As you might guess, at Springfield Family Law, the practice of Family Law is our primary focus. The following are some of our most common domestic services.
Divorce: The law considers marriage to be a civil contract between two people. Therefore a divorce, or dissolution, terminates a marriage by dividing the marital assets and debt. If the couple has minor children, their care, custody and a parenting schedule for those children will also be determined through a parenting plan. The parenting schedule can be agreed upon by the parties, or set by the Court. Only a marriage that is found to be irretrievably broken will be dissolved by the Court. (If the marriage is not irretrievably broken, then we pursue a Legal Separation instead).
Paternity actions: A Paternity action declares an unwed father's rights and responsibilities
regarding a child born out of wedlock. Paternity actions accomplish several things:
establish a parent- child relationship, arrange custody of the child, and arrange
visitation for the non-custodial parent. Paternity actions differ from the custodial
portion of a divorce is one very key way, there is a presumption of paternity
involved in a dissolution. Therefore a husband has the same rights to his children as
the mother does, automatically; unless a court says otherwise. However, the reverse
is true for unwed couples. Until a father-child relationship is found to exist by the
courts, an unwed father does not have any rights to his children, and he may have very few legal responsibility regarding them as well. Therefore, here at Springfield Family Law, we recommend all unwed couples pursue a paternity action, even if the parents are on good terms, or still together. In fact, that's the best time to seek a paternity action to declare custodial rights and parenting schedules, when the parties still like each other enough to be agree on matters.
Child Support: Child support is determined by a variety of factors, including but not limited to: how many children are involved, the income of both parties and how much time the children spend with each parent. Child Support can be determined by either the child support administrative office or by the Court. However, once the Court gets involved with child support, like after a paternity action, all subsequent changes to child support must go through the Court only. Don't worry, we can help with both.
Modification: A modification of either custody, parenting time, or child support can occur when there has
been a significant change in the parties circumstances, making the previous order unreasonable.
Child Guardianship: When the parents of a child, for whatever reason, are "unfit" or "unable" to care for their child the court can select someone else, "fit, willing and able" to physically and legally care for the child. Guardianship does not sever a parental relationship to a child, but rather delegates care taking and decision making responsibilities to someone in a better position to care for the minor child.
Step-Parent Adoption: Adoption severs the rights of the biological parent
by granting those rights to another. A parent's rights to his or her child can only
be terminated if there is someone else available to step in as the new parent.
Step-parent adoptions allow the step-parent to legally become
the parent they've been all along.