What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial that Your Lawyer May Not Tell You – Part I, Has my Lawyer Fallen from the End of the Earth?

What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial that Your Lawyer May Not Tell You

Divorce trials are strange, unfamiliar things to most people. You can feel like you’re in the dark. If your divorce attorney doesn’t do a good job being clear with you, that feeling of being in the dark can turn to mistrust of your lawyer, insecurity, and fear. In this series, What you Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial That Your Lawyer May Not Tell You, I’ll shed some light on your divorce trial.

In this first installment, Has My Lawyer Fallen from the End of the Earth? I’ll explain why your lawyer’s seeming disappearance before trial isn’t a sign he or she has met a bizarre end or doesn’t care about your case. (So hold off on emailing tabloid websites with your proof the world is flat because your lawyer just fell off the edge of it.)

Pre-trial pre-production for your divorce trial

Before any organized presentation, there’s a lot of preparation. That prep is crucial to make sure the presentation is smooth and coherent, and as well thought out as possible. Think of it as pre-production.

Divorce trials are no different. They require a LOT of pre-production. A well prepared attorney generally spends four to five hours of preparation time for every hour they’ll spend in court.

How is that possible? A divorce attorney preparing for a divorce trial or other family law trial has a lot to do.

 

Not proof the world is flat 

Your attorney has a lot on their plate when preparing for your divorce or other family law trial. During the busiest parts of that trial preparation, they may rely on another attorney in the firm, a law clerk, or assistant to help support you. Those trusted members of your divorce team may support you through any questions or issues come up.  If that happens, don’t take it personally; your attorney isn’t blowing you off. They haven’t fallen from the edge of a flat earth, and they certainly haven’t stopped caring about the outcome of your case. It’s quite the opposite.

Your attorney cares so much that they are directing the lion’s share of their time and attention to preparing for your trial. They want to be as prepared as possible for your divorce trial so they can do what you hired them to do: get you the best result they are able to achieve.

Many attorneys miss out on time with their families, other personal events and interests, and even needed rest because they become incredibly focused on preparing for your trial so they can do a good job for you.

An alternative to the tribulations of a divorce trial 

If a divorce trial sounds like it’s not for your circumstance, there’s an alternative: collaborative divorce.  Not every attorney is trained in this amicable divorce option. Also, it’s not appropriate for every case.

At Hightower Reff Law, however, (as well as practicing in traditional adversarial divorce) attorney Scott Hahn and I are both certified collaborative divorce attorneys.

In a nutshell, in collaborative divorce, you and your spouse work with a team of professionals to come up with an agreement to submit to the court. That agreement will become your final Divorce Decree. There’ll be some court involvement to get everything finalized. However, collaborative divorce is usually easier in the end, in part because you have everything agreed upon ahead of time instead of “duking it out” at trial.

There’s more info on collaborative divorce available on the Hightower Reff blog and website.

Next time in the series, What You Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial That Your Lawyer May Not Tell You

Next time in the series What you Need to Know About Your Divorce Trial that Your Lawyer May Not Tell You, I’ll share some ideas on what YOU can do to prepare for your trial to help increase your chances of success.

 

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 More Information:

Learn more about Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower.

Find out more about Hightower Reff’s family law services.

 

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

Divorce and Taxes Part II – Child Support, Alimony, and Taxes

The certainties of death and taxes are inescapable, as is the certainty that divorce will change your tax situation. If you’re getting divorced, you may need to think about child support, alimony, and taxes – along with other tax issues.

In this series we look at some of the key issues surrounding divorce and taxes, so you can gain the clarity you need to have informed conversations with your attorney and your CPA. That can be important to help them protect your interests.

Last time in the series, we discussed four things to consider when mediating or negotiating your divorce decree. When it comes to our topic for this installment – child support, alimony, and taxes – you may find some surprises.

Child support and taxes 

If you receive child support, you don’t have to report it as income.

If you pay child support, you don’t get to deduct it on your taxes… and you don’t get to claim the child on your taxes just because you pay support. The parent who gets to take the dependency exemption for the child depends upon your Divorce Decree, temporary order, and/or the tax code.

Alimony and taxes – a different animal

Alimony (spousal support) is altogether different than child support when it comes to tax rules. If you receive alimony, you have to report it on your taxes as income. If you pay alimony, your spousal support payments are tax deductible.

Getting slick with spousal support and taxes – a sticking point for the IRS

If your decree structures alimony payments to be high in the first couple of years and then drop off, the IRS may consider those payments to be a property settlement rather than alimony and you may not be able to deduct them.

Know your decree

Be mindful of child and spousal support tax implications when you’re negotiating or mediating your decree – including who will claim exemptions for the children.

 

A word about backsies

If you reach an agreement and a temporary order or final decree is entered, but your spouse changes their mind later, you may want to file your taxes before your spouse. That is unless you need them to sign IRS Form 8332 and they refuse. If that happens, talk to an experienced attorney about enforcement options as soon as you can.

If you don’t need your spouse to sign Form 8332, and they tell you they’re taking the dependency exemption when they aren’t entitled, you may come out ahead if you file first because the IRS will credit the first person who files and claims the exemption.

For more on filing child support and taxes and alimony and taxes, see IRS publication 504.

Next in the series

Next time in the series we look at things to think about when negotiating the property settlement agreement in your divorce.

 

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. 


Author, Hightower Reff  Partner Attorney Tracy Hightower, holds both a Juris Doctor and  a Master of Laws in Taxation. For more about Tracy, visit her profile page.

If you need help with an Omaha area divorce or other Omaha family law case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with one of the attorneys at the Omaha office. 

Reasons to Consider Settling Your Nebraska Family Law Case Out of Court

img_3340Divorce, child custody, and other family law cases are among the most emotionally intense kinds of litigation. There are several sound reasons to consider settling your Nebraska family law case out of court.

Court proceedings aren’t punishment

Going to trial isn’t a good way to try to punish or penalize your spouse for their wrongs. Nebraska is a true no-fault divorce state. That means that, in the vast majority of circumstances, your spouse’s status as a giant jerk isn’t going to have any bearing on the outcome of your case.

Also keep in mind that emotions can get the better of you during a family law case. It’s usually a really hard time in your life. Very rarely – if ever – does a trial do anything positive to ease the raw nerves or wounded feelings of a divorcing spouse or to heal a hurting family.

Different options, same outcome –  settling your Nebraska family law case

Whether you reach a divorce settlement agreement through the collaborative divorce process, mediation, or negotiations between your lawyer and your spouse’s lawyer – this infographic outlines some good reasons to consider settlement:

 

Additionally, settling your family law case out of court can save money in the long and short run. Settlement can be less expensive in the short run because it saves the costs of trial – which can be very expensive. In the long run, you and the other party are more likely to follow an order upon which the two of you agreed, as opposed to one decided by the judge. That means you’re less likely to have to spend money going back to court in future.

If you and the other party are able to reach a settlement agreement:

  • your attorneys or the mediator will put it in writing
  • both parties will sign it
  • the judge still needs to approve and sign a Divorce Decree incorporating the provisions of your settlement agreement
  • that Decree will be the court order that you and the other party must follow, unless the court modifies the order down the road

Not for everyone

Settlement isn’t appropriate in every case. However, in the majority of cases, good attorneys can help guide you along the path to reaching an amicable and fair settlement for your Nebraska family law case.

 

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 family law practice is available here.

If you need help with a Nebraska family law case, contact Hightower Reff Law today and come visit with 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.