- DivorceThe length of time that a divorce case is pending is dependent on a number of factors. A truly uncontested divorce, in which the parties only seek a divorce and have no children, assets or other issues to determine, can take as little as 31 days. Conversely, a matter in which custody is contested, or numerous properties need valuation, or a closely held business in which a spouse holds title or an interest may also need valuation could cause the divorce proceedings to take many months or even a year or more to finalize. Experts in valuation, guardians or psychologists may need to be hired, or the court’s busy calendar may also delay the process. Spouses who are ready to resolve their disputes and are more cooperative in the process can shorten the time frame considerably.
- Child SupportA child born out of wedlock is a vital concern to the court and to the parents such that several statutorily schemes have been developed to protect the child and provide certain rights to the mother as well as the putative (biological) father. The mother to the child, the child, the Department of Human Resources, a third party who is caring for the child or even the father can bring a paternity suit to establish the paternity of the child, and once the determination is made, the father can be ordered to pay child support, even retroactively, as well as medical expenses of the child and mother while giving birth. Even after the parentage has been established, the father is still not entitled to visitation or custody of the child unless he seeks to legitimate the child, generally not available in a paternity action unless he files to legitimate in that action. It can be seen, therefore, that prior to his legitimation action, he has no legal rights to the child or to visit with the child. In a paternity action, the court may order genetic testing, which has become very precise. The naming of the father on the child’s birth certificate, which must be by consent of both parties, or executing an acknowledgment of legitimation does not provide any further rights to the father.
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Premarital AgreementMany times a postnuptial agreement (after the parties have married) is employed to clearly define the rights of the parties in the event of divorce and could be coupled with a reconciliation of the parties, especially when one of the parties may have strayed from the marital bond. The same criteria enforcing prenuptial agreements is employed for postnuptial agreements.
- Spousal SupportAlthough an agreement which seeks to protect assets or define the parties’ rights in the event of their subsequent divorce was long considered to be invalid as against public policy because these contracts were thought to facilitate divorce, but with the advent of no-fault divorce, the law now recognizes and enforces prenuptial (or antenuptial) agreements. Once considered only when a very wealthy party desired to prevent the soon-to-be spouse from obtaining a large alimony or equitable division clam, many couples today are just as concerned over defining their rights in most of the possible claims each would have, given the cost and uncertainty of divorce. The parties simply enter into a contract which pre-determines such issues as alimony, division of property, marital debt or even attorney’s fees, although custodial issues, because they are considered as always in the breast of the court, are generally not part of the agreement.
- Child Abuse
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