What are Realistic Expectations in Family Matter Cases?
Family matter cases or Family Law Cases are often times highly emotional for parties involved. This is because there is usually a major change in the lives of those involved. Whether it is dividing the assets of a long term marriage, or splitting parenting time with the children, the issues involved are extremely sensitive and personal for each individual. However, it is important to have realistic expectations when going through a divorce, modification or paternity action. Understanding this idea will help you both financially and emotionally. Below is a list of things you must keep in mind when beginning a case. If you can remember the items on this list, you are less likely to come out of your family law matter severely disappointed.
An attorney should think with logic rather than emotions .
This is difficult for many people to understand, and it even may cause you to feel that your attorney does not care about your case, which is far from true. However, you must understand that one of the reasons you retain an attorney is to have someone to advocate your position when it may be difficult for you to rationally do so yourself. When in the middle of a case, parties tend to react with emotions rather than logic. Many times you are hurt or angry and you want to “punish” the other person. Rest assured, our attorney has been in front of the judge, and knows what that particular Judge may deem as “important”. With that being said, many times, what you feel is important will not be something the judge will ultimately use in determining the outcome. Trust that your attorney has your best intentions at heart, and will advocate your position in the best way possible.
Your attorney has other clients.
It is expected that emotions are running high in a matter as important as a family law case. Your attorney’s office does understand that your case is of the utmost importance. However, there are only so many hours in the day for your attorney or paralegal to make things happen. You must understand that it may be hours, or even a whole day, before the office can return your call and/or e-mail. In some instances, you may want to talk to the attorney and ultimately receive a call from the paralegal. Please understand that your attorney and the paralegal work very closely together on all cases and that both individuals know what is going on in your case. Know that the paralegal cannot and must not give any legal advice. Therefore, they MUST run everything by the attorney prior to relaying the attorney’s advice on your case. So, if you get a call from the paralegal, chances are pretty good that the matter has been discussed with the attorney and the attorney has instructed the paralegal on the advice to be reported. You should be able to trust the paralegal in the same manner of which you trust the attorney.
What you consider to be an “emergency” is probably not an emergency.
The fact that the other parent showed up 15 minutes late to pick up the children is not an emergency. The fact that your child missed breakfast one day is not an emergency. The fact that one parent allows the child to watch a PG13 movie is not an emergency. You waiting until the last minute to tell your attorney that you would like to take the children out of town for the weekend is not an emergency. Your child wearing mismatched clothing is NOT an emergency. These are things to be aware of when you are determining if it is necessary to call your attorney to discuss these matters. To be the most cost conducive, if you have questions that you would like to ask your attorney and/or paralegal, and you have already determined that the question is NOT an emergency, it is best practice to keep a list of your questions that you would like to ask throughout the week, and place one phone callto discuss same with the attorney and/or paralegal. This will be more efficient for both you and the attorney. You are paying on a per hour basis – every phone call you make, every email you send, you are being billed. Again, unless it is an “emergency” it will usually be more beneficial to take a number of concerns to your attorney at one time as opposed to calling for each situation.
Assets and debts are typically divided in an equitable manner.
Here is what this means: usually, one person will not walk away with all of the assets while the other walks away with all the debt. Everything acquired during your marriage is considered “marital” property unless you received the property as a gift or by inheritance. Yes, your engagement and wedding rings are non-marital property, as they were a gift to you. You can fight to take all the property as yours; however you will most likely be unhappy at the conclusion of your case. Additionally, you should be prepared to assume a portion of the debt that was incurred during your marriage. More specifically, do not plan on taking a home, vehicle or other asset without planning on paying the debt on that asset. A judge will usually order a person to pay for the items that they acquire after separation and during the proceeding. It is also important to note that assets and liabilities will only be divided in divorce cases.
Your retirement is NOT yours.
In many cases, there is one individual who has worked in the workforce while the other individual has given up a job to raise children. In other cases, one person has contributed to a retirement while the other person has not contributed to a retirement – for whatever reason. The standard is that any retirement earned during the marriage is “marital” and subject to division by the Court. That division is usually 50/50. Of course, either party can choose to walk away from the other’s retirement accounts. If the parties cannot agree, be prepared to have all retirement accounts divided in an equal fashion. Again, it is important to realize that, in order to receive ½ of the other party’s retirement account, you must have been married – and this division will occur during the initial divorce proceeding.
In Family Law Cases “50/50” parenting time does NOT mean there will be no child support paid.
There are a lot of people, men especially, who come in stating that they want 50/50 time with their children. Many times, the sole reason for asking for this is so that they don’t have to pay child support. The purpose of child support is to provide for the child/children in the same fashion as if the marriage/relationship were to continue in the future. There are many factors that are taken into account when determining the amount of child support to be paid. The amount of overnight visits is just one factor. You must also take into account how many other children the parties care for, the amount paid for daycare, the amount paid for insurance and any extraordinary expenses. So, unless both incomes are identical and all expenses are identical, there will be child support assessed to one person within the case.
“Sole Custody” is rare with a Family Law Case.
The Court always leans towards joint custody between the parents. This is because the Court feels that both parties should be a part in making decisions, both parties should be a part of the day-to-day lives of the children and that both parties should be able to put their personal differences aside to co-parent and do what is in the best interests of their children. The Court is hesitant to order “Sole Custody” except in the rarest situations. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend does NOT justify sole custody. Having a prior DWI does not usually justify sole custody. It is best to understand that the chances you will get sole custody will be very slim and you should prepare to be able to make decisions and discuss situations with the other parent in the future.
At the Law office of Leslie A. Williams we understand that the legalities of Family Matters are difficult to understand. Call to speak with Leslie and her her expert team, they can help you find the best solution to get your life back on track. If you need an experienced Family Law attorney in Blue Springs and you’re ready to start exploring your options, come into the office in Blue Springs, use our web submission form, or call today at (816) 220-1781.