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Delk & Tomlinson Law | Family Law for Men Montgomery AL


By delktomli48103527, Mar 10 2017 09:53PM

Often mediation is a tool used to settle divorce and child custody cases. Some parties willingly submit to mediation, while others are ordered by the court to mediate the case prior to having a final hearing. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows each party to have some control in reaching an agreement, rather than leaving the decision to the Judge. These are negotiations, which means that at a successful mediation, neither party leaves feeling like they won.

In most family court mediations, the parties and their attorneys are in separate rooms. The Mediator moves between the two. This is beneficial because tensions are usually high and, it is much easier to speak frankly with the Mediator outside of the opposing party’s presence. The Mediator’s job is to encourage the parties to settle and facilitate a settlement that is beneficial for all parties involved. The Mediator does not discuss anything you say with the opposing party unless you give him or her permission to discuss it with them. The Mediator listens to both sides and, relays offers and counter offers back and forth between the parties. Either a settlement is reached or the parties reach an impasse, and a good Mediator realizes settlement is impossible. This can be a long process. Be prepared, bring a book, and make sure your cell phone is charged.

If a settlement is reached, the Mediator will draft the settlement, and both parties will sign. At that point, it is a binding agreement and all parties are to act within the bounds of the agreement. Once you reach an Agreement and sign, it is very difficult to retract. If a settlement is not reached, the parties walk away and prepare for a final hearing. Nothing that occurs during the mediation can be used as evidence in a final hearing. This is to facilitate the parties’ willingness to negotiate to reach an agreement that all parties can live with.

Throughout the mediation, your attorney is there to help you negotiate to get what you ultimately need, and to ensure that any settlement reached is in your best interest.

By delktomli48103527, Feb 24 2017 10:14PM

This blog post is going to be much more personal than our normal posts. Delk and Tomlinson has begun taking on adoption clients. Our Associate Attorney, Katie Hoyt, will be handling these cases. She has a special motivation to see children permanently placed with loving families. Katie’s brother was adopted. In this post, Katie will tell the story of her family’s experience with the adoption process:

My parents were married in 1985 and planned on having multiple children. Unfortunately, when I was a toddler, my mother found out that she was unable to have any more children. Thus began their journey through the adoption process.

I was seven years old when my brother came home, but growing up we have both heard the story so many times that I feel comfortable in describing the process.

My parents worked with troubled youth through the Department of Human Resources (DHR), both in group homes, and administratively. The process began with them going to the DHR to be placed on a foster parent/adoptive parent plan. This required a home study and some classes. Back then, DHR had a list of approved organizations to complete the home studies required to adopt. These organizations required home evaluations and classes that my parents attended. The whole process took about a year.

Once approved, my parents were asked to describe the child that they would be willing to adopt. My parents were not difficult, they simply wanted to grow our family. Their only requirements were that the child be younger than I was, and that the child had not been sexually abused. They did not care what race or ethnicity the child was, nor did they shy away from children with disabilities, or children who had suffered some other form of abuse. They were prepared to take almost any child into our home and raise him or her as my sibling.

During this process, I had no idea what was going on. My parents didn’t want to excite me and have it not work out for some reason. However, at some point after they were approved and placed on a waiting list, I can remember them sitting me down and having a conversation about it with me.

I don’t remember what was said exactly, I only remember that I walked away from that conversation extremely proud of myself. I believed that I, at six years old, had just convinced my parents to get me a little brother or sister. Of course, that worked out for everyone. My parents knew that I liked to be right and win an argument, even at such a young age. I later convinced my baby brother that he was all my idea.

My parents patiently waited for a call that there was a child who met the very broad criteria. Even with so few wants, the waiting went on and on.

Meanwhile, a friend of my father’s boss mentioned that she had recently taken a friend of her daughters into her home. The friend was struggling to raise a three-month-old baby boy and had mentioned placing him for adoption if she found the right family.

My father met with the baby’s mother. From that meeting, the biological mother of this beautiful baby boy, decided that she wanted to meet my mother to decide if these were the people she wanted to raise her child. Both of my parents met with her and the baby’s biological father. The two of them decided that my parents were supposed to be their baby’s parents. The biological parents and my parents went in search of attorneys who could help them through this process. My parents did not mention any of this to me. This baby was a miracle and an answered prayer, but they were unsure if it would really come true.

The parties involved were able to find representation to help them through the legalities and finalize the adoption. My parents brought home the most beautiful baby boy and introduced me to my baby brother. He is seven years younger than me, but he has always been my big-little brother. We may not be blood, but he has and will always be my brother. We share the same bonds, experiences, triumphs, inside jokes, protectiveness, and memories. We are siblings, and I could not love him more.

The road to finding my brother was filled with highs and lows for my parents. The waiting was torture, for my mother especially, but in the end, that waiting led my family to my brother. He was definitely worth the wait. He has enriched all our lives and turned into an amazing man.

I want to help our clients find their forever families, whether that is through adopting a step-child, a child you have yet to meet, or another family member. We will also be ready to represent any parents who make the selfless decision to place their child for adoption.

If you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office at (334) 819-4810.

By delktomli48103527, Feb 10 2017 11:05PM

We know it is only February, but school will be out in no time. The schedule changes that come along with summer can be stressful on all parties involved, especially your children. There are several things that you can begin taking care of now to make these changes less stressful on yourself, the other parent, and most importantly, your children.

First, if you are a non-custodial parent who is going to be enjoying more time with your children, it is time to make arrangements to be off work for as much of your custodial time as possible. It can sometimes be very difficult to get days off in the summer, and requesting leave now may make it less difficult. While we know that it may be impossible to get that much time off, you can plan for day camps or other activities for the children when you must be at work. Start looking into those types of programs now, as they may have sign-up deadlines.

Second, if you are a non-custodial parent who has plans to take the children on a trip during your summer custodial time, make sure that you comply with any order that requires you to notify the other parent or provide them with an itinerary. In fact, now is a good time to pull out that final order or settlement agreement to make sure that you are abiding by it. It is much better to do it now, than to wait and run into an issue the day before you are supposed to leave. While planning for a vacation with your kids make sure to get a list of their medications, allergies, pediatricians, and a list of emergency contacts, just in case you cannot reach the other parent in an emergency.

Third, have a conversation with the other parent about any current issues your children may be having. It is not uncommon for children, especially younger children, to have separation anxiety when their schedules change. The best person to help you with this transition is the other parent. They can encourage the change and help the children get used to the idea of being away from them longer than normal. You can facilitate the change by speaking to the children now about the plans you have made for your time with them. Get them involved in the planning stage. Get them excited about spending that time with you!

We hope these tips make the transition into summertime custodial schedules less stressful on all involved. Feel free to contact our office at (334) 819-4810 if you have any concerns or questions about your summer custodial time.

By delktomli48103527, Jan 9 2017 10:46PM

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we may be doing our children a disservice. Often, we set lofty goals for ourselves and declare them boldly to all who will listen, including our children. We strive to teach our children about the rewards of reaching their goals through hard work. Watching parents set New Year’s resolutions and then toss them aside by the end of January sends the wrong message. This year, why don’t we try something a little different? Set Family New Year’s resolutions together.

The best way to teach your children the value of New Year’s resolutions is by making it part of the family tradition. Sit down each December and reflect on the past year, discussing your accomplishments and goals. Set your family’s New Year’s resolutions together, allowing the kids to take ownership in the goal setting for the new year.

We have compiled a list of family friendly New Year’s resolutions to give you some ideas to begin this new tradition.

1. Start a weekly ritual.

For instance, once a week have a family movie night. Snuggle up on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and show your kids the movies you loved when you were young. Another option: Have a game night. From charades and "Name that Tune" to Uno, Trivial Pursuit, or chess, you can probably find a game the whole family will enjoy.

2. Volunteer as a family.

Make a list of various ways that you want to help others this year, and then figure out a plan to make them happen. From participating in a charity walk to collecting used blankets, towels, and toys for an animal shelter, there are endless possibilities of ways to help.

3. Exercise together.

The key is to make it fun! Depending on your child's age, you can sign up for a yoga class or make an effort to take a walk or bike together. Exercise is notoriously a tough New Year's resolution to stick with, so make it goal-oriented: Train for a 5K together, Color Run, or Spartan Race, aim to hike a particular trail, or make it a family challenge by awarding points for certain activities.

4. Put. Down. Devices.

You've probably heard this one before, but it seems our addiction to electronics is getting worse and worse. Make this the year that you make a strict rule in your household: No phones, computers, and other devices at mealtime. It's amazing how refreshing and rewarding it is to have a conversation with actual eye contact. In other words, connect by disconnecting.

5. Read a Little More.

It's not only a good way to spend time together, but reading to your child, with your child, and in front of your child will also help them grow as readers.

Hopefully, these ideas will help as you set new goals for your family in 2017. Happy New Year from Delk & Tomlinson Law!

By delktomli48103527, Dec 30 2016 09:44PM

Over the summer, Governor Bentley signed a bill abolishing common law marriages after January 1, 2017. No new common law marriages will be recognized in Alabama. However, all couples who meet the requirements of common law marriage prior to January 1, 2017 will continue to be recognized as common law married under Alabama law.

Common law marriage is no longer recognized in many states. The requirements vary greatly from state to state. In Alabama, the law requires that (1) both parties have “legal capacity” to marry – aka they are both of age and sound mind; (2) you both agree to “get and be married;” and (3) hold yourselves out as “husband and wife” to friends, family, and the public. Contrary to popular belief, there is no time requirement for cohabitation.

The courts in Alabama are asked to determine whether a common law marriage exists in will contests and divorces. In will contests, the common law spouse will claim a portion of the deceased estate. In divorce cases the common law spouse will file for divorce asking for alimony or child support, while the other party claims there was no marriage. The removal of common law marriage makes what was a very gray area of the law, very black and white. Do you have a marriage certificate or not? If not, there is no marriage.

For those of you in a common law marriage prior to January 1, 2017, the Alabama Courts will continue to evaluate the validity of your marriage based upon factors that tend to prove the three requirements of common law marriage laid out above.

Some commentators are concerned that same-sex couples will be adversely affected by this law because of the possibility of their right to marry being denied in the future. If the right to marry a partner of the same sex is overturned in the future, these couples will not be able to fall back on common law marriage.

Others are concerned that the abolishment of common law marriage will force individuals to marry. We do not believe that this will be the case. However, if you do choose to stay in a long-term relationship without the benefit of marriage, especially with children, we recommend that you speak to an attorney about several things, particularly finances.

We hope that this clears up any questions you may have had regarding how this new law will affect you going forward. If you have any concerns or questions, please call our office at (334) 819-4810 to set up a consultation.

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