Maine Family Law Attorney issues such as divorce, child custody, visitation and support, adoptions and pre-nuptial agreements require the services of an attorney who has excellent litigation and mediation skills as well as a complete knowledge of domestic relations law. The attorney must also have sensitivity and understanding to match that legal expertise. The Family Law Office of David Wood brings that unique combination of qualities into play. Numerous people seeking a divorce lawyer from Biddeford, Saco, Kennebunk, Wells and elsewhere in Southern Maine, sought David Wood for their divorce proceedings.
Issues in Maine Family Law
Divorce is often a slow and painful process. But people can and do make it through the difficult time period during a divorce. To survive the process, an individual must be prepared emotionally, financially and legally. In this brochure, eight issues, which are generally confronted by those considering a divorce, are covered. They are:
Gathering a Support System
Hiring an Attorney
Working through a Property Settlement Agreement
Considering Spousal/Child Support
Dealing with Child Custody Battles
Considering an Alternative to Litigations
Issue One: Gathering a Support System
If separation is imminent, it is essential to have a strong support system (family, friend, a minister or counselor) to help face the difficulties that lie ahead. Clients are often encouraged to consider counseling with a licensed social worker or counselor who is trained in handling divorce related issues. Unfortunately statements or admissions made to a counselor or therapist often are not protected during a divorce proceeding. Accordingly, the need for counseling for an individual must be weighed against the risks of the contents of counseling sessions being revealed in Court.
Clients are also urged to consider marital counseling before proceeding with a divorce. A trained counselor or therapist may be able to sort out issues and both parties may be willing to give the marriage another chance. Even if reconciliation is not an option, counseling can definitely help an individual cope with the major life crisis created by divorce. We have a list of counselors in Southern Maine, and the Portland area who can help people in the process of a divorce.
Issue Two: Hiring an Attorney
When considering a separation or divorce, an attorney that focuses their practice on family law should be consulted. The attorney should be a good trial lawyer and be able to explain what your rights and responsibilities are when a marriage is ending. Everyone needs to understand what his or her rights and responsibilities are when a marriage is ending.
Even if the parties have agreed on the issues regarding marital assets, each party should have their own attorney. Often a problem will arise in drafting a Property Settlement Agreement or in finalizing the divorce proceedings and each party will need an attorney to represent his or her individual interests exclusively.
Issue Three: Working Through A Property Settlement Agreement
A Property Settlement Agreement or Separation Agreement is a contract, executed by the husband and wife, in which parties divide their marital assets and debts as well as settle any other issues arising out of the parties’ marriage. The goal of the agreement is to settle as many issues as possible between the parties to avoid the time and expense of litigation. A standard Property Settlement Agreement includes the division of marital assets (such as real estate, automobiles, furnishings and savings accounts) and resolution of other matters such as spousal support, child support, child custody, visitation rights, and health insurance coverage. It is very important to have an attorney prepare the Property Settlement Agreement to ensure all matters are property addressed and the legal terminology is correct. Having a divorce attorney near you in the Biddeford, Saco, Kennebunk, Portland and Southern Maine area makes office visits and court appearances much easier and less expensive.
Issue Four: Reaching a Settlement
Often in a divorce action, the departing spouse is remorseful and he or she may be eager to end the marriage expediently. In his or her eagerness, this spouse will often make a generous offer to settle the domestic issue. In these cases, clients are often urged to look to the future, not to the past, and (if the agreement is appropriate) to accept the offer. Many times, the quicker the division of the assets is reached, the better. Once the Property Settlement Agreement has been thoroughly reviewed and executed by the parties, there is no turning back unless a spouse can prove that he or she signed the agreement under fraud, coercion or duress.
Issue Five: Considering Spousal/Child Support
A court can award rehabilitative spousal support for a period of time based upon certain factors such as the education, training, and employment history, physical and mental health of the party seeking support. The parties can also contract, in a Property Settlement Agreement, to any arrangement of spousal support they desire.
On the other hand, child support is governed by statute and is based on the incomes (real or imputed) of both parents. If one parent is earning substantially less than he or she could reasonably earn, some additional income may be imputed to that parent. Generally, payment of child support extends until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of nineteen, whichever occurs first.
Issue Six: Dealing with Child Custody Battles
Child custody is the most difficult issue in a divorce. A variety of combinations now exist to protect the best interests of the child. If the mother and father cannot agree on a custody arrangement, a judge will decide what is in the child’s best interest. In these cases, absent an appeal to a higher court, the parties must abide by the judges decision. The courts look exclusively at the child’s best interest and no longer prefer the mother over the father in custody issues.
Issue Seven: Considering an Alternative to Litigation
In recent years, divorcing couples have chosen mediation as an alternative to litigation. Mediation involves many of the same procedures as litigation, but is geared to produce less hostility and lower the costs for the parties.
Unfortunately, in our society today for a variety of reasons, a marriage union is often broken. When divorce becomes the only option, couples often disagree concerning how a division of property should be made. One way to avoid the bulk of the potential legal costs and emotional toll is to enter into a prenuptial agreement before marriage.
A prenuptial agreement (also called a premarital agreement) is a contract between spouses that takes effect when they become married. The agreement can include the personal rights and obligations of each spouse, the disposition of assets, the rights to property, spousal support in the event of a separation or divorce, the making of a will or trust and the disposition of life insurance benefits. A prenuptial agreement can be very detailed or it can deal with only a few assets or obligations.
If you decide to draft a prenuptial agreement, you and your intended spouse should each hire an attorney who will aid you in understanding the agreement, the legal ramifications it has and the implications it will have in the future.
Family Law issues often entail many difficult and stressful issues that tend to hit many of us the hardest when we are most vulnerable. A combination of a strong support system and a good Maine family law attorney will help guide a person through what tend to be emotional and difficult times.