In the event of a divorce, the husband and wife generally are free to divide their property as they see fit. They may enter into what is called a marital settlement agreement. A marital settlement agreement is a contract between the husband and wife that divides property and debts and resolves other issues of the divorce. Although many divorces begin with a high level of acrimony, a substantial majority of divorces (95 percent or more) are settled by the husband and wife-often with help from attorneys-without need for a judge deciding property issues or other issues.
When the husband and wife have reached a marital settlement agreement, they can take the agreement to court, where a judge usually will approve the agreement after a short hearing. Some states with simplified divorce procedures might not even require a hearing if everything has been agreed to by the husband and wife. Continue reading
A woman who divorces may resume her unmarried name or keep her married name as she wishes. She can even change her name to something completely new, as long as she is not doing so for fraudulent purposes. Court proceedings generally are not necessary in order to change a name.
If a woman is changing her name, she should notify government agencies and private companies that have records of her name. Examples of places to notify: the Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, Passport Agency (within U.S. State Department), Post Office, state tax agencies, driver’s license bureau, voter registration bureau, professional licensing agencies, professional societies, unions, mortgage companies, landlord, banks, charge card companies, telephone companies, other utilities, magazines and newspapers to which she subscribes, doctors and dentists, and schools and colleges that she attended or that her children attend. Continue reading
Deciding whether to divorce can be filled with ambivalence and anxiety. When the decision to divorce is reached, however, it also can be a time of relief.
In their book Bailing Out, authors Barry Lubetkin and Elena Oumano comment, ” ‘[Blailing out’ when you know your relationship is no longer viable can be one of the most affirmative, liberating acts of one’s life. Bailing out can be a wonderful growth experience if you use this period of your life as a time to explore, discover, and evaluate beliefs that have determined your behavior …The irrefutable fact is that staying with someone in a miserable or indifferent relationship, whether in a marriage or a live-in situation, erodes your self-esteem.”
Ann Landers echoed part of that view in The Ann Landers Encyclopedia A to Z : “Life is too precious to waste years in a joyless marriage or, worse yet, in a miserable one.” Continue reading
The law defines children as unmarried persons under the age of majority-usually eighteen-who have not left home to support themselves. Children have a right to be supported by their parents. The right of support includes food, shelter, clothing, and medical care. Parents are also obliged to arrange for the education of their children either at school or at home. If parents seek to educate their children at home, the parents usually must prove to the state that they offer a genuine education program at home. Children taught at home may be subject to state testing to ensure that the children are making satisfactory progress in their education.
Children also have a right to be educated by the government through high school (assuming the child is not expelled from school for misconduct). Under federal law, children with significant physical or mental handicaps have a right to government-paid special education programs to meet their needs. If a parent believes a child needs a special education program, but the government is not providing one, the parent can appeal the issue through administrative agencies within the school system and through the courts if necessary. Continue reading
Under state laws, it is a criminal offense for parents and legal guardians to fail to meet children’s basic needs, including food, clothing, shelter, medical treatment, and supervision. Such failure constitutes child neglect.
Child abuse laws make it a crime for adults to abuse children in their care. Such adults include parents, legal guardians, other adults in the home, and baby-sitters. Supervising adults may not go beyond reasonable physical punishment. For example, adults who beat children so severely that the children require medical treatment have violated these laws. Child abuse laws cover not only physical abuse and sexual abuse, but also emotional abuse, such as subjecting a child to extreme public humiliation.
A person may be guilty of child abuse that he or she did not personally commit if that person had legal responsibility for the child and failed to protect the child from the abuser. Continue reading
Parents have a right to control the care and upbringing of their children. This gives parents the power to make various decisions affecting the child, including where to live, what school to attend, what religion to follow, and what medical treatment to obtain.
Normally the state may not interfere in these decisions. Only in life-threatening or extreme situations will the courts step in to over-rule parents. For example, when a child might die without the medical care that the parents refuse to provide, a judge may make the child a ward of the court (or the state) and order that the care be provided. Parents have been prosecuted for withholding medical treatment from seriously ill children. This has occurred even in situations where parents have followed their religious beliefs.
Although children can be hard to control (particularly adolescents), parents have the legal authority to control their children’s behavior and social lives. Parents may discipline or punish their children appropriately. They may not, however, use cruel methods or excessive force; that constitutes child abuse. Continue reading
Collaborative Law is a practice in which both parties and their attorneys agree in writing that each will use their best efforts and good faith to come to a mutually agreed upon settlement without resorting to judicial intervention. Four-way settlement meetings are conducted where each party and their attorney is present. The difference between collaborative law and mediation is that unlike mediators, collaborative lawyers are active legal advisors and negotiators for their clients. The structure of the four-way meetings is led by the attorneys, not the parties.
In order to find a collaborative law attorney, there are several options available to you. You can contact your local bar association and inquire about any collaborative lawyers in your area. You can also contact the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals to locate collaborative lawyers near you. Continue reading