Family Law Blog

Can You Get a Divorce When You Cannot Find Your Spouse?

Thursday, August 01, 2019

woman meeting with female divorce lawyer

Just like a marriage, it often takes two to make a divorce happen. One party files for divorce and the papers are served to the other party. They have a set time limit to respond to those papers. If they fail to respond, a default judgment can be issued giving the filing spouse everything they asked for.

However, this is only the case when the papers can be served to the other party. They have to reach their hands for that default judgment clock to start. So what happens when you can't find them? In truth, a default judgment can still be achieved even if you can't find your spouse. However, every measure has to be taken.

One of the best ways is to hire a private investigator to track your spouse down to ensure the papers are served. However, if that doesn't work you can also pursue an Order of Notice by Publication. In this avenue, you publish the notice of divorce in a newspaper in the last known area of your spouse. It runs for three weeks and if no response has been given, the divorce can then progress towards a default judgment.

 Your lawyer will need to detail that all diligent efforts were performed to see those documents served and that no response was given. Only afterwards will a judge grant the divorce and issue all that was asked for. Obviously if your spouse is missing, there may also be funds missing as well, but this will solve issues like custody and will break you from legal marriage so you can move on.

If you are moving towards divorce or any other family law matters, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra is dedicated to helping settle complicated family law matters quickly and helping you get the results that you need.

What to Do When Assets Were Omitted From a Divorce Decree

Thursday, July 25, 2019

gavel and rings

It may take many long months and hundreds of headaches, but once a judge approves your final divorce decree, you are officially parted from your ex-partner. In most cases, you go your separate ways and only need to address each other if there are children involved. However, as we all know, divorce is never smooth. There could very possibly be a moment after the divorce decree where you realize the divorce isn't done because both parties forgot to split a piece of community property.

It could be real estate, retirement accounts, pensions, or anything with a significant amount of value. If it was not split in the divorce, then it will need to be. However, while you can return to court in order to get a decision on assets accidentally left out of the divorce decree, you typically only have a short period of time to do so. This is why you need to contact your lawyer as soon as you discover an omission.

Obviously, you can opt to sort the issue without going to court, but divorces are often messy and that may not be possible. It is also worth noting that small items that have low monetary worth but high sentimental worth are often not considered worth the court's time, and the case may not be reopened.

If you discovered assets that were omitted from the divorce decree due to the malicious intent to hide those assets, the courts will be a little more aggressive with opening your case. Your spouse may also face monetary fines and other penalties for trying to hide assets.

If you are going through a divorce and need help making sure it goes as smoothly as possible, contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you get the best possible results.

The five biggest mistakes you can make with prenuptial agreements and how to avoid them

Sunday, July 21, 2019

couple making prenuptial agreement with lawyer

Bob Ross may have liked mistakes, as he called them "happy accidents." There's nothing happy about making mistakes with prenuptial agreements, though, so we'll cover the five biggest mistakes you can make, and how to steer clear of them. 

1. Letting your anger get the best of you 

There's a stigma on prenuptial agreements. We've all heard horror stories about people who signed them and ended up with nothing. It can be easy to get angry or upset when your beloved asks you to sign one;  after all, aren't you two supposed to be working towards happily ever after? 

If you don't take the time to really center yourself and consider why your partner may want a prenuptial agreement, then you may miss some important aspects of the agreement. Read it once you have calmly discussed it with your partner. You don't want to sign a binding legal contract that you couldn't understand because of your anger. 

2. Not taking the time to recognize your own bias

If you're the partner who wants the prenuptial agreement, you need to be clear about what your goals of the prenuptial agreement are. Have you accounted for the rising costs of childcare? What will child support look like ten years down the line? Are you truly protecting your partner or just yourself? 

A prenuptial agreement is put in place in order to protect you both should divorce become an issue. Be sure to discuss the agreement with your partner and take into account his or her wants and needs before you ask them to sign anything. Make it an ongoing conversation and be sure that both of you are truly satisfied with the results. 

3. Doing it without a lawyer 

People hire lawyers to write contracts for a reason. Without a legal expert to guide you in the process, you may miss something. You may forget to include important clauses or- worse- you may leave out assets entirely. You need to be honest with your attorney after you and your partner come to a consensus. 

Neglecting to hire a lawyer could land you even deeper in debt in the end. It's a small cost to protect you and your loved ones later down the line. Things happen. Couples grow apart. Treat this agreement like a safeguard and do it right. 

4. Neglecting to stand your ground

You love your fiance with all of your heart, so you want to make them happy. You'd sign your soul away if it meant you could live out your dreams of domestic bliss. That could land you in trouble. You could end up signing everything away. 

Keep yourself in mind first and foremost. Ask yourself if your needs and interests are being met. A marriage is a two-way street and a prenuptial agreement should be too. 

5. Making ridiculous demands

You can't tell your spouse you want a red car every other Christmas- a judge just won't accept it. There are reasonable and unreasonable demands in the eyes of the law. Mandating sex, housework, childcare and other provisions won't make for a good argument before a divorce judge. According to Pittsburgh Divorce and Family Law, a court may not even adhere to a prenuptial agreement when deciding custody of a child.

Focus on the important things, like financial assets. That is what is going to protect you and your family in the future. 

 

To talk more about this, or anything else, please Contact Us.

Signs a Child Needs Professional Therapy Following Parental Divorce

Saturday, July 13, 2019

child thinking

Children are always affected by divorce. Fortunately, the majority of kids whose parents' divorce work through the difficult emotions and grow into functional adults. Some children, however, suffer greatly when their parents dissolve their union. They could become overly stressed, angry, depressed, extremely shy and clingy and/or likely to self-harm. These young ones need professional help from counselors experienced in working with minors of divorced parents. There are many signs to alert parents that their children need therapy. Quicker action tends to result in the best outcomes. Here are common cues that a child needs help:

  • Expressions of sadness and/or depression that can include extensive crying, moping, demonstrating a flat affect, sleeping too much or not enough, changing in eating habits
  • Personality alterations such as a generally calm child becoming anxious, an obedient child suddenly acting out, or a reversion to "babyhood", acting much younger than actual age
  • Asking questions that reveal feelings of guilt, anger or fear
  • Engaging in compulsive behavior such as performing rituals like changing clothes more than once a day, counting things such as the number of peas on their plates or chronic reordering of possessions
  • Rapidly changing moods; happy to sad, anger to laughter or vocal to silent in a short space of time
  • Neglecting relationships with friends and siblings, might turn down invitations to activities normally enjoyed
  • Slipping grades, behavioral issues in school and/or missing classes or not turning in assignments
  • Frequent physical complaints such as stomach ailments and sore throats

A minor might display multiple signs of needing professional therapy. Once an alert occurs, take your child to a qualified therapist who can assess the need for treatment. Share your concerns with your ex, but, remember, if you are the custodial parent, you do not need your former spouse's permission to obtain psychological help for your offspring. To learn more about handling children's concerns after a divorce, including legal issues, please contact us.

Five Tips for Co-Parenting

Friday, July 05, 2019

Parenting is never easy. When in the middle of a divorce, the situation becomes much more difficult. Here are some suggestions for how to navigate the tricky road of co-parenting.

Stay Civil

Although civility can be difficult when there is bad blood between spouses, it is vitally important.  Almost nothing is more damaging to children than having parents talk negatively about each other in front of them. Additionally, try to refrain from bad-mouthing your spouse to other people. You will both need to interact with certain people that remain involved in your children's lives. If you have spoken poorly about your ex to those people, it will only make those interactions more difficult. 

Be Consistent

The more consistency between you and your ex the better. A divorce is a very difficult transition for children. Consistency between households will help them adapt to the new situation more successfully. Attempt to follow the same basic rules and adhere to similar values when it comes to the children. 

Work Together

Communicate with your ex as much as is necessary for your children's well-being. Successful co-parenting is impossible without reasonably effective communication. Children are not stupid. They know when their parents are at odds and it will likely make them more anxious. If you only look out for your own self-interests, the kids will lose.

Value Both Parents

You and your ex have a common goal: the health and happiness of your children. This is not a competition for their love. Unless there is a good reason (e.g., abuse, neglect), make sure both parents are getting significant time with the children. It is important for the kids to develop a relationship with each parent individually. Children need their parents in their life; they possess enough love for both of you.

Create A Parenting Agreement

The sooner you can work out financial and custody arrangements the better. In a time of uncertainty, people need structure. Parenting agreements provide a roadmap for each parent to follow. They also help establish expectations for the children and ease their concerns. If this cannot be done between parents on their own, mediators and lawyers can help facilitate the process. 

At Jamra & Jamra we want to help you deal with the difficulties of divorce. Please contact us today for all your family law needs.


Prenuptial Agreements Can Be Hard To Talk About, But Necessary

Friday, June 28, 2019

In today's day and age, most people have heard of a prenuptial agreement. Essentially it's a contract that two people enter into before they get married that outlines how their financial assets will be divided in the event of a divorce (or in the event of a death, since some agreements cover this as well according to How Stuff Works).

Talking about these things is not exactly the height of romance. But couples who make responsible decisions now, are the ones who reap the benefits of those decisions later.

If You Don't Decide, Then Someone Else Will

Facing adversity together, and seeing each other through tough decisions, can make you stronger as a couple. More importantly, though, if you don't make decisions about these matters then someone else is going to. In this way, it's a lot like what happens if you or your spouse end up on life support... you hope it doesn't happen, but that doesn't mean you don't want all the paperwork signed and dated beforehand in case it does come to that.

Because if things go well, you'll never have to worry about getting divorced. But if it turns out to be necessary, and you don't have a prenuptial agreement, now it falls onto the decision makers in your local jurisdictions. This can drag the process out much longer, and it often means that you now have to do things in ways that neither of you agrees with. You may not even have the ability to make certain decisions, depending on where you were married.

Prenuptial agreements solve so many issues, and take the stress out of already stressful situations. Not only that, but if you're not secure enough as a couple to go through that process, then you probably need it the most.

For more information on prenuptial agreements, and what they can do for your relationship, simply contact us today!


When Co-Parenting Is Not An Option

Thursday, June 13, 2019

mother and son

When co-parenting is not an option for whatever reason, whether it is because of domestic violence, child abuse, or maybe addiction, you are on your own. One word can kill your chances at happiness and having peace of mind. It is called guilt, and it will make your life miserable. It will also have an affect on your parenting abilities.

Most divorced parents feel like they have failed as a parent to some degree. That guilt will surface time and time again in ways you would never suspect, but if you are aware of it, you can eliminate it from your new life as a single parent. 

Here are three ways you can eliminate guilt and make your new beginning a positive experience for both you and your children. 

1. Depriving yourself so your children will have more is a big mistake. You have as much right to happiness as your children. Don't give up your bedroom because it is bigger. Don't be a chauffeur if it makes your life harder, and don't spend your last money to give your children things they don't need. You need to give to yourself and do more for yourself because you are just as deserving. 

2. Don't try to be both a mom and a dad. You can't be both. Your kids will need a positive male role model, so look to your brother, uncle, cousin, father, and even a teacher for that positive male influence. You will be surprised at how well received and appreciated this will be. There are other people in your children's lives that can offer emotional support besides you. 

3. Pull together and work as a team. Everyone should pitch in to take care of the home front. Teaching your children how to be self-sufficient will help them greatly when they transition into adulthood. They might not like it now, but your children will be grateful for these lessons when they become adults.

 You can call with any questions or concerns about your divorce so please  contact us

Are At-Home DNA Test Admissible in Court?

Saturday, June 08, 2019

dna test

Whether you want to determine paternity or use your own DNA to prove something else, you may think to turn to a number of DNA testing kits that are sold to use as evidence in your family law case. These kits allow you to test DNA in the comfort of your own home, but unfortunately, the results of these kits won't hold up in court.

Even in family law court, which is not considered as serious as criminal court, a test needs to be legally admissible. Home DNA tests are not considered admissible in court. The primary concern is the test itself could have been tainted. Outside factors could have affected the test results because they were not handled in the correct manner.

Of course, the court may also suspect that you tampered with the test results. What it to stop you from using another's DNA and claiming it for your own? In official DNA tests, the chain of custody must remain unbroken to ensure the validity and authenticity of the test. With at-home DNA kits, there is no chain of custody, so literally anything could have happened.

If your family law case does hinge on DNA test results, you can take the at home tests to confirm the DNA. However, you cannot use those tests in court. Instead, you will need to recommend a DNA test to the court to confirm the results in an official capacity. So this doesn't mean your DNA results are a bust, you just need to go through the correct channels to make those results official.

If you are considering any family law case, be it custody, divorce, or child support, we can help you. Contact us today to see what Jamra & Jamra can offer in order to get the best results from your case.


Married, Divorced, Married, and Divorced Again – How it Effects The Process

Thursday, May 23, 2019

woman taking ring off finger

Some people just can't stay away from each other. They may have gotten married without thinking, gotten a divorce, realized they were still in love, married again, and years later it is divorce time yet again for one reason or another. For some, remarriage may last forever, but if it dissolves into divorce again, does this have any effect?

The honest truth is if you are divorcing someone that you divorced before, it may actually make the process faster. The asset division from the previous divorce can be withheld, so this means that they only need to divide that which was new in the second marriage. However, it can create some unique problems.

For example, if you got the house in your first divorce, you could argue that it is not marital property in the second divorce. However, your spouse could argue the exact opposite. Both parties may technically be correct and a judge will have to sort that out. Furthermore, they may want the house in trade for something else. Is it possible for it to be a bargaining chip?

Thankfully, while the division of the actual stuff may be more complicated in some regards, alimony will typically stay the same. You won't receive the same amount from the first divorce, however. Instead, the court will examine the two separate incomes. These may have changed since the first divorce happened, so someone may be paying or paying less depending on their income. Furthermore, if a spouse is now financially independent on their own, there may no alimony payment at all.

One divorce is messy enough, but if you are divorcing a person that you already divorced in the past, you know you need help. Contact us today to see what the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra can do to help you get the best possible outcome. It's okay to be confused in loved, but don't let a marriage ruin your whole life.

How Custody is Determined When Parents Live in Different Countries

Friday, May 17, 2019

When two parents divorce, they often want to live out their own dreams. For some, that could be moving to another country. However, just because they live elsewhere does not mean they also want to completely abandon their parental rights. The question remains, how does child custody work across borders?

As you can imagine, divorce where one parent is a foreign national or intending to move across borders is one of the messiest cases in family law. It could be that they take your child across the border and you never see them again. However, if the parent were intending to disappear your child, they probably wouldn't bother going to family court.

When hearing child custody cases that intend to take a child over the border for primary custody, the judge will take many things into consideration. Some may even grant custody to a foreign parent if they believe it is in the best interests of the child. For example, if they are living in a two bedroom apartment in the United States, but they would live in a grand mansion in Canada, that would be in the better interests of the child. Furthermore, the judge will also take into consideration the presence of extended family. They believe it is important to have a strong support network and will consider the parent that does have one more strongly.

If you are fighting for custody, it is also important that you bring up any potential issues you think may arise. For example, if the country has bad relations with the United States, the parent could sue for custody there and actually win. This means they could overwrite a U.S. custody ruling. Furthermore, if there is no international treaty, it may be difficult to get a child that goes there back if the parent decides to keep them.

If you are fighting for custody with a foreign parent and need help, contact us today.