How do I file for custody in the Courts?
If you have never been married to your child’s parent and want an official order defining child support and parenting time, you can begin the process by filing Complaint for paternity. This process is not used exclusively by mothers seeking visitation of the father. Fathers may use the same process to get a court order for parenting time, custody or support. Often times a birth certificate is all that is required to prove paternity if both parents are listed and neither party contests the validity of paternity. If the parties do not acknowledge paternity or they contest paternity, the Court can order a DNA test to determine paternity.
If you are married, this process is done as part of a divorce or a complaint for separate support. Every divorce agreement must address issue of child custody in some way. If you have been divorced or are unsure on this, check the divorce agreement. If you are looking to change this order, you must file a motion for modification in the Court where the divorce was issued. If you are currently married and wish to deal with these issues with a spouse who you are no longer living with you may file a complaint for either Divorce or Separate Support. Both of these processes will allow you to address these issues even on a temporary basis.
How is custody and parenting time determined?
To determine custody and parenting time, the Court looks to determine what arrangement is in the best interest of the child. While most clients are able to reach an agreement with the help of Counsel. If the parties cannot agree on their own, each side can present evidence to help the Court determine what is in the best interests of the child.
How is child support determined?
The Court determines child support using guidelines and a formula which takes into account the parties combined income, each party’s individual income, and parenting time. Either party can argue that the court deviate, or stray from these guidelines if circumstances demand it.
Once the Court enters a custody and support order, can it be changed?
Yes, any order can be changed so long as there is a “material change in circumstances.” This could be something as simple as one parent getting a new job or new hours at work which makes the current parenting plan unworkable. It can be a change in income which would will change the child support order. As children grow, it is expected that a parenting plan grows with them to deal with things like school vacations and extra curriculars. So long as there is a change which makes the circumstances different from what they were then the order was issues, you have the right to go to Court and ask that it be changed.
Is it possible to get into court quickly in an emergency?
Yes, while the court has a process and often there is a wait between the time a motion is filed and motion is heard, life does happen and the Court is equipped to deal with emergencies. In these cases, it is important to have an attorney on your side to help you deal with the emergency in a prompt and successful manner.
What is my approach as a Lawyer?
Issues of child custody and parenting time are some of the most important issues I handle as an attorney. Our children rely on us to keep them safe and give them the type of life they deserve. In these instances, I take the time to get to know your concerns as a parent and inform you of all of your options to help you decide what is best for you and your child. Often, situations can be quickly resolved with some basic negotiation on my part. Other times there is simply no room for negotiation when your child’s safety and welfare is on the line. In these instances, I can bring my experience not only as a Family lawyer but as a Criminal Defense attorney to bear to assure your child’s safety and overall wellbeing. Nobody expects to be in Family Court, but when you are, you need an attorney who is able to seamlessly shift between the role of negotiator and fierce advocate. As an attorney, I know that there is value in both approaches and I embrace my ability to negotiate first and fiercely advocate after negotiation has failed as one of my greatest assets.
I handle custody arrangements.
I advocated for fair visitation to all parties involved.
I present your case in the best way possible.
I will fight aggressively on your behalf.
When I craft a custody or child support agreement, I do so with an eye towards the future. While these agreements are all temporary by definition, I try to anticipate potential future pitfalls and create mechanisms which allow future adjustments to the agreement to be made easily and cost effectively. Let me help you through this difficult time and get you the relief you and your child seek.