Once you have had the chance to come to terms with separating from your spouse and moving forward with the divorce process, one of your first thoughts is probably, I need an attorney. Attorneys go to law school, are licensed by the state, and gain experience in their area of expertise, so they can handle everything related to your case, right? Well, in a way, yes. While a family law attorney can help you navigate through the statutes, case law, and court system, issues often arise in family law cases that should be handled and addressed by other capable professionals. In many cases, the divorce process can become a team effort to guide you through the end of your marriage and the beginning of your new life by addressing matters that are important and essential to you and your family.
Every case is different, and every client and family is different. Some people come to terms with a separation and divorce much easier than others. However, especially where there are issues of abuse or infidelity, there can be emotions and mental health issues that your attorney cannot adequately address. Family law attorneys often work with and are acquainted with counselors and therapists in your area who are trained to assist with these matters. Whether it’s the spouse or the children that are having a difficult time dealing with the fallout of the separation and divorce, a qualified therapist can assist you through the emotions that come along with this significant life event. This also allows your attorney to focus on the legal aspects of your case, while a licensed professional guides you through the emotions associated with the process. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to work with your attorney on selecting the right therapist or counselor for you.
Most people do not want to end up in a courtroom. Finalizing issues related to your separation and divorce such as custody, support, and property distribution is typically a smoother process if the parties can reach an agreement on how to resolve these claims. However, when things become contentious or complicated and you hit a wall in negotiations, your attorney may suggest that you employ the services of a mediator. The mediator is typically certified to handle family law and financial matters, and most mediators in this area are either current or former practicing family law attorneys. Most family law attorneys tend to use mediators who are experienced and have a high level of success in mediating cases. The mediator is there to be a neutral third-party who will act as a go-between for each side of the case in an effort to reach a compromise and hopefully resolve one or more of the pending issues. A successful mediator listens to both sides and finds common ground so that you have the best chance to resolve your case without having to fight it out in a courtroom.
In an equitable distribution case, which involves the division of a married couple’s estate, your once joint assets may now be divided between two individuals. So while you and your spouse may have had a plan for your future retirement or currently had money invested in various accounts, your financial status and your estate is going to most likely look significantly different following your separation and subsequent divorce. While an attorney can give you advice as to how things should be divided, and what the law allows for, it is wise to consult with a financial planner to make plans for your future after divorce and to discuss the best way to handle your various assets, liabilities, and future financial status.
Certified Public Accountants
One of the most frequent questions family law attorneys are asked is how taxes should be filed once parties are separated. While family law attorneys are familiar with issues related to the filing of taxes in general, they are not certified public accountants. Therefore, the right person to ask any questions about your taxes following a separation or divorce to make sure you get all of the right answers for you is a CPA. It’s not just a matter of whether you file “married” or “separate.” Other questions include: how will claiming the dependency exemptions for the children affect my tax filing, what is the benefit of filing a joint return even if you are separated, do you have to claim payments as income if you are receiving financial support from your former spouse, and should your withholdings be changed now that you are no longer married? Meeting with a CPA before tax time, and possibly before a final resolution is reached on your case, is advisable so that there are no surprises and you can plan in advance for any changes that need to be made.
While an attorney should be your first stop and guiding light in your separation and anticipated divorce proceedings, , they may not be the only ones there to help you. An experienced family law attorney will point you in the right direction and find other professionals who can make sure all issues related to your separation and divorce are taken care of in a timely and professional manner. If you have the right people in your village, you can come out on the other side of this process happy, knowledgeable, and ready to conquer your future.
If you have any questions about how a family law attorney can assist you, don’t hesitate to call Sodoma Law today.