Just a Lawyer in Lincoln's Hometown

February 14, 2011

The Best Client

Filed under: Uncategorized — Chuck @ 6:00 am
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On occasion I wonder what clients think lawyers do for a living. Mrs. X hired me to prosecute her divorce action against that no-good, cheating Bas*rd she was married to. Had to dig deep into her financials, investigate the claims of adultery (since she would not agree to move forward with a more innocuous claim), look into the child custody issues, etc. Spent a good long time doing all the preliminary work and drafting the petition for Dissolution, Petition for Temporary Relief, and some unique discovery. I had her in, reviewed all the material with her, told her what else needed doing, and got her OK to file.

Literally hours before filing, I got the call that she was getting back together with her husband.

Getting back together is a good thing.

But then she said, “When do I get my money back?” We discussed the matter, but I never moved her past “but you didn’t do anything for me.”

I give up.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving and Visitation

Filed under: Family Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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You remember Henry and Samantha. They’re divorcing and trying very hard to being good parents to their children, Ken, age 8, and Jenna, age 6. They have worked out a temporary agreement on custody and visitation for Henry’s regular visitation. But although they had consulted lawyers, they went against advice and agreed to “alternate holidays.”

As every experienced divorce lawyer would have told them, this kind of language in a visitation schedule can lead to horrible complications. Even well-meaning people, like Samantha and Henry, can have a hard time deciphering what this means, and remembering who had what holiday.

Does alternating holidays mean that Samantha has Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and Henry has both next year? Does having Thanksgiving mean the day only, or from Wednesday after school until the end of the weekend. What if the tradition has been to go to Henry’s parents’ house, in town and only requiring a trip of twenty minutes, one year and to Samantha’s parent’s the next year, 500 miles away and requiring a couple of days?

To add to the confusion, what is a holiday? Samantha celebrate Thanksgiving, the first Sunday of Advent and then Christmas, while Henry only celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas. What does this mismatch do to the “every other” language?

Again, because they are both trying to be good parents while, henry and Samantha talked about Thanksgiving before it came up, and remembered that both of their lawyers had said that what looked simple, wasn’t. Between them, the two attorneys came up with a schedule of holiday visitation that set out the hours and days that each parent had holiday visitation. For example, this year, an “even” year, Henry has the children from Wednesday after school, until Friday at 5:00 PM when Samantha gets them for the weekend (even if it would normally be Henry’s). The next year, and “odd” year, the schedule is reversed. The schedule sets out who gets what in odd and even years.

Now that the schedule is written down, in all its complicated detail, all Samantha and Henry need do is consult the schedule to know exactly who gets what holiday and what that means.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

November 19, 2010

Dating and Divorcing

Filed under: Family Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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Divorcing is always an emotional time in a person’s life. Even short-term marriages started off with a commitment to stay together. Even though a lawyer will try to introduce some unemotional advice into the equation – emotions run high. Calming those emotions is often very important to settlement.

But that same divorce induced stress makes it important to have and develop emotional support. Moving on with life is important, and finding new love may give enough support to allow a divorcing spouse move on. But it can cause problems as well.

Spending excessive money in your dating life may well be looked upon as dissipation of marital assets that could lead to a change in the allocation of marital assets.

Flaunting your new boyfriend in front of your divorcing husband will NOT dampen emotions. In some circumstances it will guarantee going to trial.

Introducing your new girlfriend to your children before they are ready may generate negative emotions that may tilt the custody equation against you.

Some judges may consider your dating relationship to be infidelity, and technically, if you are engaged in sexual relations, you are committing adultery. If your judge takes a dislike to you, you may not get the good side of any discretionary rulings.

There are many good reasons to not date while divorcing. But the emotional support may be important. So if you do date, you need to be discrete. Flaunting the relationship carries too many negatives. Don’t go showing off your new love in all of your old haunts. If you do, you may regret the decision. Be smart and be discrete!

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

November 16, 2010

George, Doris & Mikey: Support?

Filed under: Family Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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George and Doris were married years ago, and had Mikey. After their divorce, Mikey lived with Doris, and George paid child support. For years George worked a series of low wage jobs. He wanted to be a decent father and he always paid child support, but it was never very much. The judge set George‚Äôs child support at 20% of his net income, which worked out to $230 per month.  Even though she resents the amount of support, Doris has never sought an increase. Until Now.

George is driving a Mercedes. Doris is upset. If George can afford a Mercedes, even if it is used, he can afford to pay more than $230 a month! She takes George back to court for more support. After discovery, subpoenas, and a hearing (that her lawyer advised against), and $2000.00 in attorneys fees, she got an increase: $270 per month. George is only making $9.00 per hour and 20% of his net, according to the court, is but $270 per month. Because Mikey is a senior in high school, and support will end soon, she will lose money on the transaction!

Very upset, Doris demands to know how George can drive a fancy, expensive car, and only have to pay $270.00? Her lawyer reminds her of why her advised against the hearing: although George is living large, he still only makes, $9.00 an hour. He lives with Diana, a wealthy widow (times 3!), who bought the car for George. Because Illinois looks to the income of the non-custodial parent, and very rarely anything else, all the court looked at was that $9.00 per hour!

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

November 9, 2010

Samantha & Henry: Visitation with Children

Filed under: Family Law — Chuck @ 1:00 am
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Samantha and Henry have decided that they are going to get a divorce. They simply cannot live together anymore. About five months ago Henry moved out and is living in an apartment near the house where Samantha and the children, Ken, age 8, and Jenna, age 6, live.

Both Samantha and Henry have tried to cooperate with each other over visitation with the children. They have decided that Samantha will have the children living with her, and Henry will have visitation. They have tried to arrange visitation, but there have been problems.

Being wiser than many, Samantha and Henry decided to mediate the issue. They recognized that they needed some knowledgeable help. A mediator helped them come to an agreement that met their needs. But both worried that the agreement that worked for them today might not in the future. So before they inked the deal, Samantha went to her lawyer.

The lawyer was impressed with the efforts both parties went to and the agreement itself. But he had one criticism: the agreement did not have a provision requiring periodic review. He felt that if the parties got together and reviewed how the agreement was working, they could possibly prevent minor irritations from growing into litigation producing complaints. The lawyer recommended that they get together every other one or two years.

The lawyer also told Samantha that she and Henry could informally agree to vary the agreement. He explained that the agreement represented what each of the parties could enforce against each other. But as long as they both agreed to change visitation, one time or for a long time, there was no problem. He noted however, that if the two of them wanted to make a long-term or permanent change to the visitation schedule, they probably should put the change down on paper. This helps avoid misunderstandings.

Henry and Samantha, although getting divorced, are being good parents. They understand that minimizing the effect on the children is one of their primary concerns.

We will visit Henry and Samantha again as they go through this process.

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

November 4, 2010

Henry & Samantha: Can we get divorced?

Filed under: Family Law — Chuck @ 6:48 pm
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Henry and Samantha have been married for 10 years. They don’t fight. They have been faithful to each other. They certainly haven’t been physically abusive toward each other. But hey don’t get along. They have no mutual interests. They aren’t interested in each other and they are getting just plain irritated with each other. They both agree that they do not want to be married anymore. They agree that they want to be divorced.

Can they?

Well, of course say their friends. Even though the traditional grounds aren’t there, they can get a no fault divorce. Everybody knows that. So Samantha trots off to a divorce lawyer and says she wants a no fault divorce.

Like any good lawyer, hers asks lots of questions and at the end of the interview tells her that no, she can’t get a divorce. Or at least not yet.

The lawyer explains that Samantha’s friends are right – and wrong. While there is such a thing as a no fault divorce (in Illinois more properly called an irreconcilable differences divorce), but that is not enough. In Illinois, a couple has to live separate and apart for two years before that can get divorced on those grounds. If both parties agree, they can waive the two-year period, but they still must have lived separate and apart for a full six months before the divorce can be finalized.

So let the waiting begin!

Chuck from Watson Law, LLC

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