When it comes to family, emotions run high. Family law, divorce and child custody are some of the most delicate cases due to their deeply personal nature. At the Judnich Law Office, we handle all family law clients with discretion, care, and sensitivity — and above all, knowledge of the law that can help you win your case.
Why Hire a Family Law Attorney?
No one plans on getting divorced or battling over child custody. Thus you may be unfamiliar with current laws and requirements surrounding child support, divorce, and legal separation. Our family law attorney knows exactly what paperwork must be completed to make things official and get all that belongs to you.
At the Judnich Law Office, we negotiate for you so things remain civil. With tensions and defenses up, a family law attorney is not only a much-needed legal expert and skilled arbitrator, but an unrelated third party who can help calm things down when necessary. In addition, a Missoula divorce lawyer can come to your aid if your spouse is attempting to hide assets during the divorce or otherwise preventing the equitable split of resources (defined as a division of property that is fair but not necessarily equal).
Family Law Practice Areas
Our Missoula divorce attorney is highly skilled and experienced in the following areas:
- Legal Separation
- Domestic Disputes
- Restraining Orders
- Marital Agreements
- Child Custody
- Name Changes
- Other Issues
More details about these family law areas follow.
Up until the late 1960s, you could not get a divorce without proving one spouse did something wrong. Now Montana and all other states offer “no-fault divorce,” which means you do not have to prove that your partner caused the marriage to dissolve. (Heard the term “irreconcilable differences”? No-fault celebrity divorces brought it into the lexicon.)
Judnich Law Office’s divorce attorney will help settle your marital split, even if it is an abandonment divorce, adultery divorce, or military divorce. To get a divorce in Montana, you or your spouse must have lived in-state for at least 90 days, and you must attest that either your marriage is beyond repair or you and your partner have lived apart for 180 days. After that, the court will provide you with a “dissolution of marriage.” A Missoula divorce attorney will help with the difficult process of dividing your assets, house, 401k, and other shared resources.
As the Montana Department of Justice writes, “It is against the law for a partner or family member to cause you bodily harm or cause you to fear bodily harm.” Judnich Law Office’s family law attorney will assist you with cases related to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, intimidation, and elder abuse. Abuse is not always physical — financial, emotional, verbal, or written abuse can also be grounds for a restraining order, or what in Montana is called an Order of Protection. We take any instance of abuse, threats, or harassment very seriously and will fight for your protection. The most important thing is your safety. Similarly, if you are accused of domestic violence or abuse, expert legal representation is a must.
Marriage can be not only a legal distinction but a major life change. Our Missoula family law attorney can help you draw up a prenuptial agreement to ensure assets are divided fairly should the marriage dissolve. Civil unions are also within our expertise. As of October 2014, same-sex couples can register in Missoula as domestic partners. The Judnich Law Office can advise you on the legal issues related to registering or dissolving your domestic partnership.
The family law attorney can also assist you with legal separations and annulments. Filing for a legal separation means a married couple will live separately yet remain married. In Montana, a legal separation may be converted to a divorce after six months.
An annulment is a complicated and often misunderstood process. In fact, Montana no longer calls it an annulment at all, but a “declaration of invalidity.” And it is not for short-lived marriages but those involving a minor, relative, someone mentally incapacitated, or someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time. If you need an annulment, contacting a Missoula divorce lawyer is the first step.
Photo: Christine Szeto
Separating couples in our office are often most worried about the custody and welfare of their children. A skilled Missoula child custody lawyer will help you navigate visitation, sole custody, child support, and more. You and your partner will create a parenting plan to submit to the judge that explains where your child will live, who will make the main decisions about education, what each parent will contribute financially, visitation rights, and what will happen if the parenting plan is violated. Child custody lawyers will guide you through the process of creating a parenting plan, as well as establishing or challenging child custody, child support, and visitation rights.
We can also assist you with issues surrounding paternity. Our family law attorney will guide you through legally establishing paternity or determining paternity via genetic testing. Once blood and/or DNA tests identify the father, he may have visitation rights or be required to financially contribute to the child’s upbringing.
Our family law attorney will also aid you in adoption and guardianship cases. Step-parent adoption may be desired if a mother is married to someone other than the child’s father or was unmarried when the baby was born. The Judnich Law Office also regularly deals with guardianship cases, including legal guardianship, grandparents’ rights, Guardian ad Litem (court-appointed guardian) services, and representation of parents in state child custody (Department of Family Services) cases. No one should unlawfully keep you from your child or grandchild.
Name Changes and Other Family Law Issues
Changing your name after a marriage or divorce can seem like a daunting ordeal. You’re required to notify the state and Motor Vehicle Division, file a petition for name change, attend a court hearing in some cases, and then change your driver’s license, title, registration, and possibly Social Security card (not to mention banking cards). Thankfully, the Judnich Law Office’s family law attorney can expedite the process so your life can begin with your new name.
Photo: Heather Quintal
Family Law Terms to Know
We at Judnich Law Office do our best to make the legal process easy to understand. However, the legal jargon surrounding family law cases is often confusing. Here are several terms you may hear during the resolution of your case:
- Contempt: If someone can but refuses to comply with a legal agreement, he or she is in contempt of court and may be fined or even jailed. The Judnich Law Office can represent you if you are found to be in contempt during a family law matter.
- Mediation: To save money and prevent taking a divorce to court, a couple may use mediation to resolve disagreements. This involves both partners coming to a solution with the help of a third party. Lawyers may or may not participate in mediation.
- Modification of Judgment: After a judge has handed down a decision about your child support or custody case, a modification of judgment may occur if there are “substantial changes in circumstance,” such as someone getting fired.
- Maintenance: This is the current term for alimony or spousal support. A court will order maintenance if one partner in the divorce is unable to provide for her- or himself. The length of the marriage, partners’ health and age, and any children are factors in the decision.
Why Choose the Judnich Law Office?
Family law matters such as divorce and adoption can be overwhelming. Endless paperwork and court appearances are the last thing you need during this stressful time. Partnering with the Missoula family law attorney at Judnich Law means you can focus more on your family and personal life rather than trying to become a legal expert overnight. Whether your case is straightforward or complicated, we at Judnich Law bring the legal background, years of family law expertise, and negotiation skills to achieve the desired result in or out of court.