The best divorce lawyers in Boise

The best divorce lawyers in Boise, Idaho, according to ChatGPT.

We asked ChatGPT to name the best divorce lawyers in Boise, Idaho. Here’s what it came up with:

“While I don’t have access to real-time data or individual rankings, I can provide you with a list of some well-regarded divorce lawyers in Boise, Idaho. It’s important to note that the selection of a divorce lawyer should be based on your specific needs and preferences. Consider consulting with multiple attorneys to find the one who best aligns with your situation. Here are a few prominent divorce lawyers in Boise:

  • Eric D. Anderson – Anderson, Julian & Hull LLP 
  • Lynn Davis – Lynn Davis Law
  • Donald L. Jackson – Donald L. Jackson, PLLC
  • Sean K. Olson – Olson Shaner
  • Greg S. Silvey – Hawley Troxell
  • Denise Penton – Penton Law Office, P.A.
  • Paul Augustine – Augustine Law Offices
  • David E. Kerrick – David E. Kerrick, PLLC
  • Laura J. Lockwood – Laura J. Lockwood, PLLC
  • Sarah M. Reed – Reed Law Offices

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, and there are other qualified divorce lawyers in Boise as well. It’s essential to conduct your own research, read reviews, and schedule consultations to find an attorney who is experienced, reputable, and compatible with your needs.”

How did ChatGPT Do?

  1. We couldn’t find an Eric Anderson at Anderson, Julian & Hull LLP on the firm’s website and while there is an Eric Anderson who practices law in Bonners Ferry, his middle name starts with an A. Anderson, Julian & Hull LLP also doesn’t practice family law.
  2. We couldn’t find a Lynn Davis Law via google. There is a Lynnette M. Davis at Hawley Troxel, but she doesn’t list family law as an area she practices.
  3. We couldn’t find a Donald L. Jackson who practices any type of law in Idaho.
  4. Or a Sean K. Olson. Olson Shaner is a Utah-based law firm, but their Olson is Mark, not Sean.
  5. Greg S. Silvey is an Idaho attorney, but not at Hawley Troxel.  He also appears to be an appellate attorney.
  6. Denise Penton is an Idaho attorney. She is at Penton Law Offices PLLC and her website says she practices family law. It looks like ChatGBT finally found an Idaho divorce attorney!
  7. Paul Augustine is also an Idaho attorney and he does practice at Augustine Law Offices, but the firm doesn’t have a website so ChatGBT may or may not have gotten this one right.
  8. David Kerrick appears to practice wills, business law, and real property law in Caldwell.
  9. Laura Lockwood is a family law attorney, however, she practices in Des Moines, Iowa.
  10. Sara M. Reed is an Idaho attorney, but doesn’t appear to practice family law.

Out of 10 names, only five names were Idaho attorneys and only Denise Penton appears to be a Boise family law attorney. It’s probably best not to ask ChatGPT for help selecting a divorce attorney in Boise, Idaho. The Idaho State Bar can assist with finding an attorney or you can also click here


What is a QDRO?

We asked ChatCPT a few questions about QDROs. Here’s how it did:

What is a QDRO?

“A QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order“. It is a legal order or judgment that is typically issued by a court during the division of retirement assets, such as pensions or retirement plans, in the event of a divorce or separation.

A QDRO establishes the right of an alternate payee, usually a former spouse or dependent, to receive a portion of the retirement benefits or account balances of the participant in the retirement plan. It allows for the transfer or assignment of a portion of the retirement benefits to the alternate payee without triggering penalties or tax consequences.

The QDRO specifies the amount or percentage of the retirement benefits to be allocated to the alternate payee and outlines the terms and conditions of the division. It must comply with the regulations set forth in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code.

Once a QDRO is approved by the court and the administrator of the retirement plan, the alternate payee becomes eligible to receive the designated portion of the retirement benefits directly or as a separate account.

It is important to note that the specific rules and regulations regarding QDROs may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the type of retirement plan involved. It is advisable to consult with an attorney or a qualified financial professional who specializes in family law or retirement planning to ensure compliance with applicable laws and to protect your interests.”

Does the divorce decree count as a QDRO?

“No, a divorce decree is not the same as a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order). While a divorce decree may contain provisions related to the division of assets, including retirement benefits, it does not meet the specific requirements of a QDRO.

A divorce decree is a court order that outlines the terms and conditions of the divorce settlement, including the division of property, debts, child custody, and spousal support. It may reference the division of retirement benefits but does not provide the necessary details and instructions for the administrator of the retirement plan to implement the division.

On the other hand, a QDRO is a separate legal order specifically tailored to divide retirement benefits. It must meet the requirements set forth in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the Internal Revenue Code to qualify as a QDRO. A QDRO provides specific instructions to the retirement plan administrator on how to distribute the designated portion of the retirement benefits to the alternate payee.

To divide retirement benefits accurately, a QDRO should be prepared and submitted to the court for approval. Once approved by the court and accepted by the retirement plan administrator, it becomes binding and enforceable.

Therefore, while a divorce decree may establish the intent to divide retirement benefits, a QDRO is necessary to actually execute the division in compliance with the applicable legal requirements and ensure the proper distribution of the benefits.”

How much does it cost to get a QDRO in Boise, Idaho?

“The cost of obtaining a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) can vary depending on several factors, such as the complexity of the case, the attorney or professional hired to prepare the QDRO, and the specific requirements of the retirement plan involved. It is important to consult with an attorney or a qualified professional in Boise, Idaho, who specializes in family law or retirement planning to get an accurate estimate of the costs involved.

Typically, the cost of a QDRO can include attorney fees, fees for a retirement plan expert or actuary (if necessary), court filing fees, and any other expenses related to the preparation, review, and approval of the QDRO. Some attorneys may charge a flat fee for a straightforward QDRO, while others may charge an hourly rate.

To get a precise estimate, it is recommended to contact local family law attorneys or QDRO specialists in Boise, Idaho, and discuss your specific situation and needs. They will be able to provide you with an estimate of the costs involved in obtaining a QDRO in that jurisdiction.”

How did ChatGPT do?

QDROs can be complicated to figure out, but ChatGPT generally does a good job of explaining the basics behind qualified domestic relations orders. However, if you need one, which you likely would if you are dividing a retirement account at the time of divorce between you and your spouse, be sure to find an experienced attorney to assist you with. Don’t trust ChatGPT.

How to Find The Right Divorce Attorney for You 

When you decide to end your marriage, it is important you find a divorce attorney that can represent you and help you through this difficult process. If you’ve never had to look for an attorney that you may not know what you should even be looking for. It can suddenly feel look a daunting task that may be impossible to tackle.

You should rest assured, though, that finding the right attorney for you is possible and all it takes is a little homework. It is imperative that you find a attorney who is compatible with you and understands what you want to get out of your divorce.

Finding The Right Attorney For You 

Just like in any profession, there are going to be good and bad attorneys. In order to find the right one for you, you’re going to have to ask the right questions and do your homework. Some of the top attorneys will listen to your concerns, ask questions about what you hope to achieve, and give you an honest assessment of how they feel your case will go. This is why it is important to utilize the free consultation that many attorneys provide so you can get a feel for how they work.

Further Reading:

How to Find The Right Divorce Attorney for You

Here are some things that you should look for in considering someone to be your attorney:

  • Practices family law.
  • Has worked with and can recommend other professionals. You want someone who is worked with various people as this means they’re going to have connections to help you with your case.
  • Has relevant experience. When choosing a divorce attorney, you need to look for someone who has worked on many divorce cases similar to yours. If your attorney is fresh out of law school, then you need to make sure that they are working under an experienced mentor at the law firm with the experience of handling divorce.
  • It’s a skilled negotiator. If your case can be settled without going to court, then you are going to end up saving time, trouble, and money.
  • Is reasonable. You want an attorney who advised you the subtle at the offer is fair and not encourage you to have the case struck on just to satisfy a need for revenge.
  • Is compatible with you. One of the most important things that you need to look for is that they are compatible with you. While you don’t need to become best friends, you do need to become people not with their attorney to share some deeply personal aspects of your life that pertained to divorce. If you can’t disclose information about your case, then you’re not only putting yourself at a disadvantage but also your attorney. You should be comfortable enough with them to be able to trust them with your case.

We understand that the forest is an easy and that is why we suggest working with a qualified divorce attorney from Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC

4 Common Myths About Divorce 

There are plenty of misconceptions about divorce that people still fall into. While it is often one of the hardest things that you can go through, there are still plenty of people that just don’t know the truth. Of course, there are people out there that find divorce simple and even a comfortable experience. 

The reality is that ending a marriage can be difficult and it can get even more difficult if you are being fed some misinformation. We’ve assembled a few of the most common misconceptions there are that come with divorce. 

Myth #1: Divorce is Always Contentious 

While it is true that many divorces can be emotionally painful and all parties may not agree, there are plenty of divorces out there where the couple can agree on most issues. Some of these issues could be things such as child custody, alimony, and even property divisions. When this happens, it is called an uncontested divorce. This is by far the easiest and often cheapest route to take when going through a divorce, as most contested divorces require hiring attorneys, attending mediation proceedings, or even having to attend court.

Myth #2: Adultery Costs You Everything 

The portrayal in tv and film that adultery costs someone their entire livelihood is false. Yes, it causes hurt and strained relationships, especially if children are involved, but is not a major monetary factor. The truth is that even in states that allow at fault divorces, your part in ending the marriage will only be taken into consideration when the judge considers fair property division. Adultery is not an indication that you are an unfit parent. Unless your adultery was combined with a wasteful disposition of marital assets, often it isn’t even a factor in your divorce.

Myth #3: Mother’s Always Get Child Custody 

This misconception comes from a much earlier time. While this used to be the case, the laws have been updated along with the times. Child custody is going to be awarded to whoever is the most capable of taking care of the children in question. There are often several factors that go into determining custody, such as the fiscal earnings of each parent, the relationship between the child and each parent, and even the inclination of the children if they are old enough.

Myth #4: Children Pick Who They Live With 

While in certain states, the children can give an inclination of which parent they would prefer, that doesn’t mean that they get to pick who they live with. The court is going to determine what is in the child’s best interests, even if it doesn’t align with their desires. In many states, the law does allow for children that are 12 years of age or older to make their wishes known to the judge.

We know going through divorce is a difficult time. This is why it might be in your best interest to contact a divorce attorney from Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC for more information about how to proceed with the divorce.

Questions About Divorce in Idaho

How Long Does it Take To Get a Divorce in Idaho?

Nobody enters a marriage and expects to get divorced. The simple truth is that not all marriages are going to work out. If you have made the tough decision to start the divorce process, then it is often in your best interest to find an experienced divorce attorney in your state. 

This can lead to one of the biggest questions that many people have when going through this process. Many people wonder how long it takes to get through divorce and make sure everything is completed.

How Long Does it Take? 

The truth is the time that your divorce takes is going to vary case-by-case. In some cases and in some states, your divorce can be finalized and in as little as two or three months. However, if you have several issues to hash out and your divorce is contentious, it could take much longer.

It is been found that the average time to complete a divorce from filing to getting a final court judgment average to about 11 months. Cases that went to trial took an average about 18 months to resolve fully. However, couples who can settle their issues were able to get everything resolved and completed in an average of about nine months.

What Factors Determine Length of a Divorce? 

One of the biggest factors in determining how long your divorce can take is what state you live in. Some states have what is known as a cooling-off period. For example, in California there is a six month cooling-off period, but in Idaho it’s only about 20 days. There are also going to be different factors that determine how long the cooling-off period is.

States with no cooling-off period include Georgia, Montana, New Jersey, New Hampshire and many others. It is important to keep in mind that the cooling-off period is the quickest that you can get divorced.

Another factor that is going to determine how long this process takes is a type of divorce you choose. There are several divorce options out there, such as mediation and collaborative divorce. Mediation and collaborative divorce are types of alternate dispute resolution methods. In mediation and collaborative divorce, the objective is to reach a global settlement agreement on all issues without ever stepping foot into a courthouse.

If you and your spouse can agree on all major points and reach a settlement agreement, then your case will move quickly through the legal process. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, then the time is going to increase.

One final factor to consider is how complex your divorce is. People have not been married very long and have few assets are going to have an easier time negotiating the split between the two. However, the long you were married and the more assets you have, the tougher it can be to complete and agree to the terms of the divorce.

All these factors can make it hard to answer how long it takes to get divorced, but a trusted divorce attorney from Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC, are ready to help you through this difficult process.

When to Hire a Divorce Lawyer 

When to Hire a Divorce Lawyer - Judge gavel deciding on marriage divorce

Divorce Lawyer

These days is easier than ever to file for divorce. You can find all the forms you need online, fill them out yourself, and if you follow the proper procedures you can enter marriage without involving a lawyer. There are times though were hiring a divorce lawyer is going to be highly beneficial for you and your spouse.

This is where you may wonder when you need a divorce lawyer. If you found yourself wondering if you need one or not it is often in your best interest to contact one. The big question is should you even hire a divorce lawyer if you have this question keep reading to see when we suggest you hire one.

Are You Ready to Divorce? 

Marriages can and for many different reasons and not all of them are dramatic. Often relationships just don’t work out or you may find yourself drifting apart over time. The more dramatic reasons such as infidelity, abuse, and financial betrayal are all reasons the divorce could happen. You may think this question is easy to ask but you really need to sit and consider whether your marriage is truly over or if you could work it out. The answer is going to be different for everyone and while it may seem obvious it is important to ask yourself before you start this process.

Does Your Spouse Have a Lawyer? 

If your spouse has a lawyer it is in your best interest to get one of your own. One to look at this is by comparing representing yourself against an experienced lawyer to a beer league softball player getting into the batter’s box against an MLB pitcher. While technically they’re both playing the same game the MLB player has more experience and would put you at a serious disadvantage going up against them. The same rule applies if you were to go into a divorce without a lawyer when your spouse already has one.

Do You Understand The Legal Paperwork?

This may seem obvious but many people they may think they understand it when in reality they don’t. There are numerous outlets where you can download the forms you need and fill them out but do you truly know what you’re signing? Often the legal language and paperwork are complex and very specific. This means that if you make a mistake it can either damage the outcome even invalidate the entire process. It’s why hiring an experienced divorce lawyer to guide you through the ins and outs is often a good idea.

We understand that divorce is a highly complicated and emotional process. This is why you should consider hiring a divorce lawyer like our friends at Robinson & Hadeed for the experienced hands when handling this complex matter.

Divorce and Separation Guide: Children’s Belongings dos and don’ts

divorce mediation

Divorce is a hard process for everyone involved. When a couple with children divorce, it’s hard on both parents as well as the children. However, there are things both parents can do, or avoid doing, to reduce the stress divorce often causes children.  When it comes to handling the children’s belongings, the following tips can make it easier on all parties involved:


  • If possible, buy at least two of most things to limit back and forth issues. While the extra expense may seem nonsensical, it is less stressful, more practical, and it can still be much less expensive than fighting over the return of stuff, especially if lawyers are involved. Any amount of money spent fighting over a hairbrush is probably money well spent. 
  • For common stuff – including clothes- try not to worry about what comes back and what doesn’t. The clothes are not yours. As long as your children get to wear them, it really won’t matter where they are “housed.” Really, it won’t.
  • Try to exchange things in ways that do not regularly involve your children lugging things back and forth.
  • Every so often you can arrange pick-up and delivery of large amounts of stuff. Consider occasionally mailing items or using a delivery service; another option is to drop off stuff at the other parent’s place of employment or some other agreed upon location, outside the presence of children.
  • Make exchanges in the parking lot at sports events or other activities. This way things can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle from parent to parent, or by a designee, rather than always through the children.
  • Designate a special place in the house, such as a box or basket, to hold things that should go back and forth. This is helpful in limiting the seemingly never-ending search for stuff.
  • Recognize that school uniforms, sports uniforms, and special clothing require extra attention and planning. Spares are helpful. Keep an extra uniform in your vehicle for that inevitable special delivery call.
  • Avoid having your children lug an overnight bag or other extra stuff to and from school whenever possible. While children of separation and divorce are far more numerous and less stigmatized than in years past, why bring attention to the situation? Students have enough stuff to lug around at school these days. Lugging more stuff simply leaves more opportunity for things to get lost or left behind.
  • If you believe a delayed return of a particular item to the other house will be a problem with the other parent, see that it returns in a timely manner. If it’s a clothing item, return it laundered.
  • For children’s birthdays and gift-giving holidays, communicate directly with each other about what you’re purchasing. Try hard to make some joint gift giving occur.


  • While children need to be taught responsibility for their things, you should not nag your children where “this” or “that” is located.
  • Do not resort to putting labels on clothes and identifying things as “mom’s” or “dad’s.”
  • Don’t allow your children to feel like a “bag lady” by constantly having to carry around all of their stuff.
  • Don’t try to “show up” the other parent by always buying extravagant items or spoiling the children, especially if there is significant economic disparity between parents.
  • Don’t think of keeping score of who bought what and what did not get “returned” to “your” house or the other house.
  • Don’t use your children’s stuff as your free pass to keep tensions alive with the other parent.
  • Do not rely on the other parent to provide you with anything. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
  • When the children are anywhere within earshot, do not talk about your lack of money or the other person’s spending habits. Children always need stuff. Their shoes wear out and they grow out of clothes and jacket; none of that has anything to do with your separation or divorce.

 No one gets married to divorce. They also don’t have children only to split their time. It’s not a planned thing. When it does happen, it’s important to seek guidance from a divorce lawyer like Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC, who will help and provide different options. 

Choosing a Divorce Lawyer

Going through a divorce can be an extremely painful and stressful process. While some divorces end amicably with little to no contention, this isn’t the case with every divorce. Tensions are bound to be high between you and your spouse. You may be wondering how you can protect your assets, obtain fair custody of your children, receive or avoid alimony payments, etc. You may even be confused about how the entire process works in Idaho. 

That’s why hiring a divorce lawyer is often recommended. Even just filling out and filing paperwork can be a complicated process for someone not familiar with the law. Compounded with issues like child custody, having an attorney by your side is crucial. However, you don’t want to choose the first divorce attorney you Google. Instead, by reading this guide, you can discover what to look for in an experienced divorce attorney in Ketchum, ID

Understand the Purpose of a Lawyer

While a great lawyer may be more than happy to listen to your marriage struggles and help you through the process, it’s important to realize that a lawyer isn’t a therapist. With this in mind, you shouldn’t rely on an attorney to help you decide if you should get a divorce or not. While a lawyer may advise you when it comes to a situation like whether or not your spouse should have equal child custody rights, you should only speak with a divorce attorney in Ketchum, ID once you’ve decided to go through with a divorce or separation. 

Choose a Lawyer with the Right Experience

Just because a lawyer is a qualified and experienced divorce attorney, that may not necessarily mean they’re the right person for the job. There are many factors surrounding divorce, and there are even different types of divorce, including collaborative, uncontested, and contested divorce. 

Contested divorces, in particular, can have a lot of moving parts, and when you’re dealing with elements like child custody, alimony payments, and prenuptial agreements, you’ll want a lawyer that has experience in those types of cases. That’s why you will want to ask your potential attorney if they have experience working on cases that are similar to yours and what the results were. 

Ask for Referrals and Their Past Successes 

You’ll want to ask your attorney if they have any referrals you can contact. By doing so, you can determine if they have had success with similar cases in the past and if their clients were satisfied with the results. Of course, you can ask the attorney yourself when you interview them. 

Choose a Lawyer That Will Fight For You

Going into a divorce case, you should have clear objectives or goals in mind. Although sometimes compromises are necessary, you’ll want a lawyer who will fight on your behalf. The right lawyer will be able to use their qualifications to help you receive the results you require. Of course, you’ll also want a lawyer who’s completely transparent about what is or isn’t realistic. 

These are just some of the aspects to look for when choosing a lawyer. If you’re dealing with a divorce or thinking about getting a divorce, you should contact a qualified attorney today. Our law firm, Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC, has plenty of experienced divorce attorneys in Ketchum, ID that can help.

Challenges Stepparents Face

Being a parent is rewarding, but it also comes with a fair amount of challenges and difficulties to overcome. Such difficulties and challenges can be even greater for a stepparent and there may even be more difficulties abound as well. In addition to having to adapt to the new role of a parent, being a stepparent can sometimes cause litigation issues. Today a stepparent attorney in Idaho will break down some of the unique challenges stepparents face. 

Adapting to Life as a Parent

Adapting to being a parent is a learning curve for anyone. However, this learning curve can especially be steep if you’ve never been a stepparent before and all of a sudden, you have to get used to being a parent. Even if you’ve interacted with your spouse’s children before getting married and everything seemed to be fine, there are still bound to be unforeseen challenges. 

Adapting to Blended Families

The term, “blended families” refers to when there are kids from different marriages. Having kids from different marriages can create problems for both the parents and other children. Some issues may include:

    • Not getting along: While this may mean that blended children are constantly fighting it doesn’t always have to. It may also mean that both groups of kids don’t share similar interests/aren’t bonding–for example if there are age differences–or one child is worried that they’re not getting enough attention from one of the parents. 
  • Different parenting styles: Parents often have different parenting styles. While there’s nothing wrong with this, when it comes to blended families, this can cause some clashes. 
  • Difficult parent-to-child relationships: It can take a long time for a child to bond with their stepparent especially following a divorce or the loss of their mother or father. It’s not uncommon for children of divorced marriages to start acting out or having some form of trauma. 

Litigation Issues

When it comes to being a stepparent, some people might be surprised that you don’t have all the same rights as a biological parent. By having the same rights as a biological parent, a stepparent can make critical decisions for their stepchild including medical and education decisions. 

However, the process of gaining the same rights as a biological parent can sometimes be difficult and may require help from an experienced stepparent attorney in Idaho. Although you can gain the same rights as a biological parent, you’ll often need consent from both parents and need to have lived in Idaho for at least six months. 

If you don’t have permission from both parents then your case will have to meet one of the following conditions:

  1. One of the biological parents have to be passed away
  2. One biological parent needs to be incarcerated 
  3. One of the biological parents has to be proven unfit to raise their child
  4. One of the parents willingly terminated their rights (or through litigation)
  5. There are documented cases of abuse or neglect to their child

Contact Our Law Firm Today

Being a stepparent is difficult. In addition to the many challenges stepparents face, there are also step-parent adoption challenges as well. If you’re a stepparent that wants the same rights as a biological parent, you can contact our law firm–Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC–to speak with a stepparent attorney in Idaho

Why a Divorce Lawyer May Be Necessary

Why a Divorce Lawyer May Be Necessary

Divorce Lawyers

Divorce lawyers have helped countless individuals get through this difficult divorce period of their lives. While some people may feel relieved to be finally getting a divorce, others are completely overwhelmed. A divorce lawyer from a firm like May Law, LLP can help you or someone you know gets through divorce proceedings. Having the right lawyer can make a huge difference in whether someone ends up paying a substantially large amount in divorce proceedings or a lower amount. 

How a Divorce Lawyer Can Help

A divorce lawyer can help out in a variety of ways. With their experience and knowledge they know which documents are needed to complete a divorce. They also understand the different types of situations that may arise. Some divorces are quite complex as they may have many different factors at play. Some of those factors may include child custody, alimony payments, who will receive which assets, and more. A divorce lawyer can help fight to ensure the best possibility of not losing custody of children. They also know how to negotiate alimony payments and important financial aspects. 

Questions to Ask a Divorce Lawyer

There are some important questions that everyone who is considering a divorce lawyer should consider asking. These questions include:

  • How long the lawyer has been practicing family and divorce law.
  • How many cases they have worked on.
  • More details on some of the issues that have come up in their divorce cases in the past.
  • What happens to children during a divorce. 

There are many other important questions that can be asked as well. Another especially important question that should be asked is how to properly prove that someone should receive custody of children. Crucial financial questions that go into more detail should also be considered as divorces can sometimes be quite expensive.

Child Custody & Divorce

One of the most difficult parts of a divorce is coming to terms with what will happen to children. Child custody battles have been known to be incredibly difficult with parents fighting over who will get the children. It is possible though for this to be a smooth process. That’s why having an experienced divorce lawyer who has experience with child custody can be especially beneficial. Many child custody battles are solved by having one parent taking care of the child(s) on certain days of the week with the other parent taking care of them on the other corresponding days. Legal counsel can assist with this process. 

Modifying a Child Custody Order

If you and your child’s other parent are divorcing, legally separating, or otherwise splitting from each other romantically, you may be feeling a great deal of anxiety about the child custody process. If you and your child’s other parent already have a child custody order in place, you may have concerns about how you are supposed to navigate changes in your family’s circumstances moving forward. In either case, it is important to understand that child custody orders—once effective—can be modified. However, it is also important to understand that they can only be modified under certain circumstances.

Mutually Agreed Upon Modifications

Once a child custody order is entered by the court, it can potentially be modified upon mutual agreement of both parents. Similarly, parenting plan modifications may be made by mutual agreement and notice of the modification in question submitted to the court. The formal procedures associated with modification by mutual agreement vary across the U.S. However, it is generally accepted that if a child’s legally recognized co-parents mutually agree to a particular modification that the court overseeing the case in question will honor that modification.

Take care to notify your lawyer if you want to make a mutually agreed upon modification to an existing order, though. If you don’t take proper steps to formalize the modification, it may not be legally enforceable. This could leave you vulnerable to challenging consequences should your co-parent ever “change their mind” about your agreement.

Unilateral Modification Requests

If either you or your co-parent wishes to modify your child custody order or parenting plan, it is possible to accomplish this goal without securing the mutual agreement of the other party. However, as an experienced family lawyer – including those who practice at The Law Office of Daniel J. Wright – can confirm, there are specific standards that must be met before a judge will approve of a modification that isn’t made by mutual assent.

First, the modification must reflect the best interests of the child. This is the legal standard by which all child custody disputes in the U.S. are settled.

Second, a significant change in circumstances must have occurred since the original order was made. Why? The courts like to guard against co-parents hauling each other into court over relatively minor disputes. Only when significant time has passed since the original order was entered and/or a significant change of circumstance has occurred, will a court honor a modification request made in a child’s best interests.


Reality Check: Wedding Crashers Hits and Misses on Mediation

Wedding Crashers was a huge hit and a great movie. It even inspired its own bill after it was released.

The movie starts off with funnymen Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn leading a round of divorce mediation. Like most of the movie, the scene is hilarious but unfortunately, it is the only experience or exposure some people have to divorce mediation.

Like most things in Hollywood, Owen and Vince got some things right and missed on a few other things. A quick look at each:

What Wedding Crashers got right:

  • The movie opens with emotional accusations and the parties questioning each other’s parenting styles and at least one party feeling underappreciated.  This is a common occurrence when marriages end.
  • Vince tells one of the attorneys that, “The bad idea would be to let your client walk out of here and drag this thing out another year, wasting more time and wasting more money.” If the parties ended mediation, they would likely be forced to settle the matter through litigation, which would cost more money and take much longer to resolve. In Ada County, it can take more than 10 months to get a court date for a divorce or child custody trial.
  • Owen reminds the parties of the success they’ve already had in mediation. Momentum is a valuable asset in mediation and it can be helpful to build off past successes to keep dialog moving forward to future successes.
  • Bands are like pizza, good no matter if there’s music in the air.
  • The parties bring up things in their past, such as the husband sleeping with strippers. By settling in mediation, he is able to ensure that part of his life is not discussed in open court where there will be a record and anyone is free to listen. Seriously, hearings are open to the public for the most parts. Literally anyone can just walk in, sit down and start listening to the most intimate, and embarrassing, details of your life. 
  • The parties are able to discuss things and say things to each other that they wouldn’t be able to in court. This can help lead them to closure as their relationship ends.
  • The parties reached their own solution. This is the biggest advantage to mediation. The parties are free to reach almost any agreement they want and that agreement may not be the same that a court would reach in the same situation. This gives the parties control of the process and ownership of the outcome, which tends to lead to a higher percentage of compliance than court orders.

What Wedding Crashers got wrong:

  • The parties had their lawyers in the mediation room. This is uncommon for most divorce mediations. It works better when it’s just the parties negotiating. After the parties have reached an agreement, they are free to seek the advice of their legal counsel before signing off on it.
  • One lawyer calls mediation a “bad idea.” Many lawyers like mediation because it saves them time and it saves their clients’ money. In return, they can wrap up cases faster, avoid a long drawn-out case themselves, and then their client can tell their friends that he/she uses mediation to keep costs low, which can lead to new clients for that lawyer. Not all lawyers like mediation or think it’s the best for every situation, but generally a lot of lawyers favor it.
  • Though mediation is a time where parties can discuss things they would not be able to say in court, the mediators let the parties bicker too much and for too long to likely be productive in a real session. A good mediator should keep the parties discussing the future and moving forward and not let the parties continue to bring up the past or talk down to each other.
  • Owen makes a suggestion on how to split the airline miles. It’s important that the parties make suggestions to end their conflict and that the mediator facilitates that discussion until the parties seek their opinion and some mediators may refuse to offer one at that point. Other divorce mediators might make a suggestion but it’s not typically the first move when dealing with a new issue.

Modern Divorce Trends that you Should Know About

The phrase conscious uncoupling is a way to find a way that divorce is looked at, and if you do not know what conscious uncoupling is, the phrase was termed in 2014 as a gentler way to break up. This is quite popular now and 2020 onwards since COVID-19 is changing the way that people must meet, if you haven’t got to do an in-person meeting that is going to happen online. You should talk to your divorce lawyer such as the ones available at Robinson & Hadeed about whether they have online options.

One of the biggest divorce trends that were seen in 2021 is that so much of the divorce process moved entirely online, the entire law firm department used to zoom sessions to hash out a custody arrangement, division of assets and more because of foreclosures and limited access to family law departments. And of course even with the pandemic still going on, speculation is that this is a move that is going to stay, not only is it very accessible to have sessions available online if someone wants it but it is very cost-effective.

Another trend that is seen in 2021 and onward is that something called gray divorce or silver divorce is on the rise. This is a reference to the hair color of the people in this demographic or becoming divorcees. Some of these people have been together for 20 or 30 years, and many of them have older children and very large asset pools than a younger couple that might divorce.

Because these couples are older and have been together for longer time frames, they share a lot more things, such as real estate, retirement earnings, and extensive savings accounts. Boomers age 60+ are divorcing at a higher rate than any other age group out there, and the reasons why can vary, these people are people who will probably chase their children for many years, and now that the nest is empty their lives are being reevaluated.

And of course, with the online era still full speed ahead, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, the things you are saying online can be used against you in a court of law. And this goes for divorce proceedings as well, your text messages, your social media, Snapchat, to talk and even Instagram can be used to show proof of time, place, spending habits, infidelity, and much more. And yes divorce lawyers have won custody battles by proving that somebody was out when they should’ve been in with the child by using social media accounts.

Reality Check: Elle Woods goes to court in Legally Blonde

In Legally Blonde, first-year law student Elle Woods cites Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Ruling 3.03 to replace the case’s senior attorney and her professor in Brooke Taylor-Windham’s murder defense.

There are a lot of scenes in Legally Blonde that could be fact checked, but I selected this one because “Do law students get to go to court like in Legally Blonde?” was one of the most common questions I answered during law school.

The answer to that question is yes, under the right circumstances. However, those circumstances are not present in Elle’s case.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Ruling 3.03 is an actual ruling and it does in fact cover what in Idaho is known as a limited-license.

Under the Massachusetts ruling, a senior law student may appear in court if they have completed or enrolled in evidence or trial practice courses and have the written approval by the dean of their law school under the following circumstances: 1) on behalf of the Commonwealth in certain cases; 2) on behalf of indigent defendants in certain criminal proceedings; and 3) on behalf of indigent parties in certain civil proceedings.

There are a number of problems that would prevent the judge from allowing Elle to represent her sorority sister under the rule described above.

First, Elle is a first-year law student. The rule defines a “senior law student” as one who has completed two years of law school. Elle is in her first year of law school during the movie.

As a result, she likely hasn’t taken evidence or trial skills. Both are second- or third-year courses.

Second, Brooke Taylor-Windham ran a successful multi-million-dollar fitness corporation. There are no circumstances where she’d be declared an indigent party in her current case.

Third, while her boyfriend-to-be Emmett Richmond offers to volunteer to supervise her, she did not receive the dean’s written permission to appear in court.

Not only does Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Ruling 3.03 not give Elle the authority to serve as counsel in Brooke’s murder defense case, it’s highly unlikely it would matter in the first place from a practical standpoint.

Law students in general have very limited exposure to actual courtrooms. It’s one of the many and major flaws of the legal education system in the United States. While there are programs that allow law students to serve as attorneys, it takes a few weeks after applying for a limited license to be approved by a state’s supreme court. It isn’t something a judge can just do from the bench.

Furthermore, first-year law students have very little value to practicing attorneys because they haven’t been taught anything of value yet. And there’s probably not an attorney alive that teaches any first-year law courses that would select any first-year student to go to court with them in a major case. Or a minor case. Or any case at all.

Idaho has a rule to allow third-year students to serve as limited-license interns that may represent clients in court. That rule is Idaho Bar Commission Rule 226.

Under the rule, a third-year law student, with the dean’s approval, may appear in court for certain proceedings under the supervision of a licensed attorney. The license is limited to a specific supervising attorney who has practiced law for at least five years. It is not a generic license good for any supervising attorney. A limited-license attorney may do the following things in Idaho:
      (1) Advise or negotiate on behalf of a person referred to the legal intern by the supervising attorney with the client’s informed consent, confirmed in writing;
      (2) Prepare pleadings, motions, briefs or other documents;
      (3) Participate in any civil and criminal proceedings if the supervising attorney is present;
      (4) Participate in proceedings before a court of general jurisdiction, without the presence of the supervising attorney, if:
            a. The proceedings are ex parte; or

  1. The facts and the resulting order are based upon a stipulation between the parties to the proceeding; and
    (5) Participate in proceedings before a court of limited jurisdiction, without the presence of the supervising attorney, if:
                 a. The proceedings involve an infraction or misdemeanor, proceedings tried without a jury, juvenile proceedings, ex parte proceedings or civil proceedings; and
                 b. The supervising attorney has filed a certificate in each case with the presiding judge or magistrate, certifying that the legal intern:
                       i. Has participated in at least three similar actions under the direct supervision and control of the supervising attorney;
                       ii. Is fully prepared to present the matter; and
                      iii. Has the informed consent of the client, confirmed in writing, to appear on behalf of that client.

Reality Check: Law Abiding Citizen gets bond mostly right

In the movie Law Abiding Citizen, Gerard Butler’s character, Clyde Shelton, is accused of killing two people and is attending his bail hearing. Then he starts to argue with the judge and a whole bunch of other stuff happens that probably wouldn’t happen in real life but are reason enough for you not to watch the clip from your work computer with the sound up.

But before then, his character and Jamie Foxx’s (Nick Rice) get into an argument over whether or not he should be released on bond.

Bail is set to release the defendant from custody prior to his trial, which could occur many months later. Bail allows the person to, in theory, be free to contribute to his defense’s efforts, continue to work until the trial, spend time with his family and prevents him from being held in custody longer without a conviction.

The money is exchanged for the defendant’s freedom as a way to ensure the defendant attends all following proceedings throughout his case. The money is returned to the defendant at the conclusion of the trial, through if the defendant is found guilty and ordered to pay a fine, the money can be used for that purpose.

Bail is not intended to be used as punishment or to raise funds for the government.

The idea for bail comes from the U.S. Constitution’s Eight Amendment, which states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

It’s important to notice that the amendment does not guarantee one to the right of bail, just that they should not be subject to excessive bail. Since the text offers minimal guidance, the majority of laws dealing with bail have been created by statue. Mr. Shelton’s assortment that to deny him bond is “Constitutionally offensive” is incorrect.

Further, the precedent he cited is stated incorrectly and offers no protection to him. Day v. McDonough involved the one year statute of limitations for filing habeas corpus petitions that was established by the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (AEDPA). It’s a statute of limitations case, not a bail case. Furthermore, no one uses case docket numbers to cite precedent.

The correct way to site the case is 547 U.S. 198 (2006).

The district attorney, Nick Rice, argues that Mr. Shelton should be denied bail because he has the economic means to be a flight risk and the grievous nature of his offense. Mr. Shelton argues that he has no prior offenses, that he is not a flight risk, and that the state has little evidence against him for the crime.

When determine what to set the bail, the judge gets to use his or her discretion. The judge should consider the defendant’s criminal record, if the person is a risk to society and if the person has a history of showing up for proceedings in previous criminal matters. It doesn’t look good when someone has a history of warrants for failure to appear.

The judge also considers the defendant’s ties to the community. A person who has a solid job in the community with kids at the local school and attends a church or social group regularly is probably going to be determined to be connected to the community as opposed to a wanderer. The idea is someone connected to the community has a reason to stick around and will be less likely to leave.

It is possible that the defendant could be released on their own personal recognizance without paying bail. This is typically for minor, nonviolent offenses and the defendant isn’t a risk to anyone or a flight risk.

A person might also be released on citation, where they receive a citation saying they are required to appear in court as opposed to being booked at the police station. These are used for minor offenses.

Cash bonds are what they sound like: paying the amount you owe in cash. People can also use a property bond, where they use a lien on their property as security for their bail.

Most people use a bondsman or other third party to post bail. The defendant puts up a percentage of the bail, often 10 percent, and the bondman promises to pay the full value of the remaining balance if the defendant skips out on future appearances. The idea is that the defendant is likely to appear if someone they know will be out bond money because of them or in the case of a bondsman, someone will come looking for them if they do not show up. (I’ve been told that this process is nothing like Dog the Bounty Hunter by a real bondman, but I have no way of confirming that myself.)

In conclusion, Clyde Shelton killed the two men responsible for the death of his family. Without knowing he hadn’t intended to stop there, it might have been safe to assume that he wasn’t a risk to society to cause further harm, since he only targeted those who killed his family. He also had a clean record prior to his arrest. With his family dead, he probably doesn’t have that many ties to the community, through it can be hard to tell for sure from the clip above (and I can’t remember all the movie at the moment.)

It’s likely the judge would have granted him bail, but it would have probably been set fairly high due to the nature of his offenses. However, I have no idea why the prosecutors didn’t stop all they were doing and get his confession prior to the hearing if he was interested in giving them one or why he wasn’t wearing handcuffs in court (probably because there wouldn’t be much of a movie to watch if they did).

Reality Check: Nashville’s Deacon too rich for court-appointed attorney

I used to love the show Nashville. The cast were believable as country music stars. The songs and music weren’t bad and Connie Britton is amazing in everything. 

I’ve also liked Charles Esten’s character, Deacon Claybourne.

Deacon’s a recovering addict who is always coming face to face with his demons while loving a woman who is always just out of his reach June Cash style. What’s not to like? He is literally a walking country song. After he finds out he’s the father of a 13-year-old, he does his best to build a relationship with her.

Deacon constantly walks the line between tragedy and redemption, which makes him relatable because it’s a line that we all walk at some points in our life, if not all of it.

And so, when he finds a special person whose biggest crime is being a workaholic but makes him happy, I want to be happy for him. But I can’t. Because their entire relationship is built on a falsity.

Deacon meets Megan Vannoy, a public defender played by Christina Chang, while being held in jail for suspicions of drunk driving.

Here is a quick recap of the entire series to this point: The show’s about two country stars: one’s a super star that may or may not be past her prime, Rayna James. The other’s an up-and-comer trying to take over her reign as the queen of country music. There are a bunch of other side plots with other people somehow connected to the music business. Rayna is married, Deacon still loves her.  They dated before he went to rehab the last time. Marriage falls apart. It starts to look like they are going to end up together. Everyone is happy. Rayna’s daughter finds out her dad isn’t Rayna’s husband, but Deacon. Deacon drinks for the first time in 13 years, which was also the last time he went to rehab and when Rayna got married. He gets in a car with Rayna. The two fight. She crashes the car. People assume he’s driving. She’s in a comma fighting for her life. He’s trying to plead guilty to the charges against him because he feels terrible for drinking and responsible for the accident. Some other stuff happens in between all this.

Deacon doesn’t want an attorney and wants to plead guilty to the charges. His attorney won’t let him and figures out Rayna was driving and all the charges are dismissed.

He offers to pay her fees but she refuses and suggests he buys her dinner instead. She’s a high-powered attorney who volunteers for court-appointed work after getting to know her husband’s murderer.  The two are happy on the show and will probably remain that way until Rayna decides to play with Deacon’s heart some more, probably through their daughter.

The only thing is in real life, the two would have never met. Or at least not under the circumstances of the show.

Megan was appointed to represent Deacon by the court because he refused to hire an attorney himself or otherwise represent himself.

However, courts only appoint attorneys to indigent defendants, those unable to afford one themselves, not to those who are unwilling or uninterested in hiring an attorney themselves that have the means to.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees one the right to appointed counsel if they face more than six months in jail or prison for their alleged crime, which includes all felony cases by definition.

In the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright, Justice Hugo Black wrote:

“Reason and reflection require us to recognize that, in our adversary system of criminal justice, any person haled into court, who is too poor to hire a lawyer, cannot be assured a fair trial unless counsel is provided to him.”

To get a court-appointed attorney, often a public defender, one typically has to fill out a form requesting one that outlines their assets and inability to afford to hire one on their own. Then there is a hearing, which often occurs at the arraignment, where the prosecutor will likely ask a few questions to ensure no one is hiding anything or failing to report something. Then the judge will either order to have one appointed or deny the request.

Requests are typically denied when it appears to the judge the defendant has the ability to pay for an attorney. This could include selling assets such as an extra car or motorcycle or cashing out stocks. If a person has these types of assets, the court will likely require they make use of their available resources prior to granting their request for a court-appointed one.

More often than not, I’ve seen judges grant requests for a public defender, but it’s not automatic. I’ve also seen them deny requests if it appears that they are not indigent. The point of the court-appointed system is to appoint lawyers for people who can’t afford them, not to people who would be merely inconvenienced by the need to hire one.

Deacon is a hell of a guitar player. When he crippled his hand in the car accident and questions if he’ll ever play again, he orders the sale of his guitar collection. There’s about 20 of them. He’s toured with Rayna for years and co-wrote some of her biggest hits. He toured with another band earlier in his career/the series and was featured on the cover of a popular guitar magazine on that tour (and then was replaced as a result).

He has a guitar collection worth thousands. He’s made a lot of money on tour that he hasn’t spent on drugs and alcohol because he’s been clean and sober, and he has made a lot more money off the royalties from his hits with Rayna. In other words, he has way too much money for the court to appoint him an attorney. Megan Vannoy would never have been appointed to represent him and the two would have never met him.

But it’s a TV show so they are of course dating. At least until Rayna decides it’s time for her to go.

Reality check: Carrie Underwood’s ‘Two Black Cadillacs’ is perfect recipe for first degree murder charge

In the record “Two Black Cadillacs,” Carrie Underwood sings of a man meeting his doom at the hands of his wife and mistress, who team up after learning of each other.

While it’s clear exactly what their plan consists of, it’s clear from the lyrics that their plan likely consists of a first-degree murder charge.

Idaho defines first degree murder as: “All murder which is perpetrated by means of poison, or lying in wait, or torture, when torture is inflicted with the intent to cause suffering, to execute vengeance, to extort something from the victim, or to satisfy some sadistic inclination, or which is perpetrated by any kind of willful, deliberate and premeditated killing is murder of the first degree.”

Carrie’s lyrics:

Two months ago his wife called the number on his phone
Turns out he’d be lying to both of them for oh so long.
They decided then he’d never get away with doing this to them.
Two black Cadillac’s waiting for the right time, right time.

Imagine the furry of two women scorned.

It’s enough to make them seek vengeance and satisfy some sadistic inclination with the willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of another. Deliberate means intentionally. Premeditated means to plan or think out. By deciding together to act together, which is also conspiracy, and waiting for the right time, the two planned his murder and intentionally executed it. Luckily for the two of them, they “left the secret at the grave.”

Other ways to be charged with first degree murder in Idaho include:

  1. By killing a peace officer, executive officer, officer of the court, fireman, judicial officer or prosecuting attorney who was acting in the lawful discharge of an official duty, and was known or should have been known by the perpetrator of the murder to be an officer so acting.
  2. Killing someone while having a sentence for murder of the first or second degree, including being on parole or probation.
  3. Killing someone in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, aggravated battery on a child under twelve (12) years of age, arson, rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping or mayhem, or an act of terrorism, as defined in section 18-8102,  Idaho Code, or the use of a weapon of mass destruction, biological weapon or chemical weapon, is murder of the first degree.
  4. Killing a penal institution employee, inmate or visitor while incarcerated.
  5. Killing a person while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution.

Modification of Existing Child Custody or Support Order

husband and wife in a counseling session

Solutions reached during the divorce process, especially regarding child custody and child support, may not be the appropriate solution as those children get older, parents get new jobs or raises, or parents decide to move to new places.

“Modification” means a child custody determination that changes, replaces, supersedes, or is otherwise made after a previous determination concerning the same child, whether or not it is made by the court that made the previous determination.

The changes can, and likely will, affect existing orders. As a result, parties might sometimes reach their own solutions out of court. While this is generally a good idea and can lead to a quick, and maybe peaceful, outcome, these changes won’t be recognized by the court, rendering the agreement useless for future enforcement once parties no longer agree to follow them.

These orders must be approved by the court to be effective.

To change an existing order, some states require that there be a “material change in circumstances,” or significant changes. Either parent can request a change but must show that the living circumstances for the child or income have materially changed.

Examples of material changes of circumstances for child custody include geographic moves or lifestyle changes. If the custodial parent moves somewhere, either in- or out-of-state, that will make the existing order impractical, that could be a material change of circumstances. So might a parent moving somewhere that may seriously disrupt the stability of the child’s life. In these cases, the court will use the best interest of the child standard to determine how to award custody, to include awarding the non-custodial parent custodial custody.

A lifestyle change that threatens or harms the child could be a material change of circumstances. For example, one parent might be charged with drug or alcohol charges or simply get a new job and have to leave the child home alone at night.

A loss of a job or the ability to work, a significant raise, or a change in custody are all examples of material changes of circumstances that might warrant a modification of a child support order.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and modification

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) governs child custody and visitation across the nation. The child’s home state must be established during the divorce or original custody order. This is usually the state where the child has lived for the six months prior to the original filing. Modifications to these orders must be filed in the same court and state as the original order, unless the children have lived in a new state for six months and sufficient connections to the home state no longer exist.

As long as a parent still resides in the original state where the child support order was issued, it must be modified in that state. If both parents have moved, then the parent seeking the modification of child support must file in the other parent’s state, where jurisdiction will remain until no parents no longer reside in that state. A modifications attorney from Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC can help with this process 

How to Win a Child Custody Battle

paper family with broken money heart and Child Support text

The keys to a less stressful and painful divorce are: 

1) be cordial and respectful with your former partner;

2) Remember that when it comes to the children, knowledge is power. Share with the other parent as much information about the children’s school, medical, sports or other areas that they would like to know about without making them demand that information from you;

3) When you and your ex do disagree, especially on issues that pertain to raising the children, focus on making decisions that center on the best interest of your children, not yourself.

The way to avoid disaster and best provide for your children is to start asking the right questions:
• What does winning really mean in these cases?
• How can I avoid a custody battle?
• What is fair?
• In general, what is the best schedule for children of divorced or separated parents?
• What would work best for our children?
• How can we avoid damaging our children?
• How can we reduce the costs of divorce?
• How can we reduce the anger and hostility?
• How can we learn to get along better, at least when it comes to our children?
• How can we learn to be flexible, so that things adjust as our children’s needs change?

Here are some of the right answers:
• You “win” a custody battle by avoiding one.
• You avoid a child custody battle by being fair and reasonable.
• Being fair means being respectful of your children’s relationship with the other parent.
• The best schedule for children is one that optimizes the amount of time and involvement that both parents have. The best schedule considers the needs of their children as well as the practicalities of everyone’s schedules.
• Avoid damaging your children by showing that each parent loves them unconditionally.
• Encourage your children to spend time with, and love, both parents.
• Reduce the cost by reducing the anger and hostility and by being fair and reasonable.
• Reduce the anger and hostility by being fair, reasonable, and cordial.
• Seek counseling if you are having difficulty coping.
• Take advantage of the many resources, books, tapes, and educational materials that can help you learn to communicate more effectively.
• Become a student of positive parenting.
• Work on self-improvement and be the best parent that you can be.

If you can’t avoid a custody battle and cannot reach any agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you’ll likely to find yourself in the following situation:

The judge comes on the bench and says that he has read the information in the case file and it looks like the same old nonsense that he sees every day. He then goes into a stern lecture along the lines that he does not know your children, has never met them, and out of all the people in the courtroom, he likely knows the least about them. Furthermore, even at the end of the case he will still know very little about your children. Yet, you two, the parents, are willing to let him, a complete stranger, tell you how you will raise your children.

“Make no mistake about it,” the judge will likely say, “I do have the complete and sole authority to order when each of you will see your child and when you will not. I can make the schedule for you. I can decide who makes all the decisions, some of the decisions, or none of the decisions. I can order you to all kinds of classes, treatment, and counseling if I find there is a need and that it would be in your children’s best interest. I will tell you when your vacation is and who will wake up the children on Christmas morning. And when I’m done, you are out of my thoughts and you will live with these rulings until your children reach the age of 18, or until you come back. When you come into my courtroom, your children belong to me. I will hold onto this file. I’m in charge of your children here.”

“If you cannot reach a decision by yourself on things like a holiday schedule, you surely are going to leave here very unhappy. If we have to have a trial and I have to make these decisions for you, I will have no qualms about any decisions I make. You may, but that is not my problem, it will be your problem. “

If you and your former partner cannot reach an agreement on your own, consider a divorce mediator at Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC.

Mediation is a way of resolving disputes between two or more parties with the assistance of a neutral third-party meditator, who facilitates discussion between the two parties. The parties have the final, and only, say in the outcome of the dispute and the agreement is legally binding to both parties.

Divorce and Separation Guide: Transportation dos and don’ts

divorce attorney Ketchum ID

Divorce is a hard process for everyone involved. As divorce attorneys know too often, When a couple with children divorce, it’s hard on both parents as well as the children. However, there are things both parents can do, or avoid doing, to reduce the stress divorce often causes children.  When it comes to handling transportation of the children, the following tips by Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC can make it easier on all parties involved.


  • The parent who is currently spending time with the children should be responsible for transporting them to the other parent. In doing so, the driving parent has the ability to arrive in a timely fashion and say his or her goodbyes in the car. Unless the child is very young, the parent doing the driving can simply remain in the car. The other parent can wait at his or her front door. The children can have their private and meaningful goodbyes in the car and, likewise, they can be emotionally free upon entering their other home. There is very little opportunity for unpleasant conversation, remarks, or dirty looks. No one is caught in the middle of anything; even a door slam has little meaning or effect, and is therefore unlikely to occur.

Another major benefit to this method is the wonderful message that comes with it. By taking your children to be with their other parent, to a certain extent, you are expressing approval of that relationship and are taking some responsibility for maintaining it. The driving parent also has the responsibility to make sure everything that needs to be done prior to departure is completed in a timely fashion. Remember, when you are in the driver’s seat, you control the process.

Even when you’re running late, the parent who is waiting to receive the children is far better off waiting in the comfort of their own home than on your porch feeling belittled.

  • Share transportation duties for extracurricular activities in a similar fashion. If there is a game or practice that falls on “your” scheduled time with the children, take them to the event. In addition to teaching punctuality, this shows your children that you consider their activities to be important.
  • Use the time in the car to talk with your children and follow up on any topics you’ve been discussing at home.
  • Remind your children they can use the transportation time for reading, homework, or working on a continuing project or hobby.
  • Consider playing educational podcasts or audiobooks.
  • Depending on the traffic and the age of your children, use the time as simple quiet time. Even children sometimes need, and welcome, some time to stare out the window and think or simply “zone out.”

Further Reading:

How do I get divorced in Idaho?


  • Don’t leave all the driving to one parent.
  • Don’t object to providing transportation if, and when, it is for the benefit of your child.
  • Don’t deny any parental access because of transportation disputes.
  • Don’t intentionally pull up onto the lawn of the other parent and do burnouts.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

Reality Check: Parks and Rec’s Ben Wyatt gives Ron Swanson will advice

In Parks and Recreation, Ron Swanson reveals his will leaves everything he owns to the man or animal that kills him. It’s the same will Ron has had since he was eight years old.

In the subsequent dialog, Ben tells Ron that his document is “nothing, it’s not even notarized” and that if he dies without a will that most of what he owns will go to the government.

How much, if any of Ron’s will would hold up in an Idaho court and how much of Ben’s advice should you trust? The answer to both questions is the same: very little, if any at all.

For guidance on navigating these two questions, I turned to this handy self-help guide, prepared by the Idaho State Bar’s Taxation, Probate & Trust Law Section

You must be 18 to execute a valid will

Ron’s first issue is that he wrote his will when he was eight. There isn’t an expiration date on wills. A will lasts until the person who executed the will decides they want to update it. The most current will governs the estate upon death, but there isn’t a set period of time a will “lasts” for. It is however a good idea to get a new will as significant events in your life occur, such as getting married/divorced, having children, losing children, having grandchildren or a drastic change in income.

However, one must be 18 to execute a will. Idaho Statute 15-2-501 states any emancipated minor or any person eighteen (18) or more years of age who is of sound mind may make a will.

The second sentence of that statue also states “A married woman may dispose of her property, whether separate or community, in the same manner as any other person subject to the restrictions imposed by this code. ”Big win for women’s equality in 1973!

So while it’s been many years since Ron wrote his will, that alone won’t be a show stopper. The fact that he wrote it at eight will be.

Wills can be handwritten without the aid of a notary (but you shouldn’t actually choose that method)

Putting that aside for the moment, Ben is wrong to tell Ron his will doesn’t count because it’s written by hand and isn’t notarized. Idaho laws recognize handwritten wills, which are called holographic wills. This guide from Idaho Legal Aid can walk you through the process to draft your own will, but doing so is generally not the best idea because it becomes easy to miss something drafting your own will.

While a notary isn’t required to execute a will, it is a good idea to have your will notarized. Having it notarized makes it a “self-proved” will, which means your witnesses won’t have to testify as to your proper signing of the will at probate proceedings. It’s very unlikely any will an attorney drafts for you won’t be signed by a notary, thereby freeing your witnesses up from having to testify in court.

So Ben was wrong, you can handwrite your own will without the assistance of a notary. It’s just not the best idea to do so.

Most of Ron’s property will not go to the government when he dies

Ben was also wrong in telling Ron that if he dies without a will, most of what he owns will go to the government. The state is literally the last in line when it comes to distributing your property after your death and will make an effort to find someone else you are related to to distribute it to first.

If you die without a will, which is referred to as “intestate,” your property passes according to the laws of Idaho. In general, a surviving spouse receives all of the community property and the spouse and children share the decedent’s separate property.

If there is no surviving spouse, the property is equally divided among the children. There are additional steps taken if there are no surviving children until someone can be found to inherent the property before the state would take it.

People who intentionally kill you can’t inherent under your will

As discussed above, Ron’s will will not hold up in court because he was eight when it was written and therefore not valid, but despite being exactly one-sentence long, there’s a major problem in that sentence that would prevent Ron’s property to being passed as he wishes.

While leaving animals large sums of money isn’t (completely unheard of, most states do not permit someone to profit from a crime and Idaho bars a person who willfully and unlawfully kills the decedent from subsequently inheriting from the estate. This means that Ron’s property cannot pass to the man or animal that kills him. Idaho Statute 15-2-803 does allow for the property to pass through the slayer, meaning that if a son willfully and unlawfully killed his mother and was to inherent under her will, he would not be able to, but his children still could.

Having an invalid will is like having no will at all

As a result of having an invalid will, Ron’s estate would be treated as if he had died intestate and distributed in accordance with state laws. Fortunately for Ron, he decided to draft a new will later in the episode that ensured his stepchildren would be taken care of, but not spoiled, after his death.

Side bar:

Ron admits during the episode, and several other ones in the series, that he owns bars of gold buried in various, secret places. He has a vacation cabin and tries to buy items in straight gold. When he shows Ben the amount of money he wishes to leave to each of his stepdaughters, Ben’s jaw drops when Ron tells him that the amount he is looking at is equaled to only five percent of his estate. If you have a large estate, multiple residents or bars of gold buried in secret places, it’s definitely a good idea to have more than a single-sentence will.

Reality Check: ‘Double Jeopardy’ doubly flawed

In the 1999 movie Double Jeopardy, Ashley Judd’s character is in prison after being convicted for murdering her husband – who she later learns is still alive and framed her for murder to run off with her best friend, as opposed to hiring a divorce attorney like most people would do.

A lawyer-turned-felon advises Judd’s character that she should do her time in prison and then kill her husband once she’s released because she would not face criminal action for committing the same crime twice under the double jeopardy clause of the Fifth Amendment.

“You can walk right up to him in Time Square, put a gun to his head and pull the fucking trigger and there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” she tells her.

Later in the movie her probation officer, who used to be a law professor, confirms she could kill her husband in the middle of Mardi Gras to the same result.

The double jeopardy and the Fifth Amendment, in general, is awesome because it prevents a government from forcing a person to stand trial multiple times for the same offense. However, it would offer Judd’s character little protection if she were to murder her husband in the middle of Time Square or Mardi Gras.

(Spoiler alert: she shoots him at the end of the movie in what would probably be self-defense, but that’s a different topic altogether.)

An Overview

The double jeopardy clause comes from the Fifth Amendment, which states, in part:

“…nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb;…”

It does allow for people to be charged with multiple offenses from the same incident, but not multiple times for the same offense.

Simply put, a person who walks up to another person and pulls a gun, takes their watch and hits them in the head with the weapon before running off has probably committed at least robbery and battery, if not other crimes. That person could be charged with both offenses in a single trial, as well as single offenses in separate trials.

Suppose that person is tried for both robbery and battery and found not guilty, the government is barred from charging that person with robbery again in subsequent trials. Our founding fathers did not want the government to be able to continue to prosecute someone over and over until they reached a verdict it was happy with. The clause limits the government to one shot at attempting to prosecute suspected criminals (hung juries and mistrials would be an exception).

What is protected

The clause specifically states, “life or limb.” Fortunately, the Supreme Court has expanded the clause’s protection to criminal proceedings that aren’t for capital offenses. This includes felonies, misdemeanors, and juvenile-delinquency adjudications. It does not protect money. A person can be sued in both criminal and civil court for the same incident, which most people remember from the O.J. Simpson trials. The government can also bring civil or administrative charges after prosecuting in criminal court for the same act.

The reason for this is that civil proceeding focus primarily on money and returning the injured party to a whole state. Criminal proceedings focus on punishment and deterrence.

For example, suppose George Washington comes onto your property and cuts down your cherry tree. The state could prosecute him for trespassing and you’d still be able to proceed after him to recover the value of your tree. Suppose he cuts down a tree on federal land and violates an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order in the process and drives a truck to the tree and destroys half an acre of the orchard in the process. The government could prosecute him for trespassing and the EPA could come after him for any EPA violations and fines.

When does the double jeopardy attach?

Jeopardy attaches during a jury trial when the jury is empaneled, or selected. In criminal cases without a jury, jeopardy attaches when the first witness is sworn. In juvenile-delinquency adjudications, it attaches when the court first hears evidence.

If the defendant enters a plea agreement with the prosecution, jeopardy does not attach until the court accepts the plea.

Who does double jeopardy protect you from?

The double jeopardy clause protects you from a government or sovereignty. This is significant because we are generally subject to the laws of at least two governments: state and federal. (I’m not including tribal lands in this analysis.)

It’s possible to face both federal and state charges for actions committed during a single incident. For example: if you steal a car in Wyoming, kidnap someone else in Idaho and drive them to Texas, the state of Wyoming could prosecute you for stealing the car and the federal government could prosecute you for bringing the kidnapped victim across state lines, which is a federal offense. The state of Idaho could also prosecute for the kidnapping since it occurred there in violation of state laws.

What counts as the same offense?

This is one of the more litigated and discussed areas in the clause. Essentially, one offense is the single instance of committing the crime.  You can commit multiple offenses at the same time in a single act, which makes this a confusing concept. In an earlier example, someone pulled a gun on someone, took their belongings and then hit them. In that case, they could be charged with both robbery and battery but after the robbery trial was over, they would not be able to be charged with burglary and forced to face a new trial.

The Verdict

Judd’s character faces two huge hurdles to the double jeopardy clause she would not be able to overcome had she carried out a plan to kill her husband.

First, the killing would have been a different offense committed at a different time than the charge she was convicted of. The question becomes, “How could you be convicted of killing the same person twice if you were convicted of killing them the first time and murder means they are dead?” This is the entire premise of the movie.

But think about it outside the context of murder, which is often times more final than other crimes. Think about it in terms of robbery. Suppose you rob someone on Monday at 6:30 p.m. coming out of a bank. You get convicted and sent to prison and later released. Then you rob the same person eight years later at 6:30 p.m. coming out of the same bank.

Do you think that you’d be able to get away with the second robbery because you already went to prison for committing the first offense? People are going to say, no, that’s silly. You can’t keep robbing the same guy over and over again and not get in trouble just because you got caught the first time.

It would be the same in this instance. She would be legally committing a different murder by killing her husband who had not actually died the first time. She could be prosecuted for that crime. The clause would protect her had she been found non-guilty the first time from being prosecuted again for the first “murder,” but not a subsequent act.

If she was to kill her husband and be convicted of his murder the second time her lawyer should ask for credit for time served from the first sentence in hopes of keeping her out of prison, through she’d still have the conviction on her record. She could also ask for a jury trial and challenge them to send her back to prison after serving time for a crime she did not commit. It’s possible the jury could feel sorry for her and understand why she killed him and find her not guilty, but that would be a risky strategy. A good prosecutor would also try really hard to find a way to keep evidence of that conviction out of court.

Second, she would face a huge problem if she were to kill him in Time Square or the middle of Mardi Gras because she was convicted in Washington and the clause protects her from subsequent prosecution by the same government.

The states of New York and Louisiana would basically say, “We don’t care that you were prosecuted for this crime in Washington. That was the state of Washington prosecuting you. Any protection you have for that would be against the Washington government, not us. Go directly to jail. Do not collect $200.”

Bonus fact: It is possible to be convicted of killing the same person twice in two states. In Heath v. Alabama, 474 U.S. 82, 106 S. Ct. 433, 88 L. Ed. 2d 387 (1985), the defendant committed murder in the state of Alabama and then took the body to Georgia, where officials found it. Both states prosecuted Heath and convicted him of murder for the same action, and the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the convictions to stand.

Reality Check: Chuck vs. The Prenuptial Agreement and Idaho Law

In the classic TV show Chuck, CIA agent Sarah Walker springs a prenuptial agreement on her fiancé, Chuck. 

Chuck was a regular guy working at a Best Buy-like store until he accidentally downloaded the government’s most top-secret computer into his brain. Walker and her partner, NSA agent John Casey, team up to protect Chuck from bad guys wanting to access the computer for evil. Throughout the series, Chuck proves his value as a spy and falls in love with Walker in the process.

The two get engaged, start to plan their wedding, go on spy missions together and then Sarah springs a prenup agreement on Chuck.

However, there are both legal and practical problems with the way Sarah presents the prenup agreement to Chuck.

First, while the number of people who chose to sign a prenup prior to getting married has increased recently, it’s generally a good idea to discuss the topic with one’s partner before asking them to simply sign and return the forms.

Idaho is a community property state. This means that property is either classified as personal or community property during a marriage – or realistically, at the end of it when it comes time to divide it. Personal property is property that belonged to a spouse prior to the marriage or was a gift or inheritance during the marriage. Community property is property acquired during the marriage. It also includes the amount of any personal property that increases during the marriage.

When a couple gets divorced, the community property is distributed through state laws, which requires each party receives an equitable, but not equal, share. A prenup agreement allows a couple to determine prior to marriage how their property will be distributed should their marriage ultimately end before death does them part.

Prenuptial agreements are a good idea in the following situations if one or both partners:

  • Owns a business
  • Have more than $200,000 in assets, such as a home, retirement funds or stocks
  • Have children from a previous marriage
  • Have parents or other family members they may need to eventually care for.

Or if one of the partners:

  • Is wealthier than the other
  • Will be supporting the other through college or another advance degree.

Prenup agreements can eliminate stress before, during and after a marriage because the parties will know where they stand at all times when it comes to protecting their assets and the other’s as well. 

It took more than 10 years for Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger to get divorced because they couldn’t figure out how to divide Arnold’s vast fortune. Everyone gets married with the idea they will be with their spouse for the rest of their lives. No one gets married thinking it could take more than a decade to finalize a divorce after you find out your spouse fathered a child with a member of the household staff.

People might choose to pursue a prenup agreement at the advice or pressure of their family members. If one feels they have no choice to get one and would prefer not to, they could draft a clause that removes the agreement after a certain amount of years or include one that states after X years of marriage the property will be spit a certain way and that at Y years it will be done a certain way and so forth.

The good thing about agreeing to a prenup agreement is that it gives parties a chance to draft an agreement that works best for them when their relationship is at its best. It is far better than trying to reach an agreement at the end of a marriage when the state’s laws apply and the relationship is strained or worse.

Parties are free to contract whatever agreement they choose, with the exception of future child support and custody arrangements.

Realistically, not everyone needs a prenup, but it is a good idea for everyone to discuss finances before marriage and the prenup conversation can be part of those discussions, even if it’s decided against.

For a prenup agreement to be valid in Idaho, it must be executed voluntarily, not be unconscionable and include a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party.

The best way to ensure one is valid is to give the other party a chance to review it prior to the actual ceremony and providing them the chance to seek independent counsel to review the document prior to signing it.

It’s also important to ensure the other party fully has an understanding of all the assets prior to signing it so they can fully understand what it is they are agreeing to potentially give up in the event of a divorce.

While this doesn’t have to be a full and complete disclosure, it has to be of the nature to let the party fully understand the wealth of the other party and what assets they could potentially be giving up at the conclusion of their marriage.

When Sarah asks Chuck if he wants to know why she’s asking him to sign it, it’s not really an option for him to decide. She’s required to let him know that, “by the way, I have a huge stockpile of money you don’t know about I don’t want you to have any access to.” That’s the very nature of the disclosure the law requires to be a valid agreement.

It’s possible she doesn’t actually need the prenup agreement, at least not in Idaho, as the money would likely be considered her separate property. She has it in a separate account and has accumulated it prior to her pending marriage.

However, she could run into some problems if there was a 14th season and a divorce that followed when it became time to distribute their community property. For example, suppose she doesn’t touch the money and it grows in interest. Chuck would be entitled to half of the interest without a prenup agreement. Suppose they bought a house together and she used the money to make improvements to it and they want to sell the house when they get divorced, she would have to figure out what she’s entitled to then.

Suppose she gives Chuck access to the account during their marriage and he gets his paycheck deposited there and they use the account for community purposes. At what point does she lose the right to claim the funds as separate property?  These are questions that her and her prenuptial agreement lawyer would have to spend time arguing with Chuck and his prenuptial agreement lawyer about when they got divorced, so it’s likely that a prenup agreement would still be best for her.

She’d just be wise to discuss it with him prior to asking for his signature.

Bonus: Check out the prenup agreement they actually ended up signing. 

We’re your prenuptial agreement attorney in Idaho

Our approach to practicing law is simple: be reliable, accessible and transparent. We provide an unparalleled level of accessibility and responsiveness to our clients. If you’re in need of a prenuptial agreement attorney we can help! Serving Boise, Coeur d’Alene, and the surrounding Idaho areas. Contact us today!

What Parents Should Know About Modifying Custody Orders

Divorced parents or parents who have always lived separately from one another need to be able to communicate well to co-parent effectively, but it is certainly understandable that they will not always agree on everything. If they cannot reach an agreement about child care or custody, they may seek a judicial remedy.

Legal Modification of Custody Orders

Matters related to custody can become a subject of serious contention. During divorce hearings, custody may be one of the most difficult issues to resolve. After reaching a common understanding or getting a judicial ruling, revisiting the issue can become even more contentious.

However, making changes to a custody or parenting time arrangement may be essential to promoting children’s best interests. If parents cannot agree to a modification themselves, one parent may petition a court to modify an order by presenting evidence that the change is necessary.

Changes in Circumstances Which May Merit Modification

When a court enters an order pertaining to child custody, its ruling is based on the circumstances at the time. If one or both parties’ change living situations or their ability to care for their children changes over time, a court will hear a request for modification. In general, a change in circumstances must be material.

For example, one parent may be unable to spend as much time with his or children after a job change. Alternatively, a move could make caring for children difficult because of the size of a home or where it is located in relation to children’s school or their support network.

Concerns About the Care That a Parent Is Providing

As a drop protective order lawyer, like one from May Law, LLP can explain, parents who feel that their children are not receiving adequate care in their current custody arrangement will likely want to take immediate action to remedy the situation. In order to get a modification on this basis, a parent will need to produce substantive evidence that a child’s other parent is not providing proper care. A parent may cite issues such as unaddressed medical or mental health care needs.

Problems in school could also indicate that a child is not doing well in the current custody arrangement. Likewise, concerns about parental fitness may be a basis to request a modification. A problem with substance use, for example, may raise fears about children’s safety.

Courts make determinations about modifying a custody order by evaluating what would serve children’s best interests. Every family’s situation is different, and the way that a court will rule will depend on the parties’ unique circumstances. 

Divorce and Separation Guide: Child support dos and don’ts

paper family with broken money heart and Child Support text

Divorce is a hard process for everyone involved. When a couple with children divorce, it can be hard on both parents as well as the children. However, there are things both parents can do, or avoid doing, to reduce the stress divorce often causes children.  When it comes to dealing with child support, the following tips can make it easier on all parties involved:


  • Financially support your children.
  • Keep financial matters and all other parenting issues as separate as possible.
  • Be realistic in your assessment of how much it cost to raise children.
  • Accept the fact that if you are the one paying child support, the law does not impose any duty upon the recipient to account for the money actually spent directly on the children.
  • Purchase items for the children for the times that your children are with you. Child support payments are not necessarily intended to cover child-related expenses when the children are with you.
  • Spend child support wisely, as it is intended for the use, benefit, and expenses associated with raising children, not as extra “fun” money.

Further Reading:

Steps to Take If Your Ex is Late with Child Support Payments


  • Don’t make the payment of support, or anything else relating to money or property, contingent on child access.
  • Don’t ask for receipts or an accounting of how child support is spent.
  • Don’t discuss child support or adult-to-adult financial matters with your children.
  • Don’t tell your children that they cannot do or have things because the other parent does not pay sufficient support, even if it is true.
  • Don’t discuss child support or disputed adult financial matters in front of your children.

How is child support calculated?

In some states, child support is calculated using the state guidelines, which can take into account the income of both parents, earning potential if a parent is not working, and the number of overnight visits the children will spend with each parent, which parents claim the children for tax purposes, any other child support obligations and other factors. 

When do child support payments typically end?

Generally, child support payments end when a child turns 18 or 19 if they are still attending high school.

Child support is required to support children of a marriage. Children are often used as collateral in a divorce or child custody battle. A child support lawyer at Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC can help guide you through such events. 

Adoption Story: Megan (Part 2)

Adoption Story: Megan (Part 2)Before she knew that she herself had been adopted, Megan (we will insert a hyperlink here to link back to her adoption story) had the desire to adopt. Much like her adoptive father, she has loved people and welcomed them into her world for as long as she can remember. She dreamed of the day that she would be able to adopt children of her own. 

When she learned of her own adoption, her desire to adopt intensified. She knew her life would be drastically different had she not been adopted. The opportunity to give such incredible love and life to another child was something she no longer wanted to be a hope, yet a reality for her. Before she even met her husband, Megan plans were to graduate from nursing school, move to Boise, Idaho, and pursue her first adoption. From the start, her husband knew how important this was to Megan and he too knew that adoption was a way that they would grow their family.

Megan is an active advocate for both foster care and adoption. She speaks passionately about the unconditional love that causes a heart to break on behalf of a child who needs a family to belong to and a home to abide. Not once have they shied away from the chance to bring a child in need to their home. In fact, adoption opportunities have seemed to find them as they are walking out their lives. 

The first came not long after they were married and despite their willingness to meet a need, it fell through. Other families heard of their open-door, open-heart policy and reached out to them regarding adoption; however, each time something caused the adoption to fall through.  Megan then became pregnant and gave birth to their son, Noah. After his birth, they applied to be foster parents but chose to take care of her father in his last months of life. After he passed, she found out she was pregnant with her daughter. Megan and Tyler now have two, healthy, fun and beautiful kids of their own and yet the desire is still so strong to adopt. 

Six times, they have wanted to bring a baby into their family though adoption. Six times, their open hearts were left wide open. Each story has a different ending, some full of grace and hope, some with loss. The six little ones that are not in the arms of Tyler and Megan are a driving force for them to continue to grow their family by way of adoption. 

Not long ago, Megan’s older sister called her and asked if they were still open to adopting a baby. Without hesitation, Megan affirmed that they absolutely still wanted to adopt. She didn’t let her hopes rise, but she did tell her sister to please share her contact information with the mom. That very same day, she received a message from her sister’s best friend asking if she could meet with her to introduce her to the birth mom. The next week, she was able to meet the mom. She welcomed her into their home and gave her the chance to see who they are and what life would be like for her baby if she chose their family to adopt her baby. 

A week later, they met with their lawyer and the preliminary paperwork was signed. 

Tyler and Megan’s second daughter was born in July 2019. Her name is Gemma. She is so wanted, waited for, prayed for and loved. Their daughters will grow up just months apart in age, Gemma being a little sister from her very first breath. Megan said that all they endured leading up to Gemma’s adoption wasn’t about them, but all for sweet Gemma. It was all purposed. 

And sweet Gemma is Native American, just like her birth mom and her adoptive mom. 

Adoption Story: Tatum

For as long as she can remember, Sarah’s life included people she loved who had been adopted. Her Godfather who is now in his 70s was adopted. Two of her cousins were adopted. A friend in high school gave her baby up for adoption. In college, a co-worker placed her child up for adoption and she shared pictures with Chrissy of her child as she was given them by the adoptive family. Her life saw the love and beauty of adoption while also having a quiet fear that someday she may never birth her own children. 

Three and a half years after she and her husband got married, they decided it was time to start a family of their own. After not conceiving on their own, they chose to visit a fertility doctor and were hopeful to know that the doctors couldn’t find anything that would be the reason they weren’t able to conceive. With much optimism and hope, they began fertility treatments. 

A handful of months of treatments went by and still there was no baby growing in her womb. Emotionally worn out, Sarah decided she needed a break from the treatments. During the time she was resting from the treatments, she and Wesley went to a store that wasn’t in their typical shopping circuit to buy him some new work shirts. She remembers the cashier being pregnant and tearfully lamented her husband when they got to the car how hard it was to not have an answer as to why she wasn’t pregnant and yet she saw pregnant women everywhere. 

During the time she was undergoing treatments, she and Wesley talked about adoption and if that would be something they would seriously consider. At that time in their lives, finances were not in abundance and an obvious agency selection in their town was limited. The idea of an open adoption was daunting, but a friend who had adopted her three children in an open adoption helped ease their minds, answer questions and was a real life connection to the beauty of an adoptive family. Despite the challenges they knew and the uncertainty of what they didn’t, they knew they wanted a family and chose to move forward in pursuit of adoption. 

Not long after connecting with an agency, they got a call telling them of a couple who was placing their baby up for adoption, but had yet to find a family that was the right fit. They were able to meet the parents and shortly after, were told that they had been chosen to adopt their baby. They immediately stepped alongside the parents in the pregnancy journey. They shared meals together, talked about what the future could be like and Sarah even attended birthing classes with the birth mom. 

When James came into the world, Sarah was able to be in the room and even cut the cord. As she was telling her story, the appreciation and love she showed for the birth mom inviting her into one of the most powerful moments of both of their lives was evident in her expressions and her word choices. 

They spent the night at the hospital with their son, sharing him with his birth parents and even other family members, knowing how wonderfully loved he is. The time spent before his birth and together at the hospital after his birth was meaningful, especially when in the months ahead Sarah and Wesley set regular updates and pictures of their son to his birth family. 

James was theirs from the start. Because he is adopted, both Wesley and Sarah were able to bond with him during his bottle feedings. He’s never known a day of his life without them and now, 12 years later, they are ever so grateful they chose to adopt and that James is the son who made them parents. 

Adoption Story: Megan (Part 1)

Adoption Story: Megan (Part 1)Megan was 17 years old when she unintentionally found out that she had been adopted as a newborn. One may think that might be news that would feel life altering, but for Megan, it just made her feel even more loved by her parents. Sure, there was an initial shock that lead to some questions. And yet, she found that as each question was answered, it was always answered with love being at the center. 

Megan’s adoptive dad had children from a previous marriage and her mother had not conceived in the 10 years they had been married and trying for a child of their own. A co-worker of her mom had moved to Vegas, became pregnant and wasn’t in a position to keep the baby. After returning to and receiving permission from the Native Tribe she was a part of, she chose to give her unborn baby up for adoption. Megan’s birth and adopted mother had worked together prior to her birth mother living in Vegas. The day the adoption was finalized, even the judge had a tear in his eye. 

When Megan was two years old, her birth cousin of the same age died in a car accident along with her great-grandmother by birth. Her adoptive mom told her she believed that God’s hand was on Megan from the time she was a baby. It was likely that Megan would have been raised by the great-grandmother who lost her life in the car accident. 

Megan’s family is full of adoption. Her dad had a heart that was inclusive to children belonging in a family. Megan wasn’t the only one in her family to be adopted and truly believes that connection amongst adoptive family members can be instant, defying the rules of society. She spoke of the grace in her family to find love at first sight amongst the adopted members. Their home abounded with love. 

Megan had a sweet smile on her face when she said that she’s so proud to be just like her adoptive dad in that she too, is a gatherer of those who need love and safety. Her voice was strong and confident when she said she is most like her adoptive mom with her strong integrity to treat others with dignity and respect. Her world also includes her birth mom who now lives in the same town as Megan and her adoptive mom (her dad passed away last December). She’s very close with her birth aunt & is now a member of the Native Tribe she was born into. 

For Megan, she believes the best part of being adopted is the value found in the love shown by both her birth mom and adoptive parents. She recognizes that her life would have likely been so different from how it was and is now, and not for the better, had she not been adopted. Before she even knew she herself had been adopted, Megan knew that someday she would want to adopt. She truly is her father’s daughter.

Adoption Story: Kya

In October 2005, Paula and Carl Weeks began the arduous process of adoption. They finished and filed the paperwork, embarking on the most beautiful journey that is intended to unite families and did, in fact, do just that for them. Although the process was long and often grueling, they knew that in the end, when they had their child, it would be well worth it. And it was. 

Adoption Story: Kya

The seasons changed and in July of the following year, a birth mother emailed them and asked to meet. Although Paula and Carl had inclinations that made the meeting seem to be a bit “off,” they spoke with their caseworker who told them that they could go if they felt safe to do so.

They went and shared their hearts and tears over ice cream. When she held Paula’s hands and looked her in the eye, telling her she wanted me to be the mother of her child, she was stunned and speechless. There was still an unsettling feeling and so that night after arriving home, they prayed specifically that God would make it clear whether to move forward with that birth mother or to show them who the right birth mother and family was for them. They prayed for clarity and a unique connection that would help them to know that this was the child that would make them parents. 

The following Friday, a young girl called Paula and Carl telling them that she was 16, due with her daughter in a week and wanted to meet them as soon as possible. Later that day, they were able to sit with this brave young woman, her parents and family and share their hearts’ desire. 

As the birth mom rubbed her belly, she told them that the baby had been grown in Hawaii, where she had spent the majority of her pregnancy, and instantly, Paula’s heart began to pound because she had been born in Hawaii. Was this the baby they had been praying and waiting for? The Weeks were confident that yes, this was their girl. 

With the same intensity that they hoped this was their daughter, they also knew that, if they were chosen to be her parents, they wouldn’t be able to just open their hearts to her and walk away from her family. They knew that they needed to open their hearts to her family, to open the communication between all of those who love her and be open to what lies ahead. 

Kya was born in the wee hours of the morning in August 2006. She was welcomed by her birth family as well as her adoptive parents. Minutes after her safe arrival, the doctor stood in front of Kya’s birth mom, her birth grandparents as well as her adoptive parents and asked, “who wants to hold her first?” As much as Paula’s arms ached to hold her daughter, she sat quietly, and found herself loving Kya’s birth mom even more deeply as she tiredly said, “Give her to my dad.” At that moment, she had the wisdom to know whose arms Kya belonged in first. As her grandpa held that beautiful baby girl, his eyes spilled over with tears and he lovingly passed her to Paula before walking out of the room. 

That moment was bitter-sweet. Paula’s heart was nearly bursting to hold the answer to her prayers and simultaneously crumbling with the pain that was evident as this family who truly loved this baby was preparing to entrust the Weeks to raise her. As she wept, she saw Carl crying as well. The weight of love, pain, joy, and sacrifice was tangible. 

Thirteen years and a few days have passed since Kya entered the world and made Paula and Carl parents. Paula teared up, saying how her daughter didn’t just make her a mom, but she made her a part of a whole new family. Kya’s birth family is now and has always been a very present part of her life. Paula said “It’s difficult to say that we have been “blessed” because that word doesn’t seem to do it justice. Our lives are enhanced beyond belief from our daughter and her first family who are also counted in our forever family”. 

Adoption Story: Jen & Shyne 

Adoption Story: Jen & Shyne Shyne was eight months old when Jen’s parents took her in as a foster baby. Growing up in a large family with parents who had a desire to foster children in need, Jen was accustomed to her heart stretching with love for kids who weren’t her biological siblings. At the time her parents began fostering Shyne, Jen was a college graduate and new wife, a stage perhaps not typical of someone becoming a big sister via adoption. 

During Shyne’s first months of life, she had been left at home to be cared for by her older brothers, ages four and six. Drugs, alcohol and physical abuse were evident in the lives of her biological parents. The goal of Jen’s parents (and their family) was always reconciliation, but after many failed visitation meetings that Shyne’s extended family never showed up for, they began to wonder if adoption was the next best thing for both Shyne and the Johnson family. 

Despite being married and on her own, Jen was able to spend a lot of time with baby Shyne. She was the first to make her laugh as a baby, which Jen remembers to be such a hopeful shift in Shyne’s “tough cookie” personality. Shyne is very intense and free spirited, so very different from the rest of her older siblings. She sees things very clearly which has been such a defining character trait. 

When asked how Shyne’s adoption shaped her as an adult, Jen instantly teared up, “I remember the shift, the shift of the ‘I love you’ being the way I felt about my own siblings and not just the children we fostered over the years. Shyne’s adoption came into my life at the same time as I began walking through my infertility journey and I clearly remember thinking that this may be how I someday have my own family. It was so beautiful and I was so thankful. I love her. She is my sister.” 

Jen is now the mom of two beautiful daughters, Charlotte, curious and creative is nearly five; and Adelyn, feisty and a Honey Nut Cheerio connoisseur, is almost two. She said the time isn’t far off when she will tell Charlotte about Shyne’s adoption. For Jen, it’s one of the greatest honors of her life to tell her daughters about the beauty of adoption. She said she’s ever so grateful that God writes each family story so differently and that He does it perfectly. Adoption made her family larger in size, but her heart larger in ways she’s still learning to this day. 

Jen’s heart is for families to have reconciliation. She truly believes that there is a grace in life for adoption to be a part of everyone’s story. 

When asked to elaborate on that statement, her response was instantaneous, and nearly perfect… 

“There is a grace for adoption. A grace to adopt, a grace to support, a grace to have mercy and compassion. It absolutely looks differently for everyone but that is what gives the space for each of us on earth to be a part of loving and creating a family unit.”

Highway 20 Ride – Song Blog

The Song: Highway 20 Ride

How you know it: Highway 20 Ride was recorded and released by Zac Brown Band in 2009 and was the band’s third number one on the U.S. country singles chart.

The story behind the song: Highway 20 Ride tells the story of a father who drives “east every other Friday” to pick up his son near Augusta, Georgia. 

The song was written by Wyatt Durrette and Zac Brown and released by Zac Brown Band in 2009. The song was the band’s fourth number one hit. Durrette also co-wrote with Zac on the band’s first three number one hits: (“Chicken Fried,” “Whatever It Is” and “Toes.”

Durrettte and Brown wrote the song after Durrette and his wife divorced. She was apparently awarded primary physical custody of their son and he was awarded parenting time every other weekend. His son’s mother moved to South Carolina to be closer to her family after the divorce. Durrette lived in Atlanta and drove to Augusta every other weekend to pick up his son, which was the halfway point between their homes.

The song brings up several points about transportation between parents’ homes after a divorce.

Are parents required to meet halfway for parenting time exchanges?

In Idaho, there is no requirement for parents to meet halfway for custody exchanges. Some parents agree to make the halfway point the place to meet when they live far apart from each other to save themselves from having to make a long trip even longer. Atlanta is just over two hours from Augusta. Each parent is only driving two hours, exchanging their son, and driving another two hours back home. If they didn’t agree to this arrangement, the most common arrangement is for the receiving parent to be the one transporting the child. 

This means that Durrette would have to drive four hours by himself, pick up his son, and drive four more hours home. That’s eight hours of driving. As a songwriter, Durrette probably has a pretty flexible schedule that would allow him to make this drive during the day so that he could pick his son up right after school ends, but that would still put him home around 7 or 8 p.m. If he had a regular job, he probably wouldn’t be able to leave Atlanta until after 5 p.m. and assuming he didn’t run into any traffic, he wouldn’t get home until after 1 a.m. That’s a late night for both of them. In addition, his ex-wife wouldn’t have much of a Sunday either if she had to spend all day driving to come pick up their son.

Why should the receiving parent have to pick up the child for a parenting exchange?

Most people would agree driving four hours twice over three days is better than driving eight hours once every two weeks, but there is one advantage to the receiving parent doing all the transportation: the other parent doesn’t have to worry about the other parent not being at the meet-up point or have to wait on them if they are running late.

This arrangement is helpful in cases when the parent with primary custody doesn’t trust the other parent to either be somewhere on time or to exercise their parenting time at all. 

The least recommended option is to have the parent who currently has parenting time transport the child(ren) to the other parent’s house. The thinking here is simple: the parent with the child should just load him or her up into the car and drive to the other parent’s house. But nothing is worse than driving to someone else’s house and finding out they are not there. If the receiving parent doesn’t come pick up the child, at least you’re still at your house doing whatever it is you would otherwise be doing and not sitting in someone’s driveway trying to find out where they are and why they aren’t home.

Who is responsible for transporting a child after divorce?

In Idaho, the receiving parent is typically responsible for transporting a child after divorce and the cost should be split between the parents. However, it’s not uncommon for the court to order a parent who has relocated away from the children or other parent to be responsible for transportation. 

Contact Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC today to set up a time to discuss your co-parenting options.

Every Other Weekend – Song Blog

The song: Every Other Weekend

How you know it: Every Other Weekend was originally recorded by Reba McEntire and Kenny Chesney for Reba’s 2007 duet’s album. The song was co-written by Skip Ewing. Versions with both Kenny and Ewing were released to radio, but for most of the song’s climb through the charts, Reba was the only credited artist. She basically divorced both duet partners while getting them to sing a song about divorce with her.

The song peaked at four on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 chart, which means it was the fourth song away from being included in the Billboard Hot 100 chart. 

The story behind the song: The story tells the story of a divorced couple who share custody of their children. The song’s mother has primary custody of their children while their dad has their children, “every other weekend.” Towards the end of the song, each parent admits they secretly love the other parent but are afraid to say anything to the other. 

Bonus fact: The parents in the song’s music video are Jonna Garcia and Steve Howey, who co-starred on Reba’s TV show “Reba”.

The song brings up several points about child custody after a divorce, which is also known as “parenting time.”

What is the typical custody plan in Idaho during a divorce?

There isn’t a typical custody plan in Idaho. Each case is different and parents and the court should take into account the age of the children, each parent’s relationship with the children, each parent’s work schedule, each parent’s living arrangements, and how far away the parents live from each other. 

I often hear parents say, “We’ll do the typical custody schedule,” and I explain there isn’t a typical parenting plan and ask parents what they think the typical parenting plan is. The answers vary by every couple. Another thing I hear a lot is, “We want to do a 50/50 custody schedule.” I always follow that statement up with, “What does 50/50 look like to you?” Answers include every other weekend, every other week, and all sorts of other possible arrangements. 

Is Idaho a 50/50 custody state?

Idaho Law has a strong preference for joint physical custody, which allows children to have frequent and continuing contact with both parents, but this is not the same as 50/50. 

50/50 is a great place to start with respect to a custody arrangement. The best interest of the children standard takes into account several factors, but oftentimes, it’s the practical impacts of the situation that dictates the parenting schedule more than the court or statute. For example, I once had a client who insisted on having his children every other week. He lived in the same town as his soon-to-be ex-wife, which is where his children also went to school. But he worked about an hour away and had to be there at 6 a.m. every morning. There just wasn’t a practical way for him to be to work on time every day and to have the kids ready for school without disrupting their schedule by having them wake up and go to mom’s house or a child care provider for three hours before school every day.  

Why do dad’s get less custody than moms in Idaho?

A recent study shows that fathers in Idaho are likely to receive about 24 percent of parenting time in Idaho. This is one of the lowest rates in the nation. 

But despite this statistic, I don’t have the opinion that Idaho favors mothers over dads in divorce. I’ve never seen anything in court to indicate this or heard a judge say anything that would give me this impression. I’ve actually had several judges ask if dad wants a 50/50 arrangement or ask why that wasn’t the arrangement in cases where dad has an every other weekend plan.

After practicing law in Idaho for more than eight years, I believe the courts look for solutions that will cause the least amount of disruption to the lives of the children involved. It’s been my experience that judges do not like to force major changes on kids without a really good reason to do so. The reality is that in a lot of homes, moms seem to do a great deal of the things when it comes to raising children. In addition, I’ve had a lot of clients who have been in the Air Force, who have been truck drivers, or have other jobs that require them to travel a lot. A lot of moms have jobs that are built around their kids’ schedules or are even stay-at-home moms.

Not all moms. I know a lot of moms who work. My mom was a single mother of four children. She went to work every day, sometimes she went to multiple jobs in the same day. But overall, dads seem to have jobs that take them out of the home and moms seem to either have jobs that account for their kids’ schedules or keep them in the house most days. 

When the judge has to decide between one parent who has done most of the child raising activities and is home a lot and one parent who travels a lot for work, it’s not that complicated of a decision. But does this mean that the outcome is predetermined to favor moms? I don’t think it does. My brother-in-law has been a stay-at-home dad for several years for my niece. When she was younger, he did most of the things to take care of her while my sister finished her education and started her career. If there were to somehow end up in family court, I have no doubt in my mind that a judge would rule in my brother-in-law’s favor if they weren’t otherwise able to agree to their own parenting plan or a 50/50 parenting plan. 

Contact Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC today to set up a time to discuss your child custody needs.

Adoptions Are The Best

Adoptions are literally the best thing that happens inside a courtroom.

A great deal of what happens inside a courtroom is negative: divorces, criminals, people suing each other, however justified. In addition, there’s a lot of time judges have to make some really hard decisions, such as when two equally capable parents want drastically different outcomes.

But in adoption cases, it’s all about bringing families together. It’s all happiness. Stepparent adoptions are awesome in their own way because it’s one of the easiest decisions a judge gets to make. In some cases, there isn’t a biological parent. The biological parent might be deceased, unknown, or just never established paternity. In other cases, the parent typically hasn’t been involved in the child’s life for several years.

In most stepparent adoption cases, the stepparent has a long and demonstrated history of providing for and caring about the minor child or children to be adopted. Most of the time, the stepparent has been filling the role of a parent for so long that the adoption process just feels like a formality to the stepparent and adoptee. A lot of stepparents refer to adoption proceedings as, “Making something official that’s existed for years.” It’s generally very clear to everyone in the courtroom that it’s in the best interest of the child for the judge to grant the adoption and formalize the relationship between the stepparent and the child/ren.

It’s awesome to be in the courtroom and to play a small part in bringing a family together. Most of family law is the exact opposite of bringing families together. Adoptions require a fair amount of legal work to complete, but that work pales in comparison to the work stepparents put into their relationship with their children in the years leading up to the adoption.

Can stepparents adopt adult children in Idaho?

Yes, stepparents can adopt adult children in Idaho. Idaho law provides that the stepparent typically must have developed a parent-child relationship with the person to be adopted for a year while the person was a minor.

This is common when a biological parent may have been known and semi-present, but not really, and the stepchild decided it would just be easier to allow the adoption to happen once he or she reaches the age of 18. It is also common when people just never got around to doing the adoption and want to formalize the process for more symbolic reasons than anything. 

Is a homes study required for a stepparent adoption in Idaho?

No, a home study is not required for a stepparent adoption in Idaho. According to state law, a home study, or a social investigation, is also not required for grandparent adoptions.

Do I need a lawyer to adopt my stepchild in Idaho?

No, you do not need a lawyer to adopt your stepchild in Idaho. However, having an experienced stepparent adoption attorney can help you navigate the court system to complete the adoption faster with less stress to you. In addition, an experienced attorney can determine if the biological parent’s rights need to be terminated and assist you with both the termination of parental rights and adoption petitions. Contact Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC to discuss your adoption needs.




Can a Grandparent Get Custody or Visitation?

Family Lawyer

Many people can’t wait to become grandparents when their children grow up. However, sometimes circumstances aren’t what they expected. Families feud, move far away from each other, or simply drift apart. Sometimes, parents simply aren’t providing the home they should for a child. Depending on the situation, grandparents may be able to gain temporary custody, legal guardianship, or court-appointed visitation with their grandchildren.

Granting Grandparents Temporary Custody

A grandparent can be granted temporary or permanent custody. This typically happens if one or both parents are unfit due to drug and alcohol use, mental health issues, or for another reason. Granting the grandparents custody can be for just a few months or it can be a year or longer, often resulting in a permanent custody arrangement. If grandparents get permanent custody of their grandchildren, parents must prove a change in circumstances to regain custody. Keep in mind that grandparents can only take guardianship of the children if both parents are unfit. The goal is to keep children with their parents whenever possible. 

Granting Grandparents Guardianship

In some cases, a grandparent can gain guardianship without the need for social services to become involved. This happens if a parent decides on his or her own accord that the grandparents can provide a better life for the child than either parent can. This is also an option if the parents are active-duty military members who get called overseas. For a grandparent to gain legal guardianship of grandchildren, he or she must file a petition with the court closest to the minor child’s address. Once guardianship is approved, the grandparent can enroll the child in school, move him or her to another state, and make medical decisions. 

Granting Grandparents Visitation Rights

Getting visitation rights for grandparents is often more difficult, especially if both parents are providing a healthy environment. The most common cause of grandchildren not seeing grandparents is because a divorced couple tries to keep the children from their ex-in-laws. A falling out between family members may be what causes the lack of visitation. Regardless of the reason, courts look at several things to determine whether the grandparents should get visitation rights.

If you are a grandparent who wants to spend more time with your grandchildren, hire a child custody lawyer to help you file a petition in court. As a family lawyer from would agree with, getting legal help improves your chances of spending time with your loved ones again.

What Does a Marriage Annulment Involve?

What Does a Marriage Annulment Involve?

Marriage Annulment

When you want to end your marriage, you may wonder whether you should seek a divorce or an annulment, though you may not have the option depending upon your circumstances. In addition, you must meet specific criteria to qualify for an annulment, whereas you can obtain a divorce more readily in most states. 

What Is The Difference Between an Annulment and a Divorce? 

In short, the main difference between an annulment and a divorce is that an annulment invalidates the marriage as though it never existed. Alternatively, a divorce puts an end to a valid marriage. Spouses must also present the court with specific evidence depending on whether they seek an annulment or a divorce. Their obligations to each other may also vary depending upon which path they pursue.

Who Qualifies for an Annulment?

The law states that a spouse who wants to annul a marriage must provide the court with proof of particular grounds. These include:

  • Fraud. One spouse lies about an ability to have children or refuses to consummate the marriage.
  • Bigamy. One spouse is already legally married to someone else.
  • Incest. Spouses discover that they are blood relatives.
  • Lack of Consent. One spouse is under the legal age for marriage, and a legal guardian has not granted permission to marry.
  • Unsound mind. One or both spouses were intoxicated when they entered the union or did not have the mental capacity to understand their actions.
  • Duress. One spouse threatened, blackmailed, or otherwise pressured the other to enter the marriage.

By contrast, couples do not need to have a reason beyond irreconcilable differences to seek a divorce.

Can Spouses With Children Seek an Annulment?

The law grants annulments to spouses with children, though most annulments occur early in marriages and don’t involve children. After the voiding of their marriage, the spouses’ legal status reverts to single, indicating that a valid marriage did not occur. Still, children from annulled marriages are not considered illegitimate in the eyes of the law, despite their parents’ status. 

Although an annulment legally ends spouses’ responsibilities to each other, their obligations to their children remain. Child support and child custody commitments and rules are the same as they would be with a divorce.

Is There a Time Limit for Seeking an Annulment?

Although most people request annulments early in a marriage, spouses can request annulments at any point. An exception is when the spouses continue living together after realizing the qualifying factor. 

Contact a divorce lawyer, like the attorneys at Robinson & Hadeed, to discuss whether an annulment or a divorce is the appropriate option for ending your marriage.

5 Steps To Take To Win Back Custody of Your Child

Adoption Lawyer

If you lose custody of your children during divorce, the world can feel like it is crashing around you. Although you may not fully understand why the court is restricting your children from you, it is not the time to react to the situation negatively. Instead, take the following steps to help reverse the court’s decision.

  1. Evaluate Your Situation

The judge is obliged to act in what is considered “the best interest” of the child when awarding custody. This includes how the parents interact with the child, how much time they spend weekly with the young ones, and if the child requires special care. Assess what happened and evaluate what the court based their decision upon. You cannot fix a situation that you don’t understand.

  1. Follow Judge’s Orders

Sometimes, the court assigns custody temporarily or until a parent can follow specific orders. If the judge asked you to abide by visitation restrictions or under supervision, comply with the orders. Your ability to cooperate and follow orders will demonstrate how much you want your children back.

  1. Ask For an Evaluation

Requesting a home evaluation is a critical step in winning back custody of your children. Make sure your home is clean, organized and that you are ready to answer questions when evaluators visit. A psychologist will perform the formally ordered psych evaluation, including psychological interviews and testing with the children and parents. Be cooperative and show the court you are taking it seriously.

  1. Contact an Attorney

Once you have established a pattern of compliance with the court and understand why the court took your children’s custody away from you, contact an experienced child custody attorney. With your lawyer’s help, you may be able to work with the legal system to reverse the court’s custodial decision or at least begin the process of required legal motions or inspections.

  1. Be Patient

The most challenging part of seeking full or partial custody of your children is how slow the court system moves. However, you can exercise your visitation rights while you wait. Be pleasant during the visits and cordial with the other parent, as this shows your willingness to make positive changes and cooperate with the court.

The court’s rulings can be changed, and so can you. As a divorce lawyer from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC would agree with, work with your child custody attorney, therapist or other types of support system to make sure you are in the best position possible to care for your children when you do get them back.


How To Prepare For an Adoption Home Study

Adoption Lawyer

During the adoption process, you will need to have a home study performed, which is when a social worker visits your home to learn about the space, your family, and confirm that paperwork is in order. If you are getting ready for an adoption home study, or have questions about the adoption process, consider reading the insight provide below: 

Research State Requirements

Each state has requirements for adoption, so you will need to know how these laws will impact you and your adoption application. It is recommended that you locate an adoption agent and lawyer familiar with adoption cases to guide you along the way. 

Abide by Fire and Safety Reguations

Fire and safety is an issue adoption agencies are going to take very seriously. Is there an escape route for the building you live in? Or have you made a plan with your family in the event of a fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster? Do you have fire extinguishers on each floor of your home, carbon monoxide detectors installed, and smoke detectors that work? These are things you will need to check for.

Child-Proof Your House

Part of having your home ready for an adopted child is showing the adoption agency that you are a responsible person. Even if you aren’t planning on adopting a child who is as small as an infant or toddler, protectors such as child-proof cabinets and electrical outlet covers will show you are being thoughtful with the safety details. 

Tidy Up! 

Of course, your house doesn’t have to be perfect so much so to where it looks like no one lives in it. However, it is reasonable to assume that you should do a deep clean so your home is presentable for the inspection. You will be asked to show the room where the child is intended to be, so making sure it’s pristine will be of utmost importance.


Our adoption lawyer at Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC would probably agree to the fact that adoption can be an exciting time, but also means you’ll have to get familiar with state laws and prepare for an adoption agency inspection. The time to get cleaning and organizing is now!


Signs That Divorce Is on The Horizon

Divorce Lawyer

Marriage is unique in that the best and worst parts of ourselves are going to be tested. By getting married, we agree to love that person until the end of our days, but that time may be cut short when one or both spouses realize that divorce may be right for them. Here we have outlined signs that divorce may be on the horizon, and why your next step should be to contact a divorce attorney.

Needs are going unmet.

If you are in a relationship with your spouse that is drastically one-sided, and it’s been that way for quite a while, then it may be time for divorce. Marriage works when there are two people who are dedicated to the partnership, so both must contribute time, effort, and emotion into the relationship.

You’re together for the kids.

Staying in a marriage for a child’s sake can actually do more damage than if you were to part ways. You and the other parent may be wonderful separately as people, but then don’t seem to mesh so well when together. The constant friction between both parents who wish they could divorcce may not be the best representation of love either.

There is toxicity or abuse.

Under no circumstances should anyone remain in a marriage with someone who is abusive, toxic, threatening, or otherwise greatly mistreating you. Disagreements and hard conversations will happen when you’re married, but it should never escalate to violence. If you are concerned about you and/or your children’s safety, you must inform your lawyer and the authorities. 

Silent treatment and avoidance.

When arguments completely stop, and the problems are still there, then one or both parties may have given up. Not talking and avoiding the dispute can prevent things from being worked out. As soon as one spouse has disengaged, the marriage cannot sustain itself. 

As a divorce attorney from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can attest to seeing before, the process of divorce can be tricky and difficult to weather without proper legal representation. If any of the above signs are true for your situation, it may be helpful to prepare for divorce just in case. 


Adoption Considerations

Adoption Lawyer

There are many reasons why adoption may happen, either out of necessity or choice. And similar to other big decisions in life, there are laws to consider. Whether you are getting ready to adopt, dealing with an adoption issue, or have questions post-adoption, it may be a good idea to consult with a lawyer who understands the nuances and emotionality of these delicate cases. 

Adopting a Child

The laws for adoption vary based on where the parents reside. But generally, a child in foster care may get adopted by relatives or foster parents, if the biological parents are not fit to hold this role. A minor child who is not related to their adoptive parents may find a family through an agency or privately. If the parent prefers an agency adoption, they will have to work with a state-licensed agency. These organizations oversee adoption processes such as helping pregnant mothers find an adoption, or caretaking for children until they find a family or become of legal age. 

Private adoptions bypass adoption agencies. Parents who want to adopt can contact an adoption lawyer, who may work alongside doctors who know of women who want to give up their newborn for adoption. In other cases, parents who want to adopt may post ads online or in newspapers seeking women who want to place their babies for adoption.

Finding a Lawyer

Parents who are looking to adopt often rely on a lawyer who is experienced in handling adoption cases. It isn’t required to hire a lawyer to adopt, however, they can help with filing required paperwork and preventing complications the parents hadn’t realized. A lawyer can offer guidance, answer questions, and address concerns as the parents pursue a successful adoption. 

As an adoption lawyer, like one from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC would also agree with, many parents find that it helps to have someone legally-minded watching out for their best interests as they start their new journey to parenthood. 


Steps to Take If Your Ex is Late with Child Support Payments

Divorce Lawyer

Divorce can be stressful enough. And then to have to deal with an ex who no longer makes (or never made) child support payments, your initial reaction might be to take him or her to court. You may be struggling with your finances and having a hard time making ends meet. Furthermore, you’re probably angry about how unfair it is that your ex is not doing what he or she was ordered to do. Don’t let your anger push you to do things that will only worsen your situation.

Keep Detailed Records

Keeping a detailed record and documenting the child support you receive from the party the court ordered to pay it is essential. Even though keeping track of all of your child support payments is likely one of the last things you have time for while you’re going through a divorce, you must be committed and diligent in your record keeping. You should not rely upon a third party to do this; you should keep accurate records of when you receive support and how much you get.

You may opt for an Income Withholding For Support Order (IWO), which is designed to help make child support payments easier to deal with. The IWO takes the child support out of the noncustodial parent’s paycheck automatically, submits it for processing, and delivers the check to you. This way, your child support payments are delivered on time and without issue.

A common complaint with an IWO is that a service fee must be paid to use this method, much like a service fee you’d be charged for using credit cards. In this instance, the parent paying the child support would pay for the service fees and not the parent receiving the support. 

However, child support attorneys have seen instances far too often where the IWO clerk’s records do not match the child support actually received by their clients, and mistakes have been made. If you are involved in any type of child support proceeding, you are well-advised to make sure to document the check, cash, or any other form of child support received. 

This means doing things like taking a picture of the check you received, keeping statements from the bank account where you deposit the checks, and maintaining an organized chart or list, which details explicitly all of the payments you received and when you received them. Although it might seem like a lot of work, in the end, it will likely save you time and money.

Other Important Steps to Take

Above and beyond record keeping, you should take these steps, as well:

  • Check out what your court order says
  • Figure out what’s happening
  • Come up with a plan to tackle your financial problems
  • Investigate your options
  • Talk to a child support lawyer


Running into court before you’ve consulted with a divorce attorney and really understanding what you’re doing could cost you more money than what was lost in support. Do your due diligence before you head to court, as our divorce lawyer friends at Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC would agree with, and you’ll have a much-improved chance at seeing real success.

Tips for Those Hoping To Adopt and Grow Their Family

Adoption Lawyer

Maybe you have been dreaming about a child of your own for quite some time and realized that adoption is right for you. The excitement over the prospect of being an adoptive parent can be soaring high, but many come to see it isn’t as easy as they initially thought. Here are tips to consider for those who are hoping to grow their family through adoption: 

Take time to review and complete paperwork.

Become familiar with the adoption paperwork, fill it out, and submit timely. Your lawyer can oversee this step to ensure you haven’t made mistakes on your application. Use an organizer so that the documents stay in one place. You won’t want to lose an essential piece of paperwork at the moment you need it most.

Educate yourself on state law.

The laws for adoption vary based on where you live. Research the laws for your state so that you can be as educated on the process as possible. If you have questions, be sure to write them down and ask your lawyer so he or she can give you the answers you need. Your filing system should be labelled clearly so you can promptly access them and keep your paper trail on track. 

Don’t give up, stay focused. 

Regardless of how prepared or organized you are, there may come a time when you are overwhelmed with the process, and may wonder if you should just give up. Chances are you didn’t reach the decision to adopt with haste, so you shouldn’t be as quick to let it go. Remember why you started this journey in the first place, to grow your family, so stay dedicated to the process and don’t give up! View it as a series of tasks and steps you have to go through that’ll ultimately take you to the place you want most, which is to be a parent.

As an adoption lawyer from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC has seen before, many people start to get dismayed when the adoption process isn’t going as fast or as smoothly as they would like. But stick to the path and stay optimistic!

How to Choose A Divorce Lawyer

Choose A Divorce Lawyer

Getting a divorce is never fun, and in some states it all depends on the type of divorce that you are trying to file for as to how long your divorce proceedings will take. Couples that qualify for a simplified divorce will have to wait 20 days after signing a petition. They will then attend a hearing and at that hearing, the marriage may be dissolved. In this particular scenario, the hearing can be scheduled for longer than 20 days after the petition. 

During a no contest divorce, which means that the couple agrees to the divorce terms, the process of divorcing your spouse can take 4 to 5 weeks to complete. If the couple disagrees on issues such as child support or alimony, then the divorce becomes contested and it can take over a year to resolve.

You should speak to your divorce lawyer about your divorce and whether you qualify for an uncontested divorce or simplified divorce. When it comes to children in a divorce, there is often child support or alimony to think about. Child support in some states is based upon state guidelines, however, the full amount paid out is going to be decided on a case-by-case basis decided by the court. And there might some factors to think about child support:

  • The monthly net income of the noncustodial parent is going to be looked at when considering how much be owed in child support.
  • The monthly net income of the custodial parent is going to be looked at when deciding how much could be owed in child support.
  • The number of children involved.
  • The number of days both parents will spend with the children consecutively.
  • The monthly insurance cost for both parents will be taken into account.
  • The standard needs of the children involved.

Other factors may come into play but are going to depend on that specific scenario with those specific children.

Further Reading:

How do I get divorced in Idaho?

Some states enforce what is called “no-fault divorce”, which means that if you decide to divorce your spouse simply because you no longer get along, then you can just dissolve the marriage. Your spouse does not have to have committed some kind of all in the marriage for you to get a divorce.

It can cost up to $2000-$10,000 to get a divorce in some states, ultimately it will depend on the type of divorce lawyer. Many state courts court allow for one spouse to be ordered to pay for the other’s attorney fees, and you must request this when you are filing a petition for divorce. The court will judge if one spouse has to cover the other’s fees based on both spouses’ financial records, the proceedings history and link, and the behavior of both spouses in the existence of need.

Which Parent Gets Child Custody?: A Father’s Guide

When a marriage dissolves and young children are involved, there’s the question of which parent they will live with. For years, there was the presumption that juveniles should always be placed with their mothers. While that preconceived notion is no longer as prevalent, it is still more common that offspring are given to their moms.

Fathers are often overlooked when it comes to custody rights. It is time for fathers to fight back and get the same attention given to mothers in family law cases. Fathers deserve equal opportunity when it comes to their children, especially when there are disputes over who should have custody. Mothers can be biased or abusive towards fathers so hiring a child custody lawyer  Modesto, CA like Attorney Bernie is crucial for the father’s case in order to win custody of his child(ren).

Here are a few factors that can affect where kids wind up.

Determination of the Primary Caregiver

The parent most likely to be awarded custody is the one that has already expended the most amount of energy caring for a minor. Activities that contribute to this equation include feeding, bathing, dressing, and tending to medical concerns. In some instances, child-rearing duties are split evenly; other times, there’s a clear imbalance. Fathers who have put as much effort into raising children as their partners need a child custody lawyer in Modesto, CA like Attorney Bernie to make this argument on their behalf.

It is important for fathers to be aware of their rights and responsibilities when it comes to child custody. This includes knowing about the different types of custody and the benefits and consequences that come with each type. Due to these factors, Fathers should hire a child custody lawyer in Modesto, CA for help with their legal case.

Identification of the Child’s Wishes

Child custody decisions are always made with the young person’s best interests in mind. Therefore, judges are expected to take a youngster’s wishes into account before ruling. Traditional parental roles make it more difficult for fathers to bond with sons and daughters. Societal pressures often push them to work long hours, while mothers are expected to be at home taking care of the kids. Mothers also tend to be healers, whereas fathers are the more likely disciplinarians. This means that it’s more likely a dependent will express a preference toward being placed with his or her mother. child custody lawyers in Modesto, CA like Attorney Bernie are adept at reminding courts of this dynamic.

Analysis of Parental Relationships

The history between parents and their children may become a factor. Parents who have been found guilty of abuse or doing drugs in a child’s presence are obviously unlikely to be awarded custody. Although less serious, attempts to poison the relationship between a child and the other parent could impact a ruling. Children are sometimes prone to making untrue statements on the witness stand at the urging of one parent. Child custody lawyers know ways of handling these tricky situations.

While judges are duty-bound to make the most agreeable rulings, they can only base their decisions on what they are told. Child custody lawyer in Modesto, CA like Attorney Bernie are skilled at presenting the big picture so that judges have the fullest understanding of a familial situation. Hire an attorney to explain to the court why you deserve custody.


United States Adoption Categories

Adoption Lawyer

Every family’s needs are different when it comes to adoption. As an adoption lawyer at Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC can explain, each adoption is unique, usually falling into one of many adoption categories. The differences between each category of adoption account for various scenarios common to adoption. The central idea behind the system is to benefit the adoptive parents and the adopted through appropriate measures taken within the processes that are unique to each case. 

An adoption lawyer is beneficial in educating potential adoptive parents in each of the adoption categories and offering advice and direction through every stage of the process.  A professional family law attorney will help you determine the best type of adoption for your family and will provide you with legal help throughout the process.

Adoption through an Agency

If a child has been abandoned, abused, or orphaned, typically a public adoption agency will help place them. Private adoption agencies, alternatively, are usually run by charities or other social organizations. Adoption agencies can be public or private.

Independent Adoption

When adoptive parents work directly with the family or guardians of a child who is eligible for adoption, it is defined as an independent adoption. Some adoption cases utilize a third party, which can be a doctor or a religious figure.  There are some states that do not allow for an independent adoption and other states monitor the process extensively – an adoption lawyer will be able to easily advise the potential adoptive parents if this is the case in their state of residence.

International Adoption

This is considered to be the most challenging form of adoption in the United States. You will need to meet the laws and regulations of your state and the country the child’s citizenship is from. Parents will also need to obtain an immigrant visa for their child.  If approved, the child who enters the United States will receive American citizenship. 

Stepparents Adoption

This is when a parent’s new spouse decides to adopt a spouse’s child from another partner. When both birth parents agree, the process is simple. When one of the birth parents does not immediately consent to the adoption, an adoption lawyer will prove to be beneficial in processing the paperwork required by the process.

Contact our step parent adoption lawyers for more info.

Relative Adoptions

When a child’s relatives want to adopt the child, they do so by applying to the court. Normally when a child is adopted, it’s usually done by grandparents or an aunt and uncle.  Usually, family members are preferred to adoptive parents when a child needs a new home.

Consult an Adoption Lawyer

Adoption is an exciting experience families can go through, but it can also be extremely nerve wracking and stressful. By working with adoption, navigate the process with dedicated lawyers who will work on your behalf will help ensure the process of adoption will go as smoothly as possible.

What Is Collaborative Family Law?

Collaborative Law Attorney

The process that you choose to end your marriage with is going to have a far-reaching impact on the custodial, financial and emotional outcome. Depending upon where you live, you might have options of mediation, traditional litigation, traditional negotiation, or something called collaborative family law or collaborative practice.

What is collaborative family law though? This is a great question, because it is something that is not talked about very often. Collaborative family law is just one process available in a range of options for the termination of the marriage. Obviously on one end of the option is a couple sitting down at the kitchen table and reviewing the agreement and all of their issues with no outside help, and on the other extreme end of that is litigation in court.

However there has been considerable research focused on divorce and how it affects children, and in every study the conclusion is the same which is: high levels of parental conflict are toxic to your children. Collaborative family law helps you to focus your energies on a good divorce, therefore if your marriage must and for whatever reason, it ends in a healthy way that will allow you and your ex partner to co-parent your children healthfully after divorce.

Your collaborative law attorney will be able to give you more information about the research behind collaborative family law. They will be able to help guide you through this process, because it is not an easy process to pick. Divorce is different, and for every divorce there may be hurt or mistrust or anger, and it’s very rare that a divorce does not have these emotions.

It is very easy to get lost in the emotions that you are feeling while getting a divorce and sometimes divorce is a taboo notion, that leaves people feeling ashamed, fearful and much more. Divorce can leave you feeling alone, especially if you have to figure out whether your lifestyle can be maintained without your spouse’s income. It’s not an easy task to do, but it is one that is doable.

In a collaborative family law case each spouse is represented with a lawyer who was trained in interest-based negotiation. This means that your collaborative family law attorney, such as the ones available at Hurst, Robin & Kay LLC, is going to be trained in interest negotiation. And what interest-based negotiation does is it ensures that your interests are protected.

When you are starting a CFL case the lawyers involved in the clients are going to enter into a contract called participation agreement. Your attorney is going to review this agreement with you and ensure that you understand everything involved, and that you feel comfortable with the terms laid out within. The agreement provides that every person involved is okay with their own attorney, and that everyone involved understands these four-way meetings with both spouses and their attorneys are confidential. The stuff that is set in these case meetings cannot be used in court if the couple decides to go to court later on.

How to Prepare for the Adoption Process

Adoption Lawyer

The U.S. government reports that, on average, more than 100,000 children are adopted each year.  The number of children added to the annual list is likely to increase, but adoption can be a difficult and complicated process. Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC explains that is why many potential parents who are seeking to adopt will retain the services of a skilled adoption lawyer.

There are four main types of adoption that a potential adoptive parent may consider:

  • Agency Adoption: When a private agency facilitates the adoption. Foster children are often adopted by the state agency responsible for children and family services.  
  • Private Adoption: Private adoption is when a biological parent and an adoptive parent set up the adoption independently, this is also commonly referred to as independent adoption. 
  • International Adoption: International adoption is an option for parents to adopt a child from a different country. 
  • Related Adoption: This is when a family member adopts a child they are related to. This can include parents, grandparents, step-parents, aunts and uncles.

How to Prepare for an Adoption

There are certain steps you will want to take in order to help prepare for the process. The first thing you want to do is make sure you are financially ready. The process of adoption can be expensive, especially for both private and international adoptions.

If the adoption takes place, then the adoptive parents will be responsible for the medical care of the new child. So, in order to have the new child’s records, the adoptive parents will need to make sure they have them. This may be a simple step for related or private adoption.  It can be more difficult to get those records when it is an agency or international adoption. Having a family lawyer working for you can make the process easier, since he or she will have dealt with this issue many times before and understands the complexities – as well as the solutions – in obtaining these records.

Emotional preparation is important in the adoption process.  With all the changes that come with adoption, a new family can take time to adjust and often have moments of sadness and happiness. This can be especially true for intercountry adoption where the child comes from a foreign culture or an adopted child who has been transferred from foster home to foster home and may have to overcome emotional problems.

Most adoptive parents will say that their experience with adoption has been rewarding. To learn more about the various adoption types and adoption options, and to discuss your eligibility, contact an experienced adoption lawyer. They will work closely with you and help outline a path to a smooth and efficient adoption.


Understanding the Adoption Process

Adoption Lawyer

Every family’s needs are different when it comes to adoption. As an adoption lawyer from Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC will explain, each adoption is unique, usually falling into one of many adoption types. The differences between each category of adoption account for various scenarios common to adoption. The central idea behind the system is to benefit the adoptive parents and the adopted through appropriate measures taken within the processes that are unique to each case. 

  • Private adoption
  • Agency adoption
  • Relation adoption
  • Standby adoption
  • Adoption of an adult

Adoption Eligibility

After a review of your case, our adoption lawyer can determine if you are eligible to adopt the individual of your choice, and whether that person is eligible to be adopted. For example, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You are not legally disabled.
  • You can prove that you have resided in the State of Illinois for at least the last six consecutive months.
  • You are over the age of 18. (There are some exceptions to this.)
  • If you are married, your spouse must also meet all of the eligibility criteria for adoption. (The exception is if you have separated from your spouse and have lived apart from your spouse for more than one year’s time.)
  • If you are not related to the adoptee, you must submit to being fingerprinted and undergo a criminal background check. If you have a criminal record, check with our adoption lawyer in Lake Forest, IL to learn if the convictions may have any bearing on the adoption process.
  • If the child is over the age of 14, they must consent to the adoption process and you as the adoptee.

There are additional criteria as well that can be explained more in depth by your adoption lawyer.

Eligibility of a person to be adopted is usually approved if they meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • They are a child who was surrendered to an adoption agency.
  • They are a child who was placed by their biological parents into the custody of the parents who wish to adopt that child.
  • They are a child whose adoption was approved by a court recognized authority.
  • They are an adult who has lived with the prospective adoptive parents for a period of more than two years.

Adoption is an exciting experience families can go through, but it can also be extremely nerve wracking and stressful. By working with an adoption, navigate the process with dedicated lawyers who will work on your behalf will help ensure the process of adoption will go as smoothly as possible.


The Different Types of Adoptions

Adoption Lawyer

If you are thinking about adoption, then it’s important to educate yourself on the types of adoption available. Whether you are a prospective parent or birth parent, the more information you have the more empowered you will feel about the process to come. A lawyer can talk with you about the different options and create a plan to get you towards the parental goal you envision. In the meantime, consider the types of adoption briefly described below: 

Agency Adoption

Adoption agencies are organizations that offer adoption services, such as homestudies, matching, placement, counseling, and post-placement supervision. These agencies must be state-licensed, meet certain standards, and operate in a professional manner. 

Domestic Adoption

Domestic adoptions entail placing children of the United States with families in the same country. There are categories of domestic adoptions, and the laws vary by state, so be sure you meet requirements and discuss any concerns with your lawyer. 

Private Adoption

Adoptions from birth parent to adoptive parent are called private adoptions, and have no middle party such as an adoption agency to oversee the placement or custody of the child. Those who wish to adopt through a private case will have to go through the steps required to complete the adoption, along with setting parental goals, negotiations, and understanding legal documentation. 

Stepparent (Second Parent) Adoption

Some families may find themselves helping to raise children from their partner’s past relationships. A step or second parent may wish to have their role become a legal status. Establishing parental rights for a stepparent may be impactful to the child’s growth, security, emotional health, and financial future. 

As an adoption lawyer at Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can attest to, the adoption process can be complex, but not impossible, and anyone considering it should gather as much information as they can, as knowledge is strength. 

Estate Planning Can Be A Pain For Many Reasons

Estate planning can be a pain for many reasons, especially when it involves children and grandchildren. First, it can be frightening to think about your own mortality. An experienced estate planning lawyer, will make this process much smoother by being very “matter of fact” about it and making matters more about the logistics and less about emotions associated with estate planning. Second, it is difficult to figure out who deserves which of your assets. A lawyer will be able to look at what you have and dig deeper into relationships with loved ones to help you determine what would be best for you and your family. He or she will have different options to lay out so that you can make the wisest decisions for your estate. Thankfully, most things can be changed, so even if you decide at a later date that you want to update your estate, you may do so. 

You Need to Establish a Plan

You should first figure out who depends on you for what. This will be a good starting point in determining what you want to leave behind for your loved ones. You will likely really want each of their lives to remain financially unchanged, or better, than when you were around to take care of them. This means that you will want to determine who gets what from your estate well in advance. An experienced estate planning lawyer will be able to help you make sure this happens. He or she can guide you in making a plan that will benefit everyone involved. 

You Should Enlist the Help of a Lawyer

An estate planning lawyer will make sure that no stone is left unturned. He or she will ensure you check all of the boxes needed in planning your estate so that your loved ones will be cared for, even after you are done. Your lawyer will look at all of your assets and help figure out what should be included in your will, your lawyer can explain how a trust may or may not benefit you, and will help you make the wisest decisions, rather than just the easy ones. Your lawyer can go over the people in your life and help you make choices about who to leave items to as well as who the executor of your estate should be. A lawyer will essentially take some of the emotions out of estate planning and help you decide things logically, to help make the entire process quite a bit smoother. 

Contact an Estate Planning Law Firm Today

Tomorrow is never guaranteed. This important matter is something that many families put off until it is too late. It’s one thing to have to go through a difficult situation such as a divorce or child custody, but when a loved one passes, it’s also stressful going through probate and estate division. This is why you should contact an estate planning lawyer as soon as possible to begin planning your estate. It is important to care for your loved ones; while you are here and even after you are gone. By having an estate plan in place, you are taking this important step to caring for your loved ones. At least do a small part of planning your estate now – you can always edit things more in the future. 

When Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Divorce?

Divorce Lawyer

Going through a divorce is an emotional time. Whether you are separating amicably or not, it is likely a time that is full of stress and change as well. Many people prefer to settle their divorces without help from lawyers because they want to keep costs down. However, some situations require the help of a divorce lawyer. Without one, you could find yourself paying more for your divorce than expected or causing stress for your children.

Daniel Wright Law has three main reasons on why to work with a divorce lawyer.

You Suspect There Could Be a Custody Dispute

If you and your spouse have children together, you might have trouble deciding who they should live with and how often the other parent should see them. Additionally, many people don’t realize there are two types of custody: physical and legal. 

While many parents have both physical and legal custody, sometimes these are split up. Physical custody refers to who the children live with, while legal custody refers to who makes decisions regarding education, medical care, and so on. If you and your spouse cannot agree on these terms easily, it is important to hire a divorce lawyer who can help you mediate the situation and choose what is best for your children. 

You Have Many Assets Together

Perhaps you and your spouse own a business together. Maybe you have a large home, a vacation home, or are otherwise considered affluent. In some cases, one spouse has more money than the other that could lead to a need for alimony. If you and your ex need to equally divide business or personal assets, hire an divorce lawyer to help you. He or she can work with appraisers and consultants to determine the value of your shared estate, decide how to split it evenly, and consider whether alimony payments should be part of the divorce terms.

Your Spouse Hired a Divorce Lawyer

If you find out your spouse hired a divorce lawyer, it is important that you do the same. Unfortunately, sometimes people do unscrupulous things. Trusting a lawyer who works for someone else to do the right thing could leave you with nothing in the divorce settlement. Even if your spouse is on the up and up, having your own lawyer is essential. Your husband or wife’s lawyer will not be able to provide you with legal advances, so if you try to go it alone, you will have a disadvantage when it comes to protecting your best interest. 

Divorce is already an emotionally trying time. Don’t let it take over your financial well-being as well. Schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer to help you through the process. 

Who Gets Custody of Adopted Children?

Adoption Lawyer

If you have legally adopted one or more children, your state’s laws give you the same parental rights to them as to your biological children. In a divorce situation, this means that – absent extenuating circumstances – you have just as much right to custody of them as your spouse does, even if he or she is their biological parent.

As an adoption lawyer,  from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, divorce courts today show no preference for mothers or fathers when it comes to custody. All things being equal, each of you has the same right to custody. In fact, today’s preferred custody arrangement is shared custody and parenting time, wherein your children spend a relatively equal amount of time with you and your former spouse at your respective homes or elsewhere.

Extenuating Circumstances

A court must always seek to serve the best interests of the child when it has to make custody decisions because the divorcing parents cannot agree on custody. You likely will have a poorer chance of gaining custody of your children, natural or adopted, if your spouse can present evidence to the court of any of the following:

  • You have a documented history of domestic violence or child abuse, neglect or endangerment.
  • You have a documented history of mental or emotional problems that could endanger your children.
  • Your living arrangements and conditions are such that they are not suitable for children.
  • You are a convicted criminal serving a long prison sentence.
  • You abandoned your spouse and children.


Not only will you have great difficulty getting custody of your children under the above (or similar) circumstances, but the court may grant you only supervised visitation. This means that you can only see your children at a designated location and for a designated period of time while a responsible adult – likely a social worker or child psychologist – monitors your visit and ensures your children’s safety.

Getting Legal Help

If you intend to divorce and you believe that your spouse will fight you for custody, your wisest course of action is to seek the advice, counsel and representation of an experienced local child custody lawyer. If you are the father of the children in question, you may wish to seek out a lawyer who practices in the area of fathers’ rights. In any event, your lawyer can help you construct the strongest custody case possible and aggressively protect your legal rights in court. The legal fee you pay undoubtedly will be more than worth it if it grants you a meaningful relationship with your biological and adopted children.



Can a Judge Modify a Child Custody Order Without My Agreement?

Step-Parent Adoption Lawyer

As a step parent adoption lawyer, like one  from a firm like Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, child custody arrangements can change depending on circumstances. If you or your ex-spouse want to apply for a child custody modification without the other’s consent, you both might wonder whether it is a legal course of action. Can the court change the custody agreement without the consent of both parents? 

Do Both Parties Have to Agree for a Modification to Take Place? 

The short answer is no, both parties do not need to agree. Having the consent of both parents can make the modification process run more smoothly, but having both parties in complete agreement is not a requirement. If one parent requests a change to the child custody arrangements and the judge finds the reasoning to be in the child’s best interests, then a modification can take place without the other parent’s consent. 

What Are the Reasons a Judge Can Order a Custody Modification? 

When a judge receives a request for a child custody modification, they will take a few factors into account to determine what is best for the child’s welfare.

Was the Original Agreement Recent or a Long Time Ago?

They will consider the length of time since the first custody agreement. Generally a parent must go through a waiting period of one to two years since the original custody agreement before they can file for a modification. Alternatively, if the original custody agreement was made some time ago, the child’s needs may have changed in the passing years. 

The parent’s situation over the years is also taken into account. If a parent has relocated, lost their job, become very ill, or gone through some other substantial change, a custody modification may be in order. 

Is the Other Parent Fit?

If one parent is not honoring the custody terms, it is a valid reason for a judge to grant modification. Since the original custody arrangement was made with the child’s best interests and welfare in mind, a parent who disregards these rules is, in a sense, also disregarding what is best for the child. 

Custody can also be modified if the one parent is unfit, drinks excessively or uses drugs, physically, mentally, or emotionally abuses the child, or places the child in danger in any way. Child endangerment is a very cogent reason to alter the custody arrangements. 

Both parties do not need to agree for a custody modification to take place. If you feel that it is in your child’s best interests to file for a custody modification, contact a child custody lawyer who can walk you through the process. 



 Divorce and Adopted Children


Divorce is challenging for a couple, but consider when children are involved. The effects of divorce on children can be long-lasting and traumatic, which is why it is crucial to involve your children in the conversations that matter. However, when discussing custody, it is best if children are not forced into a situation where they must pick who they will live with.

While divorce is hard enough on biological children, consider the trauma for adopted children. As an adoption lawyer from a firm like Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, many adopted kids (especially if adopted as children) will have memories of foster homes and feelings of not belonging. To avoid any old wounds from festering, they must understand that both parents still love them and want only what is best for them.

For the parents, from a legal standpoint, adopted children are no different from biological children. A custody arrangement will still need to be made. The parents will need to determine whether they will share custody or not. No parent has a stronger legal tie to the children, even if one is the biological parent. 

When Biology Matters

If you marry a person with children and those children have two biological parents in the picture, you likely have no legal ground for custody. To be considered the legal parent of a child, you must adopt them, and to do so, the biological parents must give up custody. You can talk with a lawyer to find out if there are any exceptions to the standard rules, but it is unlikely.

Making Custody Arrangements Work

While it can be difficult to make a shared custody arrangement because no parent wants to give up access to their children for days on end, it is necessary to create balance for your kids. One shared custody method that seems to work for many families is a shared family home. 

The way a shared home works is by creating a primary house where your children live and stay. The parents then find an apartment outside of the home. It is the parents that must travel back and forth instead of the children. This arrangement works because it provides your kids with a stable environment.

Are you preparing for a divorce? Do you have adopted children? If so, contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your options and legal rights. Remember, an adopted child is your child, and in the eyes of the law, there is no difference between them and a biological child.


How to protect yourself in a community property state

How to protect yourself in a community property state

A couple of weeks ago I read an article from a Buzzfeed contributor named Evie Carrick titled, “I don’t share money with my husband, and I think it’s saved our relationship.”  

I shared this article on my Facebook profile with the caption, “If this couple ever gets divorced in a community property state, she’s really going to hate life.”

I was surprised on the amount of feedback this article received. My attorney friends, who primarily practice law in either Idaho or Washington, which are both community property states, knew why she’d hate life if she were ever to get divorced in Idaho or Washington. My non-attorney friends wanted to know why. They were also concerned that they don’t share money with their spouses and wanted to know how that could impact them in the future, should they ever find themselves in the middle of a divorce proceeding in a community property state.

Generally speaking, when you get divorced in a community property state, everything earned or acquired during the marriage is subject to division between the community at the time of divorce. This also includes debts. 

It’s not uncommon for one spouse during the marriage to be responsible with their money and invest it in their retirement accounts, investment accounts, or real property, including their primary residency. At the time of divorce, all of this is community property. 

Debt works the same way. All of the debt acquired during the marriage is community debt and subject to division between the community at the time of division. This includes student loans, credit card debt, and literally all other types of debts. It’s not uncommon for a spouse to acquire a lot of debt unbeknownst to the other party.

It’s like that joke that says there are only two types of people: (describe people as total opposites) and they usually marry each other. In this case, those two types of people typically divorce each other. 

So you can imagine my concern for our author friend. Here she is being all responsible with her money, keeping it separate, feeling like she’s doing everything right and then she goes to get divorced for literally any reason at all, and BAM! she finds out her husband has tons of debt and no real assets and not only is he entitled to half of her accounts, she’s also obligated to take on responsibility for half of her husband’s debt. Talk about a worst-case scenario.

Now look, I have no idea who Evie Carrick is. I don’t know anything about her marriage. She sounds totally happy in her marriage and probably has no plans to get divorced anytime soon. I’m just saying, if she got divorced in a community property state, she could have a bad time. 

The reason for this is that it doesn’t really matter how the property or debt was acquired, by which party, or how finances were managed during the marriage. I hear all the time, “We don’t have any property together. I have my stuff and he has his stuff.” Or “I bought a car, but her name’s not on the title.” That’s great, but did you acquire that stuff during the marriage? If so, it’s likely community property. Names are on accounts, titles, and deeds don’t matter much when determining what is community property. 

In Idaho, this also includes any current or potential retirement benefits a military member may be entitled to. It includes cars purchased. Medical debt. Student loans. 401(k) or Thrift Saving Program accounts. Houses purchased without a separate agreement. Literally, everything is community property or community debt if it’s acquired during the marriage. How you managed your finances; if you have separate bank accounts; if you have a car in your name only; none of that matters when it comes time to determine who is entitled to what at the time of divorce.

Is Idaho a community property state? Yes, here’s what you need to know.

In Idaho, there are three expectations to this rule, and that’s separate property. Separate property is property that either party owned prior the marriage; property acquired by gift or inheritance during the marriage; or anything purchased with the funds of separate property during the marriage. 

Community property is all other property. In Idaho, community property isn’t necessarily divided equally, but divided between the parties in a fair and equitable manner. This generally means that there is a substantially equal division in value between the spouses unless there are good reasons to divide it unequally. Simply put, 50/50 is a good place to start unless there are good reasons not to do so. 

So some of my friends were like, “you mean I can be held responsible for debt my spouse acquires I know nothing about?!?” And other friends asked if they would have to split their retirement account with their spouse if they got divorced. The answer to both of these questions is yes, which was followed by shock. But there’s good news!

There are a few things people can do to protect themselves from this harsh reality while still enjoying life with the person they love most.

How to Protect Yourself in a divorce in a Community Property State

  1. Sign a prenuptial agreement prior the marriage.

This is commonly known as a prenup. Prenups are legal in Idaho if they meet these criteria

Prenups basically say, “If we ever get a divorce, we agree that at the time of our divorce, we will divide our community debts and assets as follows:”

It’s not uncommon to simply include some variation of “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.”  If parties ever do get divorced, figuring out who gets what is pretty easy at that point. If they never get divorced, then it was just a couple of pieces of paper laying around somewhere taking up space. 

But the problem with prenups is that you have to sign them before you get married, and everyone thinks their marriage is going to last forever before they get married. And it always does. Until it doesn’t. But you can get a postnup agreement.

  1. Sign a postnuptial agreement after the marriage.

A postnup is a lot like a prenup, except you sign it after your marriage has already started. There are a lot of reasons why you might consider doing this. 

Maybe three months in you realize, “I love this man, but he is terrible with money. Let’s agree to keep things separate in this area.”  Maybe you got an unexpected inheritance and you want to make sure what you spend the money on remains your own property in the event of a divorce (probably not required as the law would likely allow for this, but often times it’s better to prevent an argument than to win an argument after spending thousands of dollars on attorney fees.) 

Maybe you met someone in college and got married and then you both graduated and you got your dream job making tons of money and she decided she’d rather earn money selling beaded bracelets at the local park than get an office job. You think that’s fine, you love her and want to support whatever it is that makes her happy. You get a postnup to protect your 401(k) and carry on with your life. 

There are tons of reasons to consider getting one. Life changes all the time, especially after you get married. If some of those changes cause you to think you’d like to offer yourself greater protection down the road, get a postnup. Everyone wants to share half of nothing with their partner, but not everyone wants to split half of everything they’ve worked over 25 years for with someone who has blown every dollar they’ve ever made.

The key factor to a postnup is that it’s written to allow the parties to continue on with their marriage but with just slightly different rules in the event of a future divorce. That’s key. It’s basically saying, “Everything is good now, everyone is happy, but let’s just agree to a few things now in the event things go wrong down the road.”

  1. Separation agreement

A separation agreement is an agreement parties enter into after they’ve reached a point where their marriage is no longer going to survive. It can be done before or after either party has filed for divorce, but it’s completed once it’s clear divorce is likely to happen. 

A separation agreement divides the community assets and debts between the parties in a way that the parties agree. In this scenario, it’s likely, and possible, that the parties reach an agreement that gives one party more assets or debts than the other party. Maybe the parties agree it’s fair for each to keep what they consider their own debt and property. Maybe one party really wants one piece of property more than other items and they agree to an uneven distribution of property in exchange for getting the items most important to them. The key here is that they’ve reached an agreement as to what is fair and equitable between them. The courts will generally honor these agreements within reason. 

  1. Quitclaim deed/convey property to each other. 

During the marriage, parties can agree to forego any interest in a piece of property that they may have to their spouse. Or avoid taking any interest upfront. For an example, one party might save a little bit of money every month for a long time and then decide they want to buy a vacation cabin in McCall, Idaho. The parties agree that she should be able to do so and that the spouse should have nothing to do with the cabin or have any ownership whatsoever in the property. The parties can agree to do this between themselves and sign the appropriate documents to facilitate their agreement. 

Regardless of how you and your spouse manage your joint and individual finances, the keys to success are open and honest communication and decide if additional legal protections are necessary for your individual situations. 

(Also, Evie Carrick appears to live in Colorado, which is not a community property state.)

Medical Mistakes Amount to Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice Lawyer

If there’s one profession that gets the trust of most people, it would be healthcare providers. We put a lot of trust in doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical practitioners. That trust is deserved most of the time, but healthcare providers are mortal and do make mistakes. When medical professionals make errors, it can significantly affect their patients’ lives. 

If you can demonstrate that the doctor was negligent in some way, you may have grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit based on a medical mistake in Baltimore MD. Here are some common medical mistakes that can turn into malpractice lawsuits.

Incorrect or Delayed Diagnosis

When a doctor incorrectly determines what is causing your illness or pain, the consequences can be severe. You may receive the wrong treatment, or even worse, no treatment at all. However, just making an incorrect diagnosis is not enough to constitute medical malpractice. You must also have damages arising from the misdiagnosis.

Medication Errors

When many medical professionals are involved in providing medication, there are many ways errors occur. A doctor might prescribe the wrong medication. A pharmacy may not give the right medication. If you’re in the hospital, a nurse could have given you an incorrect dosage. If the error causes complications, you may have cause for a medical malpractice claim.

Surgery Mistakes

It’s hard to believe that mistakes can occur in surgery, but doctors operate on the wrong body part or leave tools inside a patient all too often. Issues with administering anesthesia often occur during surgeries. Doctors are held to the highest standard of care in their profession, so they are liable if they cause any harm to the patient during these delicate procedures.

Childbirth Injuries

Giving birth to a child is a joyous event, but medical complications can arise anytime. When doctors fail to address complications before birth, it can lead to tragic situations. If a child is injured at birth, there can be life-long debilitating issues for which the doctor may be responsible for compensating the patient. 

Defective Medical Devices

Medical devices are designed to work properly, but oftentimes they fail. In these instances, you may have cause to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the device or another liable party because you deserve equipment that operates effectively.

Medical malpractice is a complex area of law. If you think you or your loved one is a victim of malpractice, you may have legal options to help pay for medical care, pain and suffering, and long-term reparations. You can make an appointment with a medical malpractice lawyer from an experienced law firm like Cohen & Cohen, P.C., who can help you assess your situation to take the next steps.

Understanding Parental Rights: A Simple Guide

Step-Parent Adoption Lawyer

If you’re going through a divorce or separation and there are children involved, you’re likely wondering about parental rights. As a step parent adoption lawyer from a firm like Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, child custody laws vary greatly by state. Courts are responsible for interpreting these laws and then fashioning agreements that create the best outcome for the child. Here is a quick look at this delicate matter that newly single parents are bound to find useful.

Who Gets Parental Rights?

Biological parents are granted parental rights (also known as custody rights) the moment a child is born. Parental rights are also given to those who adopt, whether the adoption was processed through a public or a private agency. The specifics required to adopt differ according to region. When couples split, parents may be afforded unique parental rights. This sometimes happens after a parent petitions the court to alter the balance of power, thus giving one individual more rights than the other. 

What Types of Parental Rights Are There?

There are two types of parental rights. One is physical custody, where the parent is allowed to have the child live under their roof. In instances where parents live close to one another, physical custody may be evenly divided between them. The other type of right is legal custody, which gives parents the power to make important decisions in a child’s life, including schooling and health care.

Can Parental Rights Be Terminated?

Yes, your rights as a parent can be terminated. This can happen as a result of a court order, or a parent might voluntarily decide to forfeit his or her rights. A court will only take this measure in drastic circumstances, such as when the wellbeing of the child would otherwise be endangered.

If your rights are entirely revoked, the other parent will get complete control. You would have no ability to make decisions regarding the child or even visitation. Additionally, it is possible that your rights could be partially taken away. One potential outcome is that you have physical custody but are restricted from making certain decisions. A more agreeable scenario involves both parents crafting an agreement that fits their requests and benefits the child. Even if both parties are capable of forging a compromise, a court must still approve the arrangement.

It’s a sticky situation when families break apart, but that doesn’t mean that either parent loves their children any less. Hire a child custody lawyer to protect your rights and create the optimal situation for your little ones.

Divorced Parents: What Are Your Rights As a Grandparent?

Adoption Lawyer, Boise, ID

Grandparents and their grandchildren have a special bond. Unfortunately, when a set of parents divorce, grandparents don’t always know where they stand. If your child is divorced from your son or daughter-in-law, how can you ensure that you still see your grandchildren? As an adoption lawyer from a firm like Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC can explain, here is what you need to know about the rights of grandparents.

Do Grandparents Have Rights to Grandchildren?

Every state is different in regards to grandparents’ rights. In some states, the government recognizes that grandparents have a right to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren. Courts can determine that a grandparent and a grandchild’s relationship should be maintained. If visitation is within the child’s best interests, a grandparent may be able to have court-ordered visitation.

When it comes to custody, grandparents cannot obtain custody unless the children’s parents are unfit. In many cases, if the parents are deemed unfit, grandparents are among the first to apply for custody of the children.

Can Grandparents Visit an Adopted Child?

The contact between biological grandparents and adopted children depends on the adoptive parents. If the adoption is closed and the legal parents do not want contact with the former family members, you cannot ask for visitation.

However, in open adoptions, many parents are willing to allow biological grandparents to have a relationship with the children. In these cases, it is always at the discretion of the legal parents. Once a child is adopted, all legal rights that the biological family had are severed. Visitation with biological family only happens on a case-by-case basis determined by the legal parents.

What Can Grandparents Do if the Parents Refuse Visitation?

One of the most unfortunate cases for grandparents occurs when the grandchildren’s parents divorce and one refuses to let the grandparents visit. If you feel like your former son or daughter-in-law is keeping the children from you, you can file a petition for visitation. Your first course of action should be to contact an attorney. The right lawyer can advise you on what your rights are. If you had a close relationship with your grandchildren, the court may order visitation.

Your relationship with your grandchildren is important and beneficial to you and your grandchildren. In many states, the law does recognize the importance of grandparents in their grandchildren’s lives. If you feel like your grandchildren are being unfairly kept from you, you can consult with a child custody lawyer to determine whether you have a case for court-ordered visitation.

What Happens When Children “Age Out” of Foster Care?

Adoption Lawyer Boise, ID

While there is legally no age that signifies the end of foster care, generally foster children age out of care when they turn 18 years old and legally become an adult. There are guidelines put in place by the federal government to assist this transition to independence, however, it doesn’t mandate exactly what the state should do. As explained by Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC, this can be a tricky and sometimes scary time in a young person’s life and it is helpful to have an adoption lawyer Boise, ID on your side to help you navigate this process.

The Transition Period

As soon as these new adults age out of the foster care system, they are no longer eligible to receive any benefits from the state including medical care, food, or housing. Due to the anxiety of losing access to these resources, plus the instability of growing up in the foster care system, and other traumatic events from their past, many recently emancipated foster children have a higher chance of substance abuse, homelessness, mental illness, and incarceration. 

The federal government developed the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program to provide assistance to these aged out children and try to successfully transition them into their communities as adults. 

The states can use these government funds for a variety of things: 

  1. Access to safe and stable housing
  2. Educational scholarships (or vouchers) to vocational school or colleges. 
  3. Medicaid coverage 
  4. Provide access to stable mentors and other caring adults 
  5. Life skills training courses 

While there are federal guidelines in place, there are no mandates that require states to provide everything. As a result, assistance varies from state to state. 

Are there other options?

It’s important to determine what exactly each state provides, and then come up with a plan to look for additional options. Other nonprofits, universities, and programs can help foster children ease the transition into adulthood.

The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative works to increase opportunities for children aging out of the foster care system including providing financial support and advocacy. They also monitor programs that were developed specifically for the transition out of foster care to make sure they are working properly.

Foster Care to Success helps young adults transitioning out of foster care get vouchers for colleges and universities. 

Covenant House offers emancipated foster children housing and advocates for homeless foster children. 

There are many universities across the country that have programs specifically for young adults that have aged out of the foster care system. College can be expensive in general, and some schools, such as the California State University system, provide help with tuition costs, books, and housing. They also set the young adults up with counselors who can help them with employment and career counseling as well as help with other life skills. 

Transitioning out of the foster care system can be challenging. The system does not make it easy for newly emancipated young adults to succeed. While there is some assistance available from the state, it may not cover every need. 

If you are about to exit the foster care system, reach out to a family lawyer. They can help you determine what your state will provide and help you look for other options to make sure you successfully transition out of the foster care system and into adulthood. 

Can I See My Adoption Records?

Adoption Lawyer 

There are many, many reasons for an adult adopted as a child to look for answers about their adoption and their birth parents. Perhaps a desire to know any ancestry, or to discover important medical history. Some wish to seek out their birth parents to meet them and also to see if they have any siblings. Obtaining access to your adoption records is one way to get some of those questions answered, like an adoption lawyer Boise, ID from a local law firm such as Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC would advise.

Different Types of Adoptions

Closed Adoptions — Typically, adoptions that took place from 1930 until about 1975 were closed adoptions. Babies were placed with their adoptive parents immediately after they were born and then the records were closed. Many times the birth mother kept the pregnancy a secret because during those years an unwanted pregnancy held some social stigma. Birth certificates and records were often falsified to protect the birth mother. During that time, some adoptive parents never even told their children they were adopted. Those born between 1930 and 1975 may have a more difficult time finding their birth certificate and even then they cannot be certain if the information is correct.

Open AdoptionsBeginning in the 1990s open adoption was an option through adoption agencies. Adoptive children fought for the ‘right to know’ and more are able to obtain information about their birth parents.

Each state has its own laws and regulations concerning adoption records. A lawyer familiar with family law and adoptions can help address the laws in your particular state.

How to Get Access to Your Adoptions Records

There are several methods you can utilize to try and find your birth records.

Contact the county clerk where you were adopted and ask how you can acquire your original birth records/certificate. The clerks are generally knowledgeable on how to get access to your adoption records and the regulations behind sealed adoptions. They can educate you on the necessary steps to take in order to be able to access any sealed adoption records. You will need to file a petition with the court for the records and the clerk can provide you with the necessary forms. 

Once you file the petition and it is reviewed by the clerk, a court date will be set to meet with the judge. You will have to tell him why you feel it is necessary to unseal the adoption records. The judge will not unseal the records just because you are curious about your birth parents. It is usually because of an emergency situation, many times medically based when the judge will permit you to see the documents. If your request is permitted the court will allow you access to the documents immediately. The judge may request the use of a confidential intermediary to look at the documents and work on your behalf to contact the other parties involved in the adoption. 

Contact a Family Law Lawyer

Going through the court is just one way of locating your adoptive birth records. An adoption lawyer Boise, ID  familiar with adoptions can assist you in the correct procedures to take when petitioning the court to unseal the adoption records.


Can I Adopt My Foster Step Child?

Step Parent Adoption Lawyer

Is it possible to adopt a step-child after being a foster parent to them?  Not all families foster children with the intent to adopt them, but many discover the foster child fits well with their family and want to take steps to adopt the child,  like a step parent adoption lawyer Boise, ID from a local law firm such as Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC would advise. Each circumstance is different as to why the child is in foster care and adoption may not even be an option in many cases.

Why is Your Foster Child in the Foster Care System?

The primary goal is to reunite the child with their family. They have been separated by the court for a number of reasons and until the court decides it is safe for the child to be reunited with their family, they will remain in foster care. This can take a long time — maybe over two years. It is important for the foster parent to support the goal and not try to manipulate the child into thinking perhaps life would be better at the foster parent’s home.

How Long Before You Know if Your Foster Step-Child Can Be Adopted?

The birth parents are usually given a year by the courts to get their case plan together. Once completed, the birth parents should be reunited with their children. The reunion will occur gradually or quickly depending upon how long they have been separated. The time together will be increased each visit until they can be together full time.

If the case plan is not completed by the time specified, the court will usually give the birth parents a six month to one year extension. If the court decides not to grant the extension, the parents will probably lose their parental rights and permanent custody of the children revert to the court until which time the children can be adopted. The birth parents still have the right to appeal the court’s decision if they do so in the required amount of time.

Adoption After Parent’s Rights are Terminated

After the termination of parental rights timeframe has passed and there are no appeals left, a meeting takes place to decide who is the best match with the child. The foster family where the child currently resides typically is the first to be considered.

Once you are selected as the appropriate match for the child it may still take several months before you are given a final adoption date. A family law attorney experienced in adoptions can assist you to make sure all the correct paperwork is submitted and work to keep the process moving along. The adoption date cannot be less than six months from the time the child came to live with you. Usually, by the time you get to the point of being able to adopt the child, you have already been fostering the child for one to two years.

It is important to remember that you do not need to have a large income or big home to be able to foster children. There are about 400,000 children currently in the foster care system in this country. Of that amount, about 25 percent are eligible for adoption. If you are looking to adopt, choosing a child that is already eligible will speed up the process considerably.

Learn more on adopting your stepchild in Idaho.

How Long Will My Overseas Divorce Take?

Overseas Divorce Lawyer

The length of time it will take you to get your overseas divorce once you file for it will depend on numerous factors, like a overseas divorce lawyer Boise, ID from a law firm such as Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC would advise. These factors may include the following:

  • Does your state have a mandatory waiting period (often called a cooling off period)?
  • Does your state require mediation before the court will issue a divorce decree?
  • Does your spouse intend to contest the divorce?
  • Are you a high-asset couple with extensive, possibly complex, holdings?
  • Do you and your spouse have issues regarding child custody, visitation and support?
  • Do you and he or she have issues regarding the distribution of your marital property?

Each state has its own divorce laws, so your wisest course of action is to consult an experienced local divorce lawyer who likely can give you at least a rough estimate of how long your divorce will take based on your particular circumstances.

Cooperation Between Spouses

It goes without saying that the more cooperative you and your spouse can be in resolving your issues and reaching agreements that both of you are prepared to live with, the faster your divorce will proceed. You will not be surprised to learn that fully contested divorces between angry, fighting spouses can take more than a year to resolve. On the other hand, a no contest divorce can take as little as 4-6 weeks depending on the length of time, if any, your state requires you to wait.

Child Custody

Usually, child custody arrangements present the biggest challenges for divorcing couples. If at all possible, you and your spouse may wish to consider joint custody, wherein each of you has your children at your respective homes for more or less equal periods of time. Not only is joint custody better for your children in most circumstances, but it has become the preferred custody arrangement for divorce courts.

Property Division

Property division generally presents the second biggest challenge for divorcing couples. If you live in one of the nine community states, you must split your marital property 50/50 with your spouse. The following states are community property states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • Louisiana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

If you live in one of the other 41 states, you must split your marital property fairly and equitably with your spouse. Keep in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all definition for what constitutes a fair and equitable distribution. It varies from couple to couple and depends on a variety of factors which your overseas divorce lawyer Boise, ID can explain to you.

Preparing to Welcome Your Adopted Child Home

Adoption Lawyer

Adoption can be an overwhelming period not only for the adoptive parents but the child or children as well. There are many emotions to expect, including the good and bad. What’s important to remember is that it’s normal to feel over your head. As you prepare for life as a new parent, there are things to consider so that you are as ready as possible to meet the needs of your new family member. 

Be ready to wait and have your patience tested.

Adoption can be a long yet rewarding process. Be prepared to wait some time before you are approved for adoption or get to welcome your new child home. But don’t be complacent either. There are ways you can prepare for parenthood in the meantime. 

Become familiar with your child’s background.

If you get approved for adoption, spend time learning about the child’s background. In this way, you can understand better where they come from, what struggles they may have, and how you can help them get comfortable in a new place. 

Build a support system around you.

Recruit people who care about you to support you during this period. You may find yourself needing someone to talk to about what you’re going through. Having friends, family, other adoptive parents, therapists, and an adoption lawyer there to help can make all the difference in your experience. 

Keep it simple and low-key for your new family member.

Your child’s first few months with your family may be tough, even though it’s an overall happy time for all involved. You may not want to host a big welcome party as that may stress them out further. Depending on their needs and personality, the initial adjustment may need to be simple and tranquil. 

As our adoption lawyer from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC knows, adoptive parents often have to jump through numerous hoops before they can welcome a new child or children home. By recruiting people around you as a support system, you can get through it with less worry and more optimism. 

Home Study Tips for Adoptive Parents

Adoption Lawyer

Choosing to adopt a child is an exciting yet stressful time, as adoptive parents prepare for a home study visit from the adoption agency. It’s understandable that prospective parents would be worried about making the best impression possible. While this is not a complete list, here are some tips to remember when you find yourself getting carried away by overwhelm: 

Be flexible and open.

The journey to adoption is not linear for everyone. In fact, it’s common for rules or requests to come up unexpectedly. The adoption process is going to be personal and unique to each family. Keep yourself flexible and open to what may come your way. If you are working with an adoption lawyer, you’ll have someone to watch out for your best interests too. 

Stay optimistic.

A home study visit will be a thorough invasion into your privacy. It is normal for adoptive parents to feel vulnerable and interrogated at some point during the adoption process. If things start to seem like they aren’t going well, you may find yourself feeling down and negative about the situation, but it doesn’t mean the outcome cannot still be what you were hoping for. Express concerns with your lawyer if you’re struggling with the process.

Communicate clearly.

Be forthcoming during the entire adoption process, including when working with a home study social worker or adoption specialist. It may feel at times you are being judged or doing something wrong, but it is only the role of these workers to ensure the best placement for children. Your lawyer can go through example dialogues of what kind of questions you’ll be asked during the home study visit. 


As an adoption lawyer from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC has helped clients with before, a home study visit is one of the more stressful parts of any adoption process. However, parents shouldn’t be discouraged from trying, and may want to recruit help from an adoption lawyer for support. 


Marriage Insight from Divorce Lawyers

Divorce Lawyer

Nobody thinks about divorce when they’re getting married. And while the divorce rates are going down, the reality is that there are no guarantees. Because of this, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared just in case. Divorce lawyers frequently get a front-row seat to divorce proceedings, some that may be easier to navigate than others. Each divorce case is unique, simply because the spouses within the marriage bring their own set of character traits and ways of being.

You cannot change your spouse.

Consider the little things that drive you mad about your spouse. Guess what, those annoyances are probably not going away. You can either accept your spouse for the good and bad about them, or you may find yourself wasting time and energy when these traits are unlikely to change. 

Marriage is not just about love, it’s a legal contract.

Marriage is not only a change in your relationship status and maybe last name, as it’s also a legally binding contract that has legal and financial impacts on both parties involved. Most people wouldn’t blindly enter a contract without reading the fine print, but some couples may get caught up in the blurry giddiness of being in love, and forget that it’s a legal agreement too. 

You should have shared goals for children.

Sometimes couples get married and assume that when it comes time to talk about children, they’ll end up with at least similar goals. However, if someone strongly wants or doesn’t want children, they may not falter later on. Couples can take more due diligence in discussing how and when to build a family before entering a marriage, and see if they envision a similar path.

As a divorce attorney from Taylor Law & Mediation, PLLC has witnessed before, divorce proceedings can be turbulent and emotionally-charged. Before entering a marriage, couples may want to consider the impact it’ll have on their daily life, finances, and future. 

Old Highway 30

Old Highway 30

I had to make a quick trip to Buhl Friday, one that I could measure in minutes. After eating lunch at Juanita’s Tacos & More (I love tacos), I texted an old friend who lives in Filer about getting together for a cup of coffee. On my way to Filer, I was surrounded by farmland. I put on George Strait; it just felt right.

As we were wrapping up or visit, my friend suggested I take the scenic bypass back and check out Thousand Springs. Since I had the time, I took her advice and followed Old Highway 30 from Filer to Mountain Home, keeping George Strait on Spotify the entire time.

My GPS kept wanting to take me back to I-84 at every turn, but I ignored its directions to stay on the scenic route. I could see my decisions adding minutes to my trip, but it was worth it. When I was in college, I used to drive from Moscow to Boise about once a month. I loved the long drives to myself, especially this time of the year. I haven’t been to Moscow in a while, so it’s been a couple years since I’ve spent any time traveling through Idaho’s backroads and highways. I appreciated the opportunity to get lost in the state I grew up in. I saw places I’d never seen before and discovered places just a short distance from the interstate I usually travel on.

Thousand Springs was just as beautiful as I remembered it. I hadn’t been there since before I started school at Twin Falls’ College of Southern Idaho. In Hagerman, I saw a restaurant selling alligator . In Bliss, I saw the closed Bob’s Museum, which looked like it’d been closed for about a decade. Somewhere between King Hill and Glenns Ferry, I saw a sign that read, “Petrified Watermelons. Take one Home to Your Mother-in-Law!” 

I didn’t see any watermelons, but it turns out “petrified watermelons” are just rocks.

I was ready to get on the interstate at Glenns Ferry, but the exit was closed, and after a quick detour, I took that as a sign to continue to Mountain Home on the old highway. After a short trip through Hammett, I was back in Mountain Home, where I took the interstate the rest of the way to Boise.

On my trip, I followed a beautiful river, saw multiple museums and antique stores and drove past more “DO NOT PASS” signs than actual cars to pass. But I didn’t pass a single law office. I’m not saying there aren’t any attorneys in Filer, Hagerman, Bliss, King Hill, Glenns Ferry or Hammett, just that I didn’t see any on my route. Once again, I was reminded why I wanted to take my small-town law office and make our services available throughout the state. The majority of the process can be done online, no matter where you live. Check out our website and see if an uncontested, online divorce is right for you.

Visiting Jump Creek

Attorney Robert Taylor visiting Jump Creek

Last Friday my wife and I took the day off work to hang out together. We ended up making a day trip to Jump Creek, which is just southwest of Marsing. 

Marsing, Idaho, is in Owyhee County and its total square area is less than a mile. It really is, “Small town, Idaho.” 

On the way to Jump Creek, we stopped to have lunch at The Spot, which is pretty much the only pizza place in the 1,300 people town. On the way from The Spot to Jump Creek, we drove pass what might be the town’s only law office in town. 

Driving pass the building reminded me why I wanted to expand my uncontested divorce process from just Mountain Home to the entire state of Idaho, which can be done all online. 

I grew up in Mountain Home, Idaho. I know all about small-town service. I also grew up with the entire world wide web at my fingertips. I wanted to combine small-town service with the state-wide reach of the internet. 

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with wanting to get divorced in your hometown or wanting to use the assistance of your local attorney, it’s just that I wanted to give more people the option to get divorced online and to do so relatively hassle-free.

In most small towns, there’s a limited number of attorneys. This can be hard if one party beats their spouse to his or her office. Or if you or your spouse knows your local attorney from your church, poker group, or favorite fishing spots, you may not want him or her knowing everything about your relationship and pending divorce. Getting help from out of town would let you get divorced and maintain your privacy. After all, What Happens in a Small Town, stays in a small town.

Marsing is only a half hour outside of Nampa and its likely if you live in Marsing and don’t want to get divorce with the assistance of your local attorney(s), then you’d probably drive to Nampa or even Boise to talk to a divorce attorney. But keep in mind, you don’t have to. You can call Taylor Law & Mediation PLLC and start the process all online. You could literally get divorced without having to leave your house, let alone your home town (though you will need to find a notary).

How long do military members have to reside in Idaho to get divorced?

Do military members have to reside in Idaho to get divorced

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the same question from military members or their spouses who recently moved to Idaho and want to know how and when they can proceed with getting divorced. Though these people appear to be in a similar situation, the answers are very different.

Assume Person A just moved to Meridian, Idaho from Arkansas and wants to divorce his spouse. They have no children together.

Person B just moved to Mountain Home, Idaho, and wants to divorce her spouse. The two were previously stationed in England and have two children together.

Person C just moved to Boise, Idaho from Florida and wants to divorce his spouse. They have one child together.

Person A and Person B can both likely file for divorce in as little as six weeks, while Person C would most likely have to wait until their children have lived in Idaho for at least six months.

Idaho Statute 32-701 requires the plaintiff, the person filing the Petition for Divorce, to reside in Idaho for six weeks before filing the petition for divorce. These six weeks start when someone moves to Idaho. There’s no requirement to get a driver’s license in Idaho, to register to vote or do anything else to “establish residence” in Idaho. Residing within the borders of our beautiful state is enough to start the clock.

Without any children to worry about, Person A can file for divorce as soon as he has resided in six weeks. This is still true even if his spouse lives in a different state, but the process can get slightly more complicated if that’s the case. Lately, people seem to have been moving to Idaho with their spouse then worry about getting divorced. This is especially true if they are moving from overseas and wish to get divorced in the United States before going their separate ways.

Jumping to Person C, Person C will still have to wait longer than six weeks to file for divorce. This is because Idaho Statute 32-11-201 , Idaho’s Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, requires children to live in Idaho for a period of six months before the start of a child custody proceeding. It’s generally a good idea to get divorced and establish child custody and support all in the same preceding, so the best advice would be to wait until the sixth-month mark to initiate the divorce process. 

However, there are a few exceptions to when child custody cases can begin without the children residing in Idaho for six months. One of those exceptions is when no other court in the country has jurisdiction of the children. There are a couple of ways this could happen, but one would be if the child hasn’t lived in another state for six months, or any state ever in their life, which is often the case when military families move from overseas. It’s not uncommon for military members to have children in a different country and then move back to the U.S. together, which was the case for Person B. As a result, Person B would have to wait until they meet the six-week residence requirement and could get divorced without having to wait six months for the court to establish jurisdiction of their child. Idaho would likely be that child’s home state before the sixth-month mark.

Idaho Family Case Law Information Sheet

In this post, we will provide instructions for completing an Idaho Family Law Case Information Sheet. In a previous post, we provided fallible PDF forms for you to file your own divorce with the courts, assuming you and your partner are in agreement and have no minor children between the two of you.. You should talk to an attorney for advice prior to completing the document and filing it with the court. We don’t recommend you substitute this post with actual legal advice.

Idaho Family Case Law Information Sheet

The Idaho Family Case Law Information Sheet

The Family Case Law Information Sheet must be completed and filed with the court at the start of any family law proceeding, including a divorce. The information shared is private and not part of the cases’s public record. As a result, you will only need to file one copy of this document with the court.

The form is pretty simple to complete, but step=by-step instructions are included below to assist.

Describe your case

Choose the block that applies to your case. See, this form is pretty easy!

Information about Petitioner

Put your information here. It asks for your address. Should you move while the case is pending, you’ll need to update your address with the court.

Information about Respondent.

Put your spouse’s information here. Include as much information as you can here or work with your spouse to complete it. You’ll need to mail a copy of the final decree for divorce to your spouse at the end of your divorce case, so it’ll be important to keep up to date with any changes. It’s not uncommon for a couple to start the divorce process living together and then one party moves out before it’s finalized.

Children under 18 in this case

List any children that will be included in the case. This includes any children born during the marriage to either party, regardless of who the other parent is. Also include their birth dates, social security numbers and whose child it is. Include where the children currently live.

Other Cases Involving Children

Most people can leave this section blank. But if there’s another case in any jurisdiction that involves at least one of your children, include it in this section.

Other Cases Involving Violence or Abuse

Include any cases that involved a protection order, domestic violence or child abuse involving anyone listed on the form.

Idaho divorce forms (without children)

Idaho divorce forms online.

Idaho divorce forms for those wishing to get divorced from their spouse who do not have any children and agree to the terms of their divorce.

Most attorneys don’t recommend filing and completing your divorce by yourself, but sometimes it might be your only option. It’s also possible that you and your spouse have no community property or debt to distribute and don’t have any children, so it might seem like a good alternative to hiring an attorney to assist you with the divorce process. Even then, it’s still a good idea to hire an attorney to assist you with navigating the process. Most divorce attorneys have done hundreds of divorces and are much more likely to get everything filed correctly with the court the first time so you and your spouse can move on as quickly as possible.

However, if you still wish to file you own divorce paperwork, the state of Idaho has done a good job at making all of the required forms available to assist you with doing so. Idaho has actually done a good job of providing a large number of forms available to the public. You find almost anything you need here.

For divorce, you can find all the forms you need here. Those forms are PDF or RTF, which allow you to print them off and fill them in with ink or fill out using Word. The forms below are the same forms from the website but are in a fillable PDF format. These forms assume you and your spouse have are in agreement to divorce and have also agreed on all the terms of the divorce. The forms also assume no children were born during your marriage or that you and your spouse do not otherwise have any children in common.

Idaho divorce forms: Getting started

To get the divorce process started, you’ll need the following three documents:

Wrapping up

The respondent, your spouse, will need to sign an acknowledgment of service or you will need to complete an affidavit of service. If you were using your own forms, you could include the acceptance of service in the stipulation described below, but then you wouldn’t be able to use the fallible forms provided.

Filing with the court

To finalize your divorce, you’ll need to complete a stipulation for entry of divorce, the decree of divorce and file a vital statistics certificate of divorce. The judge will sign the decree of divorce, which will grant your divorce. The stipulation tells the court that you and your spouse have reached an agreement and that you both agree the court should accept that agreement. The decree for divorce contains the terms of your agreement.