Contributed by: Alex Holder
When you decide to get a divorce, hiring an attorney is usually the first step. Seeking out an attorney is especially pertinent if you have any children, property, joint finances…etc. An attorney will be able to legally handle all assets and work out an agreement with one’s spouse. Furthermore, an attorney will help you settle out of court and aid in a compromise between the two parties versus a court battle. Alternate routes and mediation can be sought out with attorneys, and deciding which path to take can be made easier with an attorney guiding you. But, if you do not have any children or large financial assets, seeking out a pro se form to represent yourself in a divorce is the alternative to hiring a lawyer.
Previously known as a “guardian ad litem,” this attorney is appointed by the courts to represent the best interests of a child. These attorneys are able to interact with the child and see how they get along with their parents, teachers, and any other peoples involved in their life. This type of one-on-one contact with the children is something that a judge can’t see in a courtroom, meaning the ad litem will be able to make the best and most educated recommendations for the needs of the child. An attorney ad litem can be used in custody battles, situations of abuse or neglect, adoption involving a mother under 18 years of age, and various other situations where a third views and recommendations maybe needed.
One option in cases where the child can’t return to the parents, would be to grant a guardianship. When the legal parents are found unfit or unwilling to take care of a child, a guardian can become the legal parent. A guardian doesn’t have to be related to the child, but cases usually involve a relative or someone with a relationship to him or her. Other cases where guardianship is used includes elderly people who need assistance. The primary responsibility of the guardian in both cases is to watch over the finances and well being of the child or adult.
When thinking about adopting your stepchild, you first should fully understand what you’re taking on when becoming a legal parent. You will be taking on the child financially from there forward, and have the same responsibilities as their biological parent would. In this particular case of adoption, it is best to have an established positive relationship with the child. The child can give his or her opinion on whether or not he or she wants to be adopted from the age 12 and up, so having this rapport with them is helpful to make things easier for both the children and parents involved. An ad litem may tell the court if a child has a preference with which parent he or she wants to live with, but this will not always be indicative of where the child will live.
In regards to adopting a newborn child or a child from an agency, you want to be financially stable and prepared and have the ability to be involved in the child’s life. Understand that this is a lengthy process that won’t happen over night, but the reward is worth the wait.