Month: December 2013

Holiday Visitation

Holiday time should be a happy time with family.  Yet, the meaning of the holidays seems to change when families are no longer together due to divorce.  But holiday visitation scheduling does not have to be stressful.  It is always up to you and your co-parent to make it a positive experience.  Both parents will obviously want to spend as much time as they can with the children, especially during the holidays.  Consider the following suggestions to make holiday visitation negotiations a little bit easier.

Create a PlanMany families decide to alternate holidays each year.  For instance, if you have the kids for Thanksgiving this year, you’ll get them for Christmas next year.  Taking turns makes things more fair and having a regular plan eliminates the need to negotiate every time.

Flexibility and Compromise.  Take into consideration each other’s work schedules.  If one parent has to work during Thanksgiving this year, but it’s their turn for visitation, maybe you should reconsider.  The kids wouldn’t want to stay at home alone. 

Pick your Battles. Don’t disagree just for the sake of disagreeing.  Some holidays may be more important to you than others.  If you enjoy Halloween with the kids, and your spouse loves the Thanksgiving holidays, consider that when establishing schedules.

Let bygones be bygones.  Bringing up old issues will only make it more difficult to reach an agreement about holiday visitation.  It will be worth it to set aside differences until after the holiday season in order to keep the peace.

Talk alone.  Don’t argue and debate about visitation in front of your children.  If you do, you will be creating negative memories of the holidays.  No one wants to be responsible for ruining this happy time.

What do the kids want?  It may be a good idea to find out what it is important to the kids. They may have a holiday gathering that holds a special place for them; if this is the case you should try and accommodate them if possible.

Relax and Enjoy.  The holidays can be stressful even if you aren’t divorced.  Don’t forget to relax and enjoy the holiday festivities and the company of friends and family.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

if you have any legal concerns regarding visitation, don’t hesitate to give us a call.  Happy Holidays!

Divorce Basics: Part Two

Getting a Divorce in Alabama: Part II (Grounds for Divorce)

In Alabama, divorces are either contested or uncontested.  An uncontested divorce is possible when both spouses agree that divorce is necessary, and also agree about child custody, visitation, debt distribution, and splitting of assets.  Obviously, if a divorce is uncontested, it is usually easier and quicker to obtain and certainly less stressful for those involved.  However, when the parties cannot agree, the court must get involved and decide how these issues will be resolved.

When petitioning for divorce, grounds (a reason) for the divorce must be stated in the Complaint.  The statutes in Alabama that govern divorce proceedings list the following as possible grounds for divorce (not a complete list):

•           Incompatibility

•           adultery

•           desertion

•           imprisonment in the penitentiary for certain prolonged periods

•           addiction to alcohol or drugs

•           mental incapacity

•           cruelty

Incompatibility is the most common ground claimed and, in practice, is generally the easiest to prove.  Citing  “incompatibility” is usually referred to as a “no fault” divorce, because the reason for the divorce is not the fault of either spouse in particular.  No fault divorces can also be obtained when one spouse has voluntarily abandoned the other.

Is a finding of fault even necessary?

Depending on your situation, a finding of fault may be important.  It becomes relevant when there are issues such as child custody, alimony and division of assets.  A fault-based divorce is based on evidence that one spouse committed some type of misconduct during the marriage that has affected the marriage; adultery is the most common example.  In Alabama, when one spouse has committed adultery, that fact can be considered when determining if and how much alimony should be paid and how the marital assets and debts will be divided.

If you have any questions regarding divorce proceedings or any other family law issues, please do not hesitate to call our office at (205) 988-5570.

Divorce Basics: Part One

Getting a Divorce in Alabama: Part I (The Basics)

There may come a time when divorce seems a necessary consequence of a bad marriage.  It can be a daunting and emotional process.  But knowing what to expect ahead of time may make things a little easier.  This blog post will be the first of a six-part series on obtaining a divorce in Alabama.  This series is meant to provide general information so you will know what to expect, if you are facing the prospect of a divorce in Alabama.

The Basics

In Alabama, you must be a resident of the state for at least 6 months before you can file for divorce.  The legal documents needed to dissolve the marriage are filed in the county where either spouse resides, or in the county where they last lived together.  Both spouses do not have to live in Alabama for the divorce to be filed in this state, but if they don’t, the process for obtaining a divorce is a little more complicated.

After the process has been started by filing the appropriate legal documents, the other party is notified of the filing and given thirty days to respond.  The parties will attend several hearings with the judge in order to discuss issues such as child custody and support, if applicable, visitation, alimony and division of property.  If the couple can reach an agreement and execute a settlement on their own, that is always best.  However, that is not always possible.  When an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the case will go to trial so that the court can make all final determinations.

Do I need an Attorney?

Whether you need an attorney depends on whether you and your spouse can agree on all of the terms.  Even when you have reached an agreement, you may still want to get some advice from a family law attorney, at least to finalize everything.  If you cannot come to an agreement, you will almost certainly need an attorney.  If your spouse hires an attorney, it is very important that you at least consult with an attorney, if you cannot hire one to fully represent you.

As always, contact my office for a free initial consultation, (205) 988-5570.

Adoption

Is the adoption process as complicated as I’ve heard?

Did you know that in Alabama, there are hundreds of children growing up in foster care waiting to be adopted?.  Adoption is a lifelong commitment and demonstrates love, support and unity.  Whether you are considering adopting a child in foster care or adopting a relative, friend or step-child, the process is not as complicated as you may think.  That is especially true if you have the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

Every adoption requires a substantial amount of paperwork.  However, experienced family law attorneys can assist in preparing all of the necessary forms for either domestic or international adoptions.  With that assistance, the process is more manageable and easier to navigate.

Stepparent Adoptions

One common type of adoption occurs when one spouse adopts the child of another spouse.  This can be a good idea in “blended families” where insurance coverage is needed, for example.  The consideration of stepparent adoption can arise when the biological parent is no longer a part of the child’s life, either due to abandonment or death.  Either way, adoption by the stepparent will send an important message to the child that he or she is loved and wanted.

If you have a pending adoption, consulting with a family law attorney in Alabama will ensure that you avoid the pitfalls of the unwary.  Although the process is not that daunting, issues can still arise such as the rights of the biological parents.  Having an experienced family law attorney involved from the very beginning will most likely lead to the best outcome.

If your pending adoption is domestic or international, employing a family law attorney can help you avoid the pitfalls that sometimes catch parents unaware. Occasionally, when a couple is just about to become the parents of an adopted child, a problem with the paperwork, the Court, or the biological mother can complicate things. Having an attorney on hand from the beginning gives you a major advantage and can usually lead to better results.

Call our office today for a free consultation, (205) 988-5570.