Family Law FAQ

What can an attorney do for me?

Family law attorneys can serve a crucial role in a number of ways. First and foremost, lawyers know the law. They know the rights to which individuals are entitled, and they know how to ensure fair treatment. Whether navigating custody disputes, support payment schedules, property division or other considerations, an experienced and effective lawyer will work to protect your interests to the full extent of the law.

Equally important, attorneys are impartial. Family law matters are rife with emotions. When individuals act on their own, they often allow their anger or guilt to guide them. This does not always lead to the best decisions. A lawyer, then, can serve as an objective guide.

When dividing property in a divorce, does the court try to divide all property evenly or look at which party contributed the most toward the acquisition of the property?
Courts will try to divide all marital property equitably, not necessarily equally. Many factors go into determining an equitable division of property, including contributions of each party to the acquisition of the property.

When can I move out of the house?

You can move out of your marital home at any time. Yet this does not mean you cease to be responsible for mortgage payments and other forms of upkeep. Even if you know your spouse will ultimately receive the home, the property division process must be complete before you are no longer liable for your house and other assets.

I have custody of my children. Do I need my former spouse's permission to move out of state?
You may need permission if you plan to move more than 100 miles from your current address. If the noncustodial parent will not grant permission, you may seek permission from the court.

When can I ask for spousal support (alimony) payments?

Spouses in need of support can ask for alimony after property division has taken place. This is because alimony is not part of the property settlement process and must be decided when both parties have their assets established. When the alimony request is submitted, a judge will award payment after considering a number of factors.

If my spouse is awarded alimony, how long will I have to pay it?
Spousal support orders may be temporary or permanent. Permanent awards are uncommon unless certain factors are present. Spousal support terminates, including permanent support, when the party receiving the support remarries.

How does the child custody process work?

Custody is determined in any of a number of ways. Parents can agree to terms and have a judge approve the plan formally. Otherwise, a parent can file a custody petition with the court, either before or after divorce proceedings have begun, and permit a judge to decide matters.

What factors go into which parent gets custody of the child?
In determining who will have custody of a child, courts will only be concerned with what is in the best interest of the child. Many factors go into determining what is in the child's best interest. Some of these factors include:

  • The child's emotional tie with each parent.
  • The capacity of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing and other necessities.
  • Moral fitness of each parent, etc.

When can I expect my first child support check?

This varies greatly. Your case needs to be heard in court, and a support schedule approved by a judge, before you receive payments.