One of the more emotionally draining experiences in life is finding oneself involved in a family-law matter. “Family law” encompasses many different areas — divorce, separation, property settlement, alimony (spousal maintenance), custody (parental rights and responsibilities), child support, visitation (parent-child contact), stalking and abuse prevention, guardianship, enforcement of court orders (contempt), and state intervention in families. Most of these matters are handled in the Family Division of the Superior Court, but guardianship proceedings are normally handled by the Probate Division (which also handles wills and other probate matters).
We explain, guide and assist clients through both the legal perplexities and the emotional phases of family litigation. Elisabeth Kübler Ross outlined the five stages of grief in the order of what one experiences in the termination of a relationship:
These emotions are especially acute when dealing with children or the elderly. Normal advocacy sometimes is not the most appropriate way to resolve legal issues for the most vulnerable. That may require working with professionals to determine the best possible outcome for them.
Sometimes, clients can handle portions of family litigation themselves, but need professional legal support for some of the more complex issues that may arise. We also provide representation for certain facets for a case rather than doing for clients what they are able and choose to do for themselves — thereby keeping costs well within the means of our clients.
There are also incidents where the parties to a family matter have allowed those who know best — themselves — determine the fairest of outcomes. We also help identify issues overlooked by couples who want to conclude their relationships on friendly terms to assure that problems do not arise in the future because of language that omits a required resolution — such as removing a name from a mortgage that can have adverse consequences for a credit rating.
Finally, an order may need to be enforced. Support, be it for a spouse or child, is not being paid. Visitation with a child has been denied. A debt has not been paid off or property sold as ordered. Someone needs to be brought back to court to comply with an order. In that event, a court may order attorney’s fees and costs to be reimbursed to our clients who have to go to the expense of holding the offender in contempt of court.
These are but a few examples of our services to clients involved in family law issues. We care.