Monday, February 4, 2008

Free Online Summaries of Family Laws in All Fifty States

Even though the Collaborative process works best when the parties establish and focus on their own goals and interests rather than rely on arbitrary or statutory standards, some parties (and occasionally, an attorney) want to discuss how a court would handle a situation, such as child support or property division or visitation. For example, they may ask how much child support would be ordered based on a gross income of $9,000.00 per month. They often follow that by insisting that they will accept nothing less than the standard child support that a court would impose. That obviously limits options and doesn't necessarily help the parties achieve their goals.

Knowing how people often think, I prefer to use an approach that was suggested by Don Royall of Houston several years ago in a paper he presented at the Texas Advanced Family Law Seminar . He suggested that, instead of trying to not inform clients about Texas law, we should provide information about how Texas and various other states deal with the same situation. In other words, if a party wants information about the Texas child support scheme, s/he should get that information, but should also get information about how child support is calculated in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Illinois, California, Florida, Kentucky, New York, Arizona, etc. Providing that information from a variety of states encourages a party to be more creative and open to various solutions that are being used around the country. It helps a party understand that there is no single "correct" answer.

The following links were published in the South Carolina Family Law Blog and in the California Divorce Blawg to provide information for the parties to consider when they want to know about what state law provides:

The American Bar Association's Section of Family Law publishes charts in its Family Law Quarterly which summarize the basic laws in each state by topic, including custody, alimony and grounds for divorce. These charts are current as of November 2007, and they are useful as a quick reference to both attorneys and clients. Charts are available on the following subjects:

Alimony/Spousal Support Factors
Custody Criteria
Child Support Guidelines
Grounds for Divorce and Residency Requirements
Property Division
Third-Party Visitation
Appointment Laws in Adoption, Guardianship, and Parentage Cases
Download All Charts

Source: Posted on October 30, 2007 by J. Benjamin Stevens in the South Carolina Family Law Blog. Thanks to John Harding for his original article on this subject published at his California Divorce Blawg.

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