Family Law Blog

Obtaining Custody as an Unmarried Father

Thursday, August 15, 2019

father and daughter

Unfortunately, if a father is not married to the mother of his child, he doesn't come with the same inherit parental rights. In many cases, parental rights between two unmarried people are worked out away from the courtroom, but this doesn't mean they are legally binding.

If you are an unmarried father, you need to take steps to get your legal rights. The first course of action is for both the father and mother to sign the birth certificate. Once this happens, you will legally be entitled to parental rights.

If the mother refuses to put your name on a birth certificate, unfortunately, you will need to go to court. You can file with the court to have an official paternity test done. This will make your paternal rights legally binding. After paternity is officially established in the eyes of the court, the father can then seek to have custody of their child. In most courts, they believe in having two parents in a child's life. Unless the mother can prove that the father would provide a somehow dangerous environment, at very least visitation will be granted.

Unfortunately, if you don't wish to go to court and a mother will not sign acknowledgment of paternity, then there is not much you can do without legal intervention. Unless you go to court, it means both you as the father and your family will have no legal rights to visitation of your child.

If you are an unwed father and want to be in your child's life, contact us today. The family law system often seems greatly unfair to fathers, but that is not the case if the father is willing to go through the court system for their rights. The courts always consider the best interest of a child, and often that means having a relationship with both parents.

What to Do When Paternity is Filed Against You

Friday, August 09, 2019

man signing papers

For some men, there may come a day when they are served with a court summons to establish paternity. If you have not signed a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity, then a woman can go through the courts to establish it formally through the court with a DNA test. If you have signed the acknowledgement, then you may also be served with papers demanding support for the child financially. Regardless of what you have been served with, what should your next move be when this happens?

When you are served, your first action should be to actually read the papers to discover what they want. They may be calling you in for a paternity test or they may be demanding child support. These are two different matters that require different approaches. However, the most important part of both is the time in which you have to give your answer. The complaint will be numbered and you need to either agree or deny each part of it. Unfortunately, you have a rather narrow time frame to do so. This is where your next action comes in.

After a complaint has been served to you, next you will want to get in contact with a family law attorney as soon as possible. Your lawyer can help you formulate a reply to the complaint and explain what each answer means. For example, agreeing to test paternity could also mean paying child support if it turns out to be true. Your lawyer will advise you on how best to answer for the outcome that you want to happen.

If you have been served with paternity or for any other family law matters, contact us today. The Law Office of Jamra & Jamra is dedicated to helping you get the outcomes you want so you can do what is best for your family.

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.

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!


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.


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.

Will Lying in a Custody Case Cause Perjury Charges?

Thursday, May 09, 2019

judge using mallet in courtroom

Lying in court is a dangerous game. Those who even think about it know that they can be charged with contempt or even perjury as a punishment that was made just for those who lie under oath. Unfortunately, criminal court is not the same as family court. If you take the stand in criminal court as a witness, telling blatant lies will have you facing criminal charges of perjury. However, as a civil court, if you lie in front of a judge in a custody case, it is unlikely you will face the same criminal charges.

While the charges of contempt and perjury were put in place to keep people honest, they are only used in criminal trials where another person's freedom depends on witness testimony. While the custody of your children can feel similar, the courts do not consider it the same.

So if your ex-spouse decides to lie in your custody case, what does happen to them? Well, they probably won't be charged with perjury. Instead, it will be up to your lawyer to provide proof of their lies, and this in turn will likely have civil consequences. If they are caught in their lies, it will reflect negatively on them. Depending on the extent of their lies, they may face harsher punishments. For example, if an ex-spouse lied about their income, how much the work, and accused you of abuse, these multiple lies will probably lose them the custody case even if they are fit parents. Lying in court for their gain does not look great to any judge.

Are you starting a custody case and believe that your spouse may lie in front of a judge? Contact us today to see how the Jamra & Jamra Law Firm can help you get the best possible results so you can keep seeing your children.


5 Methods of Collecting Past Due Child Support

Friday, April 26, 2019

Man handing over cash to woman

After a divorce, finances are often tight. Single parents often rely on child support payments to make ends meet. What options do you have if your ex stops paying court-ordered child support?

Under the federal Child Support Enforcement Act of 1984, districts attorneys and state's attorneys have the authority to collect arrears child support on custodial parents' behalf.

States have several options to collect child support payments in arrears, including:

Wage Garnishment

Child support arrangements often carry an order for the support payments to be garnished from the obligor's wages.  However, this may not be as effective if the non-custodial parent changes jobs frequently or is unemployed.

Tax Refunds

If a tax refund is owed to the debtor parent, the custodial parent may be able to intercept the tax refund to collect the support payments owed. If the obligor has remarried, only his or her portion of the tax refund can be redirected. The obligor's new spouse is entitled to keep their full tax refund.

Contempt of Court

Non-custodial parents who do not make court-ordered child support payments can face a contempt-of-court charge. Someone found guilty of contempt can be subjected to fines or even jail time.

Revoking a License

If child support is delinquent, another method of enforcement is to have the state revoke the obligor's driver's license. Other professional licenses may also be withheld—for example, licenses for physicians, attorneys, or those working in trades such as plumbing. Business licenses may also be included in some cases. The option to withhold a license may not be available in every state.

Property Liens

When child support is in default, states may place liens on any real estate or automobiles owned by the obligor parent. A lien prevents the asset from being sold until the delinquent payments are made.

If you need help collecting child support in arrears, contact us to set up a consultation.  


Does My Spouse Have to Pay For a Child's College?

Friday, December 21, 2018

When it comes to child support, a non-primary custody parent only has the obligation to pay child support until the child reaches the age of majority, otherwise known as 18 years old. There is an exception that states they will continue to pay until the child graduates high school if that comes later as well. However, most parents care for their child, and at this age, they want them to go to college. Both parents may even want to help pay for it, even if divorced. However, if your spouse doesn't, do they still need to contribute to a college education?

In most cases, if two parents agree to pay for college during a divorce, specific language will be added to the final papers to make it legally binding. As it can be many years before a child reaches college age, this can be an important step. However, there will be certain exceptions made if the paying spouse suddenly has a change in financial circumstances.

If you and your spouse can both agree that you both want to contribute to a child's college education, it should be written down in the divorce agreement. Furthermore, the language should also be flexible to make sure one parent can still contribute even if they make less later. It is important to talk over how to do this with your divorce lawyer so that it is in the child's best interests. College can be particularly expensive, so help from your ex-spouse should be welcomed. However, it is best to also make sure it is legally binding.

If you are going through a divorce and want to make sure a spouse will actually pay when it comes time to send your children to college, contact us today. We can help craft divorce papers to make sure it is included.

Is A Prenuptial Agreement Right For You?

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Is a prenup the right thing for you? 

"Well, um...er..."

We get it.

Talking to your future spouse about creating and signing a prenuptial agreement is not romantic in the least. However, the lack of romance doesn't make the idea any less important when it comes to protecting your legal and financial rights. 

Prenuptial Agreement=Divorce Insurance

Just as you don't want to think about your loving relationship ending in divorce, you don't want to think about your life ending in a terrible accident or illness that leaves your spouse and kids without the resources necessary to carry on. That's why you buy life insurance. In that vein, a prenuptial agreement is protection against something going wrong. Like life insurance, you hope you never need it but can have peace-of-mind knowing it's there. 

What Can a Prenup Do? 

A properly drafted prenuptial agreement can: 

  • Protect your property, including property acquired during the course of your marriage
  • Prevent future court costs
  • Protect you from taking on legal responsibility for a spouse's debt
  • Provide an opportunity to resolve potential issues now before they arise


What a Prenup Can't Do

Not all family law issues can be resolved within the language of a prenuptial agreement. For example, a prenup cannot decide child custody issues or settle disputes about how to raise them. 

If a prenuptial agreement sounds like something you could benefit from, speaking to an experienced family law attorney is the next step in the process. Contact us anytime to schedule a consultation.