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Estate Planning

Families come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Some are traditional, some are blended, and some are downright unconventional. Some have one parent, some have two, some have an older sibling, aunt, uncle, or grandparent  filling the parent role.  

No matter how your family was formed, you may need legal assistance at some point. The legal process can be confusing and even scary. Rest assured that we have both the experience and the knowledge to safely guide you through the legal system and reach the best possible outcome for your family. 



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Divorce can be a very stressful time in people’s lives.  We strive to present our clients with all possible options and advise them on which one(s) may be best for them.  We also strive to ensure our clients understand the limits of the family court system and that they have realistic expectations regarding the possible outcomes.  An experienced attorney and a well-prepared client have the best chance of being successful.  


“Custody" is legal decision-making.  “Joint legal custody“ means both parents have decision-making authority for the children. (Married people have joint legal custody.)  “Sole legal custody” means only one parent has that authority.  The law presumes that parents will have joint legal custody and the court will only order sole legal custody under certain circumstances.  

“Placement” refers to the time the child(ren) spend with each parent.  If a child lives with one parent more than 75% of the time, that parent has “primary placement.”  Placement can also be “shared,” either equally or by some other schedule.  There are many potential placement schedules that should be considered depending on the needs of your children.

Custody and Placement

Child support orders are made in virtually every divorce or paternity case and are based on the placement order.  There is a standard formula that the court will use, but an experienced attorney knows what facts and circumstances might cause the court to deviate from that formula.

Child Support

A paternity case is a proceeding to establish the legal father of a child.  Genetic tests should be requested in virtually all cases.  Both formal paternity proceedings and hearings after a Voluntary Paternity Acknowledgement involve very significant rights for both parents.  Legal representation is a must!


Before a child can be adopted, there must be a termination of the parental rights of any living parent.  In the case of a step parent adoption, only one natural parent’s rights are terminated.  This process can be very complicated and should rarely be attempted without the aid of an experienced attorney.


In certain circumstances, the court may grant a person other than a parent the right to visitation with the child over the objection of a parent.  Such rights are not granted lightly, however, as the law presumes that a fit parent makes decisions that are in the best interest of his/her child.  These types of requests must be individually evaluated by an experienced family law attorney. 

Grandparents Rights (Third Party Visitation)

Mediation, the process of working towards a mutual agreement, can be a successful alternative to litigation for some divorcing couples or non-couples with custody or placement issues.  Successful mediation requires two parties willing to listen and engage with each other under the direction of an effective mediator.  Attorney Sally A. Hoelzel is a trained family law mediator and offers an initial education session to parties so an informed decision can be made as to whether mediation is appropriate.