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Family Law

Friday, November 9, 2018

An Overview of the Residential Real Estate Sales Process

Residential real estate sales can be overwhelming and confusing. Thankfully, the  process is similar for every transaction. This means t you can prepare long before you find the right home, here’s how.

The Listing Agreement

If you are selling your home, you will start with creating a listing agreement. This agreement sets the asking s price,   the commission your real estate agent will be paid, and also specifies the length of time the property will be listed, that is, remain on the market.

In a listing agreement, , you may also be required to disclose certain physical information about the property, such as the age or condition of the roof and any significant problems you have experienced. You are also required by  federal law to disclose any known lead-based paint used in the home.


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Friday, October 12, 2018

What is Common Law Marriage?

Common law marriage has existed since, at least, 1877. While many states no longer recognize it, some states do, if you meet specific qualifications. The concept can be useful in some situations, particularly as it relates to making healthcare decisions or inheritance.

Requirements for Common Law Marriage

It is a common misconception that if you and your partner live together for seven years, then you are automatically considered common law married. The truth is that common law marriage requires a few more steps than merely living together. The requirements for common law marriage in most states are set out below.


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Monday, September 17, 2018

Preparing For Your Child Custody Case

Your child is often the most important aspect of your life. That is why your child custody case is so critical. Your child custody hearing can determine how your child will be cared for and raised for years to come. It should not be taken lightly.

You know that you need to be prepared for your case, but you may be unsure what specific steps you should take to be as ready as you can be. Your family law attorney will be able to provide particular guidance for your unique set of circumstances. However, you can also use these general guidelines to point you in the right direction.


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Monday, January 22, 2018

What Happens When Spouses Work Together and Get Divorced?


We spend so much of our lives working, it is understandable that many of us end  in relationships with co-workers. In fact, CareerBuilder.com reports that 39% of people end up dating a co-worker and 30% of those people end up marrying the co-worker. Additionally, many small businesses are co-owned by couples. In as far back as 2000, an estimated 3 million of 22 million U.
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Monday, January 15, 2018

What Happens to Debt in Divorce?

With all the focus on division of property in divorce, an important aspect often gets looked over. Where does the marital debt go? Marital debt will be subject to division just like the assets. From mortgages to credit card debt, someone will be responsible for taking on the repayment of these debts assumed during marriage.

If you cannot agree to who will assume debt that has accrued during the marriage, the trial court will do so for you. Factors to consider during this process will vary between states, but often, the court will consider:

· What was the purpose of the debt?

· Did one spouse or another incur the debt? Who was responsible for taking on the debt?

· Which spouse benefited from assuming the debt? For example, if the debt was a car loan, the court would look to see who drives that car.

· Which spouse is best able to repay the debt? One spouse may be in a better financial situation to have the ability to consistently make payments on the debt.

The trial court will use the answers to the questions above to attempt at dividing the marital debt in the best was possible. It is important to note that only marital property will be subject to division. Debt incurred prior to the marriage will stay with the spouse that brought the debt into the marriage, with some exceptions. Sometimes a spouse will assume responsibility for the other spouse’s debt for credit and other reasons. This may lead the debt to be included in the marital debt evaluation. Generally speaking, however, marital debt includes those debts incurred by either spouse individually or both spouses jointly during the marriage. This means that any debt incurred from marriage up until the date of the final divorce hearing is considered marital debt.

The fact that any debt taken on during the divorce process will still be considered marital debt may be disconcerting to many. Malicious or simply irresponsible spouses may try to put you in a bad financial situation by assuming as much debt as possible during divorce proceedings. If you have a valid basis for these fears, you may request that the court order certain spending restrictions, including:

· Making high risk investments
· Spending money for the sole intention of harming you
· Over spending or frivolous spending
· Excessive gambling.

If you are considering divorce or are beginning the divorce process, be mindful of all of the above. Division of debt, just like division of property, can have substantial and lasting impacts on your finances. Additionally, and this is very important, remember that while the court may order who will be responsible for paying a specific marital debt, you can still be held responsible by the lender should your former spouse fail to make the required payments. A creditor may go after either spouse when payments are not received. Some states even have a stipulation in divorce decrees that states each party acknowledges that assignment of responsibility for paying a debt incident to the divorce does not necessarily change the creditor’s ability to go after either spouse for a debt owed.

 


Monday, April 24, 2017

Uncovering Hidden Assets in a Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a difficult process, especially when the proceedings become contentious. In fact disputes about spousal support and child support often arise, and it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to attempt to conceal their assets from each other and the court. While this is illegal, it happens more than many realize.

If you believe your spouse is hiding assets, there are number of steps you should take. First, since many financial transactions are conducted over the internet, viewing a web browser on a computer or smart phone can reveal vital information about sites that were visited. In particular money being transferred out of and into accounts is a telltale sign that someone is hiding assets.

In addition, social media may also offers clues that a spouse has money her or she claims not to have to pay spousal support or child support. Are there comments or pictures posted about purchasing a luxury item or taking an expensive vacation? If so, this is valuable evidence that an attorney can use at trial.

Many individuals may not be aware that retirement accounts such as 401(k)s and pensions are considered to be marital property that will be divided in a divorce. If your spouse claims not to have a retirement account, a quick check of the company's website can reveal whether these benefits are offered to employees.

In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a forensic accountant in order to uncover hidden assets such as investments, saving accounts off shore accounts or to track transfers of large sums of money.  In addition, tax returns can be examined to determine if there is income, interest, and dividends that a divorcing spouse may be trying to hide.

Ultimately, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, it is best to speak to an experienced attorney who can take the appropriate legal measures to uncover any assets and present this evidence to the court.

 


Monday, March 20, 2017

Alternatives to Divorce: Collaborative Law


Let's face it:
getting divorced can be an emotionally charged experience, particularly if the proceedings become contentious. One way to avoid the acrimony that can arise in a marital breakup is by pursuing an approach known a collaborative law divorce.

Collaborative Law at a Glance

There are three overarching principles of a collaborative divorce. First, this approach is designed to avoid litigation and intervention by the courts. Further, the parties must engage in a good faith exchange of information and evidence without going through a formal discovery process. Finally, the parties must agree to communicate in a manner that will advance the highest priorities of the divorce.

This approach involves the considerations typically associated with divorce, such as the division of property, spousal maintenance, child custody and child support. The divorcing spouses and their respective attorneys must agree in writing to not litigate the matter and to negotiate a settlement, however. A collaborative law divorce is unique in that it relies on an interdisciplinary approach in which other professionals, such as psychologists, child specialists, accountants and other financial experts collaborate with the attorneys.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the parties can still take the case to court, but they both must replace their attorneys.  Moreover, if either party violates the principles by hiding assets, lying about relevant information or acting in bad faith, the attorneys can withdraw from the proceeding.

In the end, this alternative approach to divorce provides an opportunity for the parties to resolve their differences fairly, honestly and expediently. Because this process avoids spending time in court hearings, trials and filing motions, it is also less costly that a traditional divorce. A collaborative law divorce can ideally protect children from the emotional harm that often arises in a parental conflict, and restore family unity and harmony. By engaging the services of an attorney with experience in collaborative law, you can find a way to respectfully end your marriage and move on with your life.


Monday, February 20, 2017

How to Enforce a Child Support Order

As many can attest, going through a divorce can be a difficult experience and the process can become contentious. Even after the spouses reach a settlement, conflict may continue to arise, particularly when a parent fails to make the required child support payments. In these cases, it may be necessary to take legal action to enforce the child support order.

Child Support at a Glance

While child support determinations may vary state to state, the courts generally consider a number of factors in reaching these decisions, including:

  • The child's standing of living while the parents were married

  • The income of each parent

  • Whether one parent is paying alimony to the other

  • The health, medical and educational expenses of the child

Child support orders specify the amount that is to be paid and usually require payments to be made on a monthly basis until the child becomes an adult.

Enforcing a Support Order

While both parents are responsible for the financial well-being of their children, the parent who has primary custody will typically be awarded child support. A parent who fails to comply with court ordered child support can be held accountable by the other parent. In order enforce the order, it is necessary to file an "Order to Show Cause" or a similar legal document with the court. This order must also be served on the non-paying parent.

The court will then hold a hearing and the non-paying parent will need to explain why the payments have not been made. In some cases, there may be legitimate reasons, such as a sudden loss of income or an illness or other emergency. If the order was violated without cause, however, the court will move to enforce the order. In these situations, the court has a number of options, such as ordering payments to be automatically deducted from the non-paying parent's paycheck.

If the parent is a repeat offender, the court can also garnish his or her wages, place a lien on real property or even seize bank accounts. A more drastic step, the court may find the non-paying parent to be in contempt of court which could result in a prison sentence and fines. However, courts are generally not inclined to go this far since the parent will then be unable to earn income to comply with the child support order.

In the end, divorcing spouses have a duty to support their children, regardless of the circumstances of the divorce. If you need help enforcing a child support order, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.

 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wrongful Birth and Wrongful Life


Children who are born with significant disabilities or birth defects often experience pain and suffering, and caring for them can be an emotional and financial burden for the parents. Today, medical advances allow medical professionals to conduct genetic tests on parents to determine if they are carrying certain genes as well as prenatal tests to determine if those genes have been passed on to the unborn child.

Wrongful Birth

When a serious condition is identified, the parents have the option to terminate the pregnancy. If a medical processional fails to properly diagnose a child or provide reasonable genetic counseling about the risks of a birth defect to the parents, they may be able to pursue a wrongful birth lawsuit. In order to have grounds for a lawsuit, the parents must show that they would have terminated the pregnancy or would have elected not to conceive had they known of the potential risk.
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Monday, October 17, 2016

Seven Tips for Negotiating Your Divorce Settlement

Regardless of how long you have been married, negotiating a settlement is the most important part of the divorce process. Although it is no easy task, working with your spouse to arrive at mutually agreed terms of your marital dissolution is easier on your wallet and your psyche. Whatever conditions caused the breakdown in the marriage are likely still present throughout the divorce negotiation, exacerbated by emotions such as anger and fear as you each transition into the next stage of your lives.

However, staying focused on what’s best for your future will serve you well as you navigate these tumultuous waters. Taking your divorce case to trial and letting the court decide what will become of your property or children is rarely in your best interest. Although you may not get everything you hoped for during a settlement negotiation, you will save a tremendous amount of money, time and emotional anguish.

Divorce settlement negotiations involve a degree of both skill and art, both of which can be attained by following a few simple tips. Even if your attorney is doing the negotiating on your behalf, it is important that you are clear regarding your priorities, so you can make decisions that are truly in your own best interest for the future life you are establishing post-divorce.

Negotiating a settlement agreement necessarily involves a certain amount of give and take, on both sides, so keep in mind that you most likely won’t get everything you want. But following the tips below can help ensure you get what’s most important to you.

  • Establish clear priorities.
  • Know what you can give up completely, where you can be flexible and those critical items where you are unable to budge.
  • Be realistic about your options and the bigger picture, so you can be reasonable when you must “give” something in order to “take” something.
  • Stay focused on the negotiation itself, and your future; avoid recalling past resentments or re-opening past wounds. Your divorce settlement negotiation is no place for “revenge” which can ultimately delay your case and cost you thousands in unnecessary legal expenses.
  • If your soon-to-be-ex-spouse becomes emotional or subjects you to personal attacks, don’t take it personally. This may be easier said than done, but it is important to stay focused on your priorities and realize that such “noise” does not get you any closer to a settlement agreement.
  • If you spouse presents you with a settlement offer, consider it carefully and discuss it with your attorney. It may not include everything you want, but that may be a fair trade off in order to finalize your divorce and move on with your new life.
  • If you are negotiating your own settlement agreement, consult with an attorney before you make an offer to your spouse or sign any proposed agreement.

By keeping the focus on your priorities, and avoiding the emotionally-charged aspects of your failed marriage, you can ensure you negotiate a divorce settlement agreement that you can live with.
 


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