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Family law courts generally hear cases pertaining to dissolution of marriage, legal separation of the parties, nullity of marriage, child custody, child and spousal support, elder law legal issues, domestic violence petitions, and estate planning cases like wills, will contests, guardianship, insurance, probate, trusts and other estate related legal issues. 

Family Law

How is the Amount of Alimony Determined?


Unlike child support, which in most states is mandated according to very specific monetary guidelines, courts have broad discretion in determining whether to award alimony and, if so, how much and for how long.

The Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act, on which many states' spousal support statutes are based, recommends that courts consider the following factors in making decisions about alimony awards: 


  • The age, physical condition, emotional state, and financial condition of the former spouses;
  • The length of time the recipient would need for education or training to become self-sufficient;
  • The couple's standard of living during the marriage;
  • The length of the marriage; and
  • The ability of the payer spouse to support the recipient and still support himself or herself.

Why Alimony? 


The purpose of alimony is to avoid the unfair economic consequences of divorce by providing a continuing income to a non-wage-earning or lower-wage-earning spouse, paid by the higher-earning spouse. 

How Long Must Alimony Be Paid?  


Alimony is often deemed "rehabilitative," that is, ordered for only so long as is necessary for the recipient spouse to receive training and become self-supporting. If the divorce decree does not specify a spousal support termination date, the payments must continue until the court orders otherwise. Most awards end if the recipient remarries. Termination upon the payer's death is not necessarily automatic; in cases in which the recipient spouse is unlikely to obtain gainful employment, due perhaps to age or health considerations, the court may order that further support be provided from the payer's estate or life insurance proceeds. 

  • Child Custody & Support

  • Divorce

  • Paternity

  • ​Guardianship

  • Alimony

Alimony and Support Orders 


Although awards may be hard to estimate, whether the payer spouse will comply with a support order is even harder to gauge. Alimony enforcement is not like child-support enforcement, which has the "teeth" of wage garnishment, liens, and other enforcement mechanisms. The recipient could, however, return to court in a contempt proceeding to force payment. 

Child Custody and Parent-Time


There are two kinds of Child Custody: legal custody and physical custody. Custody battles most often arise in a divorce or separation, requiring a court's determination of which parent, relative or other adult should have physical and/or legal control and responsibility for a minor (child) under 18. When both parents share custody of a child after a divorce it is called joint custody. Joint custody may be either legal or physical custody. Physical custody, designates where the child will actually live, whereas legal custody gives the custodial person(s) the right to make decisions for the child's welfare. Child custody can be decided by a local court in a divorce or if a child, relative, close friend or state agency questions whether one or both parents is unfit, absent, dead, in prison or dangerous to the child's well-being. In such cases custody can be awarded to a grandparent or other relative, a foster parent or an orphanage or other organization or institution. 

The basic consideration on custody matters is supposed to be the best interests of the child or children. In most cases the non-custodial parent is given visitation rights, which may include weekends, parts of vacations and other occasions. The custody order may be modified if circumstances warrant. 

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Spousal Support/Alimony


When a married couple gets a divorce, the court may award "alimony" or spousal support to one of the former spouses. Following is a discussion of the basics of alimony and Spousal Support. 

Family Law is a multi-faceted area of law that deals with family relations. Family law encompasses such areas as: adoption, child custody and visitation, children's rights, child support, spousal support (alimony), separation agreements, civilian and military divorce (dissolution of marriage), marital property division (equitable division), elder law matters, estate planning, estates and trusts, wills and will contests, probate, insurance, cohabitation agreements, pre-marital (pre-nuptial) agreements, marriage and other legal issues pertinent to the family.

Alimony Trends 


In the past, most alimony awards provided for payments to former wives by breadwinning former husbands. As the culture has changed, so that now most marriages include two wage earners, women are viewed as less dependent, and men are more likely to be primary parents, the courts and spousal support awards have kept pace. More and more, the tradition of men paying and women receiving spousal support is being eroded, and orders of alimony payments from ex-wife to ex-husband are on the rise.