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10 Questions to Ask Your Family Law Attorney

When you have a family matter that involves the legal system, it can be a daunting experience to deal with the paperwork and the court requirements. An experienced Las Vegas family law attorney can answer your questions and represent you throughout your interactions with family court.

To help you get an idea of how the law applies to your situation, some of the top questions you may wish to ask your family law attorney include:

1. How does Nevada law apply to my family law case?

Nevada has many different laws that apply to individuals who want to get married, get divorced, adopt children or provide care and support for their kids.These laws govern your relationships and determine both your rights and responsibilities.

For example, stepparent adoption laws allow a new spouse to adopt his or her stepchild provided the other parent agrees, while infra-family adoptions make it possible for aunts, uncles, grandparents or siblings to adopt their underage relations.Standard child support formulas apply to establish the obligation that a parent has to a child he or she is not raising, while courts consider the best interests of the child when deciding how custody should be shared.

The first step in any family law case is to learn what laws apply and how the courts have interpreted those laws in the past.Once you know the law, you will know what needs to be done to achieve your desired outcome and protect your important family relationships.

2. Can my family law issue be resolved outside of court?

Most family law cases involve going before a judge, at least for a brief hearing. For example:

  • Judges must formalize adoptions
  • Judges must dissolve marriages
  • Judges must create restraining orders on a temporary or permanent basis in cases of domestic violence
  • Judges must rule on changes to custody and child support agreements

However, this does not mean that you need a judge to decide on all of the issues relevant to your familysituation. You can, for example, negotiate the terms of your divorce settlement agreement outside of court. The judge would then simply sign off on the agreement when officially dissolving the marriage rather than making decisions for you.Likewise, if all parties are agreed that an adoption should go forward and that the adoptive parents are fit to provide care, going to court can be a simple matter of a judge making the adoption legal.

Resolving your family law issues outside of court is usually beneficial whenever possible so you can find the solutions that work best for your family. Still, you do need to understand the legal requirements and be prepared to come before a judge in a hearing with the appropriate paperwork and legal justification for the actions you wish to take.

3. What should I expect if a marital dispute goes before a judge?

When there are disputed issues in your family law case, a judge will be asked to decide on those issues. For example, if you and your spouse cannot agree on custody or property division in a divorce or if there is a dispute over who should adopt a child, the judge will need to make the decisions that the involved parties cannot. When this happens, the judge will apply the laws of Nevada.

For example, birth parents will not have their parental rights taken away without clear justification for doing so and judges will make decisions on custody in divorce based on the best interests of the child. In divorce cases, community property laws will apply, while prenuptial agreements will usually dictate the terms of a divorce unless the agreement is unconscionable or against public policy.

It is important to understand how the laws will apply to you when your case goes before a judge. You also need to be prepared to present compelling witnesses and to ensure that you make strong legal arguments for why the judge should decide on your behalf.

4. What should I do to prepare for my family law case?

To prepare for your family law case, find an experienced family law attorney who can represent you. Give your lawyer all of the relevant information about your case, as it never benefits you to keep secrets. Your attorney is bound by a duty of confidentiality and needs to know the whole truth about your circumstances in order to provide you with the best legal representation.

You should also behave in a responsible way to ensure that you do not do anything the judge could use against you. For example, in a divorce situation, do not take community resources or badmouth your spouse to your children.You should also careful with your use of social media.Your attorney can advise you on other things you need to do, depending upon the specifics of your family law issue.

5. What do I need to know before getting married?

Because Nevada is a community property state, all property, money and debt acquired during the marriage is considered marital property and will be split 50-50 in the event of a divorce. If you earn significantly more than your spouse, you could become responsible for paying alimony in the event of a divorce.

When children are born during a lawful marriage, the children are assumed to be the kin of both parents and when a divorce occurs, both parents will be expected to provide support.Finally, because your marriage is a legal partnership, it must be dissolved by a judge if you do not wish to remain married.

It is important to understand all of these rights and obligations and to take steps to protect yourself. A prenuptial agreement, for example, could protect your money and income but you cannot waive the right to child support in a premarital agreement.

6. What do I need to know when I am separating from a romantic partner?

When you separate from a romantic partner, you may need to divide shared property and custody of children.It is generally best to try to negotiate these issues with your partner outside of court, sometimes with the help of a mediator. If you are unable to come to an agreement, then you will need to have a judge make a decision on the issues relevant to your separation.

Your rights can vary depending upon whether you were married or simply cohabitating, and depending on whether you have a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement that sets the terms of your separation. However, even if you were never married, both parents will generally have the right to continued custody of their children and will have the obligation to provide continued support for children.

If you suspect your partner may become violent or threatening as a result of the separation, you can also seek a temporary restraining order from the court.

7. What are my rights as a parent?

Parents generally have the right to continued custody of their children after a separation in order to maintain an ongoing relationship.A court will divide custody based on what is in the best interest of the child. A custody arrangement can result in joint custody, primary custody or sole custody but sole custody is usually only appropriate in cases where one of the parents is abusive or unfit.

If there are questions regarding the paternity of the child, the court can order a DNA test to determine who the child’s father is.A father may have rights to a child even if he was not legally married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth.

Nevada law also mandates that both parents must provide financial support to children, regardless of the parents’ marital status.Child support is determined based on the number of children, the income of each parent, and the amount of time the child spends with each parent, among other factors.

8. What are my rights during divorce?

Because Nevada is a community property state, each spouse has the right to a 50-50 share of all property and assets acquired during the marriage.If there is an earning disparity among the spouses, the court may also order the higherearner to pay temporary or ongoing alimony or spousal support payments. The availability of spousal support payments depends upon many factors, including the length of the marriage and the contributions each party made to the family.Each spouse also has a right to the family home and neither is required to leave the home during the divorce process.

You also have the right to shared custody of your children during divorce, and to child support if you will be the primary caregiver for the children.

It is generally preferable for a couple to try to resolve relevant issues in divorce through out-of-court negotiations, but a judge will make decisions after litigation when a couple cannot agree.

9. What are the benefits of mediation or collaboration on family law matters?

Mediation or collaboration can be used as an alternative to litigation in divorces, custody disputes and other disagreements among family members. Mediation involves working together as opposed to litigation, which is adversarial.

Mediation can make it possible for all parties to find solutions they are happy with, and can be a less costly and less acrimonious way to resolve family disagreements. Because mediation is voluntary, the parties can walk away at any time if it becomes clear that no agreement can be reached. However, a skilled independent mediator may be able to facilitate open communication that leads to an amicable resolution.

10. How can I protect my legal rights under Nevada’s family laws?

The best way to protect your rights under Nevada family law is to be represented by a qualified and experienced legal professional and to understand how the law applies to your case.