Family matters

Let us help you with your domestic law agreements.
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Kendall Jones, Esq.

Rocket Lawyer On Call® Attorney

Essential legal documents for families

Family matters FAQs

Family law, often called matrimonial law or domestic relations, includes legal agreements such as marriage, divorce, adoption, juvenile law, paternity, and more. We can provide you with legal documents like Prenuptial Agreements, Parenting Plans, Nanny Contracts and Marriage Separation Agreements.

How common are Prenuptial Agreements?

Prenuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular. Marriage and divorce specialists often attribute this to the trend of people waiting to get married until they are a bit older. When couples are young and have few assets they don't think about it much. On the other hand, older couples may have accumulated some individual assets as well as debt. As more women have entered the workplace, more women have been requesting Prenuptial Agreements (traditionally men were more inclined to request a prenup).

While it is difficult to put an exact number on how many couples currently have Prenuptial Agreements, most agree that the number is increasing. Prenups help protect existing assets (such as assets you want reserved for your children from a previous relationship) and each other from accumulated debt that was acquired before the marriage. Mutual debt and assets acquired after the marriage may need to be protected with other agreements or the settlement may be out of your control should a divorce occur.

I'm thinking about adopting a child, where do I start?

The adoption process is often complicated. It is usually not something that should be rushed into with minimal thought. The first two questions to ask yourself include:

Why do I want to adopt? If I'm adopting with a partner, are we on the same page? If I'm adopting alone, do I have the support I'll need (family and financial)? What might our lives look like in five, ten or 20 years?

What kind of adoption am I interested in? Do I want to adopt within the US or apply for international adoption? What age of child might I want to adopt? Would I be okay with birth-family involvement?

Once you have decided that you want to adopt and who you might want to adopt, you'll want to:

  • Hire adoption help. You may choose to work with an adoption agency and/or an adoption attorney.
  • Save money and get your finances in order. While adopting a foster child may be only a few grand, other adoptions may cost thousands. International and newborn adoption often cost the most.
  • Network. You may need to make an online adoption profile. You may also benefit from connecting with other adopting parents.
  • Start your background checks and home study. You'll need to be able to pass a background check and show that you have the means (and home) suitable to care for a child. You may even need to pass a physical.

After you have done your research and prepared in every way possible, also be prepared to be patient and open to change your plans if needed.

How do I hire someone to care for my elderly parent?

To be honest, the first thing you need to consider is how care will be paid for and how much is available for long-term care. Do they have long-term care insurance? Do they have Medicare funding? Are you paying? Do they have savings that you may have access to? Nursing home care costs range from $6000 to $12,000, per month. In-home care costs roughly $12 - $30 per hour (or about $170 for an eight-hour day, not counting food and other living expenses). As you can see, cost is a huge factor when determining the kind of care you can afford to provide for your parent.

If you need to access their finances, you'll need a Power of Attorney.

The next step is to decide what kind of elderly care you need. Your parent may choose to "age in place," in a senior community, in assisted living, with a family member, or in a nursing home. You'll also need to decide if they need a medical caregiver or a companion caregiver. The first is licensed to provide a certain level of medical care whereas a companion caregiver provides companionship, house cleaning, shopping, meal preparation, and such. If you choose to hire someone to work in their (or your) home, consider using a Home Health Care Contract to outline the term of your agreement.

When considering candidates to provide in-home care:

  • Verify the information provided on their application and perform a background check
  • See if the caregiver and your parent get along
  • Require that they sign a contract and provide tax information
  • Have them sign a Confidentiality Agreement to protect your family information
  • Arrange for how transportation will be provided
  • Ensure that you have a backup caregiver that can work when needed
  • Write interview questions and take notes during interviews
  • Consider a trial period such as 30 or 90 days to see how well the relationship works
  • If you are to be their employer, research how you need to pay and report to the IRS since they would be considered a "household employee"

While finding a good caregiver may be stressful and challenging, it benefits everyone if you take your time and do your research to find the best person possible to care for your loved one.

Unmarried with children: What rights do fathers have?

In most states, without proof of paternity, fathers have few parental rights if they are not married to the mother. The first thing a father needs to do is to establish paternity. Once paternity is established the father has the same rights as a married father.

Three ways to establish paternity:

  1. Usually, the first way to establish paternity is by putting the father's name on the birth certificate.
  1. Another way to document paternity is by completing an Acknowledgement of Paternity document with your state. Both parents must sign this document.
  1. If the mother contests the paternity the father can contact their local Child Support Enforcement Division to start the process of petitioning the court to enforce a paternity test to verify the relationship.


After paternity is established the parent will need to decide on a custody plan and how the child will be supported. You may begin the process by writing a Parenting Plan.

“My ex-wife and I were going through an amicable divorce, but needed some guidance. We found Rocket Lawyer, and were impressed at how solid the documents were, and how simple it was to create them. It took all the intimidation out of the process.”

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Rocket Lawyer member since 2012