At Empower Law we believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters. We recognize that family law disputes should be dealt with in a manner designed to protect and preserve the dignity of all the parties. We strive to negotiate in a civilized way and to encourage our clients and their spouses to put their differences aside and reach fair agreements. Experience shows that such agreed solutions are more likely to work in the long term, particularly when children are involved, than any arrangements imposed by a court. It's about what is right versus what one's rights are.
As part of Empower Law's effort to settle disputes related to family law in a non-confrontational manner, we strongly encourage our clients to opt for a collaborative law approach wherever possible.
Collaborative divorce and family law refers to a legal option for couples who wish to resolve disputes without having to go to court. The heart of the collaborative divorce process is that both parties are required to forego the ability to ask a court to resolve their disputes. Instead, the parties commit to resolving their disputes together with the assistance of the attorneys and other professional team members. This is done through ongoing, regularly scheduled in-person meetings attended by all members of the team. The parties work together to gather the necessary information, brainstorm possible solutions, evaluate all the different options available to them, and then work together to choose the one that they believe will work best for their family.
As this is a supportive process, choosing a collaborative attorney is a very important decision. To determine if your case is right for the collaborative divorce process, we invite you to contact our office. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss your case and whether the collaborative process is right for you.
Empower Law is very experienced in this aspect of family law regarding parenting plans, residential schedules, and child custody. We have effectively represented clients in divorces and other family law actions involving both contested and agreed child custody and parenting plan cases.
Child Custody Modification
Once a final parenting plan order has been entered in a family law case (such as a divorce or paternity action), child custody modification actions can be brought by either parent in order to change the parent named as the custodial parent in a parenting plan.
If contested, child custody modification actions are among the most difficult in family law. If a contested child custody action is necessary, we approach these cases with respect for the responsibility we have to seek in preserving the best interests of the children.
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In some cases a child's best interests may be served by granting nonparental custody to a non2parent. Our experience also includes nonparental custody cases where the court finds the parents unfit or unwilling to meet parental responsibilities. An action for nonparental custody can only be brought when neither of the child's parents has physical custody of the child, or when the third party shows that the child's parents are unfit.
Before advising a client to go forward with an action for nonparental custody, Empower Law will thoroughly review the case with the client and advise on its strengths and weaknesses.
Although the parties may not believe child support is at issue, the court is independently required to ensure that appropriate child support obligations are set in all family law cases involving children. This is under the theory that parents should support their children so that state taxpayers are not called upon to do so.
Calculating child support is not always straightforward, as support obligations are directly determined based on the net incomes of the parties. Calculating net income for the unemployed, underemployed, or for individuals who own businesses, investments, or have nonrecurring income can be difficult. The final figures can dramatically affect child support obligations. The more complicated your financial affairs are, the more critical it is to ensure that you have an experienced family law attorney assisting you when determining child support obligations.
Child Support Enforcement
A private party or the state can file an enforcement action on a child support order. At Empower Law, we have handled child support enforcement and contempt actions. We have negotiated and litigated on behalf of parties seeking back support judgments, as well as those defending against such actions.
As our economy becomes more global and companies and jobs change location more often, it is becoming increasingly more common for a primary residential parent to relocate children away from the other parent.
We can advise and represent you if you are seeking to relocate with your child to ensure that your intended relocation is processed according to the law. We can also assist you in preventing the relocation of your children if you have received notice of an intended relocation. Relocation cases often involve child custody disputes and ultimately can become the equivalent of a child custody modification action.
An adoption can occur after the rights of one or both biological parents have been terminated by a court. Sometimes termination is involuntary, and sometimes one or both biological parents agree to termination so that a child may be adopted by a new family or a stepparent. In any case, the assistance of an adoption attorney is advisable and in some cases is required by the law. We can assist in adoption cases whether the adoption is by stepparents or through an adoption agency.
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When an adult or child has been or is in imminent danger of being a victim of violence, courts will enter a protection order protecting that person. Such protection orders usually prohibit the named defendant (the violence perpetrator) from making any contact with the named protected person(s), or from even coming within a specified distance of the protected person(s). Anyone breaking the terms of a protection order faces criminal arrest and prosecution.
Empower Law has years of experience in getting protection orders entered that serve specific family needs. We have handled cases that required the entry of protection orders. The terms of personal protection orders can be drafted to suit the needs of individual cases. For example, sometimes special provisions need to be made to allow for visitation with children and exchanges of children.
If you are afraid of someone, or are afraid for your children, please contact us and take positive steps towards changing your current situation. There is no reason to live in fear.
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Marriage and Divorce
Divorce cases are first and foremost about the lives, relationships, and futures of the people involved. Because divorce creates significant disruption resulting in permanent changes, there are many questions you might have at the outset, such as:
- How will we split up our property?
- Will I be able to support myself?
- How do I protect my relationship with my children?
- Where will I live?
- Where will my children live?
- How do I prevent my spouse or domestic partner from moving our assets?
Empower Law can answer your questions, inform and guide you through the process, help you formulate goals, set realistic expectations, provide you with options, formulate a case strategy, negotiate from a position of strength, and ultimately be prepared to litigate if reasonable agreements cannot be reached.
Moreover, we understands the stress and emotional strain our clients go through during divorce proceedings. We are dedicated to supporting you through the challenges of the process with compassionate, yet thorough and aggressive representation - and helping you face the challenges of the moment with an eye toward the future.
Our firm has represented clients in a range of divorce actions, including cases involving contested child custody, parenting plans, child support, property and debt distribution, and spousal maintenance.
We are capable and prepared to handle standard divorce cases as well as complicated divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters, litigation, international divorce and family law, and cutting-edge areas of developing family law like domestic partnerships and LGBT family law.
Temporary Restraining Orders
When spouses first separate, there may be quite a bit of uncertainty about just how the finances, assets, insurance policies, and household debts will be managed on a daily basis. In order to protect parties and children until a divorce is finalized, a family law lawyer can ask the court for restraining orders. Such orders specify things like which expenses each party will be responsible for, and will prohibit either party from liquidating assets, canceling or modifying insurance policies, or selling property without consent.
At Empower Law, part of our job as your family law lawyer is to protect you and give you peace of mind during difficult times. We are highly experienced in making an early assessment of your financial picture, drafting restraining orders, advising you on when and what kinds of restraining orders make sense, and getting restraining orders entered by the court.
In some instances legal separations are a good alternative to divorce actions if both parties are in agreement.
Legal separation actions resolve the same issues that would be resolved in a divorce, such as child custody and parenting plan issues, child support, property and debt distribution, and spousal maintenance. The major difference between a legal separation and a divorce is that the parties remain legally married at the end of the case.
Some couples may have strong religious convictions that require them to avoid a divorce. Yet, they may wish to live apart and financially disconnect from one another. In such cases, a legal separation is an excellent option.
Although parties can remain legally separated indefinitely, once a decree of legal separation is entered, either party may request that the decree of separation be converted into a decree of divorce. This request can only be made after six months has passed from the court's entry of the separation decree. Once the divorce decree is entered, the marriage will be dissolved.
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In some cases, it may be necessary to resolve a marriage dispute by having the marriage declared invalid. Sometimes this is referred to as an "annulment."
Marriages can be declared invalid for a variety of reasons, including when a party entered the marriage under duress or fraudulent circumstances, or if one party was already legally married at the time of the second marriage.
Invalid marriage actions are comparable to divorce actions and follow similar procedures. At the end of an invalidity action, a court will declare the marriage either valid or invalid. Typically, when a marriage is declared valid, one or both parties will then request a decree of divorce.
Prenuptial, Postnuptial, Domestic Partnership, and Cohabitation Agreements
Divorce rates in the United States remain high. Naturally, almost no couple plans to get divorced before they get married. However, in some cases a couple can greatly benefit from some form of relationship agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, domestic partnership agreement, or cohabitation agreement. By making relationship agreements before marriage about how property and finances should be divided if the marriage ends, parties can potentially avoid expensive and confrontational divorce litigation.
When contemplating relationship agreements, a main consideration is whether the agreement will be enforced. Our firm has drafted prenuptial agreements, domestic partnership agreements, cohabitation agreements, and postnuptial agreements for the benefit of couples who desire clarity about their finances going forward in a relationship. We can advise you on the following factors that the court will consider when enforcing such agreements:
- Are the subjects of the agreement enforceable?
- Will I be able to support myself?
- Did the parties enter into the agreement without coercion?
- Did each party fully disclose assets prior to entering the agreement?
- Are the provisions fair enough to hold up over time?
These are just some of the factors involved, and much depends upon the circumstances of each case.
We can help if you wish to create, challenge, or enforce a prenuptial agreement, domestic partnership agreement, postnuptial agreement, or cohabitation agreement.
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Ending a long-term relationship is a difficult process whether the partners are married or not. Various laws and legal techniques have developed over the years to address the issues that arise for unmarried heterosexual couples and same-sex couples.
A couple who has registered as a domestic partnership has many rights and responsibilities of a traditionally married couple. If the relationship comes to an end, the couple may file for a divorce under the same laws used by traditionally married couples. Issues include property and debt distribution, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance. If you are in need of advice or representation related to your committed relationship, we can help determine your option.
International Divorce and Family Law
Although international divorce and family law are increasingly becoming more present in US family law, few attorneys have experience with the international aspects of divorce and family law.
Our firm will work with treaties and the laws of other countries in order to effectively advise clients who may have international treaties or other foreign laws involved in their case. Empower Law can advise you of the strengths and weaknesses of filing your divorce or other family law action either in the US or in a foreign country.
Everyone deserves the right to compassionate, top-notch legal representation regardless of their sexual or gender orientation. All issues normally addressed in a typical marital divorce action are resolved in a domestic partnership divorce action, including property and debt division, child support, child custody and parenting plans, attorney fees, and spousal maintenance.
Our Firm's Commitment to the LGBT Community
Eric Jones is passionately committed to pursuing equal justice and fair treatment for members of the LGBT community. Our firm supports human rights, and thus the rights of all people are important. Sexual orientation should not be a means to discriminate.
Domestic partnership and LGBT family law are constantly evolving. Please contact us if you have an issue relating to domestic partnerships or gay and lesbian family law.
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