Dover Family Law Attorney

Working through issues that affect your family life can be a challenge. But you can get help from a Dover family lawyer who will prioritize the best interests of you and your children above all else.

When a court of law has to determine how you and your children’s other parent will co-parent with one another, things are already messy. It is not uncommon to see parents disparage each other to try to gain an advantage. This puts the children in a terrible position, and you can expect a judge to be unsympathetic to parents who don’t keep this in mind.

If you find yourself in the position of not being able to work out important issues without the assistance of a professional who has experience in family law, get in touch with a qualified Dover family law attorney at Barros, McNamara, Malkiewicz & Taylor. We will help you establish a plan that works for each member of your family.

Mediation Before Court

Prior to a judge hearing your Dover family law case, expect to attend a formal mediation with the other involved family members to see whether you can come to an agreement you’ll both be content with.

The meeting will be led by a mediator, who will allow you both to argue your positions and make suggestions to benefit both sides. The goal is to go back and forth on issues that you each feel strongly about until you are able to reach a mutual understanding. When you are able to come to an agreement you’re both happy with, a judge will need to sign off before it becomes mandatory.

Visitation and Child Custody Arrangements in Dover

When mediation fails, the court can step in to establish which parent will retain physical or legal custody and which will be the non-custodial parent (the one the child does not live with), as well as a set a schedule for visitation.

In many cases, children should be spending equal time with both parents, and once the children are of appropriate age and maturity, the judge will consider their opinions as to which parent they choose to live with. If both parents are capable of caring for the children, the court enacts standard visitation and custody arrangements. An example of one of these schedules is described below:

The non-custodial parent has the children every other weekend from 5 p.m. on Friday and then drops them off at school on Monday morning. The children will spend two overnights each week at the house of the non-custodial parent.

Holidays may be assigned alternating even and odd numbers for each year. For instance, the non-custodial parent has the children on Easter and Thanksgiving in 2018, and the custodial parent has them for those same holidays in 2019.

What’s Fair in Child Support

The court determines how child support should be paid through an equation known as the Melson formula. By using this formula to calculate a reasonable monthly payment, the parent should be able to hang on to enough of his or her income to support basic needs and a reasonable lifestyle.

After that, the weekly income of both guardians will be totaled, as well as the costs of education, child care, and visitation time with the non-custodial parent, to compute what portion of the parent’s wages should be dedicated to child support payments.

The judge presiding over your case will expect that, if the parent paying child support earns more than necessary to support basic needs, the extra income will be used to care for the child if necessary. Whether you are fighting for child support from your ex or disputing an unreasonable child support demand, a family lawyer in Dover can help you make your case.

Knowing Your Parental Rights

There is no unequivocal law in Delaware that characterizes your parental rights, but it’s clear you have a right to reasonable contact and a relationship with your children. All things considered, there are conditions where the court may decide that the rights to parent your child should be terminated. Some of these circumstances include the following:

  • Abandonment – The parent fails to provide financial support, foster growth, or regularly visit with the child.
  • Lack of Communication – This is when the parent does not call or reach out to speak with the child often enough.
  • Risk of Injury to the Child – Here, the parent is exposing the child to dangerous situations or substances or otherwise putting him or her in harm’s way.

The parent who is petitioning the court for a termination of parental rights (TPR) will need to provide documentation supporting the idea that the other parent has met the criteria necessary for terminating parental rights. The parent in question will have the opportunity to consent to the TPR and effectively end his or her relationship with the child.

If your relationship with your children is under threat, don’t hesitate to reach out for help from a family law attorney in Dover.

Domestic Violence

Aggressive behavior at home is a serious issue that the court system has zero tolerance for. It is characterized as abuse, intimidation, or threats by one family member to the others who reside in the home. When domestic violence has plagued your home, you have the option of filing a protection from abuse order (PFA). A PFA is a restraining order of sorts that will compel the abuser to stay away.

Instances of domestic abuse in Dover should never be taken lightly, as the effects can be damaging to parents, children, and even the individual who has been violent.

Dover Family Law FAQ

Establishing a plan of action for your family can be a challenging process. Below, we have compiled some of the most common questions our clients ask about how the Dover family law system works and what they can expect from their cases.

What are my options if my child’s parent isn’t paying child support?

Custodial parents have the option of filing a Petition for Child Support Arrears form when the non-custodial parent falls short of his or her child support obligations. This petition acts as a request that the parent not paying child support be held in contempt of court. The judge then works with the parent to establish a plan for catching up on missed payments. Jail time is a possible punishment.

Do I have to let my child’s grandparents have visitation?

Grandparents can request mandated visitation under specific circumstances. When at least one parent doesn’t object to the grandparents visiting the children, and the court is able to see that the grandparents maintaining a relationship with the children will not have a negative influence on the relationship between the parents and child, grandparents may be granted visitation rights.

What is a guardian ad litem?

A guardian ad litem is a court-selected official who is responsible for advocating for the best interests of the child. Parents who are in the middle of a difficult case and are having trouble putting their child’s needs above their own are often appointed a guardian ad litem. The guardian ad litem will make a recommendation on what situation would be ideal for the involved children.

Meet with a Dover Family Lawyer

If you are going to need a qualified lawyer to help you and your family through some difficult changes, get in touch with an experienced Dover family law attorney at Barros, McNamara, Malkiewicz & Taylor. You can schedule a case assessment by completing the contact form at the bottom of this page or calling us at 302-734-8400.