The landscape of family law encompasses many topics, including adoption, marriage, divorce, child custody and support and estate planning. The attorneys at Johnson and Mock are well qualified to represent your interests in these areas, and can be your guide in the often confusing, frustrating process of obtaining assistance from the courts in these cases.
Many people wonder if they really need a lawyer or if their family problem must be resolved in court. The answers to these questions are as complex as the situations that prompted them. A consultation with one of our attorneys will provide guidance and recommendations for resolving your issues.
Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:
I'm considering a divorce from my spouse. How should I protect myself financially?
• If you don't have a separate bank account or a credit card in your name, now is the time to get them. Open a checking account in your own name, and apply for credit in your name alone.
• Start making a list of all assets belonging to both you and your spouse. This is harder than it seems: you may readily think of items you see everyday, but may miss important assets.
• Be sure to include pension and retirement accounts, IRAs, stocks and bonds, Certificates of Deposit and valuables you may have stored in your safety deposit box.
• If you have started a new romantic relationship, don't advertise that fact on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. Don't complain about your spouse or the legal proceedings involved in your separation or divorce on social outlets, either.
• You may want to have an accountant review your list. The court will decide how these assets are to be distributed in the event of a divorce but regardless of how they are distributed, there will be tax consequences. Begin planning how to handle them.
• What are your normal living expenses and any additional expenses incurred to raise your children? If there are special expenses involved, these should also be considered before filing for divorce.
• Many people, in their rush to resolve a failed marriage, fail to consider the long-term financial implications of their decision to divorce. Once the court approves a property settlement, it's difficult to change. Carefully consider how you will feel about the financial arrangements in the long run. "Getting on with your life" may have serious long-term financial impact.
How does the court determine child support payments?
The court will compute the child support payments on the basis of the child support guidelines, which provide a formula for figuring the amount of child support based on the income of both parties and the number of children, taking into consideration deductions for the amount of state and federal taxes, costs of insuring the children and other deductions. Under special circumstances, the court can deviate from the amount determined by the child support guidelines.
Unlike a property settlement, child support payments can be adjusted as circumstances change. You may want to ask the court to change the payments if you have become unemployed, your living expenses have increased or the other parent's income has increased.
Do I really need a will?
If you die without a will, the courts will decide who gets your estate based on current law. If you have children, a portion of the estate may go to your spouse and the remainder to your children, regardless of their ages. This may not be appropriate if you have young children. If you have no children and are unmarried, your parents, if living, could inherit your estate.
Complicated situations can arise if you die intestate -- when there is no will. It's common to avoid thinking about death, but the end result is that you lose all control of what will happen to your property. It's best to prepare by having an attorney draft your will. As your personal situation changes, you should review the will with your attorney and update it accordingly.
Can't I prepare my own will?
You might be able to produce a legal will. Nebraska, like other states, has specific requirements for a document to be considered a will, and there are complex issues involved in estate planning. The issue isn't just the disposition of your property; end of life issues, such as a Living Will, powers of attorney, organ and tissue donation and other questions also fit into the picture. How do you want to be buried, and what should your funeral be like?
If you have minor children, it may be beneficial to prepare a trust. And whether there are children or not, good estate planning can reduce the tax burden on your heirs. For example, planning ahead with various types of tenancy arrangements can ease the probate process. The bottom line is, should someone else (like a judge) make your decisions for you?
Death is part of life; it's going to happen to us all, whether we are prepared for it or not. You can live well by preparing for your death and by easing the emotional and financial burden on those left behind.
We provide a wide range of legal services in Family Law. We can help you in many ways. The list below is an example of ways we can represent your rights:
Divorce Settlement Modification
Third Party Custody
Estate Planning for Unmarried Couples