Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How to Choose A Family Law Attorney

Choosing a Family Law attorney can be overwhelming. There are many attorneys that say they “do family law.” Selecting the right family attorney can make your case, while choosing the wrong one can cause headaches in the courtroom and the pocketbook. Here are three tips to anyone looking for a family law attorney.

No. 1. You want an Attorney with Trial Experience.

You want to hire an attorney who is capable and confident of trying your case in front of a Judge. You want an attorney who can prepare your case for final hearing. You want someone who knows the Trial Rules and the Rules of Evidence. You do not want someone who will shy away from hearings in front of a judge. You want an attorney with considerable courtroom experience, and not all attorneys have that. Even though most family law cases are resolved by agreements and do not need to be litigated in the courtroom, your attorney’s courtroom know-how and savvy can put you at a significant advantage in negotiations. In the event your case cannot be negotiated and must go to a contested hearing, you don't want it to be your attorney's first trial. Let him or her learn with someone else.

No. 2. You need an Attorney with Experience in Family Law

All family law cases are unique and complex. Some attorneys only take one or two family law cases a year. You do not want to hire an attorney with too little experience that can botch your case and leave you with additional financial and psychological wounds. You need an attorney that knows what they are doing—an attorney that has a plan to accomplish your goals and a proven track record.

No. 3. You need to be comfortable talking with your Attorney

You need someone who will speak to you in plain English and not in legalese. You need an attorney who will reply to your email, answer your phone call, and return your text messages when a question or problem arises. Family law cases are messy; you need a family law attorney that can be there for you and help guide you through this process.

Family law cases can be ugly, difficult, and potentially confusing for the individuals involved. Do not make decisions that can affect your long term future without consulting a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. Attorney Naun Antonio Benitez, with The Marc Lopez Law Firm, is that attorney. As an attorney in private practice, Attorney Naun Antonio Benitez works diligently and tirelessly to represent his client's interests. Call us today at (317) 632-3642 or contact us through e-mail.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Step-Parent Adoption

                The adoption of a child is a life-changing event that can lead to rewarding relationships for all parties involved.  Unlike a typical adoption, where the child’s legal relation to both biological parents is terminated, a step-parent adoption keeps parental bonds in tact with the married biological parent while creating a new legal parent-child relationship with the step-parent.  In a step-parent adoption, all legal and financial ties are terminated between the child and the biological parent who is giving up parental rights.

                The step-parent who is adopting becomes the child’s legal parent, meaning the adoptive parent has a legal duty to provide for the child, the child will inherit from the adoptive parent, and the adoptive parent would be obligated for child support if there were ever a separation of the adoptive and biological parents.  It is important to realize that for most legal purposes, an adoptive parent is held to the same standards as a biological parent. 

                A step-parent seeking to adopt a child should hire a qualified attorney.  Though highly rewarding, the adoption process is complex and an attorney can help prevent any unnecessary delays.  Although there are exceptions, the consent of both biological parents is typically required to move forward with the adoption.   Once the consent is received, a Petition for Adoption will be filed.  An attorney will help with the documents that must be submitted before the adoption is legal, specifically the putative father registry documentation and a medical history.  A home study of the adoptive home will also be conducted and a report filed with the court.

                After this process is complete, the court will hold a formal adoption hearing.  If all goes well, the judge will decide it is in the child’s best interest to be adopted by the step-parent.  Once the adoption decree is entered, the child will be issued a new birth certificate, showing the adoptive step-parent, and may also petition for a name change. 

                If you have a question about protective orders, or any family or criminal law case, contact Attorney Naun Antonio Benitez at (317) 456-7942 or through E-Mail.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Protective Orders

Can I see my child?  What if I see the person who filed the Protective Order in the grocery store?  She keeps texting me.  Can I respond?  How do I get my things out of the house?
If you’ve been served with a Protective Order, these questions are probably going through your mind.  Being served with a Protective Order can be hurtful and confusing.  Violating a Protective Order, either intentionally or unintentionally can lead to criminal charges.  Depending on the relief sought by the Petitioner, the person who filed the protective order, you may only have 30 days to request a hearing on the Protective Order.  It is very important you seek legal representation if you have been served with a Protective Order.

A Protective Order can be filed if the Petitioner alleges the following:
-           (He/She) is or has been the victim of domestic or family violence
-          (He/She) is or has been the victim of a sex offense
-          (He/She) is or has been the victim of stalking

Even if the allegations are unfounded, a court can issue an Ex Parte Protective Order.  Ex Parte means the court can issue the order with NO hearing.    

Before a hearing for a Protective Order takes place, the court may issue the following relief for the Petitioner:
-  Prohibit the Respondent from committing or threatening to commit acts of domestic or family violence, stalking or sex offense against the Petitioner and any household members
-  Prohibit the Respondent from harassing, annoying, telephoning, contacting, or  communicating directly or indirectly with the Petitioner
-  Order the Respondent to stay away from the Petitioner’s residence, school, workplace, or another location frequented by the Petitioner or household member
You may immediately be evicted from your home and ordered to give up possession of certain household items, including your vehicle, before a hearing.  If you are served with a Protective Order and fail to request a hearing, all of the previously listed actions may be taken against you.  It is highly important you contact an attorney to represent your rights.  You could face criminal charges if you violate the Protective Order – even if the Petitioner is the one contacting you. 
The Protective Order Court may issue further rulings after a hearing, whether or not you appear.  After a hearing, in addition to all relief mentioned above, the Court may issue the following additional relief for the Petitioner:

-          Specify the arrangements for parenting time for minor children
-          Require parenting time to be supervised
-          Deny parenting time
-          Order payment of attorney’s fees
-          Order payment of rent
-          Order mortgage payments
-          Order child support for minor children
-          Order spousal support/maintenance
-          Order reimbursement of expenses related to domestic or family violence, stalking, or sex offense
-          Prohibit the use or possession of a firearm, ammunition or deadly weapon
-          Order the surrender of a firearm

The Petitioner must only show that the alleged event happened by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning more probable than not.  If you have been served with a Protective Order, you face losing visitation with your child, losing your right to bear arms, being evicted from your own home while having to pay for someone else to live in it, and being prohibited from having contact with your family members.  If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you are represented by an attorney who will fight for you.

If you have a question about protective orders, or any family or criminal law case, contact Attorney Sonya Seeder at (317) 456-7942 or through E-Mail.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Child Support Modifications

Are you having trouble making your child support payments?  Don’t feel ashamed if you are.  Many parents who are ordered to pay child support find it difficult to keep up with weekly payments.  A child support modification can be filed when one party can show a substantial and continuing change of circumstances.  A child support modification can typically only be filed 12 months after the previous modification; this means you will have to wait 12 months before asking the court to modify the order from the last time it was changed in most circumstances.

Have you lost your job or changed employment?  Become disabled?  Have you started having more overnight visitations with your child?  Is your child in school now and your previous child support order was established when your child was still in daycare?  There are many factors that could affect the amount of your child support obligation.  The bottom line is this:  If you have a child support order you cannot justify, you need to modify. 

A modification is only effective back to the day it was filed with the court.  If you find it difficult to keep up with your child support payments, time is of the essence.  You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you get a fair and accurate child support order.
In my experience, a parent who is ordered to pay a fair amount of child support will pay more consistently than a parent ordered to pay an unreasonable amount of child support.  Think about it, when someone gives you a goal you can meet, you do it and do it proudly.  If someone demands the impossible, you get frustrated and quit.  

If you have a question about modifying a child support order, or any question involving family law, contact Attorney Sonya Seeder at (317) 456-7942 or E-mail Attorney Seeder.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Back Due Child Support (Arrearage)

Many parents find themselves behind on child support.  There are many reasons you may have fallen behind on your support.  Just because you fell behind doesn't mean you don’t love your child.  The custodial parent cannot withhold visitation just because you are behind on support.

The custodial parent may take enforcement actions against you, either through the State of Indiana or through private counsel.  A few of the most common actions include driver’s license suspensions, credit bureau reporting, tax interceptions, and contempt/jail.  Chances are you are behind on child support because you've been facing some pretty tough times.  Don’t let enforcement actions put you further behind.  If you find yourself facing enforcement actions, you need an attorney who will stick up for you and defend your rights.

It is possible that the arrearage amount the State has figured is inaccurate.  Have you ever made payments directly to the custodial parent instead of through the Clerk's Office?  Those payments could be counted towards your arrearage.  If you feel like you are swimming in back child support or facing enforcement actions, there is hope.

If you have a question about child support, or any question involving family law, contact Attorney Sonya Seeder at (317) 456-7942 or through E-Mail.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Establishing Paternity

Don’t find yourself in the situation described by Kanye West in Golddigger, “And on her 18th birthday he found out it wasn’t his.”  Establishing paternity is essential to determining the rights of a potential father.  You should not sign any documentation admitting to paternity unless you are absolutely certain the child is yours.  
Genetic testing is available to the father in a paternity action if he has not signed a Paternity Affidavit.  Genetic testing is performed using a non-invasive Buccal swab to collect DNA from the cheek of the alleged father, mother, and child.  This test determines paternity.  Genetic testing is not mandatory but it does provide certainty to both parties of the paternity of the child.  Genetic testing can be performed at a nominal cost.

A paternity affidavit is a legal document signed by both the mother and father within 72 hours (3 days) of the child’s birth.  This document establishes legal paternity and responsibility.  A paternity affidavit may be set aside within 60 days of signing in most instances.  After 60 days, the paternity affidavit becomes much more difficult to set aside.  Genetic testing will be conducted to determine paternity.  As a father, if you have any question as to the paternity of your child, you must act fast or you may become financially responsible for a child that is not yours.    

Once paternity is established, a child support and parenting time order will be established.  The State may be involved in this process.  It is important to understand that a prosecutor for the State does not represent either party involved.  It is crucial as a party to a paternity action to have representation in order to calculate a fair and accurate child support amount.  

If you have a question about Establishing Paternity  or any question involving family law, contact Attorney Sonya Seeder at (317) 456-7942 or through E-Mail