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Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce, separation, adoption, and other issues relating to family and estate law are critical to a person’s life and future, but unfortunately, they are often confusing. In many cases, people trying to deal with these issues need help getting their questions answered. In an effort to help people in these situations better understand their situation and reach an outcome that is beneficial to them, our lawyers at Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP have created the following list of frequently asked questions along with their answers.

If your question isn’t here, or if you would like to talk with a qualified legal professional about your situation, please call us today at 760-722-7646.

Should I file for contested or uncontested divorce?

It depends. Contested divorces are more rare (only about 10% of total divorces), but when you and your spouse cannot agree on divorce terms, this form of divorce may be your best option. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse generally agree on important divorce terms like child support, visitation, alimony, and separation of property. In a contested divorce, however, you are both unable to reach an agreement and need legal intervention. Which form you choose is largely dependent on the level of agreement between you and your spouse.

Can my alimony payments change?

Your alimony payments, though established during the initial divorce process, can, in fact, change if circumstances necessitate such an alteration. Alimony payments might change for a number of reasons, such as the spouse who receives the payment gets remarried or finds a new or higher-paying job. They might also decrease if the paying spouse loses his or her job and can no longer make these payments. The best way to know how your own alimony situation can be affected over time is to discuss your situation with an experienced divorce attorney at Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP.

Are there alternatives to contested and uncontested divorce?

Yes. Though not applicable in every situation, you and your spouse might not have to pursue one of the “traditional” forms of divorce – contested or uncontested divorce. Some alternatives include mediated divorce, collaborative divorce, or simplified divorce. The specific differences between these types of alternatives vary, though they often alter the traditional forms in reference to the amount of legal intervention, cost, people involved, and length of time commitment. To learn more about each one, talk with a knowledgeable lawyer from Fischer & Van Thiel, LLP, today.

What is mediated divorce?

Mediated divorce is a different legal process than most other forms of divorce. In mediation, both partners agree to resolve the different issues that may need to be dealt with, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody, with the help of an impartial, third-party mediator. This process is not right for every couple pursuing divorce, particularly if neither party is interested in accommodating the needs of the other or if the divorce is particularly acrimonious, but in some situations, it can be a faster, less costly method of pursuing a divorce for both partners.

I lost my job, and now I can’t afford to make my child support payments. What can I do?

Child support payments are often one of the most complicated issues that arise both during and after a divorce, and as both partners pursue their new lives apart, it is not uncommon for dramatic changes in life circumstances to occur that may make it difficult or impossible to meet the requirements of the support agreement. In these situations, an attorney can help a person who may have lost their job or otherwise suffered a reduction in income to modify their support agreement in a way that works for them.

My spouse is refusing to pay child support. What can I do?

Child support agreements are often contentious, but under the law, those who are required to make support payments may not legally refuse to comply with the requirement. In order for parents in this situation to get the payments they are owed, however, it may be necessary to pursue an enforcement action with the help of a qualified legal professional. With enforcement actions, people are able to ensure that the support payments that are included in a divorce or separation agreement are paid in full and on time.

Why is paternity important?

Under the law, the paternity of a child is crucial for a wide range of different reasons. For one, an establishment of paternity may require a father to pay child support to the mother of his child in order to help raise their child. Additionally, a demonstration of paternity may grant the father the right to visit or even have partial custody of his child. For these and other reasons, proving the paternity of a child can have important ramifications for the future of both the child in question and the parents involved.

What is probate?

Probate is technically a legal document that is granted to the executor of an estate in order to allow them to administer the various elements of a decedent’s will. More generally, probate is the finding by a court of law that a will is legally valid. Therefore, during the probate process, objections to the validity of a will, such as allegations that the deceased was coerced into altering elements of the will or that they were not in a sound state of mind, may be brought through litigation during the probate process, and must be resolved before the court can grant probate to the executor.