Family Lawyer Billings MT
1 . Family Law
The area of family law refers to all domestic relations issues, including cohabitation, marriage, legal separation, divorce, annulment, alimony, child custody, child support, visitation, domestic violence and child abuse and neglect.
Cohabitation refers to couples who live together without getting married. State laws vary over what constitutes cohabitation. Those who cohabit are typically involved in an intimate relationship and it can refer to heterosexual and/or same sex couples. Individuals who live together without getting married may protect themselves from a legal standpoint by preparing cohabitation agreements, which specify a detailed plan to share living expenses, ownership of real and separate property, personal duties and responsibilities, and how real and personal property should be divided in the event the couple separates. Sharing a residence with someone or cohabitation, in a non-marital relationship does not automatically entitle either party to obtain any rights in the property of the other, but adults who voluntarily live together and engage in sexual relations may also enter into contractual agreements to establish respective rights and duties of the parties in regard to earnings and property acquired from their earnings.
Marriage is typically defined as a legal contract entered into between a man and woman who intend to become husband and wife. Marriage creates a legal relationship between husband and wife with rights and obligations governed by state law. Many legal protections and benefits result from a marriage, including tax, estate planning, government assistance, employment, medical, death, family, housing, consumer, immigration, and litigation or lawsuit related benefits. Requirements for marriage vary from state to state.
Legal separation occurs when parties to a marriage physically separate and one party petitions the court for division of marital property, as well as alimony, child support, custody and/or visitation, which the court will order as described below. Parties may consider separation as an option prior to filing a divorce action.
Divorce is a legal proceeding governed by state law that terminates a marriage relationship. Divorce is referred to in some states as dissolution of marriage. Once a divorce is final, parties to a divorce are free to remarry. Grounds for divorce vary by state statutes, with some states allowing divorce based on fault and no-fault grounds. Examples of fault grounds for divorce include physical or mental cruelty, adultery, attempted murder, desertion, habitual drunkenness, addictive drug use, insanity, impotency, infection of one spouse by another of a venereal disease and imprisonment for a specific amount of time. Parties who wish to obtain a divorce without assigning blame or guilt may seek a no-fault divorce. Some states require a period of separation prior to obtaining a no-fault divorce or require that irreconcilable differences or incompatibility ex...
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2 . Handling Family Law Problems in a Tough Economy
1. Be informed
As an informed consumer, you will make wise choices, and this will save you time and money and help you retain control of your situation. Just as you have choices in making almost any purchase, you have important choices as you approach conflict resolution. You can choose among different types of professional “problem-solvers” and then you will choose between individuals in those fields. When you are informed you can also choose the process for getting to resolution. By knowing your options, you can tailor the process of resolving issues to the dynamics of your family and your budget.
As you move toward any legal resolution, you’ll want to learn about your rights and a little about the law. The South Carolina Bar offers user-friendly information on these topics and can be accessed at http://www.scbar.org. Be careful to take casual advice with a “grain of salt”. Every family law case is unique and having professional advice can help keep expectations realistic.
2. Communicate with your spouse/opposing parties
Communicate directly with your spouse or other opposing party as much as you can. Communicate in whatever way is most comfortable and least threatening. In some situations e-mail works better because it can give you a chance to think before “talking” and gives you something to refer to. Other times verbal conversation is best because it is immediate, communicates feeling, and is less formal.
• Make three lists:
a. “Issues we agree on”
b. “Issues we are close to agreeing on” and
c. “Issues we disagree on”
Make the lists first, even if you are making them by yourself. You are the best one to do this, and it will help you get focused on what you need help with the most. Staying focused in your own mind, when you communicate with your spouse/opposing party, and when you are speaking with professionals will save you time and money. It will help you work toward a solution in an organized, efficient manner and help you to “supervise” your professional problem-solvers.
3. Consider all the appropriate professionals
Family law matters can involve highly charged, emotional conflict. Before taking on the legal conflict, consider that doctors, therapists, investigators, and financial counselors can help clarify the issues surrounding the central problem or situation. If you are uncertain about your financial assets, a family member’s health status, emotional issues, or need some objective information, those professionals can help prepare you and your family for working toward a legal resolution. Attorneys can also make recommendations for those services if you are not sure where to begin.
Families with children face a uniquely difficult time in family court, and issues regarding custody tend to be the most emotional and financially costly. Most families resolving custody cases can benefit developing a parenting plan with help from a therapist specializing in family transitions. Most attorneys are not trained in developing these plans, but it is a simple matter for your attorney to insert the plan into a comprehensive separation agreement. A good parenting plan promotes healthy communication, facilitates smoother transitions, and give a structure for improving family relationships for the long term. Parenting plans can save you a lot of money while affording benefits all members of your family.
4. Choose the right process
No matter what issues your family is facing, you have wide range of options from mediation and collaborative law all the way to litigation. Educate yourself about the options. Generally the more agreement there is between parties, the less time and money are spent. In almost all cases, you should have an attorney review any agreement you plan to sign, but a thorough agreement can result from mediation, collaborative law process, or other types of negotiation.
In situations where there is little agreement and/or when there is a need for court ordered production of documents, subpoenas and depositions, the litigation process begins. While it is generally the most expensive option, if it is conducted in a focused manner, it can still be cost effective. Cases often are settled during pretrial negotiations for various reasons, not the least of which is to save money. In tough economic times especially, families facing legal matters must take extra care to protect their resources. Time, money and energy can be saved when family members educate themselves, understand their situation fully, communicate (that means listening too) effectively, and make choices that reflect realistic expectations.
Attribution: As a community activist addressing consumer and environmental issues, Guy realized his most influential avenue for making a difference in the community was in the practice of law. VITETTA LAW GROUP
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