Your Divorce Case: Being an Ostrich is Not a Good Legal Strategy

shutterstock_99170483-thumb-300x216-71477Most people have heard the thing about the ostrich sticking its head in the sand supposedly out of fright. In fact, they’re just turning their eggs in the holes where they are nested. So it’s actually perfectly reasonable for the ostrich to stick its head in the sand. But sticking your proverbial head in the sand is not an advisable legal strategy for your divorce case.

And, yet, so many clients try the “head in the sand” strategy when their lawyer asks them to do something for their own divorce case – whether it’s to return a phone call, provide their attorney with documents or come to the office to sign a paper or have a meeting.

If you find yourself doing this, maybe it’s because you’re in denial that the divorce is really happening. Sometimes it’s avoidance of the divorce itself or it’s hurt or anger directed at your spouse. Sometimes it’s just plain laziness.

Regardless of the reason for not actively participating, you need to do so. Your lawyer needs you to be active and responsive or he or she won’t be able to do their job. Sticking your head in the sand is not a viable option.

Expect Some Legwork (and Some Computer Work)

Don’t be surprised when your lawyer asks you to do some work on your own case. Of course you will need to sign documents, come to the office for appointments and have phone calls with your lawyer. You will also need to gather some papers, including financial information and documentation going back several years, which can be time consuming.

Some of the things your lawyer may ask you to provide include:

  • Personal and business tax returns
  • Credit card/loan account statements
  • Bank statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Retirement account statements
  • W2’s

Playing by the Numbers

Financial information is an important contribution you can make to your case. Get it to your lawyer as soon as you can. Your lawyer needs proof of your financial numbers for settlement and the court. They are crucial for asset and debt division and, if you have children, for child support calculation.

  • Your attorney can’t propose a settlement to the other side without the financial information he or she needs to determine what to offer. Likewise, your attorney can’t advise you whether to accept a settlement offer if he or she doesn’t have an accurate picture of your financial situation.
  • If you have to go to trial, your lawyer needs proof of your finances so he or she can provide it to the court to “prove up” your side of the case and convince the court to award you what you are asking for.

The Consequences: More than Sand in Your Ears 

If you ignore your attorney and repeatedly don’t do what they ask – like coming to appointments, returning phone calls or providing the documents they need — you risk the outcome of your divorce case. You could end up losing money, property and some of the parenting time with your child you could have enjoyed. You could even lose your lawyer.

The information your lawyer asks you for is crucial. It is the ammunition they need in court to present your side of the case. If they can’t get it, they can’t fight for you.

The chances are very good that without your participation your lawyer may end up in court with their hands tied behind their back while the opposing attorney paints the court a more effective picture of their side of the story – with their version of the evidence – while your lawyer is unable to effectively represent you.

Many lawyers will not stay on a case under these circumstances and are likely to withdraw from representation. The client who stuck their head in the sand is likely to end up unhappy after the final order because they didn’t get what they wanted as a direct consequence of their own choices in not participating in their case – despite the lawyer’s best efforts and warnings.

 

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

Moving Away if There’s a Child Custody Order – What you Need to Know

shutterstock_107478686-thumb-250x286-71316If you have custody of your child and want to move with your child any significant distance away from the other parent, you’ll have to get the court’s permission before you do. These kinds of cases are called “removal” or “relocation” cases.

There’s no guarantee the judge will allow your child to move with you. It takes an experienced attorney to navigate the sometimes murky waters of Nebraska law when it comes to proving to the Judge that moving your child away from the other parent is in his or her best interests.

The family law attorneys at Hightower Reff in Omaha, Nebraska have worked with removal cases for years, and, as with most things, we believe that knowing the process makes things less stressful for clients.

Getting Things Moving

To start your removal case, your lawyer will file a Complaint for Removal and other paperwork with the Clerk of the District Court.

Next your lawyer will have the other parent served with the Complaint or get their signature on a Voluntary Appearance. If the other parent has an attorney, your lawyer will work with their lawyer to get these things accomplished.

After that, the other parent has thirty days to file a written answer to the Complaint.

Speeding it up

Temporary orders allowing removal of the child aren’t allowed under Nebraska law, so instead the law provides for an expedited final hearing to resolve the case and get a final order in place.

Depending on the court’s schedule, your final hearing may happen as soon as two to three months after the other party files their Answer to your complaint. This may not sound fast – but in terms of court time, it is.

Because the final hearing happens so quickly, the trial preparation process – or discovery phase – goes relatively quickly as well.

During this time the lawyers will exchange written requests for information. They may have more hearings with the judge to decide what information both sides are entitled to have or to decide any other issues that come up.

There might be depositions where the attorneys ask questions of witnesses for the opposing sides. During a deposition, witness’ statements are taken under oath by a court reporter with lawyers from both sides and both parties present.

Ideally, you and the opposing party will be able to reach an agreement with the help of your lawyers or a mediator regarding the move and the terms of your new parenting plan for after the move. If not, you will have to have a trial so the judge can decide those issues.

Best Interests 

To prove to the judge at trial that you should be able to move away with your child you have to prove:

  • that you have a legitimate reason for the move
  • that the move is in the child’s best interests

While this sounds simple, there are a lot more variables that the court weighs in its decision. Things like:

  • the impact of the move on the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • the child’s improvement of opportunity and quality of life in the new location, and
  • the child’s living environment

…among other things.

These are all key indicators that help the court determine if the best interests of the child will be served by the move.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

Nebraska Domestic Violence Law – What You Should Know if You’re Accused

dv arrestHightower Reff Law has years of experience helping clients on both sides of Omaha Nebraska domestic violence cases – survivors and offenders. Whether you’re a victim needing a protection order or someone accused of domestic violence, the domestic assault lawyers at Hightower Reff in Omaha, Nebraska, believe it’s helpful if clients understand the basics of Nebraska domestic violence law and penalties.

An understanding of the law and processes is important if you’re accused of domestic assault, as you could face serious penalties that affect your family, job and your future.

When you face domestic assault charges, having an attorney experienced in domestic assault cases who knows the law and the court in your county and will zealously represent you and help you make the best decisions during your case is also crucial.

Intimate Partner Assault 

It’s important to start by understanding who Nebraska law considers an intimate partner. Intimate partners can include:

  • a spouse
  • a former spouse
  • someone with whom you have children
  • someone you are dating or have dated in the past

Criminal Penalties and Protection Orders 

The penalties for domestic violence offenses in Nebraska can be steep. Along with criminal charges, you will likely have a protection order filed against you immediately.

The protection order will be addressed separately from your criminal case. You can usually use the same attorney for both, however.

If you’re convicted of a felony domestic assault you could spend up to 50 years in prison. Nebraska law also allows for enhanced penalties if the victim is pregnant.

Nebraska law provides for restitution as well. You could be ordered to pay money to the victim to reimburse them for the cost of medical treatment or to fix or repair property you damaged.

One of the Most Important Things to Remember 

One the most important things you can do if you are charged with a domestic violence criminal offense is to exercise your right to remain silent.

Nebraska law provides for stiff penalties in intimate partner assault crimes and there is a lot of risk in talking to police without the advice of a lawyer experienced in domestic violence law.

Get a Good Lawyer on Board Right Away

The faster you get a lawyer on board, the faster they can start investigating your case and interviewing witnesses — and perhaps find reasons why the case may be able to be dismissed.

Or, the attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain before the case gets to the trial phase.

Domestic violence convictions can stick with you for a long time. There are no guarantees, but sometimes, especially on a first offense, it may be possible for an experienced attorney to help you prevent damage or lessen the impact of these serious charges on your future.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts.