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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "family law"

Who Has Child Custody Rights Before a Custody Agreement Is Approved?

Westlake Legal Group who-has-child-custody-rights-before-a-custody-agreement-is-approved Who Has Child Custody Rights Before a Custody Agreement Is Approved? family law

Westlake Legal Group who-has-child-custody-rights-before-a-custody-agreement-is-approved-1 Who Has Child Custody Rights Before a Custody Agreement Is Approved? family law

When parents split up, one of the most important things to get in place is a custody agreement that designates where their children will live, what visitation rights each parent will have and what each one’s decision-making rights will be regarding their children’s education, health care and other aspects of their upbringing.

Whether parents were married or not, a court order codified physical and legal custody rights as well as visitation rights. Until that is done, custody issues often are governed by state laws.

Unmarried Parents

If the parents are married, they are both considered to be the legal parents of their children, with equal rights to them. That means that either parent can take children anywhere he or she wishes for as long as they choose without legal ramifications if no custody agreement states otherwise.

However, if a parent chooses to keep the kids away from the other parent, that will likely impact that parent’s efforts to gain custody or visitation rights later. It’s best for parents to refrain from keeping their children away from their other parent. A court is less likely to grant custody rights to a parent who has demonstrated that he or she cannot be trusted not to return children to their other parent.

Married Parents

If the parents aren’t married to one another, the mother has sole legal and physical rights to the couple’s children in most states when there is no custody agreement in place. If that’s the case, the mother has the right to grant or deny the father visitation rights to the kids.

That means that in most states, unmarried fathers have no legal rights to custody of their children until they are established by a court order. Some states will allow the father custody rights equal with those of the mother if an affidavit of paternity is on file until a court order establishes a custody arrangement.

Most people don’t anticipate any issues with access to their children or decisions made on their behalf before their custody agreement is approved by the court. However, it’s always wise to address custody and visitation issues as soon as possible for your children’s sake. Your family law attorney can provide guidance and help you with the necessary legal documents.

However, in many states, as soon as a divorce is filed, neither parent can withhold the child from the other, though there is no court order in place.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Who Has Child Custody Rights Before a Custody Agreement Is Approved?

Westlake Legal Group who-has-child-custody-rights-before-a-custody-agreement-is-approved Who Has Child Custody Rights Before a Custody Agreement Is Approved? family law

Westlake Legal Group who-has-child-custody-rights-before-a-custody-agreement-is-approved-2 Who Has Child Custody Rights Before a Custody Agreement Is Approved? family law

When parents split up, one of the most important things to get in place is a custody agreement that designates where their children will live, what visitation rights each parent will have and what each one’s decision-making rights will be regarding their children’s education, health care and other aspects of their upbringing.

Whether parents were married or not, a court order codified physical and legal custody rights as well as visitation rights. Until that is done, custody issues often are governed by state laws.

Unmarried Parents

If the parents are married, they are both considered to be the legal parents of their children, with equal rights to them. That means that either parent can take children anywhere he or she wishes for as long as they choose without legal ramifications if no custody agreement states otherwise.

However, if a parent chooses to keep the kids away from the other parent, that will likely impact that parent’s efforts to gain custody or visitation rights later. It’s best for parents to refrain from keeping their children away from their other parent. A court is less likely to grant custody rights to a parent who has demonstrated that he or she cannot be trusted not to return children to their other parent.

Married Parents

If the parents aren’t married to one another, the mother has sole legal and physical rights to the couple’s children in most states when there is no custody agreement in place. If that’s the case, the mother has the right to grant or deny the father visitation rights to the kids.

That means that in most states, unmarried fathers have no legal rights to custody of their children until they are established by a court order. Some states will allow the father custody rights equal with those of the mother if an affidavit of paternity is on file until a court order establishes a custody arrangement.

Most people don’t anticipate any issues with access to their children or decisions made on their behalf before their custody agreement is approved by the court. However, it’s always wise to address custody and visitation issues as soon as possible for your children’s sake. Your family law attorney can provide guidance and help you with the necessary legal documents.

However, in many states, as soon as a divorce is filed, neither parent can withhold the child from the other, though there is no court order in place.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Unique American Marriage Laws Still on the Books

Westlake Legal Group unique-american-marriage-laws-still-on-the-books Unique American Marriage Laws Still on the Books family law

Westlake Legal Group unique-american-marriage-laws-still-on-the-books-1 Unique American Marriage Laws Still on the Books family law

Even though we’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, some archaic state and local laws regarding marriage are still on the books. Some may be important to you personally, while others may be mostly amusing or just plain odd.

Proxy Brides and Grooms

Five states allow a person to stand in at a wedding ceremony for the bride or groom if that person is unable to be there because he or she is serving in the military. These states are California, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana and Texas. In Montana, proxies can stand in for both spouses.

Insincere Proposals

In South Carolina, it’s against the law for a male who is over the age of 16 to propose to someone if he isn’t serious. Doing so is a violation of the Offenses Against Morality and Decency Act. This was likely put on the books to prevent men from seducing women with a false promise of marriage.

The Fourth Time Will Not Be a Charm

In Kentucky, women aren’t allowed to marry the same person four times. Obviously, if you’ve already divorced your spouse three times, there’s probably an issue there. Maybe the lawmakers behind that statute were trying to save people from themselves.

Married on a Dare? That’s Grounds for Annulment

In Delaware, one of the grounds for annulment of a marriage is that it occurred “because of a jest or dare.” That’s in addition to more traditional grounds such as getting married under duress, based on fraudulent information or having the capacity to consent.

Local Laws

There are also some marriage laws specific to certain cities. For example, in Wichita, Kansas, mistreatment of a mother-in-law isn’t grounds for divorce. In Truro, Massachusetts, there’s still a law on the books that a husband-to-be must “prove himself manly” by killing either three crows or six blackbirds. Likely, (and hopefully, for the birds’ sake) that one’s not enforced.

While these laws may seem random, it’s important to know your state’s and locality’s laws relating to marriage, divorce and annulment. Many states are still catching up to the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in every state, for example. If you have questions or issues, a family law attorney in your state can provide guidance.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

Unique American Marriage Laws Still on the Books

Westlake Legal Group unique-american-marriage-laws-still-on-the-books Unique American Marriage Laws Still on the Books family law

Westlake Legal Group unique-american-marriage-laws-still-on-the-books-2 Unique American Marriage Laws Still on the Books family law

Even though we’re nearly two decades into the 21st century, some archaic state and local laws regarding marriage are still on the books. Some may be important to you personally, while others may be mostly amusing or just plain odd.

Proxy Brides and Grooms

Five states allow a person to stand in at a wedding ceremony for the bride or groom if that person is unable to be there because he or she is serving in the military. These states are California, Colorado, Kentucky, Montana and Texas. In Montana, proxies can stand in for both spouses.

Insincere Proposals

In South Carolina, it’s against the law for a male who is over the age of 16 to propose to someone if he isn’t serious. Doing so is a violation of the Offenses Against Morality and Decency Act. This was likely put on the books to prevent men from seducing women with a false promise of marriage.

The Fourth Time Will Not Be a Charm

In Kentucky, women aren’t allowed to marry the same person four times. Obviously, if you’ve already divorced your spouse three times, there’s probably an issue there. Maybe the lawmakers behind that statute were trying to save people from themselves.

Married on a Dare? That’s Grounds for Annulment

In Delaware, one of the grounds for annulment of a marriage is that it occurred “because of a jest or dare.” That’s in addition to more traditional grounds such as getting married under duress, based on fraudulent information or having the capacity to consent.

Local Laws

There are also some marriage laws specific to certain cities. For example, in Wichita, Kansas, mistreatment of a mother-in-law isn’t grounds for divorce. In Truro, Massachusetts, there’s still a law on the books that a husband-to-be must “prove himself manly” by killing either three crows or six blackbirds. Likely, (and hopefully, for the birds’ sake) that one’s not enforced.

While these laws may seem random, it’s important to know your state’s and locality’s laws relating to marriage, divorce and annulment. Many states are still catching up to the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in every state, for example. If you have questions or issues, a family law attorney in your state can provide guidance.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: http://westlakelegal.com/

When Divorced Parents Relocate with a Child

Westlake Legal Group when-divorced-parents-relocate-with-a-child When Divorced Parents Relocate with a Child family law

Westlake Legal Group when-divorced-parents-relocate-with-a-child-1 When Divorced Parents Relocate with a Child family law

When custodial parents wish or need to relocate to someplace where the children involved will be some distance from the other parent, it usually means, at the very least, a change to the custody and visitation agreement. It can also result in a serious legal dispute with the noncustodial parent.

If noncustodial parents don’t agree to their children’s relocation, the matter may end up in court. Judges often make decisions based on state child custody laws and what’s in the children’s best interests. These laws vary, but they often look at several key issues.

Distance

In some states, parents may be prohibited from moving a child more than a specified distance, such as 100 miles. However, in others, no out-of-state move may be allowed, even if it’s a relatively short distance.

If parents have joint custody of children and a long-distance move is approved, a judge may determine that it’s best for the children if one parent (often the one who’s not relocating) to take primary custody to help maintain stability in their lives. The parent who is moving may also be ordered to pay transportation costs incurred in custody transfers and visitation.

Notice and Consent

Some state laws require written notice by the custodial parent to the co-parent of the intended move within a specified period of time, such as 90 days. The other parent may or may not be allowed to file a motion denying consent to the move.

Some parents will have an “express consent” agreement in the original custody plan that allows child relocation. This agreement often contains a visitation plan if the child relocates.

Good Faith

Some state laws require parents seeking to relocate with their children to have a “good faith” reason. This may include moving to take a better job, be near family members who can help care for the children or to live somewhere more affordable. This helps ensure that parents aren’t moving children to get back at their co-parent. They may also look at the reasons why a parent is objecting to the move, as well as how much of a role the other parent was playing in a child’s life while he or she was living in close proximity.

The possibility of relocation is something that parents should consider in the custody and visitation negotiations during the divorce, no matter how remote the possibility may seem at the time. Whether you’re dealing with the issue at that point or are facing it down the line, your family law attorney can provide advice based on the laws of your state.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: https://westlakelegal.com/

What Fathers Need to Know When Fighting for Custody

Westlake Legal Group what-fathers-need-to-know-when-fighting-for-custody What Fathers Need to Know When Fighting for Custody family law

Westlake Legal Group what-fathers-need-to-know-when-fighting-for-custody-2 What Fathers Need to Know When Fighting for Custody family law

Fortunately, the days of judges deciding in custody cases that mothers are naturally the better parents are largely a thing of the past. However, that doesn’t mean that fathers don’t have to fight for custody of their children — particularly if they are seeking full custody. There are some essential things that fathers should be aware of, whether they’re seeking custody after a break-up or divorce, or they wish to appeal or amend an existing custody order.

If Necessary, Establish Paternity

First, if you have not legally established your paternity, you need to do that. Laws related to paternity if the parents weren’t married either when the child was conceived or born vary by state. Keep in mind that once you establish paternity, you may be required to pay child support, if you don’t already.

Understand the Types of Child Custody

Besides joint and full custody, it’s important to understand the difference between legal and physical custody. A parent who has full custody will generally have both physical and legal custody. If you and your co-parent share joint custody, you are splitting physical custody and may also split legal custody.

In some cases, parents will share legal custody, with each having a say in things like education, medical care and religious upbringing, while only one parent has physical custody. Usually in these cases, the non-custodial parent has liberal visitation rights. It’s essential to discuss the various options with your family law attorney.

What Factors Do Judges Consider?

It’s usually best for everyone involved if parents can work out a custody and visitation agreement on their own with the help of their attorneys. However, if they’re unable to do that, the matter will be decided by a judge. Judges are tasked with considering what’s in the children’s best interests. They consider factors such as both parents’ relationships with the children, their ability to support them and, if the kids are old enough to weigh in, what they would prefer.

Whatever the circumstances are regarding your relationship with your child and your co-parent, it’s essential to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney who is well-versed in the laws of your state. Your attorney can help you build a strong custody case so that you can remain part of your child’s life and participate in his or her upbringing.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: https://westlakelegal.com/

Should Wealthy Parents Have Different Child Support Calculations?

Westlake Legal Group should-wealthy-parents-have-different-child-support-calculations Should Wealthy Parents Have Different Child Support Calculations? family law

It’s interesting to look at the changes to family law that the individual state governments and lawmakers are considering — and sometimes succeeding at enacting. In Wisconsin, a controversial proposal by the state’s the Department of Children and Families (DCF) involving child support has been dropped amid considerable pushback — but not after years of effort to reduce the child support burden for wealthy parents.

Current vs. Proposed Child Support Calculations

Current Wisconsin law allows courts to require parents of one child to pay child support totaling 17 percent of their income. That amount increases with each child, with a maximum of 34 percent if a parent has five or more children.

The proposed change would have set lower percentages for people earning more than $300,000 per year. The calculations would be made on a sliding scale for those earning in the $300,000 to $500,000 range. People with incomes of $500,000 would have been required to pay just 5 percent for one child and 10 percent for five or more children. When a parent had an annual income over $500,000, a judge could determine the percentage of child support to be paid.

An Earlier Attempt Led by a Political Donor

A piece of legislation similar to the DCF proposal was introduced back in 2013 by a Republican state lawmaker. The bill was co-written by a wealthy businessman and Republican donor who was incentivized by the minimum of $15,000 in child support he was required to pay for his three children. That bill would have prevented judges from calculating child support payments based on income for anyone who earned more than $150,000 per year. That bill was withdrawn early the following year after considerable controversy.

However, DCF later convened an advisory committee of attorneys, lawmakers, judges and child support officials to recommend changes to the child support free shipping). The proposal from that committee included the sliding scale for parents with incomes between $300,000 and $500,000.

Now the DCF and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker have decided not to pursue the proposal that would have allowed very wealthy people to be able to pay a smaller percentage of their income to take care of their children than those with less money.

It’s generally best when divorce couples, along with their attorneys, can work out a child support agreement without having to get a judge involved. However, if you’re unable to reach such an agreement, it’s essential to know what the free shipping) of your state are and to work with your family law attorney to seek a child support order that is fair for your child.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: https://westlakelegal.com/

Child Custody When you’re Not Getting a Divorce

Westlake Legal Group child-custody-when-youre-not-getting-a-divorce Child Custody When you're Not Getting a Divorce family law

Many married couples who decide to go their separate they attempt elect not to get a divorce, at least right away. This may the eu due to religious restrictions, or any number of other factors. In some states, couples are required to live apart for a specified period before they can go through with a divorce. Some parents who break up were never married.

So how is child custody for non-divorce parents determined? Generally, they have the same choice of how to handle it as divorce parents are. It should be the eu noted, though, that if a couple wasn’t married, paternity isn’t assumed as it is for married fathers. Therefore, if one or both of the partners question or dispute a man’s paternity, that question will need to be settled first.

The Advantages of an Out-of-Court Agreement

As is the case for divorce parents, it’s usually best if the couple can work out a custody arrangement themselves, with the guidance of their attorneys. Family law attorneys can help facilitate this by letting their clients know how a judge in their jurisdiction will likely decide the matter if they take it to court.

Judges are required to act in the best interests of the children. However, parents know their children and the family dynamic better than any judge. Therefore, when both parents have their children’s best interests at heart, they can work towards an agreement that will consider their children’s unique personalities and needs.

Putting Custody in the Hands of a Judge

In most states, it’s no longer side automatically assumed that the mother should have primary custody. A judge will generally look at the fitness of both parents to care for the children, including any history of substance abuse or other issues that would impact a parent’s ability to take care of a child. Of course, judges are human beings with their own beliefs and prejudices. Some may not be inclined to give an unmarried father shared custody of a child. These fathers may have to work harder to get custody.

If you need to reach a custody agreement with your ex outside of a divorce, it’s essential to have an experienced family law attorney who can help you work toward seeking a custody agreement and parenting plan that are best for your children.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: https://westlakelegal.com/

Who Pays for Your Child’s Wedding if You’re Divorced?

Westlake Legal Group who-pays-for-your-childs-wedding-if-youre-divorced Who Pays for Your Child’s Wedding if You’re Divorced? family law

When parents divorce, their child support agreement generally addresses immediate expenses involving school, clothing, medical care and extracurricular activities. They may also determine at that point how they will divide college expenses when the time comes.

What happens when your child gets married? Who pays for the wedding? This generally isn’t addressed during the divorce. However, traditionally, parents help pay for their children’s weddings — particularly if they’re young and don’t yet have much money of their own. This can put kids in the awkward position of having to go to each parent separately — particularly if the divorce hasn’t been an amicable one — to ask for financial help.

Focus on Your Child’s Best Interests

The important thing for both parents to remember, as they should have since the divorce, is to put their child’s interests first. This is no time to battle over who has to pay more or belittle your ex to your child for not contributing enough. Usually, parents pay based on their ability to do so. By knowing how much their parents can afford to chip in, brides and grooms-to-be can put a budget in place.

It’s best, of course, if parents can communicate with each other and work out together how much they can and will pay for. This can free up your child to focus on all of the other parts of wedding planning. If your child sees that you’re united on how much you’ll contribute as a couple, he or she is also less likely to play one of you against the other to get more money.

Put Your Feelings Toward Each Other Aside

Beyond the division of expenses comes the division of labor and participation in the planning. Many divorced parents believe that if they are the one paying the most, they should have a bigger say in the wedding decisions. That shouldn’t be the case. The bride or groom should determine what role they’d like each parent to play in the preparations and the wedding itself.

Planning for a wedding can be an extremely stressful time for the whole family. For divorced parents, it can bring up all sorts of feelings, positive and negative, that may have been buried for many years. It’s essential to put any residual feelings of animosity aside so that children can enjoy their wedding activities without worrying that they will be marred by bickering between their parents.

If you want to include something in your divorce agreement regarding your kids’ weddings, or update your parenting plan to do so, even if nuptials may not take place for a while into the future, your family law attorney can provide guidance.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: https://westlakelegal.com/

Prenuptial Agreements Are Essential When Blending Families

Westlake Legal Group prenuptial-agreements-are-essential-when-blending-families Prenuptial Agreements Are Essential When Blending Families family law

Commonly, when people marry for a second or subsequent time, one or both spouses already has children. According to 2015 Pew Research Center report, about 16 percent of all kids live in “blended families.” These are families that include a step-parent and possibly one or more step-siblings.

Discuss Your Goals

Since nearly all marriages involve the commingling of finances, it’s essential for couples preparing to tie the knot to discuss their financial goals, what they want to spend money on and what they want to save for. However, when there are children involved, these discussions are even more crucial.

Likely, one spouse has more assets than the other coming into the marriage. Further, one may have more children than the other, or have kids who have special needs, talents or interests that require greater expenditures. Of course, the children’s other parents will likely continue to play a role in providing some support for them as well.

What You Need to Consider

Determining which of your assets you combine and which you will keep separate once you’re married is key. Will you each pay only for your own children’s care or will you pay for everything out of one pool of money? This may impact the amount of child support which you or your spouse receives in the future from your ex.

A prenuptial agreement, while a good idea for virtually all couples, is particularly important for couples who are blending their families, even if all of the kids won’t be living under one roof all of the time, Brady Bunch-style.

You’ll want to determine who will pay for routine expenses like clothes, school, medical care and extracurricular activities. However, you also need to determine if or how you’ll blend your resources to cover things like family vacations, college, cars and of course your own retirement. As with every prenuptial agreement, it’s essential that both spouses-to-be disclose all of their assets and debts fully and accurately.

It’s best if both partners have their own family law attorneys to help them draft the prenup or at least review it before you sign it. This will help ensure that it accomplishes what they intend for it to, that nothing is left out and that both spouses and their children are protected.

Contact us at: Westlake Legal Group Your Northern Virginia Full Service Law Firm. Call (703) 406-7616 or click here for our website: https://westlakelegal.com/