My spouse has always controlled our finances. He/She makes the money and I don't have access to funds to pay for an attorney. What do I do?
Most attorneys require an initial retainer before they will start working on your case. Many attorneys accept credit cards. Once the case reaches the court system, the Court may require your spouse to pay for your attorney's fees.
What if my spouse is hiding or misrepresenting his assets?
Each party must sign a sworn financial affidavit. If your spouse is hiding or misrepresenting his assets, you may be entitled to compensation relating to those hidden assets.
Can I refuse visitation if my ex-spouse fails to pay child support?
No. You cannot refuse visitation, if it has been ordered by the Court, because your ex-spouse has failed to pay child support. The failure of a party to follow a court order should be brought to the attention of the Court. Therefore, if your ex-spouse violates a court order to pay child support, that issue should be brought to the Court's attention.
There has been an order of child support in my case, but my circumstances have changed. Is it possible to have the child support order modified?
The Court will look at a change in circumstances of the parties through a petition to modify support. If there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the original order, the Court may modify the order, based on those changed circumstances.
I am considering divorce. How would I go about it and what lies ahead?
When there is property or children, most divorce proceedings begin with one party contacting a lawyer. That lawyer will prepare the complaint, which starts the legal process. The lawyer files the complaint with the court and serves a copy on the other spouse. The other spouse is then required to answer the complaint within a certain time, which often results in that other spouse seeking a lawyer.
The lawyers will engage in "discovery." Discovery is the exchange between each spouse's lawyer of documents and other information that are relevant to the divorce proceedings. During this period, the spouses, through their lawyers, will attempt to reach an agreed upon resolution in all matters. If an agreement is reached, it is submitted to the Court for approval. If the Court does not approve the agreement, or more often, if the parties cannot reach an agreement, the case will go to trial.
If the case goes to trial, lawyers for both spouses will present testimony and evidence to the Court. The Court will then make the decisions about alimony, child support, child visitation, etc. The Court's decision can be appealed to a higher court.
What is mediation?
Mediation is a process where the two parties get together and attempt to negotiate a settlement between the two, rather than having the judge make the final decision. Mediation can save time, money and misery. A settlement is not required, however, simply because you agree to mediate.