I invite you to discuss any family law matter in a private and free initial consultation with an experienced attorney.
To schedule an appointment, call (208) 667-8553 or fill out our form and we can get in contact.
I handle all aspects of family law matters, including:
- Property Division
- Modifications, Move Aways & Relocations
- Guardianships, Termination of Parental Rights, and Adoption
- Child Support & Spousal Support
- Child Custody
- Domestic Violence & Protection Orders
- Prenuptial Agreements & Martial Property Division Agreements
- Grandparents' Rights, Grandparent Custody, and Termination of Grandparents' Rights
Persons contemplating divorce face difficult emotional and legal decisions.
In my practice I try to help my clients understand their situations from a legal point of view so they can make the right choices for themselves and their children. By working to protect their legal rights and interests, I allow them to focus on building new lives for themselves after divorce.
In any divorce and family law matter, there is no single solution that will work for everyone. In discussing your situation, I will listen carefully to the details leading to your decision, your hopes for your future, and that of your children. We will discuss the options you have, and what it will take to obtain results for you. As an experienced family law attorney, I can utilize legal tools ranging from mediation to negotiation to litigation as your case requires. Then we will decide on a legal strategy designed for your particular situation.
Whether your divorce is uncontested or presents contentious issues, I will work to obtain a positive outcome while protecting your rights and interests.
When it comes to property division, Idaho is a "community property" state. This means that property is characterized as either community property or "separate property." In general, a court will divide only the community property equally between parties of a divorce. There are some circumstances in which a division is something other than a 50-50 split. However, this is based on statutory factors and involves a case-by-case analysis.
The issue of which property is community property and which is separate property is one of the more disputed issues in property division. Remember, property includes both assets and liabilities. If property is deemed separate, it will go to the person whose property it is. In general, separate property is property acquired by a person before the marriage or by gifts, or by inheritances. Student loans are frequently separate debts but can be community and in some instances are treated as a hybrid of community and separate debt. Proof that something was a gift is often circumstantial and harder to prove. If an item is significant enough and disputed, this requires a deeper analysis and tracing of financial records. With a proven track record and years of experience in property division, I can effectively handle these types of disputes for you.
Property can include:
- Businesses or partnerships
- Retirement assets
- Real estate
- Personal property such as cars and furniture
- Debts and liabilities
Modifications, Move Aways, and Relocations
There are many reasons to seek modifications in a divorce decree.
Some people who seek modifications are being denied custodial time or visitation by their former spouse. Sometimes, the old decree or custody order doesn't work anymore as circumstances have changed. These circumstances can include significant health or income changes.
Some people have been served with papers for modifications and they need representation. Many people are living in another state and need an attorney to represent their modification needs in northern Idaho. A custody issue may arise between unmarried people who never formalized their relationship legally who now need legal intervention after they separate. Sometimes this involves one party's attempt to a move away with a child.
Guardianships, Termination of Parental Rights, and Adoption
Guardianships can happen when a parent can no longer care for a minor child. When a parent cannot care for a child because of death, a medical reason, drug or alcohol abuse, child neglect or abandonment or child abuse, another adult who is willing to be responsible for the child can apply for a legal guardianship through the family court system. In many cases, the guardian is a grandparent, aunt or uncle or family friend.
Guardianship disputes can involve intense emotions on the part of the adult parties as well as the children involved. My goal in any guardianship matter is to ascertain what is in the best interest of the child. I assist you by safeguarding your legal rights and making the smoothest transition possible.
Many people who visit my Coeur d'Alene office want to know the chances they have of securing a guardianship or of defeating a guardianship challenge. I cannot tell you until I know the factual circumstances of your specific situation. Once I assess your situation, I will make recommendations regarding your options. You, however, are the final decision-maker as to the next step.
I also represent grandparents who are seeking visitation of their grandchildren, and assist in guardianship termination proceedings when a parent is back on his or her feet and can again provide a stable home for the child.
Child Support & Spousal Support
Idaho child support guidelines determine whether a divorcing partner will give or receive child support and how much a party must pay. However, determining what goes into the guidelines is not always an easy undertaking.
As your family law attorney, I will take into account all aspects of your financial situation, your tax burden, your expenses, income, any business hardships, hardship deductions and any other financial information that may be relevant. It takes an attorney who understands the complexities of these child support guideline issues to truly secure you the most favorable child support settlement while staying within the guidelines.
In a divorce proceeding and long after, issues involving child custody can prove to be very contentious and charged with emotion. In my practice, I try to help my clients see beyond the emotional aspects of such matters and focus on building a better future for themselves and their children.
Idaho courts always decide child custody and visitation matters "in the best interests of the child". While the initial decisions regarding legal custody and physical custody are determined during the divorce process, these can change over time as the parents' lives change.
If a parent's work schedule changes for example, I can go to court on the parent's behalf to obtain a modification in parenting time. A move-away or parental relocation on the other hand presents difficult legal issues that can only be resolved through negotiation or court decree. As an experienced family law and child custody lawyer, I understand the complexity of these issues from a legal and practical perspective.
In all family law and child custody matters, I am a strong advocate for my clients and their children.
Domestic Violence & Protection Orders
Unfortunately, some family disputes can turn into domestic violence. A person who alleges spousal abuse, spousal assault or even child abuse can seek a civil protection order. If granted, a temporary protection order is issued for 14 days until a hearing is held. At that hearing, a judge will determine whether to extend the protection order for another 90 days.
A civil protection order (sometimes called a restraining order) is usually done very quickly. Once an initial application is filed, a 14-day protection order can be issued by a judge within one day. Due to this quick scheduling, there is very little time to develop a case. That is why it is crucial a person obtain an attorney as soon as possible in the process, whether he or she is a victim or alleged perpetrator. In some cases, an order can be delayed in order to allow for more preparation time.
In some child custody cases, disputes can get so heated that one party will make false allegations of domestic violence. Regardless of whether an order is granted or not, these are serious allegations that should not be taken lightly. There may be consequences to a divorce or child custody case if civil protection orders are sought.
If a civil protection order is issued, and a person violates this order, he or she can be criminally charged. I also provide criminal defense representation for those facing criminal domestic violence charges.
Prenuptial Agreements & Martial Property Division Agreements
Many people are hesitant about the idea of prenuptial agreements. They believe it is a "jinx" on the marriage or that it assumes the parties will ultimately divorce. While the issue can be an awkward one for some people, a good prenuptial agreement can be a useful tool for both parties to a prospective marriage. Prenuptial agreements provide a formal record for what each party had coming into the marriage, making a situation a lot easier to sort out if it becomes necessary later on. However, just because you have a back-up plan does not mean it has to be used.
Prenuptial agreements are premised on full disclosure. That means you risk having a prenuptial agreement thrown out or invalidated if you or the other party fails to fully disclose all assets and debts. It is advisable to get a prenuptial agreement done well in advance of the marriage, preferably two or three months before the wedding date. Prenuptial agreements done on the eve of marriage are open later to charges of coercion. Usually both parties have their own attorney to represent them through the process.
Idaho Code Sections 32-921 to 32-929 governs the validity of prenuptial agreements and how they must be written. Prenuptial agreements can determine things like how property division is to be handled in the event of a divorce, modification or elimination of alimony and the choice of law.
If this is your second marriage or you have children from a previous relationship, prenuptial agreements can protect assets that you bring into the marriage as well as any assets you wish your child to inherit.
Grandparents' Rights, Grandparent Custody, and Termination of Grandparents' Rights
It is sometimes said that grandparents have no rights to the custody of or time with their grandchildren. That is not entirely true, and it is not true in all cases. Although the United States Supreme Court several years ago struck down a broadly worded State of Washington statute that had been the basis for grandparent visitation there, the Court left open many possibilities on which other cases might be treated differently. This is an area where particular facts and circumstances can be important. Idaho's specific grandparent visitation statute is worded differently from the one at issue in Washington. Other Idaho statutes may also apply in certain circumstances, for example, one that allows the court to recognize a grandparent as having the same standing as a parent where the child has resided with the grandparent in a stable relationship.
We also see situations in which controversy has developed between parents and grandparents following a period during which a child has been placed voluntarily with the grandparent (for any number of reasons) and then later the grandparent refuses to release the child to the parent.
Sometimes these situations arise in the context of a guardianship, either an existing guardianship that an interested party seeks to terminate or facts that can form the basis for an interested party seeking a guardianship. Guardianship is another area that seems to be perpetually in flux in terms of the case law, and for which individual facts and circumstances are extremely important.