Nebraska Alimony – What you Need to Know (Infographic)

Nebraska Alimony - What you Need to KnowIf you’re thinking of divorce, you may also be wondering about Nebraska alimony (also known as spousal support).

Regardless of whether you think you may end up as the payor or the payee, you should know something about Nebraska alimony before you make decisions about your case.


Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.


The spousal support conversation is an important talk to have with an attorney who’s experienced in Nebraska family law. This article and infographic will give you some basics that will help you have a more productive conversation with that attorney.

In our many years practicing Nebraska family law in at Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, we’ve learned that the more information clients have, the more clear and confident they are about their case, and the decisions they make.

When it comes to Nebraska Alimony, there are some things you may be surprised to learn.

The alimony of yesteryear

If you’re a little older, and someone you knew many years ago divorced, you may have heard it mentioned that the husband was ordered to continue supporting the wife “in the manner to which she’s become accustomed.” That may be the way many courts approached alimony in days of yesteryear, but it’s not the way spousal support goes in Nebraska today.

The times they have a changed

In the majority of cases, Nebraska courts don’t award alimony. If they do, it’s for a short time – long enough for the spouse receiving support to get training or education or find a job. It’s sometimes called “rehabilitative spousal support.”

Nebraska courts usually consider several factors when deciding spousal support – as explained in the infographic below. The court also considers the relative economic circumstances of both parties in its alimony decisions.

 

In cases where there is child support, that will be determined first, and then the amount of spousal support will be decided based on each party’s income and expenses after child support is paid.

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. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page

Our additional resources on marital property division are available  here

If you need help with a Nebraska divorcecontact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

Nebraska Marital Property Law – How it Works (Infographic)

Nebraska-marital-propertyIn our divorce practice at Hightower Reff Law, we find that new clients’ most common misconceptions are often in the area of Nebraska marital property law and how it works.

A common marital property misapprehension

When they first meet with us, a number of new divorce clients mistakenly think that because they kept their money in a separate account or titled an asset in their name only, their spouse won’t be able to touch the account or the asset in the divorce. However, that isn’t how Nebraska marital property law works.


Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.


Pre-nup or no dice

Unless you have a well drafted prenuptial agreement that complies with Nebraska law, the property and debt accrued during your marriage is part of the marital estate, no matter whether the account or title is in your name only. That means it’s marital property subject to equitable division between you and your spouse – with very few exceptions.

 

This infographic isn’t meant to be a complete rundown of Nebraska marital property law in divorce. The law can change often depending on new case law and/or changes to Nebraska statutes. Also, there may be other exceptions or special circumstances, depending on the facts of your divorce case.

Get help

That’s why, when it comes to Nebraska marital property law and how it works – or any other legal issue – it’s best to get the advice and assistance of an attorney experienced in that specific area of law. However, arming yourself with some basic knowledge, like what you’ve learned by reading this article, can help you have a more informed conversation with your attorney. It can also give you clarity and peace of mind.

 

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. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page

Our additional resource on marital property division is available  here

If you need help with a Nebraska divorcecontact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

Collaborative Divorce – A Truly Amicable Alternative (Infographic)

 

collaborative-divorce-hightower-reff-2At Hightower Reff Law, not only do we practice in traditional divorce, we also offer collaborative divorce – a truly amicable alternative.  Attorney Scott Hahn and I are among the relatively small number of Nebraska lawyers certified in collaborative divorce.

Why collaborative divorce is a truly amicable alternative

The traditional divorce process happens our adversarial court system. Despite the Nebraska court process mixing in alternative dispute resolution efforts like mediation – in the end, divorcing spouses often end up duking it out in court. Collaborative divorce offers something different.

Collaborative divorce can result in a better outcome for the family in the short and long term. This is especially true when children are involved, because the adults must continue co-parenting after the divorce. Bruised emotions and hard feelings from a bloody court battle can cause additional problems between the parents for years. That’s not good for the children.


Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.


How it works

In simplified terms, the collaborative divorce process involves you and your spouse working with a team of professionals to come up with an agreement for submission to the court to become a final order. You’ll need to have some court involvement to get everything finalized, but it will be brief and uncontested because you’ll have everything agreed upon ahead of time instead of “duking it out.”

Here’s an infographic with the nuts and bolts:

 

The collaborative process puts you in control

In traditional, litigation-centered divorce, unless you and your spouse reach agreement via mediation or negotiation, a judge has the decision making power. In collaborative divorce, you and your spouse control the process from the beginning and you have the power throughout the process.

I’ve been practicing divorce and family law for quite a few years. Through my experience I’ve learned that both spouses in a divorce are most satisfied with the outcome of their case when they’ve had input, instead of having the final order forced on them by a court.

When both sides are generally satisfied with the outcome of a case, both sides are more likely to comply with the final court order. That means it’ll be less likely they’ll have to keep dragging one another back to court to enforce that order.

These are some of the reasons I decided to become certified in collaborative divorce to better serve my clients – and why I believe so strongly in the process for the right cases.

 

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. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page.

More information about Hightower Reff’s collaborative divorce practice is available here.

If you need help with a Nebraska divorce, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

How the Nebraska Divorce Process Works (Infographic)

divorce

If you’re going through a divorce, knowing how the Nebraska divorce process works can bring you clarity. You may also feel greater peace of mind when you know better what to expect from the process.


Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.


This infographic gives you an easy to follow nutshell:

 

Divorce is never easy. Our team of divorce attorneys and staff at Hightower Reff has worked with divorce clients for years. Having an experienced attorney on your side to answer questions and explain how the Nebraska divorce process works every step of the way can be key to your emotional well being during what can be a trying time. Additionally, a skilled divorce lawyer can impact your results.

From filing the Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage through discovery and settlement or trial, legal support is important. Make sure you have clear, committed legal counsel on your side, and that you are confident in their ability to represent you.

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. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page.

More information about Hightower Reff’s divorce practice is available here.

If you need help with a Nebraska divorce, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

How to Calculate Nebraska Child Support (Infographic)

This infographic on how to calculate Nebraska child support is a basic tool to help you feel more knowledgeable about your child support case. It may help you get an idea of what your child support award or payment could look like.


Hightower Reff Law is a team of confident, clear, committed attorneys representing clients in the Omaha metro and surrounding areas in family law and criminal defense/dui.


It’s always best to work with an experienced child support attorney like the ones at Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, so they can review your case and run a child support calculation using specially designed Nebraska child support calculation software. This tool will give you the knowledge you need to prepare for your meeting.

 

In Nebraska joint custody cases, (where each parent’s time exceeds 142 days per year) the court will use the joint custody calculation worksheet.

Nebraska child support law can be tricky

Nebraska child support law isn’t always as straight forward as it may seem. For example, in some cases, Nebraska courts may let you deviate from Nebraska Child Support Guidelines, or assign more or less income than you or the other parent actually makes.

When a client comes to see us  for child support case consultation at Hightower Reff, we run a child support calculation for them with specially designed Nebraska child support calculation software, and apply our knowledge of Nebraska child support law to the facts of their case.

Why a lawyer can make a difference in your Nebraska child support case

We often find facts that make a difference in child support as we work through a case with a client. For instance, income may not always be as it seems, or as the opposing party claims. Two examples are: when a party is self employed and what they really earn is different than what’s reflected in their tax documents, or when a party is capable of earning more than his or her current job pays – but chooses not to.

The best thing to do if you’re curious about child support is to consult with an attorney who knows Nebraska child support law.

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. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page.

Learn more about Hightower Reff’s child support and custody practice here.

If you need help with a child support case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come meet with an attorney experienced in that area of law at the Omaha office.

Pet Custody in Divorce – Who Gets the Family Beagle?

Pet Custody in DivorceMany families include members with four paws instead of hands and feet. Pet custody or pet possession issues are seeing more litigation in divorce courtrooms in recent years.

In a recent survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, more than 25 percent of attorneys report they noticed an increase in the number of couples who have fought over pet custody during the past five years.

Some courts across the United States are changing their approach to the pet custody issue.

You get the Crockpot. I get the Cat.

Like most states, Nebraska considers pets to be personal property, so they are technically subject to the same rules of equitable division in a divorce case as would be a crockpot or a living room furniture set.

Also, like any other personal property, because a dog can’t be split in half, if divorcing couples can’t agree on who gets custody of a pet after the divorce, some courts will force the pet to be sold and the proceeds of the sale divided between the parties.

But You’ve Never Loved a Casserole Dish Like This 

As attitudes toward pets change and they are seen as more part of the family, the legal analysis is showing signs of changing, too. Some courts are recognizing that pets aren’t quite the same as a casserole dish or a car.

There are feelings attached to pets and many believe those feelings run both ways – not just from the human to the pet, but from the pet to the human as well.

Best Interests Arguments – for Children and Chihuahuas

Courts in some states are starting to treat pets – usually dogs – almost in the same way as children when it comes to pet custody and considering the best interests of the animal in the pet custody decision. Some judges have even awarded visitation rights or joint custody. Because pets are still considered property, however, courts will usually term it something else, like “alternating possession.”

In some cases where child custody is also at issue, there may be an argument that that what’s in the best interest of the child may include custody of the pet.

How Scooping Poop Could Win Your Pet Custody Case

Many courts just don’t have the time to monitor ongoing disputes that could arise over time when there are pet visitation or joint pet custody arrangements for a pet in a divorce case. Also, the court’s packed calendar may make it necessary to deal with the pet possession issue as expediently as possible at trial. As a result, some courts will look at equitable principals to determine who has the better claim to ownership.

Most often the court will look at factors like who was the animal’s primary caregiver – who walked the dog, scooped the poop, took the dog or cat to the vet and the groomer, bought the food, etc. Saying that scooping poop could win your case may be a bit of an overstatement, but it could be a factor in proving that you are the primary caregiver – which, for many courts, could be the deciding factor that firms up the finding for Fido.

Take Control of Fido’s Fate 

The alternatives a court might come up with if an agreement can’t be reached by you and your soon-to-be ex may not always be good ones. Selling a beloved family pet isn’t something most people we’ve worked with at Hightower Reff Law want to do. A good way to avoid the possibility is to take control yourself through mediation.

In mediation, both parties sit down with a neutral third party who is a trained mediator and work out a solution to the pet custody problem – much like they would work out a solution to child custody issues.

When an issue has such emotional significance, it’s far too important to leave the decision in the hands of someone else. In our many years of practice, the attorneys at Hightower Reff Law have found that our clients are almost always more satisfied with – and more likely to follow – an agreement they reached themselves in mediation rather than an order handed down by a court.

What to Look for in a Lawyer

If your divorce involves a family pet that’s important to you, bring up the issue in your initial consultation with an attorney. Make sure he or she is familiar with pet custody or possession issues, understands that your pet is important and will take seriously your concerns and goals regarding your pet.

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. 


Tracy and Maya
Tracy and Maya

About the Author

Pictured are author Tracy Hightower-Henne, and her 7-year-old Great Dane, Maya.

Tracy says that, true to form, Maya does not realize her size, and fancies her self a true lap dog. Maya’s favorite things are: lap-based snuggles, long walks, playing tug with any kind of toy, getting lots of pets, and lap-based snuggles (she likes lap-based snuggles so much, they must be mentioned twice).

Tracy has had furry family members since her childhood. Right now, the furry family members outnumber the non-furry ones in her house. “We got Maya right before my husband and I got married. We also have 2 cats. Our pets are truly part of our family and we treat them like part of the family. They are definitely spoiled at our house. When a client tells me that keeping their pet in their divorce case is important to them, I get it. I know what it’s like to love your pets and to treat them like family.”


For more details about the author, Hightower Reff attorney Tracy Hightower, visit her profile page at our main website.

To learn about Hightower Reff’s family law practice, visit our main website.

Sole Custody in Nebraska – A Snowball’s Chance

childcustodyThe lawyers at Hightower Reff Law in Omaha, Nebraska, know that going through a child custody case can be tough. Sometimes clients think that “going for sole custody” is the thing to do. It may be because they’re afraid of the prospect of losing the opportunity to spend the time they want with their children and watching them grow up in a meaningful way.

 

The prospect of losing time – or a full relationship – with either parent can be scary for a child as well. That’s one reason Nebraska courts have switched their views on child custody in recent years.

Not long ago, Nebraska courts almost always gave the mother what most people refer to as “full custody,”  unless she was shown to be unfit. In recent years, “full” or sole custody has become the exception rather than the rule.

Joint and Sole Custody Explained 

There seem to be some misconceptions about what joint and sole custody mean. One of the most common we hear at Hightower Reff is that sole custody means the parent without custody has no rights or will never see the child again. Neither of those things is true. Here’s what is true of joint and sole custody:

  • Joint custody
    • Both parents share in all decision making for the child and must agree for a decision to be made.
    • Split time with the child (or close to it). The cut off is whether each parent’s parenting time exceeds 142 days a year. Generally, to be considered a “day” the parenting time includes an overnight stay.
  • Sole custody
    • Only one parent has decision making rights for the child, except in cases of medical emergency when the child is with the non-custodial parent. Then, the non-custodial parent can make medical decisions for the child.
    • One parent has the majority of the time with the child. The non-custodial parent typically has parenting time every other weekend, alternating holidays, and one weeknight (that does not include an overnight).
    • Both parents still have access to medical and educational records.

A Snowball’s Chance

Just a few years ago, it was relatively rare to see a Nebraska court order joint custody unless the parties agreed and could show the court it was in the child’s best interests. Now, the opposite is true. The chance of getting sole custody may be akin to, well, a snowball’s chance in you-know-where unless there are special circumstances – such as one parent traveling a lot for work, or some other reason one of the parents is unavailable to participate jointly in the raising of the child.

Courts are listening to the experts. Many child welfare and mental health experts say that joint custody is best for children of divorced parents. In most cases, it appears Nebraska courts are giving that opinion of the professional community weight in their decision making.

Meanwhile, opponents of the joint custody trend argue it could be damaging to some children. They say there is evidence that joint custody creates attachment disorders in infants.  There’s also discussion by joint custody opponents that, for older kids, switching back and forth between parental homes creates upheaval, stress and inconsistency that could lead to problems.

Room for Argument 

While there is a trend toward joint custody, like any area of the law, it isn’t to be treated as a one size fits all thing. Nebraska statutes recognize that the courts must evaluate each situation based on the facts and circumstances of each individual family and make decisions based upon the best interests of the individual child affected by the court’s decision.

Don’t go it Alone 

In our many years as family law attorneys, we’ve found at Hightower Reff Law, that it’s best in the long run if parents can reach an agreement regarding their custody arrangements and parenting plan with help from their attorneys or a qualified family law mediator, but sometimes that isn’t possible. If you can’t reach an agreement, it’s important to have an attorney experienced in child custody cases on your side so you have the best chance of proving to the court that your custody proposal – whether joint or sole – is the one that is best for your child.

The earlier in your case you get a good lawyer on board who can help you understand and navigate the Nebraska child custody process, the more peace of mind you will have and the more likely you may be to reach the outcome that is best for you and your children.

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. 


For details about the author, Hightower Reff Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower-Henne, visit her profile page at our main website.
To learn about Hightower Reff’s Child Custody practice, visit our main website.

The Nebraska Legal Process of Divorce – What to Expect

divorce sign-thumb-400x260-70510-thumb-400x260-70511Divorce is never easy. The family law attorneys at Hightower Reff in Omaha, Nebraska, have worked with divorce clients for years and have found that when clients know the basic court process in Nebraska divorce, they know better what to expect, so they feel greater peace of mind. This article will give you a rundown of that process.

The Paper Chase

To start your divorce, your lawyer will file a Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage and other paperwork with the Clerk of the District Court. The complaint will ask for the court to dissolve your marriage and to determine issues that need to be included in the court order like division of marital property, spousal support and child custody and support if you have children.

Next, your lawyer will have the other party served with the complaint or get their signature on a Voluntary Appearance. After that, the other side has thirty days to file a written answer to the complaint.

It’s Only Temporary

While the divorce is pending, either side can file motions asking the court to enter temporary orders to decide things like who will live in the house or have custody of the children and how much temporary child support will be paid.

Any temporary orders that are entered will stand until the final decree is entered or until other temporary orders change them.

Getting Ready for Trial or Settlement

It will be several months or more until your divorce is finalized. During those months, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will gather information through a process called discovery.

During discovery, 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 was which 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.

Deciding the Issues and Getting a Final Order

If you can agree on all of the issues you need to work out to finalize your divorce, you will work with your attorney and/or a mediator to come up with a settlement decree and parenting plan. Both will need to be approved by the court and entered as a court order before they are final and enforceable.

Any issues in the divorce you and your spouse can’t agree on will be decided by the judge at trial. Both sides will put on evidence supporting their position and the judge will issue his or her order in the form of a Divorce Decree.

You’ll have 30 days to appeal the decree and can’t get married again for six months after the decree is issued. 

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.