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Matrimonial & Family Law

Family ties are thought to be the most private and enduring relationships in society. As most can attest, however, these relationships are rarely free from conflict. When domestic issues cannot be solved within the home, family law seeks to restore order and provide a fair solution for all parties involved.

For many, family law is thought to be synonymous with divorce proceedings. In reality, divorce is just a small part of family law which covers a broad array of domestic issues including adoption, premarital agreements, paternity and child support issues.

When legal action is necessary to resolve familial matters, it is essential that you entrust your most private matters with a compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorney. Our dedicated attorneys and staff serve as good listeners, confidants and advocates for all of our clients during their most difficult times.

Adoption

While adopting a child can be an immensely rewarding experience, it is often accompanied by a host of legal and bureaucratic complexities.  Those who approach the process with the aid of a knowledgeable attorney find that they are relieved of much of the delays, frustration and expense it often entails.

Whether you are a parent struggling to find the right home for your child, a couple looking to welcome a new member into your home or a relative hoping to assume responsibility for a minor in your family, you should contact our family law attorneys to ensure no detail is overlooked.  We will take the time to explain all of the adoption issues to you, assist in the preparation of required documentation, represent you at the adoption hearings and advocate on your behalf should any challenges arise in the future.

Child Custody

The dissolution of any marriage or partnership raises a plethora of issues. When children are involved, the resulting issues are even more complex as custody and child support issues come to the forefront. To ensure that a fair arrangement, based upon the children’s best interests, is reached, you should contact a knowledgeable family lawyer.

Our law firm routinely handles child custody cases and can help to determine the best custody arrangement for you and your children. We serve not only as attorneys for parents but also receive appointed cases from the courts as Attorneys for Children.  This experience gives us a unique perspective with handling your matter.  We will review the custody evaluator’s recommendations, identify the children’s preferences and explain how local and state laws impact your specific case and family situation. Considering these factors, our family lawyers will work with you to devise a plan of custody for your children.

Child custody is dual faceted in that it encompasses both the physical and legal custody of the child. Physical custody is where the child resides while legal custody entails the decision making process for the parents including the right to decide education preferences, religious practices, medical treatments and activity involvement. Both of these aspects must be considered during child custody proceedings.

Our compassionate team of child custody attorneys will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome preserving your parental rights and protecting the children’s best interests.

Divorce

Divorce proceedings usually involve intense emotions and significant expense. Our dedicated matrimonial attorneys can work with you throughout your divorce to minimize the emotional strain and cost normally associated with these proceedings. Our attorneys handle both complex contested and “simple” uncontested divorces.

During the divorce proceedings, we will assess all of the assets and debts involved and strive to attain the fairest possible distribution of marital assets for our clients.  When appropriate, we will work closely with you to guarantee proper financial support through alimony. If children are involved, we will work with you to obtain custody of your children, child support payments or help in the development of a parenting plan, if preferred.

If you and your spouse choose to keep your divorce proceedings private and away from the courts, our law firm will work with you through voluntary mediation known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). During this process, both you and your spouse will meet with a neutral mediator to help resolve issues by bringing both parties to agreement on a fair solution. With ADR, there is complete disclosure and no litigation.  Many individuals prefer this method as it tends to be faster, less costly and produces a more amicable outcome.

Paternity

Paternity lawsuits may be necessary to determine parental rights, custody or support matters when the identity of the biological father is in question or not yet legally established. In these instances, the court will order a genetic marker test. The results of this test are then used to establish a legal relationship between the parent and child and determine the extent to which the father has an obligation to support the child. Even if the biological father does not wish to play an active role in the child’s upbringing, he still has the obligation to provide financial support to the minor.

These suits may be brought by the mother, the presumed father (in many instances the husband of the mother), the man alleged to be the father, a government agency or the child (if he or she is underage, a representative must act on his or her behalf). Our family law firm is available to offer you legal guidance, assist in filing a paternity suit with the appropriate court or defend you against a paternity action.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is unfortunately prevalent in many relationships and may include harassment, assault, sexual abuse or neglect.  If you or someone you love has been physically or emotionally abused by their spouse or another relative, you should contact the police and an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your rights.  Our dedicated attorneys will work to obtain an Order of Protection from the court to ensure your physical safety.

In the case of marital abuse, if you wish to pursue a legal separation or divorce in light of the events, our legal team can advise you on the best steps to keep you safe and dissolve the marriage as fast as possible while keeping your best interests in mind.

Our entire staff understands the sensitive nature of domestic violence and will strive to provide you with peace of mind throughout the proceedings. Should you require additional support beyond the legal realm, we can refer you to other professionals and resources to address all of your needs and begin the healing process.

Family law raises emotional and legal challenges for all parties involved. In such cases, it is essential that you surround yourself with trusted advisors and friends. Our law firm provides you with the legal and emotional support needed to get you back on your feet. We look forward to hearing your story and finding ways to help you through what is likely a transformational time in your life.

Premarital Agreement

A prenuptial accord is a contract between two people about to wed that spells out how assets will be distributed in the event of divorce or death.   Nothing can kill romance faster than the word prenup. But with about one in three of all first marriages ending in divorce, and 50 percent of second or third ones hitting the skids, a prenup is smart financial planning.   A prenup and the discussions that go with it can help ensure the financial well-being of the marriage.

You don't have to be a Rockefeller or Trump to need a premarital agreement.  You should consider having a prenup if you fall into any of the following categories:

• You have assets such as a home, stock or retirement funds
• Own all or part of a business
• You may be receiving an inheritance
• You have children and/or grandchildren from a previous marriage
• One of you is much wealthier than the other
• One of you will be supporting the other through college
• You have loved ones who need to be taken care of, such as elderly parents
• You have or are pursuing a degree or license in a potentially lucrative profession such as medicine
• You could see a big increase in income because your business is taking off, or that garage band you play in has just gotten a contract with a big record company.

Our knowledgeable attorneys can guide you through this process to ensure you are aware of all your options. We understand that this may be a difficult discussion to broach with your potential spouse and understand that this may raise emotional challenges which we can help you overcome.


 

Feuerstein & Smith, LLP assists clients in Real Estate, Personal Injury, Matrimonial and Family Law, Criminal Defense, Estate Planning, Litigation, Bankruptcy, and Corporate Law, in Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Tonawanda and throughout Erie County, as well as in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.



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