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Brooklyn Family Law, Blog

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Frequently Asked Family Law Questions

Q: Will the Court keep me from seeing my children in a divorce?

A: The easy answer for this is no. The circumstances under which a Court will prevent you from seeing your children is very limited and would include your having harmed the children in a serious way, but is not limited to that. If you have been a parent involved in your children’s lives on a regular basis, the Court will give you some sort of visitation or custody. Precisely what the custody arrangement will be depends on many factors that you should be discussing with an attorney.

Q: Do I have to pay child support even though the mother will not let me see my child?

A: Almost all situations require that you pay child support according with what is called the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA), and the only question is how much you will have to pay. But there are circumstances where child support can be suspended, or even terminated for children of working age (even if they are not working). If one parent has alienated a child from the other parent and severely damaged the relationship between child and parent, it is possible to suspend child support until the alienation is cured. The details of this type of situation should be discussed with your attorney.

Q: My girlfriend is pregnant and I am not sure the baby is mine, what do I do?

A: This depends, in part, on the level of involvement you want with the child. You may want to consider a paternity test as soon as the child is born, which would meaning having papers filed in advance. If you challenge paternity, say that you are not the father, you do not have any rights as a parent until you are named as the father by the Court which can take months. There are pluses and minuses to any route you take, so it is important to learn the facts and law long before the baby is born. Sometimes, you want to begin Court actions before the child is born, sometimes that may not be the best approach.

Q:My daughter-in-law refuses to let me see my grandchildren since my son’s death. Do I have any right to see them?

A: Under most circumstances, yes you do have certain rights. In view of the death of your son, you have what is called “standing,” meaning you have the right to bring an action, for visitation. Whether or not a Court will grant you visitation depends on a number of factors. The first factor the Court will consider in this situation is exactly what it will consider in any custody or visitation action: What is in the best interests of the child.

Q: My husband walked out and refuses to pay the bills for me or he children. What do I do?

A: The answer depends on a number of factors, but you may want to bring an action for custody, child support and spousal support. This starts the clock running on when support starts accumulating. The longer you wait, the more time will go by without child support or spousal support adding up. You could also start a divorce action as that includes the issues of child support, custody and spousal support, and can also be used to get your husband to start paying the marital debt. There are different benefits depending on which way you proceed, so you want to be aware of your rights and obligations as soon as possible.

Q: Does your office handle child support? Absolutely, and we are taking new clients at this time.

A: My wife just left with our children and I think she left the state. What can I do to get my children back? You need to act very quickly. An action for custody can be brought to force your wife to return the children and the sooner it is brought, the higher the chances of your success. This would be true even if you were not married. This office has handled many of these actions and we are more than happy to discuss your options with you as soon as you are available to do so. In this instance, speed in response to what has happened is extremely important.

Q: My child’s mother just got arrested for drugs and the grandparents will not give me our son. What can I do to get my son?

A: More details would be necessary to tell you all of your options, but if you are on the birth certificate as the father, you have a right to have your son that is higher than a grandmother’s right. If you do not have a copy of your child’s birth certificate, go get one immediately at the Bureau of Vital Statistics, or if you have a paternity order, that could help as well. We would be happy to set something up immediately to discuss your situation and how you get your son.

Q: Can I get my spousal support amount changed? I just lost my job.

A: The answer to that depends in part on how you lost your job, how long ago you lost it, what you are doing to get a new job, what your Order says and a number of other factors. It also depends on whether you are paying or receiving the support. That said, there are ways that spousal support can be modified. It is also helpful if you act quickly so that you do not have the support amount due every week and be unable to pay it, should a modification be possible.

Q: I have judgments against my son’s father for child support. Can you help me collect it?

A: Yes, we do handle actions to collect judgments and for enforcement of judgments. When you call for an appointment, we will tell you the information you should be bringing to us to take action to help obtain your judgments.

Q: I am in the military service and deployed. I was just served with custody papers. What can I do? I cannot get leave to come for the Court appearance.

A: There are ways to stop the action in its tracks, almost any action, when you are in the military and deployed. The action can be put on hold until your deployment ends. Let us know if you would like to help us with that. You clearly have other things you need to be dealing with.

Q: Is my battle pay included in calculating my child support amount?

A: Yes, unfortunately, even though it is not taxable income, it is included in your income for child support purposes for any military member.

Q: Will my husband have to pay my legal fees for divorce?

A: The Court can order one side to pay the other side’s attorneys fees in certain situations. Whether they do will depend on each party’s financial circumstances and their ability to access funds for legal fees on their own, together with certain factors in the case itself. Sometimes attorney’s fee awards are made early in the action, sometimes not until the end of the action. What is not considered is whether someone was or was not at fault in the divorce or who started the action. There is no guarantee for a fee award that will pay all of the costs and expenses of your action.

Q: I have been a stay at home Dad, caring for our children. My wife has just sued for divorce. Am I going to lose custody of our children to her?

A: Certainly as the primary caretaker of the children your chances of obtaining custody are greater than they would be if the situation were reversed. The Court will determine what is in your children’s best interest and often that includes keeping things as close to status quo for the children as possible. It may be, though, as a result of the divorce you will have to seek employment that prevents you from being with the children all day, everyday as you have been. That will be a factor considered by the Court as well. Sometimes, it is better for you and your spouse to work out the details of custody yourselves to avoid a stranger making that decision for you. It is important that you know your rights and obligations with regard to your children in a divorce action, and you need to be acting quite quickly in finding that out.

Q: Do you do adoptions?

A: Yes, we absolutely do adoptions. We do step-parent adoptions as well as private adoptions and agency adoptions. In addition, we take on the final portion of foreign adoptions.

Q: I want to get child support but do not want my child to have any contact with his father. Can you help me?

A: Yes, I can help you. This is a situation that is dependent on very specific facts and needs because often you cannot get both of your wishes fulfilled. We would be happy to discuss your specific facts with you so that you can determine how to best move forward.

Q: I want to relocate with my children to take a new job. My divorce papers say that I cannot relocate the children. What do I do to be able to relocate with the children?

A: You can bring a custody petition to modify your judgment of divorce seeking the relocation. There are several very specific factors involved including whether the other parent can have the same level of relationship with the child and whether you can get the same kind of employment locally. The other elements you need to prove to succeed are to detailed to go into here. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss whether your circumstances would set you up for a relocation action that is more likely than not of being successful.