An Introduction to Discovery Requests: What do I have to provide?
Inevitably, unless a case is quick and uncontested, there will be discovery requests. The purpose of discovery requests is to allow the parties to gain evidence against each other and to determine what evidence the other party may use in trial. Discovery requests can take many forms, and each jurisdiction will have its own rules about how and when discovery is requested; Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents and Things, being some of the most common. Som
The Impact of High Conflict Cases in Family Court: Are you tattling or telling?
Every lawyer currently practicing family law has those one or two, or a few dozen, cases in which the parties are at each other’s throats. I’m going to go out on a limb here, and speak for the entire profession when I say: high conflict parties aren’t doing themselves any favors. First things first, if there are children involved, parents need to accept and understand that you will always be in each other’s life. Even after the youngest child has turned eighteen and left h
At What Age Can a Child Decide Where to Live?
Minor children do not get to control where they live, or who they live with. It does not matter how mature your twelve-year-old may be, if your five-year old throws a tantrum during every parenting exchange, or if your seventeen-year-old already has his or her bags packed and has one foot out the door; they are still children. Minor children do not get to make parental decisions. You must follow the court ordered custody and parenting schedule, regardless of how much the
Guardianship is Not Adoption
There seems to be some confusion out there about a parent’s rights to his or her child when someone else has guardianship over that child. Guardianship and adoption are similar is some ways, as someone other than the biological parent, whether it be a family member or a family friend, takes over the parenting responsibilities over a child, including daily care and legal decision-making authority; but that is really where the similarities end. Guardianship is not an adoption
Terminating Child Support: When Can I Stop Paying?
A common question for many family law practitioners is, “When does my child support obligation end?” Child support is money paid by the non-residential parent to the residential parent to aid in the financial support of the parents’ children. The Courts base child support on two main factors, how much income both parents make annually, and how much time each parent regularly spends with the child or children during the year. Depending on the Judge, a Court may permit two pa
Do I Have to go to Court?
One of the biggest concerns I hear from prospective clients is, “Will I have to go to Court?” For whatever reason, many people are terrified of the idea of going into the courtroom. It’s understandable: everyone’s looking at you, everything you say is recorded, there is a lot of procedure regarding who gets to talk and when; and in the middle of it all is someone sitting in a black robe, a good five feet higher than everyone else in the room, who gets to decide your outco
Signing Over Rights: Part Three
When I hear a parent saying that they lost their rights to their child, my first thought is always that the state took custody or the child was adopted; as those are the only ways a parent can lose their rights over a child. Even when a parent elects a guardian for the child, the parent does not relinquish his or her rights, they merely delegate his or her decision-making authority to someone else for a time. What many people mean when they say they lost their rights, is they
Signing Over Rights: Part Two
I am often asked if one parent can sign over his or her rights to a child. Usually, this question comes when either the noncustodial parent has had little involvement with the child, or would like less responsibility regarding the child; or, when the custodial parent wants to eliminate the noncustodial parent’s involvement with the child. The short answer is no; you cannot sign over your rights. In the courts eyes, if you made a kid, you are responsible for that kid. You do
Signing Over Rights: Part One
There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there about whether or not a parent can lose or voluntarily sign over rights to his or her child. Parental rights can only be severed when there is someone available to take the parent’s place. The rule of law in family and juvenile law matters is “best interests of the child”, understandably, the state’s position is that it is better for a child to have a parent and or caretaker, then to be floating around, "bastardized". (Yes, that is
The Significance of Marriage
(Full disclaimer, I am writing this post as an unmarried; and perpetually single person). I’ve always been a big believer in marriage. Maybe it was the church I was brought up in, but I tend to hold with the belief that marriage is a sacred institution and something no one should enter into lightly. If your life doesn’t completely and drastically shift upon getting married, you are probably doing something wrong. Even with that mindset, even after studying family dynamics a