Three Ways to Ruin Your Divorce Settlement

In most contested divorce scenarios, each partner feels that he or she is in the right and that any settlement agreement should favor him or her. A family law judge will focus on hearing relevant information and making a fair judgment according to the facts of the case. Unfortunately, some divorcing adults take matters into their own hands hoping to find a way to guarantee that the judge favors them. When you or someone you know attempts to find a way to tip the scales in your favor, it is possible that you will instead find a way to completely ruin your divorce settlement.

Spying on Your Spouse

Television shows and movies often feature one spouse using technology to spy on a partner in order to obtain information to use against him or her in a divorce. Adults going through a divorce sometimes try to emulate what they have seen by spying on their spouse using computer programs, apps, or even professionals. The problem with spying on a spouse is that it can have legal consequences if not done correctly. Instead of obtaining irrefutable proof that your spouse is involved in wrong-doing, you could place yourself in the legal hot seat.

Hiding Assets

During the divorce process, both partners work with the attorneys and the judge to determine a divorce settlement that fairly divides assets. Some people do not have a clear idea of their personal property vs. marital property, leading them to attempt hiding assets that they do not feel should be shared. Attempting to hide money, property, or even lie about your income can all lead to extremely serious consequences. Not only will you have to share your assets with your spouse, the judge may penalize you by awarding your spouse a larger share. Also, hiding assets ruins your credibility, making it difficult for you or your attorney to convince the judge of anything in the future.

Oversharing on Social Media

The growth of the internet in general and social media specifically have changed the way information is gathered during divorces. Many attorneys have admitted to using social media to find out information about their clients’ spouses spending habits or parenting that was later used in court. A man or woman going through a divorce may feel tempted to use social media as a way to prove that life is continuing without issue by sharing pictures of outings, activities, or even using social media to insult his or her estranged spouse. All of these actions could lead to your social media activity being presented as evidence against you during your divorce hearings.  A woman who is claiming in court that her ex is leaving his children destitute may find herself  in an embarrassing bind if her ex’s lawyer presents pictures of her recent international vacation that was shared on social media.

Get Legal Help

Once you have decided to get a divorce, getting legal help immediately is the best way to protect your case. A divorce attorney can prevent you from making any serious blunders that could impact your ability to obtain a fair divorce settlement. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand the difficulties of going through a contested divorce and we are here to give you the legal representation and advice you need to obtain the settlement you desire. Contact our conveniently located Columbus office today and schedule a consultation.

Tips for Surviving a Military Divorce

Getting a divorce is never simple, but when one partner is in the military, the situation can get complicated quickly. Over the years, the federal government has implemented several measures designed to protect service members and longtime spouses. These additional protections can increase the amount of time needed to finalize the divorce, creating additional stress for both parties. Staying informed and being proactive throughout the divorce can make the process easier to handle, but even the most prepared adult can find him or herself overwhelmed. Fortunately, surviving a military divorce is possible if you keep a few tips in mind.

Take Advantage of Residency Exceptions

The first step in most divorce filings is proving that you or your spouse are a resident of the state in which you are filing. A person who is in the military or married to a service member may end up in a situation in which he or she is not yet a legal resident of the state they are living in at the time divorce becomes a necessity. This prompts many to initiate a divorce in what they believe to be their state of residency, leading to additional travel expenses and the added burden of worrying about being able to attend last minute court hearings. Taking advantage of state laws that allow a military member or their spouse to file for divorce in the state in which they are stationed, even if traditional residency requirements are not met, can simplify your divorce while saving both parties money.

Utilize the Civil Relief Act

Military divorce rates have slowly started to decline, but the chances of a divorce being initiated during a deployment remain high. The marriage challenges associated with deployment include long-term separation, anxiety, depression, and resentment all combining to increase the likelihood of one or both parties wanting a divorce. A spouse who has remained behind may attempt to file for a divorce while the service member is still deployed, hoping to get a favorable settlement without engaging in a long battle with his or her spouse. If your spouse suddenly files for divorce while you are on deployment, utilizing the Service Members Civil Relief Act allows you to postpone all court proceedings until you are able to attend. The act protects you from having an unfavorable judgement entered against you if you are unable to attend court because of duty.

Remember Moving Expenses

A person who is focused on having his or her marriage legally dissolved often forgets to plan for the future immediately following a successful divorce. One thing you do not want to overlook is having your moving expenses covered by the military or included in your divorce negotiations.  If you or your spouse is stationed in Hawaii and plan to return to Ohio after the divorce is finalized, the last thing you want to worry about is financing your move. The military may pay for moving expenses, especially if you are stationed overseas, or the couple can include reasonable moving costs in the divorce settlement.

Contact an Attorney

Even with careful planning and knowledge of tips that can make your divorce more manageable, it is easy to forget major details that can ultimately cost you emotionally or financially. Turning to a military divorce attorney for help is the best way to protect yourself and ensure your divorce is handled properly.  The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office realize how difficult it is to get divorced while you are in the military or married to a service member. Our staff is ready to provide you with the legal advice you need. Contact our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office today so that we can discuss your case.

Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

The term prenuptial agreement is one that most adults hear in connection with the marriage or divorce of a celebrity or a person with substantial financial resources. While prenuptial agreements were once not something a middle-class couple would consider, the increased number of adults waiting to marry until after they are established financially has changed that.  Couples who are older, have children from a previous relationship, or own a business are now more likely to consider creating a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married. Asking yourself a few key questions can help you determine if you need a prenuptial agreement.

Are You Working Toward Something Profitable?

It is not unusual for a person who has not yet established the success he or she wants to disregard any suggestions regarding obtaining a prenuptial agreement. However, if you have been working towards a business or invention for a long time it is a good idea to protect your future profits.  While you may not have the resources yet, an agreement can protect you in the future if you later decide to divorce. Forgoing an agreement could lead to a situation in the future in which you are forced to share profits from your business because while you started working on it several years before getting married, no money was earned until after you married.

Do You Have Children?

The number of people who remarry in the United States after one divorce has increased, but unfortunately, a person who has gotten a divorce once has a greater chance of subsequent marriages ending in divorce. After spending a lifetime amassing property and establishing financial security for children from a previous marriage, no one wants to risk losing assets intended for children through divorce. A prenuptial agreement gives you more control over the amount of money a future spouse can receive if your marriage ends, allowing you to protect certain property and intangible assets from being lost during a divorce.

Is Your Future Spouse in Debt?

Prenuptial agreements can do more than protect property and money. It is possible to use an agreement to protect yourself from creditors if your future spouse has a large amount of debt.  Creating a legal agreement that keeps debt separate is a way to avoid being held responsible for debt that your spouse acquired after the divorce is finalized. Limiting your debt liability prior to marriage can preserve your credit and keep certain marital properties safe from your spouse’s creditors.

Contact an Attorney

The idea of planning for a divorce prior to getting married is not pleasant, but it is practical. If you or someone close to you is getting married and are worried about future financial repercussions, contact an attorney. Talking to a prenuptial agreement attorney is a good way to find out if obtaining an agreement prior to marriage is something that will benefit you. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are able to assist you with creating a valid agreement.  We can answer your questions and help you decide the best way to secure your assets. Contact our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio location today to schedule a consultation.

Should You Remain in Your Marital Home?

The family home is one piece of property over which a divorcing couple will often battle. In addition to the cash value of the home, the sentimental value may influence both party’s desire to keep the home. However, once the divorce is finalized and tempers have cooled, it is always a good idea to think about the pros and cons associated with maintaining your recently won residence. The decision to remain in the marital home after the divorce is over could significantly influence your personal and financial future.

Can You Afford it?

Affordability should be your primary concern when deciding if you should stay in your marital home after a divorce. Once the divorce is finalized, it is normal for an adult to be short on cash and overwhelmed by the responsibility of managing a household with only one income. If you were a stay-at-home parent who is awarded spousal support or a parent now receiving child support, your available funds are often finite and depend solely on whether or not your former spouse makes timely payments. Before committing to staying in your home, calculate how much money you will need to pay your mortgage, utilities, purchase necessities, and keep your household solvent without aid.

Are There Tax Benefits?

Owning a home usually means that you are able to receive multiple tax benefits that are not available to renters. After a divorce, the mortgage interest, property taxes, and other property-related tax write offs can be beneficial. If you decide to sell your home and move into an apartment or into a home with other friends or family, those potential tax benefits are lost.  Remember, a house is an asset that provides more tax benefits than most other purchases, and after your divorce, you will be the sole beneficiary of those tax perks.

What are the Alternatives?

The most important thing to ask yourself before initiating the sale of your house is what are the alternatives to living in your current home. Will you be able to afford another house? Will you need to move into an apartment? Though downgrading is usually a good way to save money, it is possible that the area you want to live in does not have any desirable properties that are less expensive than your current residence. The last thing you want to do is move into a less attractive residence that gives you no financial benefits.

Talk to an Attorney

Before making any choices regarding what assets you want to keep during a divorce based on your post-divorce plans, it is best to talk to an attorney. An equitable distribution attorney will help you review marital assets and decide what property is beneficial to you in the long run. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand how overwhelming asset division is and we are prepared to help you make choices that will set you up for a comfortable future. Contact our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office today to schedule a consultation so that we can discuss your needs.

Why You Should Discuss Your Divorce with Your Child

Deciding to get a divorce is a choice that many adults struggle with for months or years. No matter how difficult the relationship has become, it is not unusual for a couple to attempt to work through their issues, especially if children are involved. Once the situation reaches a point at which divorce is inevitable, it is important for both parents to talk to their children. Unfortunately, parents often avoid directly talking to their children about getting a divorce.  Some parents are uncomfortable about discussing their relationship with their children while others assume that their children already know about the divorce. Understanding how much simply talking to your children prior to the divorce can help them may encourage you to do so, even when you might not want to.

Lasting Memory

Studies have shown that children remember when they were told about an impending divorce.  No matter how long ago a divorce took place, the memory stays fresh, illustrating how much of a psychological and emotional impact the news has on a child. Since children remember being told about divorce,  it is important that parents control the way the information is delivered.  Failing to actually talk to your children about the divorce creates a situation in which the child may find out about the divorce through a friend, other family members, or by overhearing something.  Even if your children forget some of the circumstances surrounding your divorce or marriage, they are very likely going to remember when they found out about a divorce and how they were told.

Developmental Issues

The age of a child can also impact how he or she receives the information about the divorce and how that child will later interpret it. A child who is not able to understand complexity, is very dependent upon their parents for care, and is not able to truly verbalize feelings may show his or her distress in other ways. Children who are 5 years old or younger experience anxiety, anger, and experience developmental regressions. Some small children may blame themselves for the divorce, making it important to talk to children and reassure them. Patience and communication help your children understand and cope with the major life change.

Helps Keep Things Simple

Beginning the divorce process and talking to your children sporadically makes the entire process of explaining the situation more complicated than it needs to be. Regardless of the age of your children, a simple discussion with a clear message is often best. Older children who are probably not surprised will still be reassured by having their suspicions confirmed in a concise way.  Telling your children that their parents will be happier living in separate homes while remaining a stable part of their lives can ease some of their unconscious anxiety and help them prepare for the transition process.

Talking to an Attorney

Once you have decided that a divorce is definitely the answer and have spoken to your children, it is important to talk to an attorney. Having the advice and assistance of a family law attorney is vital when you are hoping to reach a beneficial child custody and support agreement with your spouse. That attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are prepared to provide you with the support and legal advice that you need. Contact our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio office to schedule a consultation.

Preparing for a Military Divorce

Getting a divorce is never easy, but being an active duty service member or retired veteran adds complications to an already difficult process. The unique circumstances often surrounding the end of a marriage when one partner is, or was, in the military require specialized knowledge and extra preparation. If you or someone close to you is preparing for a military divorce, it is important to educate yourself regarding certain factors that can seriously impact your divorce settlement. Failing to consult an attorney who understands military divorce could create a situation in which you do not have the representation of an advocate who is truly able to act in your best interest.

Obtain Funds

Divorce is typically expensive regardless of the route you take. Once you are certain that divorce is your only option, it is a good idea to begin saving funds to use for your divorce and to pay for basic expenses. Most attorneys will require you to pay a retainer and if you are a military spouse, it is possible that the service member will stop any allotments that you are receiving. Also, if your spouse decides to move out of the marital home, there might be a period of time during which you are required to handle all of the household expenses alone. Entering the divorce process with no cash on hand increases the likelihood of agreeing to an unreasonable settlement because you are in a desperate financial situation.

Take Advantage of Counseling

Active duty military personnel and their spouses are able to receive counseling prior to getting divorce. The counseling services are free, confidential, and can offer the emotional support you need. Instead of focusing on encouraging a couple to stay together, pre-divorce counselors can provide realistic advice and can continue to provide you with an emotional outlet once the divorce proceedings begin. Military counseling services aid military spouses and service members during the extremely stressful divorce process. These services are especially useful in situations where a pre-divorce separation is required.

Gather Documentation

Many aspects of military divorce are reliant on the length of time the couple was married while the service member was in the military. Retirement sharing, health insurance, and other benefits are determined by how much of the marriage took place while the military member was in service. Gathering documentation regarding your marriage, the time spent in the military, investments, accounts, property information, and other details can help prove your case along with the assets to which you are entitled. Also, record your own spending and income so that disclosing your financial resources is easier.

Contact an Attorney

Contacting an attorney who has experience helping military families is the most important part of your divorce process. A military divorce attorney who understands military benefits and retirement distribution can ensure that your rights are protected. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand how complicated a military divorce is and we have helped many clients achieve positive outcomes. Contact our Columbus, Ohio office today to discuss your situation and schedule a consultation.

Repercussions of Moving out of Your Marital Home

Once you or your spouse has decided to file for a divorce, living together may become uncomfortable. Regardless of the length of a marriage, it is difficult to adjust to sharing a home with a person who is no longer your legal spouse, especially if you are locked in a legal battle for assets or child custody. Leaving the marital home is often the choice one partner makes in order to keep the peace and avoid confrontations. While establishing a separate household gives you a way to get away from a spouse you can no longer tolerate, there are potential repercussions when you move out of your marital home before your divorce is complete.

Hurts Custody Requests

Ohio courts focus on making custody determinations that are in the best interest of the child.  Both parents can submit a parenting plan, and once the court reviews them, they can allocate time between both adults in the form of a shared parenting plan. However, if no parenting plan is submitted or either parent believes shared parenting is not in the best interest of their mutual children, the court may need to make a final determination. When the court is involved in deciding custody, a parent who has left the marital home, voluntarily reducing his or her own time spent with the children, will have a difficult time gain sole or primary custody.

Double the Expenses

Leaving your marital home does not automatically relieve you of financial obligations. If your name is on the mortgage, utility bills, or you were the primary income earner, you may still be responsible for paying expenses associated with your marital property. Moving out during your divorce could lead to you paying double the bills and, in some situations, you may have fewer financial resources available. Paying for a divorce attorney, bills in two households, temporary spousal support, and more can make you desperate to finalize the divorce even if the proposed settlement is not to your advantage.

Lose Access to Property

When an adult moves out of his or her marital home during a divorce, he or she rarely take all of his or her property. Unfortunately, once you leave the house, your spouse may take steps to restrict your future access to the property or dispose of items that are held jointly. It is possible to force your spouse into giving you access to a home that is owned jointly, and he or she can be held accountable for disposing of property without your permission, but both processes can be time consuming.  The last thing a person going through a contentious divorce wants to do is call the police to help regain entry to his or her home or realize too late that items with high monetary or sentimental value are permanently gone.

When to Contact an Attorney

If you or someone close to you is going through a divorce and considering moving out of a home shared with a spouse, it is important that legal advice is obtained prior to making a decision. The divorce attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are prepared to help you determine what choice is best for you and your unique situation. Contact us today to schedule a private consultation at our conveniently located Columbus, Ohio location.

Essential Advice for First Time Adoptive Parents

Adopting allows you to offer stability to a child in need while helping your own family grow. Regardless of the type of adoption (step parent, grandparent, or through an agency), the process can be an extremely rewarding experience. While the process for legally finalizing any type of adoption can be stressful and time consuming, as well, there are a few pieces of advice that are helpful to all parents. Following this essential advice for first time adoptive parents can make navigating through the process easier for everyone involved.

Make a Realistic Plan for Financing

Adoption is not always cheap, and funding may become difficult at an unexpected moment.  Prior to fully engrossing yourself in the process, make sure you are prepared to finance it.  Contact adoption foundations in your area, explore adoption grants, and even talk to people in your personal or professional circles. Doing all of this in addition to seeking loans and relying on savings will give you a good idea of how much money you actually have available to complete your adoption. It is best to research sources of funds that are not guaranteed first instead of assuming the money will be available after you exhaust the funds you already have.

Discuss Adoption with an Attorney

No matter what type of adoption you are considering, an attorney will be necessary to finalize the process and protect your best interests. Even if you know the birth parents, are a family member, or feel as though the process is a formality, talking to an attorney ensures that you are completely informed of everything that is a vital part of the adoption. An attorney can explain what documentation is needed, if psychological exams will be required, and what post-adoption resources you might benefit from utilizing.

Be Prepared to Talk to Your New Child About His or Her Previous Life

If you are adopting an older child who remembers what his or her life was like prior to being adopted, do not be afraid to discuss that past together. Even if you are a stepparent or a grandparent, there may be some aspects of a child’s previous life of which you are unaware.  Offering even minor consistencies in his or her daily routine from before the adoption may aid your child if he or she is having difficulty adjusting to the new life or your role as legal adoptive parent. Also, your willingness to talk to your child about life before you entered the picture may increase his or her overall comfort while reminding the child not to feel bad about any aspect of that former life.

Contact Us for Legal Advice

Deciding to adopt a child is something that is often done after a lot of soul searching and carefully conducted research. Once you are sure of your decision and ready to initiate the first step in the process, contacting a qualified adoption attorney is the best way to begin. The attorneys at Lawrence Law Office are ready to answer your questions and help you with all of your adoption needs. Contact us today to schedule a private consultation at our Columbus location.

The Line Between Protection and Alienation

A couple who has separated and is preparing to get a divorce wants what they believe will be best for their children. In many cases a parent’s primary concern is protecting a child from any type of physical or emotional harm. However, in situations in which a parent feels his or her spouse is a danger, it is possible for the line between protection and alienation to be crossed.  Parental alienation is a serious offense that can damage the relationship between your child and their other parent. In order to avoid being accused of parental alienation, it is important to understand what actions could be considered alienation by a court and how you can protect your child without fearing repercussions.

Types of Parental Alienation

When parental alienation is discussed, most people believe that a person guilty of alienation is making a conscious choice to interfere with the relationship that his or her child has with the other parent. It is true that some alienators will actively work to destroy the reputation of the other parent in order to hurt that parent. Actions associated with parental alienation include interfering with visitations, denying a parent the right to talk to the child, or moving without notice. There are also some parents who do not make any conscious choice to engage in alienation. In these cases, a parent might absent-mindedly criticize the other parent or make an observation about that parent in front of the child in passing that casts that parent in a negative light.

Protecting a Child

Over the years, instances of domestic abuse have been linked with parental alienation charges.  Parents who were found guilty of parental alienation initially kept their children away from a spouse because the former spouse was allegedly physically or sexually abusing the children. A parent who wants to keep his or her children safe may be unwilling to allow them to be alone with a parent or relative who they feel is abusive. Unfortunately, taking matters into your own hands and disregarding court orders comes with consequences that can result in your child spending more time with the parent from whom you were protecting them.

Penalties for Parental Alienation

A parent who is found guilty of parental alienation can expect to face tough penalties. One of the most common penalties for denying a parent access to the children is for that parent to receive additional visitation time. Additionally, the other parent can file a motion of contempt if court ordered visitation is being violated or the parent being accused of alienation is willfully violating part of the parenting plan. A parent found guilty of alienation can face fines, jail time, and more.

Contact an Attorney

If you or a loved one wants to protect a child without violating an existing parenting agreement, it is important to contact a skilled child custody attorney. The compassionate attorneys at Lawrence Law Office understand how strong the desire to protect your child from harm is. We are able to work with you to find a way to keep your children safe without risking alienation accusations. Contact us today at our conveniently located Columbus office to schedule a consultation.  

The Benefits of Divorce Mediation

The media often portrays divorce as an elaborate drama that largely takes place in front of a judge in a packed courtroom. While divorce hearings are still common, not every divorce requires multiple high stress court appearances. Though a divorce that involves disagreements over child custody, property division, or other issues takes longer than an uncontested divorce, it is possible to use mediation to resolve most issues. Mediation involves meeting with a neutral individual who is experienced with helping divorcing couples come to an agreement that satisfies both parties. Being aware of the benefits of divorce mediation can help you decide if the process is suitable for your situation.

Divorce Mediation Reduces Costs

Getting a divorce is often one of the most expensive legal processes that an adult goes through in his or her life. Quality attorneys who are able to dedicate their time to representing you are expensive, and it may be necessary to retain a divorce attorney for over a year if your contested divorce is not easily settled. Attending mediation is less expensive than typical divorce proceedings, saving both adults money. Most mediators charge an hourly rate that is dependent upon the experience of the mediator and the location. However, the cost associated with attending multiple mediation sessions is substantially lower than the expense of a prolonged court battle.

Keeps the Couple in Control

A couple who only disagrees about a few key issues could find themselves in a difficult situation if they place their fates in the hands of the court. While their attorneys will do their best to get their clients a satisfactory outcome, the judge hearing the case may impose or suggest something that one or both adults are not comfortable with. Using a mediator helps couples avoid being placed in a situation in which a third party makes decisions that they could be forced to live with indefinitely. During mediation, you and your spouse remain in control and will have an opportunity to discuss the situation in a constructive manner while working towards a solution that is acceptable for everyone.

Less Time Consuming

One of the most difficult parts of the divorce process is the time it takes to resolve all disputes and reach a settlement. After months of legal battles, both parties are often emotionally and financially drained. Mediation gives you an opportunity to reach a faster resolution by placing you with an experienced mediator who is able to suggest multiple ideas and provide neutral insight to your situation. A mediator helps couples understand how to initiate a healthy dialogue so that they can come to a resolution in less time.

Contact an Experienced Mediator

If you or a loved one is going through a prolonged divorce, consider contacting a qualified family law mediator. Lawrence Law Office has a certified specialist who is able to combine extensive knowledge of family law with the focused mediation needed to resolve complex disputes. We are able to work with you to resolve issues quickly in a way that establishes a healthy working relationship between co-parents and family members. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at our conveniently located Columbus office.

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