Navigating Typical Family Law Issues

“Family law” is a broad term covering a wide variety of issues, including divorce and property division, child custody and visitation, adoption, paternity, child support, spousal support, and more. This article will briefly discuss some common Family Law issues and what you can do if involved in one.

Thomas A. Corletta, Attorney at Law, advocates for Rochester, NY, clients facing a range of family law issues. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Marriage Dissolution (Divorce)

Deciding on Divorce is a serious and life altering decision – If you determine this is your best option, Thomas A. Corletta, Attorney at Law is here to help.

A divorce can be contested or uncontested. It can be done by Agreement or by Court Order after trial. The majority of these cases are settled by Agreement, but usually only after some litigation in Court. Due to the complexity of family law issues and the importance of seeking competent legal advice, you must consult with an experienced attorney before taking action regarding your situation. Thomas A. Corletta, Esq. has over 40 years experience in divorce cases.

Paternity & Child Custody

Fathers who want to be involved in their children’s lives and participate in important decisions about their upbringing should understand what the legal term “custody” means. There are three types of child custody:

Joint custody: where parents have joint decision-making power over major issues relating to the child’s care, maintenance, protection, training, and education. This however, does not mean shared residency, unless specified in the Agreement or Order.
Sole custody: where one parent has full legal and physical custody and control of a child.
Visitation: which means that one or both parents have specified periods during which they spend time with their children that is often called periods of access, or “parenting time”. This is often used in conjunction with both sole and joint custody situations.


A guardian has the legal authority to make decisions about the care, custody, and control of a minor child. Guardianships are created by court order, usually after a court determines it is in the child’s best interests to be placed under the care and supervision of someone other than their parents. A guardian may be appointed because one or both parents are deceased, they have been deemed unfit to care for their children, or they are unable to care for their children full-time for some other reason, of which there can be many.

Guardianships can also be established for adults who cannot make parenting decisions due to mental illness, developmental disabilities, or other reasons. Sometimes, adults themselves have guardians due to incompetence or disability. Suppose no parent is willing or able to take on this responsibility. In that case, another relative may step in as guardian – but only if such an appointment is in the children’s best interests and approved by the Court. Guardianship is not intended to supplant the biological parent’s place as the natural mother or father, but is instead intended to provide care, maintenance, and guidance when a parent cannot or will not do so.

Protection Orders

A court order can protect an individual from another person accused of domestic violence, sexual assault, or a variety of other types of abusive or assaultive behavior. The goal of a protection order is to stop the violence, whether it is physical, emotional, or psychological.

Understanding the differences between a “Refrain” Order and a “Stay Away” Order is essential. A Refrain Order is usually issued when there are no accompanying criminal charges against the alleged abuser and allows the parties to have contact under certain conditions. A Stay Away Order requires no contact whatsoever and often accompanies criminal charges.

A Protection Order is usually for one year but can be for as long as five years. If you believe the Respondent is not complying with your existing Protection Order (for example, if they continue contacting you), you should contact law enforcement or the Court to enforce it by a Contempt Application, which can result in incarceration.

Contact Our Law Office

Family Law is a broad field with many different issues. Family Law attorneys can help you navigate these issues, whether they’re related to marriage dissolution (divorce), paternity & child custody or support, guardianship, or Protection Orders. If you are facing a family legal matter, Thomas A. Corletta, Attorney at Law is here to help, utilizing over 40 years of experience in this complex area of law.