Sometimes, part of child support and child custody cases involves addressing the issue of paternity. This area of family law can be difficult for everyone involved, but it is necessary in some cases to take this important step before any decisions about child support are made or after child support is in place but one parent has a doubt about paternity. Although some paternity tests are ordering the courtroom, disputes about paternity can also be addressed during mediation. Going to mediation in Baltimore to deal with questions surrounding paternity and child support is similar to any other mediation experience. If you have a mediation session planned, here are some tips for preparing.
Consider Your Personal Statement
Most mediation sessions begin with each party making a brief statement about the issues you hope to resolve during mediation and how you view the dispute from your perspective. Although you will be allowed to speak without interruption while making your statement, keep in mind that the other party’s attorney may be present and could use information shared in mediation in court should the negotiation fail. Talk through your statement with your lawyer to avoid any issues. For instance, if your stance is that a paternity test should be required, avoid saying anything that suggests that you know the child is yours.
Prepare for Questions
The mediator will likely ask both sides questions to gather information that could be helpful during the negotiation. These questions help the mediator identify possible solutions that could work for both sides. Remember that mediators do not provide legal advice. Your lawyer should be present at all mediation sessions in case you have legal questions and to review any documents before you sign them.
Be Open to the Process
Mediation is designed for both sides to come away feeling satisfied with the agreement. One side does not win while the other loses. Your lawyer can help you understand the strategies the mediator may use to help you reach an agreement. Remember that your paternity dispute is not resolved until an agreement is signed, so you have nothing to lose by entering negotiations.
A children’s trust can be a useful estate planning tool for families with small children. It allows parents to leave assets to children while controlling the age at which they have access to them. Your estate lawyer in Baltimore can help you decide if this kind of trust could be right for you.
With a children’s trust, benefactors assign assets to a trust for a child and identify a trustee to control the assets until the child reaches an age set by the benefactor. For instance, while estate planning, parents may decide to set up a trust for their toddler and name a close relative as the trustee. The trust says that the child cannot control the inheritance until they reach age 18. If both parents are deceased before the child reaches 18, he or she receives the trust but the trustee manages it as directed by the parents. If both parents are deceased after the child reaches 19, he or she receives the inheritance without the involvement of the trustee.
Children’s trusts put many parents’ minds at ease while estate planning. Your estate lawyer can guide you through the process of establishing your trust.
Estate planning is one of the most important things you and your spouse will do for your family, but starting the conversation isn’t always easy. Scheduling an appointment with an estate lawyer in Baltimore is a good step, but it can be helpful to have a conversation before your meeting so you can align your priorities and come up with a list of questions. Use these tips for talking to your spouse about estate planning.
Start With Why
Before you begin the estate planning process, discuss why it is important to you and why you want to begin it now. In some cases, you may only have a vague idea that estate planning is something you’re supposed to do and feel like you are at the age to do it. In other instances, you may have very specific goals you want to accomplish. By identifying why you want to make a plan for your estate, you can focus in on your goals and create a framework for your decision making process.
Identify Your Non-Negotiable Points
You and your spouse may have some very specific things you hope to accomplish with your estate, and it’s important for your attorney to understand these needs up-front. You may have a family business that you want to pass on to your heirs in a specific way, or you may have a child with special needs that you want to make preparations for. Make a list of the things your estate must do so you can make sure your plans meet these needs appropriately.
Take a Break When You Disagree
Estate planning should be something you and your spouse feel good about together, not the source of conflict. If your conversation becomes heated over things like making a living will or setting up a trust, take a break. Allowing each other time to think and returning to the conversation when you’re calm again will make the process easier.
Mediation can be a useful tool during divorce to settle issues with as little acrimony as possible. Whether or not mediation was part of your initial divorce, it can also be helpful in solving new issues as they arise after the divorce. Post-divorce mediation in Baltimore allows former spouses to address unforeseen circumstances without reopening old wounds and going into the process as adversaries, since mediation is focused on building agreements that are acceptable for everyone. Here are some of the many reasons people attend post-divorce mediation.
Child Support Modification
There are numerous reasons why a child support agreement may need to be modified, from job loss to increased income. When a circumstance arises that causes one parent to reopen the discussion about child support, mediation allows him or her to do so without the contentious nature of court. A mediator can help both sides lay out their opinions and work with them to build a new agreement that satisfies both sides.
Child Custody Modification
Child custody is almost always a difficult issue during divorces, and sometimes, after the final decree is issued, parents find that the agreement isn’t working. Perhaps the children want to split up their time differently or one parent feels like he or she needs more time with the children. In some cases, parents need to adjust child custody and visitation schedules because of relocations or changes in working hours. Rather than arguing over the issue in court, mediation lets parents work together on the same side to give and take on an agreement that meets both of their needs.
Sometimes, the circumstances that were in place during the original alimony ruling may change, forcing the need to modify the agreement. For instance, the spouse paying alimony may lose his or her job, changing his or her ability to pay, or a spouse receiving rehabilitative alimony may finish school early and land a lucrative job. Mediation gives both parties a place to discuss their concerns openly and collaboratively in order to come up with a solution.
A trust is a financial tool often used during the estate planning process . When a trust is created, a third party, called a trustee, is given control of financial assets meant for an inheritor or beneficiary. During the creation of your trust, you and your estate lawyer serving Baltimore can choose the type of trust you want and determine the terms that must be fulfilled before your beneficiary gains control of the trust himself. In many cases, trusts are passed on to beneficiaries upon the settlor’s death or when the beneficiary reaches a certain age. Creating an irrevocable trust is an excellent way to reduce estate taxes after your death; furthermore, the property and assets that you place into a trust does not go through the probate process. These factors ensure that your chosen beneficiaries will receive the amount you wish them to inherit in full and much more quickly than if legal proceedings are needed to determine inheritance.
Business disputes can arise over many situations, including miscommunications, disagreements over verbal contracts, and conflicts within your employee pool. Handling business disputes through litigation can be a costly and drawn-out process; by contrast, mediation can help conflicting parties reach an agreement much more quickly, often at lower cost. Knowing what to expect from business dispute mediation in Baltimore can help you better determine whether the mediation process is right for you.
The Role of the Mediator
When you seek business dispute mediation, you and the party with whom you have a conflict will meet with a mediation attorney. This mediator will serve as an impartial third party to help you reach a resolution that is satisfactory to both parties. Prior to your mediation session, you may have the opportunity to speak with the mediation attorney in person or over the phone without the other party present, allowing you to present your side of the story. During mediation, the mediator may take either an active or a passive role, depending on your preferences.
The Process of Conflict Resolution
Mediation is a beneficial conflict resolution process , allowing both parties to discuss and reach a solution in private without the oversight of the public or a judge and courtroom staff. Depending on the type of mediation you prefer, your mediator may simply listen to both parties and point out the pros and cons of the potential solutions offered with complete neutrality. Alternatively, your mediation attorney may take a more active role that involves structuring the discussion and proactively guiding both parties toward a conclusion. Mediation can involve both joint sessions, during which all parties and their attorneys are present, as well as private caucus meetings, which allow each party to meet with the mediator privately as the process continues. Caucus meetings allow the mediator to evaluate both sides of the issue and make better-informed suggestions during joint sessions, and all information discussed during a private caucus remains confidential. Once a solution has been reached, your attorneys will use this information to draw up a legally-binding agreement.
When most people begin the estate planning process, they have two goals: to protect their resources as much as possible and to make dealing with the estate less stressful on their loved ones. When you need help with estate planning in Baltimore, Timothy Mummert of Mummert Law can help. Watch this video to learn more.
Mummert Law is experienced in all aspects of estate planning, from last will and testament preparation, revocable and irrevocable trust planing, and more. The firm is also here to help your loved ones deal with the process of probate as quickly and efficiently as possible. Delaying estate planning can put your assets at risk, so make an appointment with our attorney today.
When you form a new family through divorce and remarriage, your child’s remaining biological parent typically retains some measure of legal guardianship over your children. If your new spouse wishes to become a legal guardian for your child, you must complete a stepparent adoption to terminate the rights of your divorced partner so these rights can be transferred to your new spouse. Stepparent adoption may or may not proceed smoothly, depending on the opinions of the child’s biological parents; thus, it is always beneficial to seek the guidance of a family law attorney in Baltimore to guide you through the stepparent adoption process, especially if you anticipate a dispute that may require adoption mediation or a court investigation.
Seeking Parental Consent
To pursue a stepparent adoption in Maryland , the consent of both biological parents must be obtained. Thus, the first step in the stepparent adoption process is contacting the child’s additional biological parent regarding the adoption. If consent is given, the adoption may proceed unhindered. However, if the biological parent does not consent to the adoption, further steps must be taken if you still wish to pursue stepparent adoption.
Handling a Parental Objection
When a biological or legal guardian refuses to relinquish their guardianship rights, they may file an objection to the adoption process. Alternatively, the biological parent may simply fail to provide legal consent. When an objection is filed or consent is not given, the couple wishing to pursue stepparent adoption may seek a court investigation to show that stepparent adoption is in the best interests of the child. If the legal parent is determined to have been absent or neglectful with regard to his parenting responsibilities, his rights may be terminated and the stepparent adoption allowed to proceed. Alternatively, if the contesting parent does not meet the legal definition of a presumed father, his rights may also be terminated to allow for stepparent adoption.
Even if you expect a stepparent adoption to go smoothly, a family law attorney is your best resource for guidance and support during this process to reduce stress for you, your spouse, and your child.
When you give an individual power of attorney , you allow that individual to make legal, financial, or other decisions in your stead. If you choose to grant power of attorney, you may opt to turn over decision-making immediately, or only under certain circumstances. Health care power of attorney is a document that allows a person you trust to make decisions on your behalf in terms of health care and treatment options if you are unable to communicate or make these decisions for yourself. Without this document, health care decisions will fall to family members in an order specified by state law. You can find out more about granting health care power of attorney in this informative video; if you have other questions about this document or about any other aspect of estate planning or will writing, contact your lawyer in Baltimore for personalized answers and advice.
During a divorce, child custody is a particularly contentious issue. Clashes over custody can do lasting damage to the relationships between parents and children, especially when coming to an agreement involves nasty courtroom battles. Mediation offers an alternative that can be easier on families. Talk to a mediation lawyer in Baltimore if you are facing a child custody dispute to see if you could come to an agreement outside of the courtroom that works for your family. Here are some of the benefits to choosing mediation in your custody dispute.
Less Stress for Parents
Mediation is not adversarial, as disputes decided in the courtroom can be. The goal of mediation is for all parties to work together to come up with a solution that is right for everyone. There are no winner or losers in mediation, so the overall process is less overwhelming. A third-party representative will guide the mediation process and ensure that no one’s rights are violated, so you can focus on making an agreement instead of being on guard.
Less Stress for Kids
When parents are locked in a custody dispute, their animosity almost inevitably encroaches on their children’s well-being, even despite the best intentions. Kids may feel pressured to choose sides or may hear one parent talking disparagingly about the other parent, causing confusion and fear. Because mediation is easier on parents, it is also easier on kids. They may also get an outcome that is better for them, since the focus of everyone in mediation is to make a plan that is right for the children.
Improved Long-Term Cooperation
Mediation helps to set the tone for what the new normal will look like after a divorce. When parents cooperate during mediation and come up with a child custody plan they both feel good about, they walk away feeling encouraged about their abilities to co-parent even after divorce. This kind of cooperation sets the stage for future issues to be negotiated collaboratively rather than in an adversarial manner.