Child Custody and Time Sharing
Legal custody is about right and obligation to make major decisions on behalf of your children. These decisions include where your children will live, what religion they will practice, where they will attend school, what medical providers they will see, and the extracurricular/recreational activities in which they will participate.
In contested custody cases, where there are allegations or accusations of parental unfitness, alienation or requests to relocate, it is often necessary for a custody evaluation to be performed in order to determine the best interests of the children. In some cases, it is more helpful for a Guardian ad Litem to be appointed to represent the best interests of your children.
Meredith Baker will help you to develop a custody and timesharing arrangement that will serve your children’s best interests and, if necessary, can skillfully assist you in selecting the proper professional so that a suitable custody and timesharing arrangement can be reached.
In some circumstances, grandparents have the right to ask the judge for visitation with their grandchild.
Meredith Baker can assist grandparents in asking the Court to allow a continued relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren.
Guardian ad Litem
A Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) is a special attorney who can be appointed to represent a child in a contested custody or relocation case. The Guardian ad Litem serves as an “arm of the court” which means that the GAL will give recommendations to the court about what is in the best interests of the child/children.
If a parent leaves their child with you for an extended period of time, and you wish to continue to care for the child, New Mexico law allows you to acquire guardianship over the child. This law, referred to as the Kinship Guardianship Act, applies to situations in which a parent has left a child with another person for more than ninety (90) days without “appropriate care, guidance, or supervision.” When the court issues an order appointing the caretaker as a kinship guardian, the parent’s rights are temporarily suspended and transferred to the kinship guardian. The kinship guardian is responsible for and allowed to make nearly all of the decisions that a parent can make.
Meredith Baker can help you determine if kinship guardianship is the process for you and your family, and assist through that process.
Child Support is determined based on the New Mexico Child Support Guidelines. To calculate support, the Court looks at both parent’s incomes (or potential income, also known as “imputed income” when a parent is unemployed or under-employed), the number of children the parties share, the expenses each parent pays on behalf of the children, and the amount of time the children spend with each parent.
Meredith Baker can ensure your child support is appropriately calculated.
When non-married parents have children, the court must determine parentage, custody, timesharing, child support and payment of birth-related expenses.
Meredith Baker can assist you in obtaining a court order that clearly spells out what is expected of both parents.
Adoption is the legal process by which an individual, or individuals, assume parental rights and responsibilities for a child. There are different forms of adoption. Should you wish to take this important step, it is crucial that you have the proper legal advice and guidance.
Meredith Baker can assist you through the adoption process.
Estate planning is not a topic that most of us are comfortable with, or even think is applicable for our lives. Many of us think, “Estate planning is not for me because I don’t have an estate!” If you have minor children, estate planning is a necessity. Most of us cannot tolerate even the idea of being permanently parted from our children, but in the event we may face mortality prior to our young children, it is imperative that we make proper and careful plans for who will be there to guide them through the rest of childhood and life, to provide them with their material needs to survive and thrive, and to support and nurture them through the challenges they will face having lost one or both parents.
Meredith Baker can provide you with the information you need to understand exactly how estate planning applies to all of us, and to guide you through the simple process of organizing and planning for the distribution of all the personal and important items and assets in your life, including a home, life insurance policy values, annuities, retirement benefits, liquid cash and, of course, personal effects.
Ms. Baker will assist you in with an inventory, and craft the best way to protect and distribute your assets when it is time to pass those things along.
Premarital and Post-Marital Agreements
Marriage is a unique endeavor in our culture because, in many ways, it is a social and religious institution with traditions and defining values that have been a core part of human civilization for thousands of years. However, modern American marriage is also two people freely entering into a legal and contractual relationship that legally obligates the parties in a marriage to comply with the federal and state laws, both during the marriage and after a divorce. If the time comes to dissolve a marriage, the function of the courts is to dissolve that contract and divide the property, income, assets, debt, and children born of that contract according only to the law. Premarital and post-marital agreements allow the parties to plan their lives together so their futures are more certain.
Meredith Baker will prepare you for entry into an extremely important personal relationship and contract feeling confident and knowledgeable about what’s ahead. As a client, you will find Ms. Baker’s professional and personal experience invaluable as you construct, with love and optimism, the future you want for yourself, the partner.
Dependency Court/Abuse and Neglect Cases
The Children’s Court (called the Child Dependency court in California) is established to protect children from abuse or neglect that occurs in the home. The Child court can make orders to:
- Take children away from your home
- Send your children to live with relatives or foster care
- Terminate your parental rights
- Create new parental rights
The abuse & neglect process can be traumatic and stressful for both the parent and the child. The Law Office of Meredith Baker believes that the best place for a child is with his or her own family, as long as he or she is safe and cared for. Meredith Baker has compiled and developed information regarding the child dependency system so that the parent has a general understanding of the complex court process. Ms. Baker and her office team are willing to assist you through the dependency court process and will fight to ensure that you remain the primary caretaker of your child.
Divorce/Dissolution of Marriage
Divorce legally dissolves a marriage. In divorce, the parties either agree to resolve all issues concerning assets, debts, support and child support/timesharing issues, or a Court issues orders regarding the issues. We understand that divorce is rarely easy. We provide caring representation to clients facing contested divorce, as well as to those able to seek a more amicable resolution through uncontested divorce, divorce mediation or legal separation.
The term “sex crimes” encompasses everything from misdemeanors, for example Indecent Exposure to felonies that are categorized as “serious and violent,” such as criminal sexual penetration (rape). There are few things in our society that carry such a badge of shame as being charged with a sex crime. The only thing worse is being convicted of a sex crime.
A sex crime conviction almost always results in having to register as a sex offender every year for the rest of your life. If that happens, you will have to walk into a police station to register as a sex offender within five days of your birthday every year and for the rest of your life. And that will be the least of your worries.
Your ability to work and live in most decent neighborhoods will be difficult. Most felony sex crimes carry very long prison sentences, and some of them carry life sentences.
Sex crime accusations often come from very unreliable sources or from persons that have an agenda. Nothing brings out accusations and allegations of a sex crime like divorce, child custody disputes, or when a man simply breaks up with his girlfriend. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is full of falsely accused men that were set up by people they once loved and trusted. These cases often lack physical evidence and overzealous prosecutors rely solely on circumstantial evidence. Yet defendants frequently plead guilty or are convicted at trial because their criminal defense attorneys lack the proper expertise.
Meredith Baker is a seasoned attorney in cases involving allegation of sex crimes. You can trust that she will aggressively defend your innocence.