Koehler & Isaacs – Family Law Attorneys

Family ties are thought to be the most private and enduring relationships in society. As most can attest, however, these relationships are rarely free from conflict. When domestic issues cannot be solved within the home, family law seeks to restore order and provide a fair solution for all parties involved.

For many, family law is thought to be synonymous with divorce proceedings. In reality, divorce is just a small part of family law which covers a broad array of domestic issues including adoption, premarital agreements, paternity and child support issues.

When legal action is necessary to resolve familial matters, it is essential that you entrust your most private matters with a compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorney. Our dedicated attorneys and staff serve as good listeners, confidants and advocates for all of our clients during their most difficult times.

Adoption
While adopting a child can be an immensely rewarding experience, it is often accompanied by a host of legal and bureaucratic complexities.  Those who approach the process with the aid of a knowledgeable attorney find that they are relieved of much of the delays, frustration and expense it often entails.

Whether you are a parent struggling to find the right home for your child, a couple looking to welcome a new member into your home or a relative hoping to assume responsibility for a minor in your family, you should contact our family law attorneys to ensure no detail is overlooked.  We will take the time to explain all of the adoption issues to you, assist in the preparation of required documentation, represent you at the adoption hearings and advocate on your behalf should any challenges arise in the future.

Child Custody
The dissolution of any marriage or partnership raises a plethora of issues. When children are involved, the resulting issues are even more complex as custody and child support issues come to the forefront. To ensure that a fair arrangement, based upon the children’s best interests, is reached, you should contact a knowledgeable family lawyer.

Our law firm routinely handles child custody cases and can help to determine the best custody arrangement for you and your children. We will review the custody evaluator’s recommendations, identify the children’s preferences and explain how local and state laws impact your specific case and family situation. Considering these factors, our family lawyers will work with you to devise a plan of custody for your children.

Child custody is dual faceted in that it encompasses both the physical and legal custody of the child. Physical custody is where the child resides while legal custody entails the decision making process for the parents including the right to decide education preferences, religious practices, medical treatments and activity involvement. Both of these aspects must be considered during child custody proceedings.

Our compassionate team of child custody attorneys will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome preserving your parental rights and protecting the children’s best interests.

Divorce
Divorce proceedings usually involve intense emotions and significant expense. Our dedicated matrimonial attorneys can work with you throughout your divorce to minimize the emotional strain and cost normally associated with these proceedings. We handle complex contested and uncontested divorces.

During the divorce proceedings, we will assess all of the assets and debt involved and strive attain the largest possible distribution of marital assets for our clients.  When appropriate, we will work closely with you to guarantee proper financial support through alimony. If children are involved, we will work with you to obtain custody of your children, child support payments or help in the development of a parenting plan, if preferred.

If you and your spouse choose to keep your divorce proceedings private and away from the courts, our law firm will work with you through voluntary mediation known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). During this process, both you and your spouse will meet with a neutral mediator to help resolve issues by bringing both parties to agreement on a fair solution. With ADR, there is complete disclosure and no litigation.  Many individuals prefer this method as it tends to be faster, less costly and produces a more amicable outcome.

Paternity
Paternity lawsuits may be necessary to determine parental rights, custody or support matters when the identity of the biological father is in question. In these instances, the court will order a genetic test. The results of this test are then used to establish a legal relationship between the parent and child and determine the extent to which the father has an obligation to support the child. Even if the biological father does not wish to play an active role in the child’s upbringing, he still has the obligation to provide financial support to the minor.

These suits may be brought by the mother, the presumed father (in many instances the husband of the mother), the man alleged to be the father, a government agency or the child (if he or she is underage, a representative must act on his or her behalf). Our family law firm is available to offer you legal guidance, assist in filing a paternity suit with the appropriate court or defend you against paternity action.

Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is unfortunately prevalent in many relationships and may include harassment, assault, sexual abuse or neglect.  If you or someone you love has been physically or emotionally abused by their spouse or another relative, you should contact the police and an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your rights.  Our dedicated attorneys will work to obtain an Order of Protection from the court to ensure your physical safety.

In the case of marital abuse, if you wish to pursue a legal separation or divorce in light of the events, our legal team can advise you on the best steps to keep you safe and dissolve the marriage as fast as possible while keeping your best interests in mind.

Our entire staff understands the sensitive nature of domestic violence and will strive to provide you with peace of mind throughout the proceedings. Should you require additional support beyond the legal realm, we can refer you to other professionals and resources to address all of your needs and begin the healing process.

Family law raises emotional and legal challenges for all parties involved. In such cases, it is essential that you surround yourself with trusted advisors and friends. Our law firm provides you with the legal and emotional support needed to get you back on your feet. We look forward to hearing your story and finding ways to help you through what is likely a transformational time in your life.

Koehler & Isaacs – Divorce Mediation Attorneys

For most people, going through a divorce is an absolutely terrible experience. The legal process of divorce can be emotionally, not to mention financially, draining. Divorce mediation is becoming an increasingly popular way to resolve issues in a divorce in a less adversarial manner which can reduce stress and yield more mutually beneficial results. In divorce mediation, rather than both parties going to court and using a trial to resolve divorce issues, such as a property settlement, child support and child custody, the parties will sit down with a neutral third party, called a mediator. The mediator helps both individuals come to a solution agreed upon by both parties

Divorce mediation offers many advantages to a couple working through a divorce. The divorce mediation almost always takes less time than litigating a divorce, especially for those couples who haven’t worked everything out in advance of the divorce. Divorce mediation also helps spouses tell each other what they want, without lawyers speaking for them or telling them what they should do.

Mediation helps spouses reduce the tension involved in a divorce. Also, couples who mediate are generally happier with the outcome than those who go to court, primarily because they feel like they were more directly involved in the outcome. The mediator can help couples with both immediate concerns and long-term concerns. Mediators can help focus couples on present issues, rather than bringing up hurts from the past that can be unproductive in reaching an agreement. Another benefit to mediation is that it is private, unlike a court case.

However, divorce mediation is not for everyone. If couples are behaving too poorly around each other to work together in the same room, mediation may not be the best bet. Some couples are dealing with spousal abuse or substance abuse. In those situations, it’s probably best for an attorney to speak on each spouse’s behalf.

Divorce mediation begins by learning more about the process. Next, the couple will gather information and provide it to the mediator. This primarily includes financial information such as assets owned, debts, bank accounts, automobiles, etc. Then, the issues that need to be resolved will be determined, such as division of property and debts, and child custody and support.

The couple will then begin to discuss concerns in the presence of the mediator. The couple will make decisions about the type of arrangements they want in a step by step manner. The divorce mediator should take care to make sure the needs of the children, as well as the spouses, are met. The mediator will help the couple explore various options available. Once an arrangement is agreed on, an attorney will draft it and the parties will sign.

If you are interested in learning more about divorce mediation, contact our qualified law firm.

Koehler & Isaacs – Divorce Attorneys

The goal of any firm is to make divorce (or ending other long-term relationships) as simple and painless as possible so clients can move on with their lives. The divorce process requires considering a number of factors including division of assets, spousal support and child custody and support.

Division of Assets 

Dividing the property of spouses during divorce can be quite difficult depending on how significant the assets are. These assets can include houses, rental property, retirement and pension plans, stock accounts, businesses, and more. If your divorce is contentious, then this can be especially complicated.

Reaching a negotiated settlement speeds the divorce process dramatically, and can save you money in legal fees. Moreover, in cases where you can’t come to an agreement, the court is going to use its judgement to impose a plan that is as fair as possible.

There are also state laws to consider as well as the difference between separate and marital property. In general, .Separate Property includes any property that was owned by either spouse prior to the marriage; an inheritance received by the husband or wife (either before or after the marriage); and gifts received by the husband or wife from someone else.

On the other hand, property acquired during the marriage is usually considered Marital Property regardless of which spouse owns or has title to the property. State laws vary greatly in how Marital Property is treated (especially between Community Property & Equitable Distribution States), So consulting a qualified attorney is critical.

Spousal Support (Alimony)

Spousal support is also a consideration when it comes to the division of assets. There is no one rule for all marriages, so whether spousal support is going to be required is something that is going to depend on your specific situation.

The purpose of alimony is to help the receiving spouse maintain financially stability after a divorce.  In general, courts award alimony is an amount that is “fair” under the circumstances and that the law requires.

Some considerations here include the standard of living established during the marriage, whether one spouse does not have enough property and income to provide for his or her “reasonable” needs, and whether the providing spouse has enough property or income to meet these needs.Finally, the issue of spousal support requires each partner to make a complete disclosure of their financial status including net worth. 

Child Custody & Support

Child custody and support is more often a point of consideration than spousal support. In cases where there are minor children, issues of child custody and child support are going to be at the core of a divorce agreement.

In the past, states have handled matters of child custody and support in family court. However, the states have moved toward uniform standards concerning these issues. Moreover, depending on the child’s age and maturity level his or her wishes are considered by the court. The ultimate consideration is what is in the best interest of the child. In many cases, divorcing couples can reach an agreement for joint custody.

Child support is an ongoing payment made by a parent for the financial support of a child after a divorce or the end of another relationship. Depending on the state, the parent who has custody of the children is paid by the non-custodial parent. In the case of joint custody, the parent with the higher income generally pays child support.

Child support and custody can be a contentious issue in a divorce, and an attorney with expertise in divorce and family law can guide the parties to amicably resolving these matters.

Same-Sex Divorce

Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, dissolving these relationships presents unique challenges including the full length of the relationship before a formal marriage.

A same-sex divorce can involve more legal disputes than that of an opposite-sex couple simply because of the relatively new legal complications. These include when the partnership or marriage began and the rules that apply to pre-marital assets and debts. Particularly, courts also struggle to settle child custody disputes in cases where one parent is the biological parent and the other parent is an adoptive parent.

Other Methods of Resolving Conflicts at Divorce

There are ways to resolve divorce conflicts outside of the courts. There are three basic methods including negotiation, mediation, and new approach known as collaborative divorce.

Put simply, negotiation involves the parties working through a dispute until it is resolved. While divorcing spouses can do this on their own, lawyers can and do play a role in these negotiations.

Mediation, on the other hand, is a form of negotiation that involves a neutral party known as a mediator. However, a mediator is not a judge or an arbitrator and does not make decisions or issue rulings. But the mediator works with both spouses to resolve legal disputes, communicate more effectively and ultimately reach an agreement.

Finally, in a collaborative divorce, each party has an attorney that assists in the negotiation by acting as advocates for their clients. Both spouses and both attorneys must agree in writing that they will not take the case to court and will settle it instead.In the end, a collaborative divorce will only work when all the parties agree to not have a referee or judge manage the divorce.

The Bottom Line

Divorce is not something most couples plan on, but the statistics for long lasting marriages say otherwise. In the case of a divorce, the issues are complex; and even more so by the emotions involved. In the end, a successful divorce is one that can be handled amicably, and this requires attorneys with the expertise and compassion to make it happen.

Koehler & Isaacs – Domestic Violence Attorneys

Being convicted of a domestic violence charge can have long lasting negative effects on your ability to obtain employment, own a firearm or even see your children. If you have been charged with the crime of assault or battery against a family member, you must meet with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.

Domestic Violence and Abuse Crimes

Domestic violence is a specific type of assaultive behavior directed toward members of a person’s family or household. It generally includes spouses, parents, children, romantic partners, step-family members, grandparents and grandchildren. Allegations of assault against a neighbor, plutonic friend or co-worker cannot be categorized as domestic violence even if the parties maintain a close relationship.

The term domestic violence refers to several criminal acts when committed against any of the above-listed family members. You may face domestic violence penalties as a result of committing the crimes of offensive touching, menacing, sexual harassment, trespass, criminal mischief, sexual assault, terroristic threatening or reckless endangerment. In other words, if the prosecution can demonstrate that you committed these crimes against a family member, the penalties and sentence may be enhanced under applicable domestic violence laws.

Penalties for Domestic Violence

The judge in your case will be most concerned with ensuring the safety of the alleged victim. Depending upon the relationship of the parties, the judge may order a temporary or permanent no-contact order. If the complainant in your case is the parent of your children, this could result in a difficult situation in terms of custody and visitation. Individuals convicted of domestic violence also have difficulty obtaining or maintaining primary placement of their children and may even lose visitation rights as a result of the conviction.

In addition to the civil penalties described above, you could face an enhanced incarceration period due to present aggravating factors. This may mean you are unable to see your family for weeks or months, unable to maintain your job and be prohibited from continuing your life as before. Domestic violence defendants are not permitted to own or possess firearms and many are forced to undergo lengthy anger management courses and counseling as a provision of their sentences.

Given the life-altering nature of a domestic violence conviction, it is imperative that you retain an experienced criminal defense attorney who can work to protect your freedom and relationship with your family. If this is your first time facing criminal charges and your history is clear of other felonies and misdemeanors, your attorney may be able to obtain leniency for you as a first-time offender, which could result in a dismissal of the pending charges.

Koehler & Isaacs – Guardianship Attorneys

For some members of our society, legal protection may be necessary even after they have entered adulthood. These individuals may have been injured in an accident, continue to suffer from an incapacitating physical illness or psychological disorder, or have some other condition that prevents them from caring for themselves. In these cases, a guardianship may be established.

Guardians and Protected Persons

Guardianship, also referred to as conservatorship, is a legal arrangement that places an individual, also known as a ward or protected person, under the supervision of a guardian, or custodian.  There are two main types of guardianship: guardianship of the person and guardianship of the estate or property.

A guardian is typically a family member, friend, or fiduciary appointed by the court. A protected person can be a minor without a parental guardian or an adult who can no longer make safe and sound decisions about his or her own person or property. Additionally, a person who is prone to fraud or undue external influence may be placed under guardianship for protection.

Appointment of a guardian can materially limit the rights and privileges of the protected individual in areas such as:

  • Choosing residence
  • Providing informed consent to medical treatment
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Making property transactions
  • Obtaining a driver’s license
  • Owning, possessing, or carrying a firearm or other weapon
  • Contracting or filing law suits
  • Marriage
  • Voting

Right to Due Process

In order to safeguard the protected person’s right to due process, he or she is usually provided with notice and is entitled to attend all legal proceedings related to guardianship. In addition, the protected person may obtain representation by an attorney, present evidence, and confront and cross-examine all witnesses.

Guardianship of the Person

Guardianship of the person grants authority over non-financial matters such as issues that impact the personal well-being of the protected person, including making important medical decisions. The appointed guardian is normally tasked with the following responsibilities

  • Determining and maintaining residence
  • Providing informed consent to and supervising medical treatment
  • Consenting to and supervising non-medical services such as education, psychiatric or behavioral counseling
  • Making end-of-life decisions
  • Maintaining the protected person’s autonomy as much as possible

Guardianship of the Estate or Property

Guardianship of the estate or property empowers the guardian to make important financial decisions on behalf of the protected person, including:

  • Organizing, gathering and protecting assets
  • Arranging appraisals of property
  • Safeguarding property and assets from loss, whenever possible
  • Managing income from assets
  • Making appropriate payments
  • Obtaining court approval prior to any sale of major assets

The guardian may be required to report to the court about his or her activities on an annual basis.

Many guardianships are temporary arrangements, meant to protect an incapacitated individual until he or she regains capacity.

Guardianship of Minors

Guardianships may also be used to protect the legal rights of a minor. In the event that a parent is no longer able to act on behalf of his or her child, a guardian, usually a relative, is appointed. Unlike an adoption, under a guardianship, parents may remain responsible for supporting the child financially and they do not necessarily forfeit their parental rights.

A minor may be considered for legal guardianship if his or her parent cannot provide shelter, does not have a steady income, suffers from an illness, or is incarcerated. In most instances, parental approval is sought prior to any legal proceedings.