Family Law

No other area of the law is more emotionally difficult or as important than family law. The term family law encompasses virtually any issue that involves family relationships between significant others, parents, children, and grandparents. When you are faced with family challenges it is extremely important that you have an advocate that will work diligently to protect your rights and those who are most vulnerable - the children, elderly, or physically or mentally disadvantaged.

Early consultation when family issues arise is critical. Costly court proceedings are not always the only option, often parties can be brought together through mediation and counselling. Our goal is to obtain the best resolution to resolve your problems that are in your and your loved ones best interests. We handle all types of family law issues, below are a few of the most common.

Marriage and Family

Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements are contractual agreements entered into prior to marriage or civil unions. They are intended to protect either party's assets acquired prior to marriage and to provide for property distribution and spousal support should the marriage later be dissolved in divorce. A prenuptial agreement may not limit child support or custody regarding children from the marriage.

Separation

In Arkansas a legal separation or "divorce from bed and board" is a court order that grants temporary division of property and assets, spousal support, child support and custody. A legal separation allows for the marriage to remain legally intact while the couple lives apart in separate households.

Absolute Divorce

Is the legal dissolution of the marriage. In Arkansas the spouse seeking the divorce must allege and substantiate grounds under which the court may end the marriage. In cases where the spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for 18 months an uncontested divorce may be obtained without alleging or proving grounds.

Modification

A modification is a court order changing the original or current order from the court. A court modification can be sought for a change in circumstances when the parties cannot agree to a resolution, or when one party is in violation of the existing order. Modifications are obtained typically for an increase or decrease in child support, spousal support, and visitation or custody issues. Too often parties do not know they can have their existing orders changed, it is very important to have a consultation as soon as situations change that effect support, visitation, or custody issues.

Adoption

Nothing brings us more joy and fulfillment than helping to create a forever family. Wether you are stepparent, a single parent, a grandparent, or a couple longing for your family becoming complete, we will walk you through the process at every step to help you achieve your dreams.

Guardianship

It is very frightening and frustrating having a family member that cannot take care of themselves with no legal authority for loved ones to intervene, often it is an elderly parent or adult child with mental health issues. Taking proactive steps early on to get emergency guardianship of a loved one can go a long way towards avoiding disastrous consequences. We have extensive experience in all aspects of guardianships and have successfully obtained emergency guardianships of minor children and adults and also preventative voluntary guardianships to protect a loved one with mental illness from state intervention when the person may be temporarily unable to care for themselves.

Paternity

Parental rights regarding custody, visitation, and support for unmarried parents are often misunderstood. In Arkansas an unmarried mother is deemed to have sole custody of the child. To establish child support from the non-custodial parent a petition for paternity needs to be filed in the Circuit court in the county of ones residence. It requires a court order to establish support as well as visitation for the non-custodial parent even though the father has acknowledged paternity,  establishing ones parental rights early on after the birth of a child is very important. 

Guardianship and DHS Matters

There are times when it is necessary for a grandparent, aunt, uncle, or other concerned party to take custody of a minor child or an adult that cannot take care or make decisons for themselves. Generally the guardianship statute gives family members or concerned third parties a way of protecting loved ones that cannot protect themselves, unfortunately however, the guardianship statute in Arkansas is too often abused to take children away from parents without due process merely at the stroke of a judge's pen. We are proactively working towards having the statute changed to stop it from being used as a backdoor avenue for taking a parent's rights through the family courts without the due process protections of a juvenile dependency neglect action. Once a guardianship of a minor is granted it is very difficult to get it terminated, agressive legal representation is critical, we will fight all the way to Supreme Court if need be.

DHS - If you have been contacted by DHS (Arkansas Department of Social Services) that they have received a complaint against you, you need an attorney right away. While there are very good and dedicated case workers at DHS, there are way too many that use fear and imimidation and the very real threat of taking away children from good parents. Often having an attorney at the first contacts can stop a minor incident from spinning out of control. Do not try to deal with DHS alone.  We are sad to say that you should never trust DHS or speak with them without having an attorney present to protect your rights. DHS workers will often go to your child's school to interview your children without your knowledge which is a violation your and your child's Fourth Amendment rights. When enrolling your children in school you should have a frank conversation with the principal and state that no one is to speak to your children without you being notified. Fortunately many school principals in Arkansas, through their own negative interactions with DHS, will not allow children to be interviewed without the school nurse or a counselor present regardless of the reason for the interview.

Domestic Violence

Violence in the home whether between spouses, intimate partners, or family members, is devastating to all concerned. Domestic violence is a complicated problem that requires a legal advocate that has been trained and has experience in dealing with the many issues that surround this type of abuse. Often the question is asked, "Why didn't she/he just leave?" There is no simple answer as the problem has many layers that include children, economic hardships, and the criminality of the abuse itself. The need for legal guidance in situations of domestic violence is extremely important and often critical in determining the outcome.

All consultations for domestic violence are free and representation is by sliding scale, we will of course meet you at a time and place where it will be safe for you and your loved ones. We will work with you in cooperation with social services and law enforement and be your advocate at every step of your journey. The sooner you call the sooner we can help you or your loved one recover to a safer and happier life.
 

If you need immediate shelter assistance please call: The domestic abuse hot line at 1-800 799-7233