divorcing parties with the assistance of a neutral third party who facilitates the negotiation process. In general, the mediator creates an environment for each party to be heard. The process offers the participants the opportunity to express their respective concerns and better understand one another's perspectives. The mediator assists the parties in coming to a mutually agreeable resolution to their case. Parties who participate in mediation agree to voluntarily provide each other and the mediator all of the information and documentation necessary for the parties to make informed decisions concerning their issues.
Collaborative law practice is a way for a divorcing couple to work as a team with trained professionals to resolve disputes without going to court.
Each client has the support and guidance of his or her own lawyer who has been trained in the collaborative process. The four participants work together to identify goals and develop shared solutions for meeting those goals. Sometimes it is helpful to bring other professionals into the process to help resolve particular problems. For example, a therapist may be helpful in developing a parenting plan. An accountant or financial planner may be helpful in creating budgets or informing parties about the tax consequences of a particular settlement.
The three main principles of collaborate law practice are:
- A pledge not to go to court
- An honest and thorough exchange of information by both spouses
- A solution that takes into account the highest priorities of both spouses and the needs of their children while maintaining the integrity of the participants and process.
Custody, defined by statute and case law, concerns the legal relationship and responsibilities parents have with their children. Parental access (once called visitation) concerns the allocation of a child's time with each parent.
In fully contested matters involving custody and/or parenting access, the court may appoint a Guardian Ad Litem and/or an Attorney for the Minor Children, and order a Custody and Access Evaluation. Custody and Parenting Access Evaluations are performed by private evaluators at the family's expense or the Family Relations Division of the Judicial Branch at no cost to the parties. Some custody matters are so complex and contested that they are referred to the Regional Family Trial Docket in Middletown, where a single judge manages the case. We will guide you through the difficult and stressful facets of the contested custody process.
After a divorce is concluded, the circumstances of one or both of the parties may change so substantially that continuing to adhere to the original orders becomes inequitable or no longer required under the law. Based on your circumstances, it may be appropriate to seek to alter custody or parenting access orders, child support or alimony orders ("modification"). For example, after a divorce, you may want to relocate to another state with your child which would require modifying your current parenting access orders.
When modifying an order of the Court, self-help is not advisable. The failure to seek an order of the court modifying a previous court order may leave you susceptible to a finding of contempt and increase your liability to your former spouse.
We also assist in enforcing the terms of court orders where a party is willfully non-compliant with those orders ("contempt").
PRENUPTIAL AND POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
A Prenuptial Agreement (also known as Antenuptial Agreement) is a contractual agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage, and, because they are contracts, must conform to the principles of contract law. A Postnuptial Agreement is entered into after the parties are married. Each document outlines what is to occur in the event parties divorce or pass away.Both agreements are subject to statute and evolving case law.
At the time of dissolution, issues may also arise concerning the enforcement or defense of a Prenuptial or Postnuptial agreement. We will assist you in creating and executing a Prenuptial or Postnuptial agreement to your specific requirements within the context of the law, as well as advise you regarding enforcement or invalidation of the agreements at the time of the dissolution.
In some custody matters, grandparents or other third parties may seek to establish legal rights of access to minor children without the consent of one or both of a child's parents. Typically, the courts defer to a parent's judgment to make decisions involving raising their children, including who the parents allow to see the children. However, there are situations where a grandparent or third party has a legitimate cause of action. We are experienced advocates for grandparents and third parties who seek to establish that legal relationship.