No one ever wants to face a family crisis, but sometimes they are unavoidable. It’s unpleasant and stressful enough to deal with the emotional fallout of a divorce, custody battle, or paternity case. The last thing you want to worry about is the legal process
But unfortunately, the legal process is a necessary evil in these situations. The sooner you get started on the legal proceedings, the better off you and your family will be.
Here are the different legal steps you should take during a family crisis:
Talk to a Lawyer Immediately
When you’re facing a family crisis, the last thing you want to do is try navigating the legal process alone. It’s best to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible so you can get started on the right foot. However, you can’t just hire any kind of lawyer.
A lawyer specializing in family law can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process. Family law differs from state to state, so it’s important to find a lawyer familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. They can also represent your interests in court and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your situation.
If you can’t afford a lawyer, several resources are available to help you get free or low-cost legal assistance. The Legal Services Corporation is a national organization that provides free or low-cost legal services to low-income Americans.
File for Divorce
No one wants to face the possibility of a divorce. Still, unfortunately, sometimes it’s the best course of action for everyone involved. If you find yourself in this situation, you need to take some important legal steps.
The first step is to actually file the divorce paperwork with the court. This officially starts the divorce proceedings and sets the legal process in motion. Once you’ve done this, you and your spouse can work out the terms of your divorce through mediation or arbitration. If you can’t reach an agreement, then the case will go to trial.
After the paperwork is filed and the terms of the divorce are finalized, you’ll need to make sure all of the paperwork is properly signed and filed with the court. Once that’s done, your divorce will be official, and you’ll be able to move on with your life.
Seek Custody of Your Children
Custody can be difficult to resolve, especially if you have strong feelings about what’s best for your children. However, you can take some general legal steps to help make the process go more smoothly.
If you’re seeking primary physical custody of your children, you’ll need to file a petition with the court. In your petition, you’ll need to state your reasons for seeking custody and provide evidence to support your claims. For example, suppose you believe the other parent is unfit to care for the children. In that case, you’ll need to provide evidence of this (e.g., testimony from witnesses, police reports, etc.).
Once the petition is filed, a hearing will be scheduled. Both sides will present their arguments at the hearing, and the judge will decide. If you’re granted primary physical custody, the other parent will typically be given visitation rights. The visitation schedule will need to be approved by the court and enforced by the police.
A family crisis can be a very stressful and overwhelming time. You may need to take many legal steps to protect your rights and your child’s best interests. One of the first steps you may need to take is to establish paternity. Suppose you’re not married to the other parent of your child. In that case, you’ll need to establish paternity before seeking custody or child support. This can be done through DNA testing or signing a voluntary acknowledgment of the paternity form.
Once paternity is established, you’ll be able to take the next steps in seeking custody or support from the other parent. If you’re facing a family crisis, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to understand your rights and options.
No one ever expects to find themselves in the middle of a family crisis. Still, if you do, it’s important to know what legal steps to take to protect yourself and your family. This brief overview of some of the most common legal steps that should be taken during a family crisis should help get you started. If you’re unsure where to start or need more information, please contact an experienced attorney for guidance.