Family law represents the laws and rules regarding relationships between family members, meaning the making and breaking of family relationships. Specific areas of representation include domestic relations, divorce, paternity, child custody and adoption and all phases of juvenile law.

Divorce represents the terminating of a marriage between two individuals. Divorce legally divides the couple’s assets and debts and determines the care and custody of children, if children are involved. The primary issues to be decided during a divorce includes alimony or spousal support, property division, and, if there are children, child custody, visitation and child support.

Juvenile law occurs when individuals under the age of 18 are held accountable for criminal acts. The goal of the justice system is rehabilitation for young adults. In certain cases juveniles can be transferred into the adult court systems if the juvenile court waives or relinquishes jurisdiction.

FAQ – We can help you with answers to your questions, including:

Divorce

  • How is a divorce initiated?
  • What is an uncontested divorce?
  • My spouse has just told me that he/she wants a divorce. Can I oppose the divorce?
  • Does one of us have to move out of the house? If I move out what happens?
  • My spouse took the kids and moved out, and now they’re telling me that I can’t see them. Can they do this?
  • The other party is asking for attorney fees. Will I have to pay?
  • My spouse had an affair. Can I use this against him/her?
  • What happens in a “temporary hearing?” How temporary is it?
  • I have been married for less than a year. Can I annul my marriage, or do I have to file for divorce?
  • How is an annulment different from a divorce?
  • What are the grounds for an annulment?
  • Does a divorce or annulment need to be filed in the same state the marriage was in?
  • What happens if I can’t prove fault? Do I have to stay married?
  • My divorce isn’t final yet, but my spouse has remarried. Isn’t this illegal? What can I do about it?
  • If I start dating someone before my divorce is final, can it be used against me?
  • My ex has been in numerous short-term relationships recently. My child becomes very attached to them, but then they always break up, which is very hard on my child. Will the court help?
  • We are getting divorced and he wants to relinquish his parental rights. How can we do this?
  • My spouse is in jail and won’t be getting out for at least two years. Can I file for the divorce myself?
  • I’ve been married for almost three years. If I ask for a divorce and move out, do I have to pay the rent and bills for my spouse’s residence? My spouse has never worked during our entire marriage.
  • When parents aren’t divorced yet, can one parent take their child to another state to live permanently?
  • My ex and I have been in and out court for years. Is there a limit to the number of times they can drag me back into court?
  • I am in the process of divorce and am legally separated now. Can I get engaged (but not married) before the divorce is final or is that illegal?
  • My ex is not carrying health insurance on my child as ordered. Is there anything I can do?

Child Support

  • What determines how much child support I have to pay?
  • Will my overtime pay be included in child support calculations?
  • My ex is not spending the child support on the kids. Can I make him or her account for how the support money is spent?
  • The Child Support office has miscalculated my payments. Now they claim I have an arrears! What can I do?
  • My ex is applying for a loan and insists they need proof that I am paying child support, which I am. Do I have anything to do with their loan?
  • How can I prevent unjust seizure of my income tax refund check?
  • Can the court make me pay for a private school for our child(ren)?
  • Can the court make me pay for our children’s college education?
  • My employer garnished my paycheck but hasn’t sent the money to the Child Support Office. Is there anything I can do?
  • Can I make my support payments directly to my ex? Should I?
  • How can I keep track of support payments?
  • Are they allowed to include my new spouse’s income when setting child support?
  • How do I get my child support increased?
  • My ex has a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend who is helping out with expenses. Can I get my support lowered because of this?
  • How can I get support when I can’t even locate my ex?
  • My ex never told me I had a child and concealed this fact for over a decade. Will this be taken into account when they set my child support?
  • Can clothing costs be considered as child support? My ex owed $250.00 on back support and he or she spent $250.00 on clothing for the kids instead of giving me the money.
  • Can child support be reduced if you remarry and have more children by your new wife?
  • During my divorce, a child support amount was set. Later I moved out-of-state. My ex wants more money now. Can the Child Support Office cross state lines and make me pay more?
  • How is a support order established if paternity hasn’t been determined and no documents have been signed by me?
  • I was laid-off and my unemployment benefits are nowhere near what I used to make. Can I get my child support lowered?
  • If I get joint custody, will I still have to pay child support?
  • If a father’s parental rights are terminated, does he still have to pay child support?
  • Is it necessary to legally terminate child support at age 18, or does it happen automatically?
  • My ex owns his own business. I know this means he can show whatever he wants for income. How can I be sure he is providing correct information?
  • How long should I keep the receipts showing the child support I’ve paid?
  • My ex-wife has moved to several different states without notifying the court or me, and her whereabouts are currently unknown. My child is now in foster care. Will I have to pay the back support?
  • I spend three days a week plus a full day (24 hours) every other week with my kids, plus 50% of their holidays. I have joint custody, but pay full support. Can I lower my child support?
  • Can child support be granted even after adopted children are receiving subsidies from the state that exceed their child support requirements?
  • How often can a non-custodial parent be taken back for modification if the payee gets wind that the payor is making more money?
  • My 18-year-old recently quit high school. She says she is going back next year. Am I still obligated to pay child support while she makes up her mind?
  • My ex wants me to share one half of school expenses, clothes, shoes,supplies, etc. Isn’t that what child support is for?
  • My ex would like to negotiate a lump sum payment for child support. Would this hold up in court if either of our incomes increased significantly?
  • My ex moved away without letting me know where he or she moved to. Do I still owe child support?

Custody

  • I want to change custody. What do I have to do?
  • Can a child have input into a custody dispute?
  • At what age can my child decide who he or she wants to live with?
  • My son wants to live with me. Should his wishes be honored and/or considered by the judge?
  • What do I need to do to change custody of an 18 year old who wants to live with her father?
  • My ex is trying to take our child out of the country. How can I prevent this?
  • My ex and I have joint legal custody. He/she wants to leave the state with our child. Can he/she do this?
  • My girlfriend and I had a child. Problems arose and she left with our infant and went to another state. Can she legally do this?
  • Is it harder to win custody initially or to change it later?
  • Is unemployment a factor in awarding custody?
  • How do I obtain custody of my child?
  • How do I sign over custody of my child?
  • I’m worried that the other parent is going to “snatch” the children and hide. What can I do?
  • The unmarried father of my child says that if I leave the state with our daughter to go visit my dad, he’ll have me arrested for kidnapping. Can he do this?
  • Can fathers obtain custody?
  • When do grandparents or other relatives have custody or visitation rights?
  • My ex and I separated informally (without paperwork) quite some time ago. How will custody be decided after all this time?
  • My ex was having an affair; will that help me get custody?
  • My ex has some very extreme religious views; will that help me get custody?
  • My ex has psychiatric problems; will that help me get custody?
  • My ex is trying to alienate our child from me; will that help me get custody?
  • My ex is a heavy drinker; will that help me get custody?
  • My ex is (or was) using drugs; will that help me get custody?
  • My ex is associating with drug users/violent people/criminals; will that help me get custody?
  • Do I have the right to see my children’s school records?
  • How can I get my children’s report cards and other school records?
  • How can I get my children’s medical records?
  • What is the “Right of First Refusal”?
  • I am the non-custodial parent. Do I have to get the custodial parent’s permission before cutting my daughter’s hair or letting her pierce her ears?
  • Does the non-custodial parent have the right to be involved in the decision-making as to the education of his or her children, especially with regard to home schooling?
  • My ex is trying to get her new husband to adopt my children. I don’t want to lose my kids. Can she do this against my will?
  • My ex-girlfriend and I had a child together. She left the child with me, but will not sign over custody. What are my chances of getting custody of our child.?
  • My spouse is accusing me of being gay. Can someone lose custody of their children for being gay or lesbian, even though he or she is an excellent parent?
  • My ex does not call, visit, or write our children. Is there any legal action I can take to make my ex use his or her visitation time?
  • My child hasn’t seen the non-custodial parent in over four months. The non-custodial parent now wants to resume visitation. Can I ask for supervised visits?
  • When a child is born to an unwed mother, is the mother automatically the custodial parent?
  • I’ve been incarcerated before. Will this make it harder for me to get full custody of my child(ren)?
  • My ex lost custody of our kids nine months ago due to a domestic violence incident in their home. What are the chances of he/she getting custody back?
  • My ex and I share joint legal custody. Do they have the right to dictate where and who the children are with during my parenting time?
  • I’ve only met my child once. He is twelve years old and his mother keeps moving him around. Now he‘s with his grandmother and she’s petitioning that the child support go to her. What are my chances for custody?
  • My ex has been in the hospital for several weeks and has left my son with her mother. Shouldn’t he be staying with me? What are my legal rights in this situation?
  • My ex and I share joint legal custody. She wants to travel out-of-state with our three year old. Is she legally obligated to provide me with flight documentation and the name and phone number of the place where they will stay?
  • With shared legal custody, if the primary custodial parent chooses to change from private to public school and the non-custodial parent will not agree, who has the final decision?
  • My 12 ½ year old son refuses to go back to my ex, the custodial parent. He is under much stress at his or her house. He wants to stay with me and says he is happier with me. What can I do?
  • My ex is petitioning the court to change to a new parenting schedule, saying it is too hard on our four-year-old. It’s only been two months on a standard every-other-weekend schedule. I don’t agree to the change. Will a judge?
  • My fiancé’s ex-wife has not had any contact with their child for more than two years. What do I need to do to legally adopt her?
  • Can an unwed mother file for shared custody with outlined visitation if the father has a work schedule that changes each week?

Evaluations

  • What is a parenting or custody evaluation?
  • Why would I request a parenting or custody evaluation to be done?
  • What is involved in a parenting or custody evaluation?
  • Will a history of drug or alcohol abuse count against me in an evaluation?
  • How much weight or consideration does the court give to a psychiatric evaluation?

General

  • Do I really need an attorney?
  • What do I need when I see the attorney? What should I bring?
  • What are some guidelines for working with my attorney?
  • Can I change attorneys in the middle of my case?

Allegations

  • What are the most common false allegations, and who makes them?
  • I’ve been falsely accused. What steps should I take?
  • How do I fight false allegations?
  • Why would my ex or another party make false allegations about me?
  • I’m a good parent. Why would anyone believe these accusations?
  • What will happen if the false allegations are believed?
  • What can I do to minimize the chance of false abuse allegations from being made against me?
  • My ex is seeking a restraining order against me, based partially on lies. What can I do if he or she has convinced the children to confirm or corroborate these lies?

Legal Separation

  • What is a ‘legal separation’? What does a separation agreement do?
  • Do I need a lawyer for a separation agreement?
  • Why should we use a separation agreement? Do we have to?

Resources & Forms

Childrens Bill of Rights (PDF)
Divorce Paperwork (PDF)
Ten Tips for Divorcing (PDF)

Getting Started

ACW Law has talented lawyers waiting to help you with your Divorce and Family Law issues. Please contact:

Hal Anderson
Tom Lamb
Amie Martinez
on Braaten
Teresa Richards