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What Kinds Of Issues Can Family Court Handle?

Family Law covers issues arising from any of the following:

  • Marriage.
  • Annulment.
  • Divorce.
  • Legal separation
  • Custody.
  • Child support.
  • Maintenance payments.
  • Property division.
  • Enforce or modify a judgment or order in a family action from another state.
  • Periodic family support payments.
  • Physical placement or visitation rights to children.
  • Paternity.
  • To enforce or revise an order for support.
What Am I Prohibited From Doing While Family Actions Are Pending?

Until an action is completely over, you are prohibited from:

  • Harassing, intimidating, physically abusing or imposing any restraint on the personal liberty of the other party or a minor child of either of the parties. Good advice at any time!
  • Under most circumstances, encumbering, concealing, damaging, destroying, transferring, or otherwise disposing of property owned by either or both of the parties, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, except in the usual course of business, in order to secure necessities, or in order to pay reasonable costs and expenses of the action, including attorney fees.
  • Under most circumstances, without the consent of the other party or an order of the court, moving the kids out of state or more than 150 miles away inside the state. Exception: if the court finds you took the child to protect yourself or your child from physical abuse, and there was no opportunity to get into court about it first.

If you violate these prohibitions, you can be held in contempt of court. Contempt includes the possibilities of fines and jail.
Do I Have To Tell My Ex (Or Ex To Be) About My Finances?

Yes. In any Family Law action, you are required to make the following financial disclosures:

  1. Full disclosure of all assets owned in full or in part by either party separately or by the parties jointly, including:
    • real estate,
    • savings accounts,
    • stocks and bonds,
    • mortgages and notes,
    • life insurance,
    • retirement interests,
    • interest in a partnership, limited liability company, or corporation,
    • tangible personal property,
    • future interests whether vested or nonvested, and
    • any other financial interest or source.
  2. Full disclosure of all debts and liabilities.
  3. Proof of income earned to date for the current year. If a party requests, the court must require the parties to furnish copies of all state and federal income tax returns filed for the past 2 years, and may require copies of those returns for prior years.
  4. If the action involves a minor child, information regarding the types and costs of any health insurance policies or plans that are offered through each party’s employer or other organization. This disclosure must include a copy of any health care policy or plan that names the child as a beneficiary at the time that the disclosure is filed.

    Failure to be honest in your disclosures constitutes perjury. Judges hate perjury. Disclosure may be made by each party individually or by the parties jointly. Disclosure must be made within 90 days after the service of summons or the filing of a joint petition or at a time ordered by the court. Information must be updated in court on certain hearing dates. The information is kept confidential, except to the parties involved.

    If you fail to file a complete disclosure, the court may accept as accurate any information provided by the other party. If you intentionally or negligently fail to disclose required information and as a result any asset with a value of $500 or more is omitted from the final distribution of property, the other party may at any time petition the court to take action to make that party or any minor children whole.

What If I Need The Court To Do Something Quickly?

You don’t have to wait for the action to conclude before many changes can take effect. The court has the authority to enter temporary orders about the following:

  • Granting legal custody of the minor children to the parties jointly, to one party solely, or to a relative or agency specified. This is not binding on a final custody determination.
  • Setting up periods of physical placement.
  • Granting periods of electronic communication.
  • Prohibiting the removal of minor children from the jurisdiction of the court.
  • Allowing a party to move with or remove a child.
  • Requiring either party or both parties to make payments for the support of minor children.
  • Requiring either party to pay for the maintenance of the other party. Maintenance under this paragraph may include the expenses and attorney fees incurred by the other party.
  • Requiring either party to pay family support.
  • Requiring either party to execute an assignment of income.
  • Requiring either party or both parties to pay debts or perform other actions in relation to the persons or property of the parties.
  • Prohibiting either party from disposing of assets within the jurisdiction of the court.
  • Requiring counseling of either party or both parties.
  • Requiring either party or both parties to maintain minor children as beneficiaries on a health insurance policy or plan.
  • Requiring either party or both parties to execute an assignment of income for payment of health care expenses of minor children.
My Spouse Is A Domestic Abuser. What Can The Court Do?

First off, if you are being abused, call 911 and get the police involved. Domestic Violence is illegal and you have a right to be free from it. The Family Court cannot keep you safe. It can only give you certain rights that will help you protect yourself and your children.

If the court finds that a ex-partner has engaged in a pattern or serious incident of interspousal battery, and makes a temporary order awarding joint or sole legal custody or periods of physical placement to your ex, the court is required to provide for the safety and well-being of you and your child by ordering one or more of the following, as appropriate:

  • Requiring the exchange of the child to occur in a protected setting or in the presence of an appropriate 3rd party.
  • Requiring any contact between the abuser and the child to be supervised.
  • Requiring the abuser to pay the costs of supervised contact.
  • Requiring the abuser to attend and complete treatment for batterers provided through a certified treatment program as a condition of contact with the children.
  • If the abuser has a significant problem with alcohol or drug abuse, prohibiting that party from being under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance when in contact with the children.
  • Prohibiting the abuser from having overnights with the children.
  • Requiring the abuser to post a bond for the return and safety of the child.
  • Imposing any condition that the court determines is necessary for the safety and well-being of the child or you.
What Court Hearings Do I Have to Attend?

You must attend the final hearing or trial of the action, unless you live out of state, were never personally served, or the judge otherwise excuses you. You also have to attend key paternity hearings or the court may decide the case against you.