September 14, 2022

Probate Lawyer in Knoxville, TN

Carpenter & Lewis PLLC is a firm that wants to bring their clients the best we have to offer, so that their needs are met. We don’t try to split our focus from estate planning and transactional law, that way you know we’re focused on you and your needs. 

We focus on:

  • Drafting wills.
  • Drafting trusts.
  • Settling probate estates.
  • Settling probate trusts.
  • Forming LLCs or other entities.
  • Small business law.

An Overview of Probate Law in Tennessee 

Probate is a court supervised process that can be required after someone dies. Probate gives somebody, typically the closest surviving family member, legal authority to gather the decedent’s assets, pay their debts and taxes, and transfer those assets to the people that were identified to inherit from the estate of the decedent according to the will or a court order, if there was no will. 

Probate can take six months to a year, though this can go on longer if there is a fight involving the beneficiaries of the will. This is rare, but it can happen. Having a good probate lawyer in Knoxville, TN that is focused on the probate process itself can help you better understand why such fights may occur. 

Not every asset needs to go through probate, just assets that the deceased person owned in their own name need to go through probate. Other assets pass to the new owners without oversight from the probate court. Assets going through probate court are called part of the “probate estate”. 

Some common examples of assets that aren’t part of the probate estate:

  • Property that is held in joint tenancy, such as a bank account, a home, or a car. It does not go through probate as it has a second owner, and the surviving owner retains the property outright. 
  • Property held in tenancy by the entirety, which means the person owned the real estate with their spouse, they’ll avoid probate court because ownership goes to the surviving spouse. 
  • Payable-on-death bank accounts, or POD, is a bank account that goes directly to the beneficiary of the account when the account holder dies.
  • Assets that are registered in a transfer-on-death form, this is a form that Tennessee residents can feel out and anything registered on this form are transferred directly to the beneficiary identified on the form without probate.
  • Life insurance proceeds from life insurance policies specify a beneficiary, so they do not require a probate court.
  • Retirement funds do not go through probate because the account holder has designated a beneficiary of those proceeds. 
  • Living trust assets are held in the name of a living trustee, so they do not go through probate. 

Learn More About Tennessee Probate

After a person passes away, what happens to their estate and their assets is not always clear. If they did not create a will or other type of estate plan, it may seem like their estate simply hangs in limbo. This is not the case, however, and each state, like Tennessee, has its own probate process when a person passes away without an estate plan. When a person passes away and they have a will, you can also expect their estate to go through probate, and the court will do its best to ensure the decedent’s last wishes are honored. 

What really happens after a person dies and they do not have an estate plan? 

Things can become tricky when a person passes away without a will. Although their estate goes through probate and a court makes decisions on it, the people the decedent loved and cared for the most may have no more a right to get something than another family member does. Dying without a will is known as dying intestate, and when this happens, their property will most likely pass on to their closest family member. This is often going to be their spouse or their children, including adopted children. Similarly, if the decedent was unmarried and does not have children, a court will move on to passing property to siblings and parents. This process continues until the court is unable to find other relatives. 

What is required to make a will legal? 

For a will to be legal in the state of Tennessee, you must:

  • Be 18 years or older when you are making the will
  • Be of sound mind
  • Have two witnesses to sign it in the presence of the testator and each other

In some instances, it will also be valid for a person to write a will by hand (also known as a holographic will) and it will be valid to have an oral will. It will be up to the state to accept either type of will. 

Is it possible to skip the probate process altogether? 

It is possible, and when you are considering your estate planning options, your probate lawyer in Knoxville, Tennessee may recommend you create a revocable living trust instead of a will. A revocable living trust will be able to encompass all of your estate planning needs and will thus be able to avoid the probate process. 

What, exactly, is probate?

Probate is the legal process where the estate of the person who died is actually settled. As a general rule, the more property the decedent had at the time of their death the more complex the probate process is likely to be. The rules often seem arcane and confusing to the lay person which is exactly why you may want an expert probate lawyer like Carpenter & Lewis PLLC. This is often true even though many courts in the state do not actually require you to have a probate attorney.

Reasons to have a probate lawyer

There are multiple reasons a probate lawyer is worth considering including:

  • Most of our clients tell us the probate court tends to assume you know what you’re doing and is reluctant to answer your questions. Taking on probate is assuming a large responsibility that is much more complicated than most people recognize.
  • If the family is likely to argue about how the estate is to be handled, having a probate attorney will make your life much easier.
  • Wills often use language that, from a court’s point of view, is unclear. A probate attorney may be able to help that issue get sorted out.
  • Estates with a large value often benefit from legal help.
  • If the estate involves the transfer of a business, a lawyer who knows the ropes is likely to be more than helpful.
  • When the estate results in a dispute with a creditor, having an experienced attorney on your side will often be able to help you get it sorted out quickly. If the estate can’t pay legitimate debts, an attorney representing you is likely to result in a truly fair settlement.
  • Local services, taxes and federal taxes may be involved and the right probate attorney can help you understand what is needed.
  • Real estate transfers, especially between counties and/or states may require a probate attorney.

Choosing a probate lawyer

The death of a loved one is an emotional time. This is exactly why you want a probate attorney that has deep experience handling cases like yours. They can protect your rights and interest and provide you with the balanced information you need to make good decisions.

Steve Carpenter, founder of Carpenter & Lewis PLLC, has been helping people with probate for over three decades. He states his purpose, saying, “I help families and businesses protect their assets to pass a legacy to the next generation.”

What to Look for in a Probate Lawyer to Write Your Will

It can be very daunting to start looking into the details of how to make your will, especially if you are doing it on your own and aren’t familiar with how the legal system works. However, it’s important to understand that a will is the most important document in your life, and will have a profound effect on all of those who are important to you. If you are thinking about writing your own will, here are five things to look for in a probate lawyer to write your will so that you can make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible after you pass away.

Experience

When you’re looking for a probate lawyer to write your will, you’ll want to find someone with experience. After all, this is an important document that will determine how your assets are distributed after you die. The last thing you want is for there to be any mistakes. Look for a lawyer who has been practicing law for at least five years.

Reputation

Checking a lawyer’s reputation is one of the most important things you can do when looking for legal representation. You want to be sure that the lawyer you hire is someone who is respected by their peers and has a good track record. There are a few ways to go about checking a lawyer’s reputation. You can start by asking people you know if they have any recommendations. You can also look up reviews online. Finally, you can contact your local bar association to get more information.

Transparency

One of the most important things to look for when choosing a probate lawyer is transparency. You want a lawyer who is upfront about their fees and the process. Ask around for referrals and read online reviews. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, ask each lawyer for an initial consultation. This is your chance to get a feel for the person and see if they’re someone you can trust.

Cost

Your probate lawyer should give you a flat fee for their services. This means that you will not be charged by the hour, and will know exactly how much the service will cost upfront. Additionally, your probate lawyer should be able to give you an estimate of how long the process will take.

The average cost of a probate lawyer includes a wide range depending on the complexity of your estate. It is important to note that if your estate is worth more than $1 million, you may need to hire a team of lawyers which will increase your costs.

Commitment

A good probate lawyer should be committed to helping you create the best possible will for your situation. They should take the time to understand your unique circumstances and explain the options available to you. Plus, they should be available to answer any questions you have along the way. If something happens that forces them to change their availability or schedule, they should communicate with you about it as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a probate lawyer to write a will for you, contact one at our firm today!

File Petition to Start Probate
If you are handling the final wishes of a decedent’s estate, then you will need to file certain paperwork in the county where the person had lived at the time of their death. As your probate lawyer Knoxville, TN families trust from Barry P. Goldberg can review, the paperwork will require you to be officially named as a legal executor who represents the estate. Within your petition, you’ll have to file a will, if a valid one exists, and the certificate of death. The court will schedule a day and time to approve the role of executor, or hear objections from others, and then the probate case will officially have begun. You will then be able to perform executor tasks and act on behalf of the deceased’s estate.

Inventory Assets
After filing a petition to start probate, you’ll have to give notice to beneficiaries, creditors, and heirs about the person’s passing. This is required by the court, and in some states, you may even have to publish a notice in the local newspaper. After that is done, you will move on to inventorying the assets. Gather, inventory, and get appraisals for all assets that may be subject to probate and then present them to the court, including personal effects, stocks and bonds, real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and more.

Handle Debts and Bills
By notifying creditors and other parties about the deceased’s estate, you may receive claims from creditors about debts. You’ll have to make sure that these requests are legitimate before paying them from the estate. Collect money that is owed to the estates, such as outstanding rent payments and paychecks. Review unpaid bills and other debts, and decide if they should be paid. You’ll have to make sure that the estate assets are able to cover debts before you pay them, as the state will prioritize the claims of creditors.

Distribute Remaining Assets
Once all of the above is finished, then what remains in the estate will be distributed to beneficiaries and heirs as instructed. Beneficiaries may have questions about the estate and other concerns, in which you will have to communicate with them to a reasonable degree. As your Knoxville probate lawyer can guide you through, part of being an executor of an estate means that you will have to keep a financial record of all the transactions that have been done, and you may be required to share these details with beneficiaries.

Close the Estate
Keep in mind that as the executor of someone’s assets who recently passed away, you will always have to make choices that are in the best interest of the deceased. If you are caught making decisions or using money in a way that is for your personal benefit, beneficiaries may report you and you may be removed from your role, along with other potential repercussions. After all assets have been distributed accordingly, you will send these receipts and records to the court and request for the estate to be closed, in which you will be released from the role of executor. If you need help as an executor of someone’s estate, don’t hesitate to contact our Knoxville lawyer probate team today for support.

Schedule a no-cost consultation

Carpenter & Lewis PLLC are pleased to offer you a no-cost consultation. This will allow you to get a ‘feel’ for the firm, meet with some of their staff and get your initial questions answered. Your consultation will be treated with confidentiality and you’ll recognize you’ve been talking with people who understand your situation.

Talk to your probate lawyer in Knoxville, TN today if you have questions about what goes through probate court. Carpenter & Lewis PLLC has four lawyers, with varying educations and memberships. You can find a probate lawyer Knoxville, TN that you like that suits you and your case. Every lawyer has a different background, and you might connect with a specific lawyer in the firm because of their background, and that is okay.

August 11, 2022

Applying For Social Security Disability

If you cannot work full-time due to a disability, you may be eligible for federal benefits that can help you cover your expenses. The Social Security Disability Benefits program helps to ensure that those who have paid into the program over time aren’t denied an adequate living allowance if they become suddenly disabled and are no longer able to work like they used to. Although not everyone qualifies for these benefits and the application process can be tough to navigate, it is worth your time to speak with an attorney about this opportunity if you may be eligible to collect this form of federal compensation. The strains impacting your family’s budget may be significantly reduced if you’re approved to receive SSD benefits.

Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits?

As an experienced Social Security disability lawyer – including those who practice at The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt – can explain in greater detail, the Social Security Disability benefits program is not the only federal form of compensation made available to individuals who cannot work due to physical and/or mental disabilities. As a result, you’ll want to speak with an attorney about whether you qualify for this form of compensation specifically before applying for benefits. You may or may not be eligible for this opportunity and you may or may not be eligible for alternative forms of disability-based compensation.

To qualify for SSD benefits, you’ll need to have worked a job covered by Social Security for a specific length of time and you must be diagnosed with a condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. The SSA doesn’t approve SSD benefits claims lightly, so you’ll need to be able to back up your diagnosis with significant documentation.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Apply for SSD Benefits?

While you don’t technically have to hire a lawyer to assist you in navigating the SSD benefits application process, enlisting legal help proactively is strongly advised. Why? The vast majority of initial SSD benefits applications are denied. This means that most people who submit applications for SSD benefits must wade through the appeals process if they have a hope of collecting any benefits to which they are entitled. Enlisting the support and guidance of a local attorney who devotes part of their legal practice to SSD benefits cases will better place you in a position to succeed on the merits of your application the first time you submit it.

Connect with a Knowledgeable SSD Attorney to Learn More

You may be tempted to complete the SSD benefits application process to save money. This is a completely understandable instinct. However, this is not a task in which pinching pennies upfront is likely the most responsible choice. Given the extraordinary fraction of first-time applications that are rejected, working with an attorney proactively will better ensure that you receive any benefits to which you are entitled in a timely fashion. 

August 5, 2022

Who Pays For College Expenses When Parents Are Divorced?

Family Lawyer

Family LawyerWhile it is not necessarily written into the law in every state, in many states, a divorced parent may be ordered by the court to contribute to their child’s college fund. This order is usually considered separate from child support and is sometimes addressed in the original divorce agreement the parents enter into. The following is a brief overview. For more detailed information about your particular situation, contact a family lawyer.

Court’s Discretion

In many states, the court generally has the discretion to order “sums of money” from the marital estate to go toward educational expenses for the couple’s children. Educational expenses do not mean just tuition, but may also cover textbooks, room and board, transportation costs, or any other relevant expenditure. Typically, this “support” ends when the child turns 23, although there may be exceptions for late starts. Sometimes, this is referred to as “non-minor support.”

It is important to realize that, unlike child support, there is no formula or suggested guidelines for educational expenses. Instead, it is left entirely up to the judge. While a truly outrageous request would likely be shot down by the court, any request within reason will likely stand. If you are aware of the judge’s broad discretion, however, you may be able to tailor your approach in court so as to avoid a heavy apportionment.

Act Fast to Obtain Support

Depending on the structure of your divorce decree, you may be able to enforce the contract even retroactively. If your divorce decree “reserves” discussion of such issues, you cannot enforce the college expenses provision retroactively; you must start a new claim and thus will only be able to claim expenses going forward. If your divorce decree explicitly discusses college expenses, though, you may be able to argue that the other parent can be held responsible for expenses dating back further.

There have been cases where the courts have ruled in favor of one party and other cases where the court has agreed with the other party, which is all the more reason why you should have a skilled and seasoned family lawyer representing you and advocating for your interests.

Contact a Family Law Firm

College is an expensive proposition, especially at a top-tier school, but education is the key to a bright future for any child. Nonetheless, if you are ordered to contribute to your children’s college fund, it must not be for more than you can afford. If you are having trouble with this issue, whether you are the parent seeking college expense support from the other parent or you are the parent that the support is being requested from, contact an experienced attorney, like a Des Moines, IA family lawyer from the Law Group of Iowa.

July 15, 2022

Determining The Value Of A Business In A Colorado Divorce

Divorce Lawyer Colorado

A divorce lawyer knows that asset division is by far one of the most complex parts of divorces for many couples, and this is only magnified if a family business is involved. In order to get an accurate estimation of a business’s value for purposes of the marital estate, professionals are typically consulted, but even after a value is obtained, the business can still be a bone of contention between both spouses.

How Is the Value of a Business Determined?

Depending on the nature of the business itself, there are three different types of methods used to arrive at a figure in terms of actual worth.

The first is simply listing all available assets – physical, intellectual, and personnel. This is the best approach for companies that are very young, usually those just barely making a profit.

The second is the market approach, which is most often used by valuation professionals and involves estimating future earning potential by a company’s place in the market.

The third is referred to as income valuation, and it involves estimating future potential and then adjusting downward to arrive at current values.

Who Determines Which Approach Is Best for My Situation?

Which approach works best for your business is best determined by a professional valuation expert, often an appraiser or Certified Public Accountant (CPA). A professional is best equipped to fairly and accurately assess the worth of the business, and a professional will also have the best access to all the relevant information. It is sadly common for one spouse to hide information from the other during a hostile divorce, especially if that spouse is more involved with the business than the other. Your divorce lawyer will help you determine which approach is best for your divorce case.

What Does “Goodwill” in Business Valuation Mean?

One question that can make a valuation more complex is the issue of personal and professional goodwill as a business asset. Professional goodwill is loosely defined as the tangible value of the benefits that buyers obtain when they purchase a business, such as local knowledge, experienced workers, and an established company brand. This is different from personal goodwill, which speaks more to a worker or owner’s ability to run their business and is not an asset that can be valued in tangible form.

Many states recognize personal goodwill as an asset, with multiple court decisions specifying that while enterprise or professional goodwill can outlast one person’s individual involvement in a business, personal goodwill follows a person, and will usually not stick to the business, so to speak, once that person has ceased to be affiliated with it. Thus, a discount may be assessed for personal goodwill, but not for professional goodwill, as it goes along with the business.

Contact a Family Law Firm Today

To find out what legal options there are to help you obtain the back child support you are owed, call Zweig Law, PC to speak with a dedicated Colorado divorce lawyer. Call our office today to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

July 6, 2022

Preparing to Divide Marital Property

Preparing to Divide Marital Property

Whether you have decided for sure that your marriage is over or you’re in the process of deciding whether a split would be the healthiest way forward, it is important to speak with a reputable divorce lawyer Colorado from Zweig Law, PC as soon as possible. All too often, individuals wait until they’ve officially filed for divorce to begin constructing a divorce-related legal strategy. It is important to understand that being as proactive as you can – and to be so at the earliest stage of the process as possible – will help to ensure that your divorce is not unnecessarily stressful and that you ultimately receive a fair divorce settlement.

Colorado Marital Asset Division Standards

Family court judges in the state of Colorado are bound to divide marital property according to an “equitable distribution” standard. This is an approach distinct from the “equal distribution” standard employed in many other states. In equal distribution states, the value of a couple’s marital property must be divided 50-50 with virtually no exceptions. In an equitable distribution state, marital property can be divided in whatever way is fair. Certainly, “fair” generally means that each spouse is entitled to roughly half of the marital assets in question, but this is not always the case.

It is important to keep this standard in mind as you and your spouse begin approaching the process of dividing your assets. If you are able to agree on a property division split that is fair and agreeable to you both, the court should uphold your approach. If your divorce process becomes contentious and a judge is called upon to intervene and settle your fundamental differences, they will resolve your property division question in whatever way they deem to be fair to both parties.

What Are Your Property Priorities?

Whether you suspect that you and your spouse may not be able to bridge your differences when it comes to marital property or you fully expect that you’ll be able to come to an amicable agreement without judicial intervention, you’ll want to start thinking about your property priorities now. Before you meet with the legal team at Zweig Law, PC, take some time to jot down your major marital assets and the approximate value of each. Are there any assets that you’re particularly attached or unattached to? Any that you’d be willing to fight over in court and any that you could let go of without much thought?

Constructing marital asset priorities will help our firm to build a solid asset division strategy on your behalf. No one approaches the issue of marital priorities with the exact same rationale in mind. Understanding what you want to fight for – if anything – and why will help us to advocate effectively on your behalf. Thinking these issues through can also help to inform your actions in a variety of ways as you progress through the divorce process. Connect with the compassionate legal team at Zweig Law, PC today to learn more. We look forward to speaking with you.

June 21, 2022

How to Deal with the Stress of a Divorce

When most people exchange vows, they likely don’t expect to go through a divorce later on in life. Unfortunately, however, divorce is quite common in the U.S. and can be one of the most stressful experiences a person can endure. If you’re getting a divorce from your spouse, it’s important to take good care of yourself and manage your stress.

Here are a few ways to deal with the stress of a divorce.

Eat Healthy and Exercise

When you’re dealing with something as stressful as a divorce, it’s easy to just sit around the house and eat junk food. While that might make you feel better initially, it’s not good for your health. Eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly can keep you in good physical shape and do wonders for your stress levels. Fill your diet with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins and exercise most days of the week.

Stop Focusing on the Past

During a divorce, it’s normal to feel sad, angry and resentful, especially if your ex-spouse treated you very poorly. However, that doesn’t mean that you should just focus on the past. If you do that, you won’t be able to move on with your life and become happy again. Instead, concentrate on building a better future.

Be Civil with Your Ex

If you and your ex ended things on bad terms, the thought of being civil with him or her might seem impossible. However, if you don’t keep your cool and fight over every issue, you will just create more stress for yourself. That’s why it’s best to be as civil with your ex as you can. Be polite during your interactions and try to make compromises. If you feel angry or upset, don’t contact your ex for at least 24 hours to give yourself a chance to calm down.

Hire an Experienced Divorce Lawyer

A divorce isn’t something you should go through on your own. It’s essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side. He or she will guide you through the entire process and help you make the right decisions. Your lawyer will look out for your best interests and can take a lot of your stress away. 

Talk to a Therapist

It’s normal to feel a wide range of emotions during a divorce, and it isn’t healthy to keep those emotions bottled up inside. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about your feelings with your friends or family, consider speaking to a professional therapist. A therapist can help you process your emotions and suggest healthy ways to cope.

Partake in Enjoyable Activities

Just because you’re going through a divorce, doesn’t mean that you can’t make time for fun activities. Partaking in enjoyable activities can take your mind off your divorce for a little while and reduce your stress. Whether it’s having lunch with a friend or taking a painting class, don’t hesitate to do things that you enjoy.

If you need assistance with your divorce, contact a divorce lawyer, like one from Zweig Law, PC.

May 31, 2022

What Factors Into ‘Child Custody’? 

Family Lawyer

By Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC 

To begin with, what do we mean by the term ‘child custody’? A family lawyer can explain that while the definitions and rules differ in every state in the U.S.— and clients are advised to consult with a family law attorney in their own state— there’s no such concept as ‘general custody of a child.’ Rather, there’s ‘sole’ and ‘joint’ custody, and ‘legal’ and ‘residential’ custody (at least in New Jersey). 

Let’s briefly break down what this all means: 

  • Legal custody: This type of custody grants the parent, co-parent or guardian the power to make long-term decisions about the child’s welfare, including the manner in which the child is to be raised, as well as medical and financial decisions. 
  • Residential (or physical) custody: As defined by the term, this decides where the child will reside. Will the child stay with one parent at the home they know, or move with one parent to a new home? Will the child attempt to split time equally between two co-parents’ residences?
  • Sole custody: Defined as when one parent has primary decision-making authority (as in custody) and the other parent has parenting time, which often is limited. 
  • Joint custody, which can apply to legal and/or residential custody: When both parents share decisions-making concerning their child and/or share an even fifty-fifty split of residential custody. 

Residential custody has evolved over the years; initially it was almost always determined the child would live with the mother, with the father seeing the child on weekends, holidays, vacations, which gave way to the term ‘Disneyland Dad’ (a father who swoops in on the weekend to do something fun with the child, and then returns the child to the mother for a week of schoolwork, bathing and chores), or ‘the fun parent’ (check out our blog post on ‘the fun parent’ here). Recently, however, ‘nesting’ has become a popular part of residential custody, where the children stay in the house and it is the parents who rotate in, depending upon their custody schedules and agreements, thus allowing children to be in their own environs, with their own stuff, all the time. 

What does the court take into consideration when making decisions about custody? Again, it varies from city to city, county to county, state to state, but the standard basis is, “the best interest of the child.” What is in the best interest of the child? 

Naturally divorcing co-parents may disagree about the correct or appropriate answer to the best interest standard, but factors that will shape the answer may include: 

Who is the child’s primary caregiver? Where has the child primarily resided during the life? What is the manner or style of life the child has become accustomed to? 

Other facts and questions the court may consider and ask are: are the co-parents civil? Do they communicate well? What is their divorce relationship going to look like? What is their relationship with their children like? 

More troubling topics may also emerge: is there any history of violence or physical abuse? Has either parent struggled with substance abuse? What is the stability of the home environment? Are the child’s basic needs being met? 

And, to the extent that it can determine with minors: does the child have a preference based upon reasonable, rational thought? Has the child bonded with one parent, or both parents? 

Obviously, the court’s decision is difficult, and, while guided by the laws of the state, personalized. It may also be extremely difficult for one divorcing party to accept. What we wish for you in your divorce journey— no matter where you are divorcing— is a smart, amicable divorce in which both parties can continue to be a healthy and beneficial presence in their child’s life. In other words: what is in the best interest of the child. 

If you need assistance with child custody, please consider the firm of Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC. Learn more at: https://lmllawyers.com/family-law/ and follow them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/lmllawyers

April 15, 2022

What does a family lawyer do?

Family Lawyer

If you are dealing with the end of your marriage you may be seeking a family lawyer. Divorce, child custody, alimony, and parental rights are all complex issues related to divorce cases. Every family law case is different, so it is helpful to hire an experienced family lawyer who can protect your legal interests and assert your rights under your local state laws. 

The Best Interests of the Child Standard in Family Law Cases 

The best interests of the child standard is an important concept in family law. Courts must often make decisions regarding child custody, parental rights, and visitation rights that affect where a child will attend school and with whom the child will reside for extended periods of time. These decisions must be made in accordance with the best interests of the child. 

A parent who is habitually intoxicated and endangers the child’s life may not be granted full custody because this would not be in the best interests of the child. The following factors are important when judges consider decisions that will affect the child’s life:

  • The physical and mental needs of the child 
  • The ability of the parents to provide the child with medical care, clothing, and food 
  • The emotional bond between the child, parents, siblings, and other family members 
  • The physical and mental health of the parents 
  • Whether domestic violence has occurred in the home or is occurring in the home 

The Beginning of a Divorce

The petition for the dissolution of marriage is the document that begins divorce proceedings in the state in which the marriage was licensed originally. If you want to get divorced in certain states, you may need to satisfy statutory residency requirements. First, you need to have resided in the state for at least six months. Second, you must have resided in the county where the petition for dissolution of marriage was filed for three months. 

You must wait six months and a day before your divorce proceedings are finalized. Many states are designated as no-fault divorce states. The court may dissolve the marriage if irreconcilable differences between the parties exist. Also, a single spouse can decide to end the marriage relationship even if the other spouse does not want to end the marriage. In no-fault states, when parties request divorces, they do not have to prove fault. Child support is often a contentious issue in divorce cases. Child support consists of monetary payments made by one party to another for the expenses of caring for children. Judges will examine how much time each parent spends with the child and the income of each parent. 

Community property is also another important concept regarding family law cases. Certain states are referred to as “community property” states. Any assets acquired during the marriage become both parties’ property. However, inheritances, gifts, and assets each party received before the marriage will be considered separate property. Retaining an experienced lawyer can help you understand which state-specific laws are relevant to your divorce case. 

Thanks to our friends at AttorneyBernie.Com for their expertise in the area of family law.

April 14, 2022

How to Prepare Your Children for Divorce

Family Lawyer

Divorce can be a complicated and stressful ordeal. In addition to dealing with the necessary requirements which can sometimes vary between each state, divorce takes an emotional toll on both spouses. In the case where there are children, this emotional toll can particularly be stressful. Along with figuring out child custody, there’s also the reality of needing to prepare your children for divorce. While this process is never fun or easy, there are some tips that can make the process more manageable. 

Try to Handle Things Amicably

Tensions and emotions are prone to be high between you and your spouse. There may even be issues such as infidelity that have played a factor in the divorce. However, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, children are involved. As such, trying to handle things as amicably as you can with your spouse is the best option when possible.

Only Tell Your Children When Divorce is a Sure Thing

All relationships have their fair shares of ups and downs. Couples fight and moods changes. So too can the prospect of a divorce. That’s why it’s important to only alert your children when you for sure know that the divorce is a sure thing. This doesn’t mean when you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce either. This means when the official paperwork has begun. 

Practice How You’ll Break the News 

Practice how you’ll break the news to your children. You may decide to tell your children with your spouse or not. Every child responds differently to certain situations. In the case of a divorce, younger children may not be able to process the situation. Older children, they may get angry or have a lot of questions. Be sure to break the news to your children in a safe environment as well and at a good time as well. Take into considerations factors such as their schoolwork. 

Have a Game Plan Already in Place

While you and your spouse don’t need to know every element of how the divorce will happen, it’s best to know as much as you can. This includes having a co-parenting plan drafted. This plan should include key information like living arrangements and how much time each parent will have with the kids each week. 

Reassure Them They’re Loved

Following a divorce, some children are prone to believe that they caused the divorce. Reassure your children that they’re still loved and that the divorce has nothing to deal with them. Additionally, there might be times when your children have delayed reactions. This is common. When it happens, make sure to be there. If necessary, you may even consider family counseling to help them process their emotions. 

Going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience not just for both spouses, but for children as well. While dealing with the emotional toll takes time and patience, when it comes to litigation, a family lawyer can help make the process easier. Our friends at Law Group of Iowa have experienced family lawyers ready to assist. 

April 12, 2022

4 Reasons To Call a Wrongful Death Lawyer

Wrongful Death Lawyer

When you lose someone you love, it can feel overwhelming. There is a lot to take care of such as tying up loose financial ends, paying medical expenses, overseeing the funeral arrangements and costs and so much more all of which is happening while you are grieving. You may believe the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death are questionable, but this can get lost in the chaos with so many things to do. The good news is that if justice is a priority to you, just spending a little time can go a long way in ensuring that the responsible party is held accountable. Speaking with a  wrongful death lawyer from an experienced firm like Saavedra Law Firm, PLC about your situation can help you understand your legal options. Four reasons to call a wrongful death lawyer are:


  1. You need to gather evidence. Without evidence it will be impossible to prove your case. An experienced lawyer will know what evidence to gather and how to lawfully obtain it to support your case. In some wrongful death cases, evidence can disappear if it isn’t gathered quickly. The sooner a lawyer begins working on the case, the greater chance there is that they can obtain accurate facts.

  2. Your family relied on the deceased for income. If your family relied on your loved one for income, you can seek compensation for the income they would have earned in the future had they not died. A lawyer will work with you to determine what compensation you should ask for. This isn’t necessarily the income that they earned right before they passed. The compensation amount may also include future estimated raises depending on where they were at in their careers.

  3. The costs are substantial. Death can be very expensive. There can be unpaid medical bills, financial obligations, and funeral costs on top of the daily, weekly, and monthly necessities you already pay for. The quicker you hire a lawyer, the faster they can begin working on your case, and the sooner you can get paid.

  4. You have nothing to lose. Many lawyers charge on a contingency fee basis. This means that if you don’t win your case, you do not have to pay anything. You and the lawyer will negotiate ahead of time and determine what percentage of the settlement they will receive if the judge rules in your favor or if any agreement is met in arbitration.