Top Ten Tips Regarding Divorce and Family Law

  1. Never believe your spouse or spouse’s attorney concerning your rights and the law! Your spouse’s attorney does not represent you.
  2. A modification of the divorce judgment takes longer, is more difficult to obtain, and more expensive than doing it right the first time. Even if you don’t hire me, get an attorney or at least hire an attorney to review any paperwork on your behalf.
  3. Never accept an agreement for child support that is not entered as an order or judgment of the court. An agreement outside the court cannot be enforced by the court and usually ends up not being paid by the person offering it. It is a tactic often used to delay financial responsibility as you will then need to file for divorce or support to get an enforceable order.
  4. The best interests of the child are always the court’s foremost interest, but a judge has limited time and ability to explore the facts in a motion session. If you are seeking to prevent visitation, you need every bit of supporting information to back up your claim. Simply telling the judge that the other party drinks too much will not do. You need evidence such as DCF reports, past criminal complaints, restraining orders, doctor’s notes, and school records, etc. If you anticipate or discover your spouse is untruthful in their financial disclosures, have the employment records subpoenaed to court prior to the hearing.
  5. Planning your day in court is key. You must know what arguments you are going to present and gather the supporting evidence. A case strategy is an absolute must.
  6. The court will impose a child support and health insurance benefit based on the child support guidelines in all cases involving children, unless specific facts and findings are entered by the judge regarding the obligation—joint custody does not mean child support will not be entered; rather, each side completes a guidelines worksheet and the difference is paid to the spouse earning less.
  7. If your spouse has mentioned divorce, watch your joint accounts. In almost every case, the filing spouse has already drained the bank accounts before filing the divorce. While the assets will be divided, the court will often not account for the withdrawals until entry of judgment which could be over a year later.
  8. A modification of child support can be done either every few years, when the oldest child has turned thirteen, or when there has been a 20% change in income between the parties since the prior judgment.
  9. Parties that work under the table and fabricate their financial statements can be caught so never lie and if a party is lying, chances are a good that an attorney can and will be able to prove it. For example, I generally find out where they purchased a vehicle or financed an item so I can obtain the financial documents where they list their income for purposes of getting the loan.
  10. If a party wants to challenge paternity and loses, that party will pay for the paternity test.

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