THE NEAL LAW FIRM Oneonta, AL. 205-625-6900


view:  full / summary

Child Custody Issues

Posted by on February 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (183)

Child Custody Help and Advice Center

No other single issue is more heated, emotionally charged, and important in the law than child custody matters. For decades, people have fought over their rights to obtain custody over the children when a relationship or marriage goes south. The help of an expert child custody attorney is necessary to protect your rights as a parent—congratulations on taking the first step toward fighting for your children!

Child Custody Results

A professional child custody lawyer, as you will find here, will explain to you that gone are the days of simply granting mother custody over the kids–now, most jurisdictions across the United States follow the “best interests of the child” standard, whereby the court takes into account literally dozens of factors to determine where the child or children should reside as their primary residence. An experienced lawyer fighting on your behalf will explain the details of your case with the care, confidentiality, and compassion that you and your family deserve, and only an expert can tell you what your chances of winning are.

Most courts take into account dozens of factors in determining custody, including:

The preferences of the child (if over age 13)

• The wishes of the parents

• The mental and physical health of all parties involved

• How the child adjusts to his/her environment in school, home or the community

• History of violence by either of the parents

By no means is this a complete list or necessarily the order of most importance, but this is a list of special considerations that should be taken into account.

Child Custody Help: What is Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody?

An experienced child custody attorney will explain the details of exactly what the difference is between joint custody and sole custody—but here is a basic primer. In most cases, joint custody is based on the courts belief that encouraging parents to work together for the best interests of the child is of utmost importance in developing a healthy relationship with both parents and the child.

Joint Custody

Joint custody means that both parents share the responsibilities of the children and should work together to approve any major decisions related to the children’s lives. For this reason, most courts encourage joint custody, whereby one parent is still the custodial parent (where the child lives most of the time) and the other parent is the noncustodial parent (where the child has visitation with the other parent). The reason is straightforward and simple—having both parents in a child’s life is important for literally dozens of reasons to help a child grow up with positive influences from both parents.

Sole Custody

Sole custody of a child, which is granted in some situations, is where the primary care giver (custodial parent) does not need to work with the other parent to develop plans of how the child should be raised or to make big decisions on medical procedures or little decisions such as after school activities. However, many courts are now moving towards allowing the non-custodial parent certain rights regarding serious medical procedures and extreme sports. Because of the changing laws, it is advisable to speak with an attorney who specializes in child custody matters.

Hiring an expert child custody attorney that will fight for you on issues of sole custody or joint custody is essential to protecting your rights an ensuring that your family is cared for in the way that they deserve. What are you waiting for—the most important thing your life—your children—are depending on you to fight for them! Get the child custody help you deserve!

How To Keep What Is In The Best Interest Of The Child In A Custody Case

When making a decision in regards to a child’s welfare, including child custody, the court’s primary focus is on what is in the best interests of the child. Every child custody plan must show how and why this is the best option for child, otherwise it will not be considered. Child custody and child access, like child support, are the right of the child, not the parent. Therefore separate family law issues such as a father’s or mother’s rights, are not the primary focus when dealing with how to help with child custody matters. The child has the right to have as much contact with each parent as is consistent with the best interests of that child. The best interests of the child are determined by a number of factors, including:

the love, affection & ties between the child and each person seeking child custody or access

• the ability and willingness of each person to encourage a relationship with the other person

• the permanence of the family unit that the child would live in

What is determined to be in the best interests of the child is not based on any generalizations about child custody and access. Each child custody case must be decided based on the individual details of each custody case, and the evidence that has been presented. Having your particular child custody case or questions evaluated through us online simply by filling out the contact form on the right of this page so we can assist you with your unique situation, will help ensure that you will be on the right track in what to do for your child custody situation – that will be truly be in the best interest for your particular child and how to handle the custody case.

Ten Tips for Going Thru a Divorce

Posted by on May 17, 2013 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (54)

Ten Tips for Going Thru a Divorce

The following are some tips and best practices for working with your divorce or family law attorney. The following is NOT, nor is it meant to be legal advice. These are general guidelines that will give you a higher liklihood of reaching the best possible outcome with your family law case. If you have questions about your particular situation, it is always best to communicate directly with your family law attorney.

Always abide by all Court orders.

Make all payments of debts timely as ordered by the family law court.

If you are ordered to make spousal maintenance or child support payments, pay promptly as ordered. If you genuinely are unable to do so, advise your spouse and call your family law attorney immediately. Do not take it upon yourself to change the Family Court order.

If a change of circumstances occurs such as layoff, loss of job or a substantial reduction in pay, an accident, medical emergency, etc., advise your spouse and also contact your family law attorney as they must be informed of the problems in order to properly advise you.

Do not quarrel or argue with your spouse although constructive discussion of problems is healthy.

If you believe there is a chance for reconciliation or if there is an agreement between the two of you to attempt reconciliation, contact your attorney immediately so that he or she may secure a Court order suspending the divorce for a period of time up to 90 days. If the 90 days suspension is used, the divorce will either be dismissed or continued without prejudice to either party. Please note that a divorce may be dismissed at any time.

For a number of reasons, take care with whom you discuss marital problems other than your divorce attorney no matter how inquisitive they may be. Generally they will be without sufficient legal knowledge to properly advise you. Secondly, what you say may be misconstrued, get back to your spouse, and create more difficulties.

Be sure to advise your family law attorney and the Court of any address changes. Your attorney also needs to be aware of phone number changes or employment changes. When communicating with the Courthouse, use your case number.

If you have questions about your divorce, custody or modification process, write them down and call your family law attorney. Do not rely on advice from family or friends as only your attorney can give you sound legal advice.

Stay in close communication with your family lawyer as issues arise and things change. It is important that your lawyer be advised of things that may seem very personal, such as a pregnancy, new relationship or financial changes. While not always, these issues sometimes impact the process of the family law court, as well as the settlement of the marital issues.

These tips were compiled by the Neal Law Firm who handles Divorce and Famly law. We are serving the Blount County and North Alabama. If you have questions about your divorce or family law case, you should contact your attorney. If you are facing a divorce or family law issue and do not currently have legal representation, call Attorney Brandon Neal for a free initial consultation regarding your family law case in our offices in Oneonta, AL.


Divorce -Why Hire an Attorney

Posted by on April 17, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (6)

DIVORCE - Why Hire an Attorney

If you are considering legal assistance in regards to your marriage and family situation you might want some answers before taking the next step. A divorce lawyer specializes in issues pertaining to dissolution of marriages whether through annulment, legal separation, or divorce. They also specialize in other issues involving marriage and family such as adoptions and wills while practicing as family law practitioners. Regardless of your reasons in seeking legal assistance, retaining a divorce lawyer is a wise choice to make in dealing with your marital and family situation.

Depending on the circumstances of your marital situation, a divorce lawyer is qualified to offer legal assistance that will make going through the divorce process less stressful. Retaining a divorce lawyer for the purpose of dissolving your marriage will give you the assurance that your legal rights will be protected. In seeking a divorce lawyer's counsel, you will avoid a lot of unnecessary headaches in making rash decisions on your own, especially when there are a lot of issues that need to be settled.

Having a divorce lawyer represent you is also a good support system in dealing with the stress of going through a difficult time. A divorce lawyer will be able to handle any child custody issues, settlement of child support/alimony, division of assets, and pre-nuptial agreements, as well as being more objective than you or your close support people could be.

In some situations where both parties mutually agree to dissolve their marriage the couple can retain a divorce lawyer together for legal assistance. However in the majority of cases where the divorce is contentious usually only one of the parties will consult a divorce lawyer to file for divorce. In this case, your divorce lawyer will have to draw up the petition for divorce as requested by the person seeking the dissolution of the marriage. This person will sign the petition which is then served to the other party. Most of the time, when the divorce is contentious your divorce lawyer will be able to represent you in court.

Getting the best divorce lawyer in your area is critical to making sure you get everything you are entitled to during the divorce proceedings. Don't be afraid to ask questions and let the attorney know what you fear most about the divorce or facing you’re soon to be ex-spouse. If you have problems, that is what your divorce attorney is there to take care of. You no longer will need to speak with your ex or be worried about making the right decisions. A compassionate attorney will help you get through your divorce and on to the next chapter of your life. It is wise to be cautious of attorneys that offer "to good to be true" pricing on the divorce. Often times the old saying you get what you pay for is true in these situations. Divorces that are advertised at very low amounts often times have many hidden fees that add up to thousands of dollars before the process is completed.

At the Neal Law Firm we work closely with our clients to make the divorce or separation process as painless as possible. We offer not only legal support, but offer other support systems that will help you move forward into your new life. Give us a call today to set up your initial consultation!  205-625-6900


Posted by on April 13, 2013 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (9)

The Adoption Process

There are many ways to adopt a child. These are the most common:

Agency Adoptions: Both private and public agencies offer adoption services. These agencies are heavily monitored and regulated by the government, and are generally less expensive than other resources. As a drawback, agency adoptions usually involve long waiting periods, a complicated application process, and home study procedures.

Private Adoptions: With private or independent adoptions, a child is placed with adoptive parents without the involvement of an agency. As a result, the adoption process is often faster and more efficient. The major drawback is that private adoptions are usually more expensive because of the absence of government subsidies and support services. Private adoptions are also illegal in several states.

Stepparent Adoptions: It is becoming more common for parents to remarry and have their new spouse adopt their child from a previous relationship. In order for a stepparent to adopt, he or she will need the written consent of the other biological parent. If this consent is denied, the stepparent must petition the court to terminate the parental rights of the biological parent.

Do I Need to go to Court for an Adoption?

All adoptions, whether through an agency or done privately, must be approved by a court. This is why it is best to hire an attorney to walk yo thru the process. The adoptive parents must petition for approval from the court as well as participate in an adoption hearing. Additionally, prior to any hearings, anyone who is required to consent to the adoption must receive notice. This includes any biological parents, adoption agencies, or the childs legal representative (if a court has appointed one), and the child if he or she is old enough.

If the court determines that the adoption is in the child's best interest, the judge will issue an order approving and finalizing the adoption. This order, usually called a Final Decree of Adoption, legalizes the new parent-child relationship, and changes the child's name to the name the adoptive parents have chosen. This information is offered in general terms and is not meant to be used without the assistance of an attorney.


10 Reasons You Need a Will

Posted by on April 12, 2013 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (82)


1. No Bond – When one passes without a will, they are said to have passed “intestate” and their estate will then be administered by a court appointed representative. This representative will then be required to purchase a bond to insure that the estate is properly administered. This Bond can prove very costly and is determined based on the size of the estate. The cost of the bond (frequently in the thousands of dollars) will be paid from the estate. A well drafted will can contain a provision that will relieve your heirs from this burden and cost.

2. Control over unique assets/eliminate or reduce fighting among heirs – The laws of intestate succession in this state do not take into consideration your personal feelings and wishes regarding your assets. In the absence of a will those personal items of yours that have sentimental value and represent a connection between you and your family will be distributed by an administrator selected by the court. Your personal wishes will not be considered. This can lead to disputes among heirs which will result in unnecessarily hurt feelings and additional costs as your family turns to the courts to distribute your assets.

3. No administration fees – The laws of intestate succession require that your estate pay for an administrator to distribute the assets of the estate. With a well drafted will you can designate an executor of your choosing to distribute the estate. You can also direct that the executor administer the estate for little or no fee.

4. Chose your own representative – When you have a will prepared, you select an executor to administer the estate. You have the ability to select someone who is both trustworthy and competent to see that your wishes, not the states, are followed.

5. Chose your children’s guardian – Many people believe that they are too young to worry about a will. If you have any assets at all or have children then you need a will. Where will your children go if you should pass away? If you do not have a will the state will decide who will have custody of your children. Failing to settle this issue with a will frequently leads to high litigation costs as in-laws and relatives square off in the courtroom competing for guardianship. Such litigation drains the estate of assets that could be left to your children, drains competing family members of their assets and strains or destroys family relationships.

6. Disinherit unwanted heirs/Include new beneficiaries (paternity/heirship issues) – With a will you choose where the assets of the estate go. Without a will the state will not distribute money to your favorite charity. Without a will your assets will be distributed to family members without regard to need or affection.

7. Real Property – Planning your estate with a professional allows you to provide for certain assets to pass outside of the estate. Other legal documents, including trusts, deeds and insurance policies can effect what is considered to be part of your estate.

8. Tax considerations – The law regarding taxation is always changing, but a competent advisor can help you distribute your assets before and after death without allowing the tax man to take too big of a bite.

9. Succession consideration for businesses – Businesses are usually formed as perpetually enduring entities. However, what happens to your interest in the company when you pass? Does it fall to the other members? Or do your loved ones receive an ownership interest in the company? Your will and other legal instruments can smooth this process.

10. Burial and final care plans – The loss of a loved one is never easy. In addition to the unavoidable heartache, families who have no will to direct them are left to make decisions regarding your final arrangements without your direction. A well drafted will can ease this burden and allow your family to grieve instead.

The following language is required pursuant to Rule 7.2, Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers. This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.