Divorce Checklist: Documents You Should Show Your Divorce Attorney

Data from the CDC estimates that the U.S. divorce rate is 3.2 per 1,000 population as of 2014. If you are planning for a divorce, the best thing you can do is engage with divorce attorneys. You also need to be well-prepared and have important documents ready. These are some of the essential documents you will need to show your divorce lawyers so that they can help you plan for your divorce.

Individual and Business Income Tax Returns

Finances are usually the annoyance for most divorce cases. This is because finances influence other aspects of divorce, such as alimony and child support. Depending on your state laws, you will need to document your individual and business tax returns for the last five years. During divorce proceedings, the court requires all parties to provide accurate and updated tax return records. This is also applicable to couples who jointly file taxes. Your divorce attorney will also advise you to fill any unfilled tax returns before the divorce. Accurate and updated tax returns records serve as a reference and guide the court during the marital property division. Having them ready will be a big boost to your divorce case.

Bank and Credit Card Information

In addition to your tax records, you will also need to have important bank information well-documented. You should list all the joint and individual bank accounts belonging to you and your spouse and their current account balances. Additionally, you will need to document all the credit cards held by you and your spouse. You should also have records documenting the current income of you and your spouse. You should supply your divorce attorneys with as much financial information as you can. Your financial records and tax information will enable a court to establish the marital standard of living, which largely influences a divorce settlement.

Marriage Certificate, Prenuptial Agreement, and Separation Agreement

A marriage certificate is proof that you are officially married to your spouse, hence entitled to a divorce. Without a marriage certificate, your divorce case may take longer as your divorce attorneys explore other legal avenues. You should have the original marriage certificate or a copy of it. If you had a prenuptial agreement, you must provide your divorce lawyer with a copy. The same goes for a separation agreement. These documents will help your family attorney fast-track your divorce case, saving you time and money in the process.

Children’s Birth Certificate, School Information and Child Care Expenses

If you had children during your marriage, it is important to have copies of their birth certificates. If you adopted a child, the adoption certificate would come in handy. During and after the divorce, you want to safeguard the welfare of your children so that they are not deeply affected by your divorce. Your children’s education is a priority, and courts may analyze your child’s school information when ruling on child custody. Additionally, documenting your child care expenses will ensure that your child’s lifestyle is not affected after the divorce.

Life Insurance Policies, Mortgages, and Loan Documents

If you or your spouse hold a life insurance policy, your divorce attorneys will help you analyze what changes will happen after the divorce. Your family lawyer will also need all copies of your mortgages and other loans recorded in your name or your spouse’s. These documents provide crucial information that your attorney will rely on to build a strong case.

Divorce cases may drag on for months or years before they conclude. However, when divorce attorneys have sufficient information about your case, it may conclude much faster. When you are preparing for a divorce, you should obtain as much information as you can. If you cannot obtain crucial information because your spouse is unwilling to supply you with some documents, your family attorney will help you find legal means to compel your spouse. You may feel overwhelmed by the entire process during a divorce, but a good divorce lawyer will walk you through.

Tricky Legal Situations That Keep Coming Up Thanks To COVID-19

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When it comes to COVID-19, many of us think of the obvious — people out of work, businesses temporarily or permanently closed, wearing masks, and staying six feet apart. Earning significantly less and taking precautions not to get the virus is just the beginning. There are several other legal implications of the global pandemic and some surprising ones at that.

Here are some of the trickiest legal situations that have been increasingly common in recent months.

The Cost Of Doing Business: Financial Fallout, Aid, and Bankruptcy

Due to closures and partial re-openings, many businesses were and/or remain eligible to receive aid to keep their companies afloat. Small business loans, the COVID-19 RELIEF for Small Businesses Act of 2020, and emergency or disaster relief funds are just a few of the options available to business owners all across the country. These options are not infallible, however. For months, there was such a high demand for this aid, there was a backlog for a good deal of the businesses trying to get it. For some, it is too little, too late — or simply not enough.

Unfortunately, that means businesses are filing for bankruptcy at record-breaking rates. “This year, 424 companies have gone bankrupt through August 9, surpassing the number of filings during any period since 2010,” Business Insider writes. How do you know if bankruptcy is the right option for you as a small business owner or entrepreneur?

Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is one possible option to give business owners the ability to make significantly lower payments and get back on their feet. Chapter 7 provides relief is closing is inevitable.

Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer if you have any further questions! Many bankruptcy lawyers offer a free consultation, giving you the opportunity to ask questions and educate yourself without breaking the bank.

The Complications Of Estate Planning

Will writing and estate planning are never straightforward — and these things can be infinitely complicated by tragedy or hardships like the global pandemic. Right now, there are people all over the U.S. who may be evicted from their apartments, or unable to make their next mortgage payment. That makes the particulars of estate planning and will writing especially pressing.

If you own a home, the coronavirus can put things into perspective. Who will inherit your land, your assets, and/or your debts if you die? Now is the time to work out the answer to these questions, not when it is too late. A lawyer can help, whether you need help with a basic understanding of will writing or need help with the particulars. If you do not currently own a home and a recently deceased relative left you ownership of his or her estate, it may be a matter of having an affordable place to live — or not. Taxes on inherited land is convoluted and tricky. Plus, it varies by state. Talk to a lawyer to parse out the specifics of your inheritance.

A Growing Divorce Rate

Unfortunately, bankruptcy lawyers are not the only ones that are especially busy right now and will continue to be especially busy after the pandemic. Divorce lawyers are also experiencing a surprising influx of new clients. Thanks to quarantine, closures, working from home, and unemployment, married couples are spending more time together than ever before — and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“Job losses, caring for at-risk elderly parents, arguments over what’s safe, and disagreements over school reopening are all taking a toll,” The Wall Street Journal writes.

With any luck, your marriage will make it through. If it doesn’t, you are not alone. Seek appropriate legal counsel about negotiating the division of assets and making difficult decisions, like determining child custody arrangements.

We are in unprecedented times. In a typical year, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. In years preceding COVID-19, it was not uncommon for millions of people and businesses to file for bankruptcy. There is certainly no shame in filing for bankruptcy or dealing with sticky legal situations now. Do not go it alone. Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer, attorney, or divorce lawyer for any legal help you may need.

Estate Planning: 5 Ways to Go About It

A common misconception is that estate planning is designed for wealthy people who own different assets. You may also think that estate planning is only about finances and designating an heir to your property. Far from that, estate planning accommodates other decisions such as appointing a guardian for your minor children, setting up the power of attorney, funeral arrangements, and organ donation decisions. Here are the different ways you can use to plan your estate.

1. Writing a Will

Will writing is common among Americans above the age of 65 with 50% having up-to-date wills. However, wills should not be viewed as the exhaustive estate planning instrument as many people take it. Your estate planning lawyer will tell you that a will is important as it details your last wishes of how you want your estate to be handled. Nonetheless, the estate planning attorney should also tell you that a valid will doesn’t exempt your estate from probate. The beneficiaries of your will can only access the assets after the probate process is complete. To avoid the lengthy and costly probate process, you should create a trust and transfer your assets into the trust when you’re still alive.

2. Revocable Trust

You want to save your dependents the time and cost of going through the probate process by utilizing an estate planning trust. Estate planning attorneys will help you to legally transfer your assets to a revocable living trust. In a revocable living trust, the assets are transferred to your listed beneficiaries although you still retain control. A revocable trust will help your dependents skip probate, but they may not escape estate taxes, especially if each beneficiary would get more than $5.45 million upon the division of the estate. If your estate isn’t worth that much, your dependents may not pay estate taxes.

3. Irrevocable Trust

On the other hand, an irrevocable trust will save your dependents large sums of money in estate taxes. This should be your go-to plan if you have a large estate. In an irrevocable trust, you transfer all your assets to your beneficiaries without retaining control over the assets. Once you set up an irrevocable trust, you transfer all the control of your assets to the trustees, and this cannot be changed. The assets in an irrevocable trust are immune to the probate process and are not part of the valuation of your estate when you pass on.

4. Appoint a Guardian for Your Minor Children

Guardianship is a crucial part of your estate planning. Not only does it guarantee the welfare of your children if you pass on, but also it safeguards your estate. We all wish to stay long enough to raise our children and grandchildren, but sometimes accidents happen. In the unfortunate event that you or your spouse are deceased when your children are still minors, estate planning allows you to appoint a close relative or friend as the guardian to your children. If you fail to appoint a guardian, the court will take over and appoint one of your relatives as a guardian even though you may not have approved of the choice when alive. You should appoint a guardian that you can trust to take care of your children and also your assets.

5. Setting up Power of Attorney

Estate planning gives you a chance to appoint someone to take charge of your financial and health decisions for you and your dependents should you become incapacitated. You may become incapacitated due to mental illness or a physical accident. Without designating power of attorney, the court will have to administer a conservatorship after a lengthy and costly process.

Regardless of the value of your estate, you should consider estate planning. Estate planning lawyers in Bismarck, ND, will help you to carefully plan for the future of your estate when you’re still alive. This will ensure the continuity of your legacy when you pass on. Even better, your dependents will move on with their lives without infighting or enduring lengthy court processes to get their inheritance.

Why You Need a Divorce Attorney

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Almost 50% of married couples in the United States are likely to end in divorce and separation. This is a commonly known statistic, but it’s still very shocking if it’s you who’s going through a divorce. There are many factors to consider when going through a divorce, and it can easily become a rather complicated process. Going through a divorce can be extremely draining and stressful, so it’s important to make sure you know everything that can help make it easier for you to go through. A divorce attorney can aide you and give you the information needed to go through a divorce.

Why You Need a Divorce Attorney

When going through a divorce, the first thing you may want to look into will be a divorce attorney. Consulting with a divorce lawyer will provide you with a large amount of knowledge on the subject of divorce, with information that you might not have known about. With expert advice accessible to you, you will start the divorce process at an advantage. A divorce lawyer will also help protect you while you go through this process, and into the future as well. This is especially important if your case will deal with anything regarding children and property. There doesn’t need to be any malice between the divorced couple either, a divorce lawyer will simply help un-complicate financial and custody issues. You want to make sure that you are taking every step possible to help alleviate the stress of a divorce and getting a divorce attorney is a substantial first step.

Involving Custody Lawyers in Your Divorce

It’ll be important to choose a lawyer who is also well-versed with dealing with custody cases. Making sure that you are able to find a custody lawyer is necessary when going through a divorce with children involved in the case. You will want someone who will be able to adequately state your case to the court, and someone who has extensive knowledge of the law. Not being able to do so yourself, or not having a custody lawyer present will put your case at a disadvantage and risk your option to keep or receive custody of your child/children. A custody lawyer will be able to help you gather information to present for your case that will show you in a favorable way to the judge. As said before this process can be very draining, a lawyer will help alleviate that stress and help navigate the world of the court. Your attorney will help prepare you to deal with any aggressive lawyers from the opposing side, they may bombard you with questions you otherwise wouldn’t have been prepared to answer without a lawyer at hand.

Involving Estate Planning Attorneys and/or Bankruptcy Attorneys

Just as it’s necessary to have a custody attorney by your side, it is equally necessary to have an estate planning attorney or a bankruptcy attorney on your case. Financial issues and disputes are a huge reason divorces can be so taxing on everyone. You have to discuss dividing your assets along with your ex-partner, whether that be property or other shared items. Doing so without the help or knowledge of a lawyer can negatively impact the outcome of your case or can set you at a disadvantage. Owning property or any business is a reason to get an estate planning lawyer, as you want to make sure that your property and businesses will be protected from the divorce process. Not only will an estate planning attorney help with property, but they will also help manage trusts, wills, taxes, and the probate process. Bankruptcy can also occur during a divorce, so it’s important to have a bankruptcy lawyer to assist if necessary. Financial matters can be very complicated during divorce, so it’s best to have a professional who is well-versed with this kind of information.

Divorce can affect the rest of your life, and you want to make sure that you know you’ve done everything possible to have the best outcome. Divorce Attorneys help ensure that you did everything you could, as well as make the divorce procedure as stress-free as imaginable.

5 Tips To Successfully Co-Parent After Divorce

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Fewer children are growing up in traditional, nuclear families. According to the Pew Research Center, “Fewer than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage.”

While non-traditional families may be quickly becoming the norm, navigating co-parenting after a divorce can be tricky. Use these strategies to raise healthy, happy children while co-parenting with your ex-spouse.

1. Constructively And Openly Discuss Your Child’s Feelings

In an effort to stay neutral, some parents take it too far, failing to discuss their divorce and new custody arrangements altogether. While it is smart to be mindful and careful about your child’s feelings, doing that means talking about and helping them with this transition.

Keep the conversation focused on them. Give your child or children the opportunity to tell you how they feel about the divorce, and ask if they have any questions. Ask if there is anything you can do to put their mind at ease. Some solutions, Parents.com writes, are easier than you might think. For example, if a child has a favorite activity they wish to continue, make sure you set aside time for that activity at both parents’ homes.

2. Know The Importance Of Professional Mediation

Even those of us with the best intentions need help at times. Divorce can be an emotionally fraught time. Sometimes, in order to make the best decisions for you and your children, it is important to work with divorce lawyers and custody attorneys. Divorce lawyers can help mediate and help you navigate the typical divorce process from divvying up assets to settling on child custody arrangements.

Plus, divorce lawyers help with one of the most difficult parts of the process: determining appropriate child support payments. Child support can be absolutely critical for paying for child care. Among impoverished families, these payments account for 70.3% of households’ annual income. Without professional mediation, it can also feel like putting a dollar amount on how much you love your child. Professionals can help you determine the proper amount for your family and give you access to averages and figures to make certain you do not under- or over-estimate these expenses.

3. Do Not Force Or Encourage Allegiances

Do not speak ill of your ex-partner. Simply put, this creates problems.

Remember, you share your child with your ex-partner. Criticizing your spouse may sound like an attack on your child as well — after all, in most cases, they have half of your ex-spouse’s DNA. Plus, this criticism may make children feel pressured to take sides and/or defend their other parent. If you need to air your frustrations, talk to a therapist or a friend in confidence.

4. Map Out The Logistics

Sometimes, being transparent about your custody arrangement and your child’s new schedule can go a long way to put him or her at ease. Put up a large calendar for your child to see. Clearly mark the days at your house, and at your spouse’s, weeks in advance. Use fun stickers to differentiate the days. Make sure your child knows who will be picking them up from school or taking them to their next extracurricular activity.

5. Learn And Practice The Three Ps

According to GOOP, the three Ps are personalize, patience, and process. When problems crop up — and they will — try to look at it as an obstacle to overcome, not as an opportunity to assign blame. Focus on the issue, not who is at fault for it.

Be patient. Your child is unlikely to adjust overnight. Stay calm and collected as often as you can. Aim for long-term success, not one or two good days.

Keep conversations open and ongoing. Try to be a safe soundboard for your children a much as possible. Encourage them to talk about and feel their feelings.

While there is no secret to co-parenting after divorce, try applying several strategies — like giving your child room to speak, working with divorce lawyers, and putting up a calendar for your child — to increase your chances of success.