Alabama Divorce & Family Law Attorney Blog

Divorcing Quietly, Wealthy or Not

Posted in Alabama Divorce

High-asset divorces are likely to make national headlines, but even average-income Americans can benefit from a “quiet divorce.”

Keeping your divorce private and handling disputes discretely can help prevent wreaking havoc on your children, extended family and your own personal life. With Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts becoming more tempting sources to “air your grievances” after a divorce, keeping your divorce private is also a smart decision to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome in court or through negotiation and settlement.
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In recent months, we have seen the divorce scandal of the “Wolf of Wall Street” unfold. The case involves a 42-year-old top-level executive of health-care banking at Jefferies & Co. and his 38-year-old wife. According to reports, the wife has been publicly trashed husband and his colleagues, alleging routine abuse of alcohol, cocaine, mushrooms, Special-K and heroin. These allegation have the potential to bring down both her husband and the investment bank.

She also made embarrassing public statements indicating her husband urinated on himself at the office party, among other unmentionable acts. As the media frenzy over the case looms, the investment banker and associated colleagues have denied all of it. The head of the investment bank has taken a leave of absence following the loss of five major clients due to the accusations. The CEO and other bankers were also subject to random drug tests, which came back clean.

It may seem like just revenge for the soon-to-be-ex-wife. The problem is that because such accusations will likely harm her husband professionally, it will hinder his ability to pay substantial support to her and her children in the future.

Divorces can inevitably get messy. You’re dealing with a storm of raw emotions, and it’s tough to keep that in check.

While some seem to have nothing to hide when it comes to divorce, others have learned it is best to divorce quietly.

The lesson for average Americans should also be clear—aggressively attacking a spouse or working to damage the public perception of a spouse during divorce may only come back to hurt you. Damaging the image of your former spouse can impact your children, his or her professional capacities and ability to pay support, as well as the courts perception of your own integrity.

Some wealthy spouses have even learned the hard way that airing grievances so substantially damages a career that it could result in a significant loss of income. In short, causing professional damage to the breadwinner is akin to “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”

As with any marriage, it is likely that you hold secrets and personal information about your spouse. While some issues such as addiction or abuse, may be necessary to disclose to protect your safety or your children, most “gossipy” and personal information is left between the couple as a divorce is resolved, either through settlement and negotiation, or at trial.

Our Birmingham divorce attorneys are committed to protecting the rights of clients from every walk of life. Whether you have significant income and significant assets, or you are middle class, in debt, or struggling to keep your family home, we can help. When making the decision to divorce, or entering in the divorce process, protect yourself and the future of your family by treating your relationship and marriage, as well as its dissolution, with discretion.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Children of High-Income Families May Be Hit Harder by Divorce, September 29, 2014, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

 

FAQs: Alabama Divorce Law and Immigrant Spouses

Posted in Uncategorized

Whether you were married in another country and immigrated to the United States, married an immigrant in the U.S. or are an immigrant who married here, your Alabama divorce is likely to be more complicated than most.

What are your rights to divorce in Alabama? Will you be deported if you do not have citizenship? How will divorce affect your children and rights to custody? These are some of the questions you may have.

Remember every divorce case is unique and should be reviewed by an experienced attorney in the U.S. Your rights and options will vary depending on your individual circumstances, including your immigration status and length of time in the country.

Will I lose status and immigration rights if I am separated or divorced?
While a legal or physical separation will generally not affect your immigration rights, your status will be changed if you decide to terminate the marriage. Immigrants whose immigration standing is based on marriage could lose their immigration status, particularly if the divorce occurs within two years.

Will I lose my H-4 status if it is based on my partner’s H-1B status?
Again, a physical or legal separation will not terminate your status. However divorcing your spouse will result in the end of your H-4 status.

How can I protect my legal status?
If your immigration is attached to a marriage, you must explore other immigration options to stay in the U.S. You may be able to seek asylum, a battered spouse exception or apply for an entirely different immigration status. You should also consult with an experienced immigration attorney if brought children to the United States and their immigration status was linked to the marriage.

Will my dependent children lose their status if we decide to divorce?
Dependent children who have H-4 status based on marriage will also result in the termination of H-4 status. Guardians of these children will have to explore other options if the immigration status was based on marriage and not a biological relationship.

How do I protect my legal status if I am a battered spouse and married to a U.S. citizen?
Battered spouses of U.S. citizens have additional protections and can maintain their status even after a divorce is finalized. To qualify, a foreign spouse must be a person of good moral character, have entered the marriage in good faith, have resided in the U.S. with a citizen spouse and been battered or subjected to cruelty by the American spouse. Battered spouses can protect their immigration status if they are divorcing to escape abuse.

How do I protect custody if I lose my immigration status?
U.S. citizens who divorce an immigrant spouse may face additional legal challenges when it comes to custody, especially if another spouse/parent wants to return to their native country. Our Birmingham family law and custody attorneys will help you explore your options and your rights. We are experienced in complex divorce, asset division, and custody cases and can help to secure the best possible outcome in your case.

Every divorce case is unique and immigrants, as well as U.S. citizens should have a clear understanding of their rights and obligations. U.S. sponsors can be held liable for financial costs to the state after divorce. Divorcing couples will also want to protect their rights to assets, income and custody of their children.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Domestic Violence in Alabama: “Enough is Enough”

Posted in Alabama Divorce

Domestic violence is a criminal matter. However, when a domestic violence victim seeks divorce, it is also necessary to consult with an experienced family law attorney.

Women (and, to a lesser extent, men), throughout Alabama have suffered from domestic abuse, including name calling, emotional abuse, hitting, slapping, choking and other forms of mental and physical intimidation and abuse. While many victims may feel abuse is shameful and that there is no way out, advocates, victims and law enforcement officials are pursuing an initiative to help women understand when “Enough is Enough.”

According to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center, there were more than 45,000 domestic abuse incidents reported in the state last year. One trigger for extreme cases of abuse, even murder, is the decision to end a relationship and pursue divorce. Women who have suffered from ongoing abuse already recognize this as true and often feel the threat is too strong to leave. If you are in an abusive relationship and considering divorce, remember there are resources available, law enforcement strategies, and other support groups to help keep you safe. Your priority is to keep yourself and your children out of harm’s way by leaving the family home.

An investigator with an Alabama domestic crimes unit reports law enforcement officials must go beyond arrests and police reports. For many law enforcement officers, domestic abuse reports require interventions and helping victims in need. After a 911 call, law enforcement officials will respond and make sure that victims are safe. Beyond that, they must also make sure that victims aren’t returned to a dangerous situation and to help keep them informed of their rights. While restraining orders can help to prevent future assaults, they are not fool proof, especially if the abuser is extremely violent or aggressive.

Domestic violence can turn deadly, especially when a victim tries to escape, end the relationship or file for divorce. For law enforcement officers, helping victims establish an escape plan is a necessary part of the job duty. Taking offenders to court is only one part of working on domestic violence cases.

Our Birmingham divorce attorneys will collaborate with officials as well as other local resources to help you get safe, protect your rights to custody, and successfully end an abusive relationship and your marriage.

For victims or their family members, it is important to have a clear understanding of your legal rights and safety options. Consulting with an experienced legal expert as well as safety advocates and law enforcement officials can help you have a safe and effective exit strategy when escaping an abusive relationship.We can help you in the early stages, even before you have disclosed the desire to leave to your spouse.

If you have suffered from repeated abuse or fear that you will be endangered if you pursue a divorce or separation, contact Alabama law enforcement immediately. Victims need to know that “enough is enough” and that they have the right to take action to protect themselves against abusers.

If you are in danger, don’t be afraid to seek out professional resources. Assistance is available by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or in Alabama please call the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence hotline at -800-650-6522.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Is Equal Parenting Time Best for Children?

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation, Alabama Child Support, Alabama Collaborative Law

Whether you are facing a contentious divorce or you are resolving your differences amicably, chances are  you and your former spouse are seeking the best parenting solution for your children. For many advocates, the idea of equal parenting time is compelling. For children, it may also seem like the best possible outcome—shared time equally between both parents. A recent analysis in the Washington Post suggests equal parenting may not be the best solution for children.

shoecarrierWhile some legislative trends have pushed equal parenting time, some child advocates are pushing back, arguing such arrangements are not necessarily the best option for children.

While colonial American law bestowed full physical custody of their children to fathers, denying divorced women any rights to their children, this common law began to shift over time. As women began to gain rights in the legal system, they also fought for the right to child custody. Men became breadwinners and women controlled the domestic sphere. As the legal and cultural landscape changed, so too did women’s custody rights. This resulted in the “tender years presumption,” which overwhelmingly favored mothers in custody cases involving young children.

As the roles of women and men continued to shift and change, courts also responded giving more equal rights to both parents at the time of divorce. Fathers’ rights groups have also intervened advocating for equal access to legal and physical custody. Rather than follow traditional presumptions or standards, courts will now base custody decisions on the “best interests of the child.”

For example, a court is likely to inquire about who did most of the care-taking, child’s school location and which parent had the greater role in the child’s life. Of course, courts will also take into consideration potentially dangerous circumstances, including abuse or addiction.

Over time, more courts granted parents shared custody, giving both parents legal and physical custody and equal parenting time. But, is this arrangement the best for children?

According to critics, the new presumption is “shared custody,” even when the arrangement does not line up with the best interests of a child. Giving parents equal custody means children often have two homes, two neighborhoods, two bedrooms and are forced to adjust to very different living situations. This may be more equitable to the parents, but it’s not necessarily better for the child.

One alternative to the “equal split” is for both parents to develop a customized parenting plan to meet their child’s needs. Our Birmingham divorce attorneys can represent your interests and help to develop a comprehensive parenting plan to best serve the needs of your children. We will help you work collaboratively with your ex to develop a comprehensive solution that meets your family’s long-term needs.

When sharing the role of parenting, it is important the agreement work through important issues, including where the child will reside, who will make important health care decisions and who will pay for what. There may be provisions for a future change in circumstances.

Whether you work toward a settlement or need a court-ordered parenting plan, our legal team can help protect your rights and the best interests of your children.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

Preparing for Child Custody Mediation in Birmingham

Posted in Alabama Child Custody & Visitation, Alabama Collaborative Law

While you may be able to get through the financial elements of a divorce, handling the future of your child custody arrangement can be emotional and stressful. Both parents will have to face the reality you will not be with your children full-time and will have to come to an agreement about a functional parenting agreement. Establishing a new schedule can be difficult for parents and children, but it is important to take advanced steps to come to an equitable and lasting compromise.

Whether you are considering divorce or have already filed, it is important to understand how the parenting schedule process will work. Some parents may be able to work toward an agreement without an intervention. Others can benefit from mediation or collaborative divorce. In some cases, a court ordered agreement is the last option. In some states, the court will order a mediation where both parents can meet with a professional counselor who can advise on establishing a parenting schedule for you and your family. The court will then consider the mediation when making custody and visitation determinations.

Every jurisdiction is unique when weighing these recommendations, so it is important to know your rights and the way mediation will be used in court.

Here are some ways you can prepare for your child custody determination:

Make your needs, concerns and desires known up front. You don’t want to go into mediation and get blindsided by a former spouse who already has a set idea and plan without your input. Before you head into mediation, consider what you want, what would work best for your children and be reasonable about potential accommodations you may have to make. Having a clear idea up front will also help you resist getting too emotional or getting distracted during the mediation.

Consult with an experienced legal advocate. Never depend on a mediator or court to protect your interests. You need independent counsel to inform you of Alabama laws as well as how a court is likely to view your case. An experienced attorney can also help you to present your position, represent your interest and give you necessary tools to succeed in mediation.

Consider working toward an independent agreement. Parents will face unique challenges when negotiating a settlement. Your children may have special needs or you may have mutual agreements about what will work best for your family. If possible, consider meeting with your former spouse – attorneys present – about your needs and concerns. There may be issues you can agree on before heading into mediation.

Remember the long-term impact. Keep in mind the family law courts and mediators are looking to establish a long-term solution for your family. Keeping an open-mind and being communicative and assertive can help you protect your rights, while also protecting the best interests of your children. While mediation can be beneficial in working toward a solution, there may come a point where intervention by a family law court is necessary. Our Birmingham child custody attorneys are available to provide support and counsel at every stage of the divorce and settlement process.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

Birmingham Divorce Challenges for Couples Over 50

Posted in Alabama Divorce

The personal, financial and emotional stresses of divorce are never easy, regardless of age. For couples facing retirement, whose children have already left the home, the stakes can be even higher. Divorcing couples who are over the age of 50 have additional financial stresses compounded by retirement demands that are more costly for individuals than couples.

According to financial experts, individuals may pay 40 to 50 percent more than a married couple for the costs of retirement. For women who have been out of the labor force most of their marriage, it can be even more challenging to re-enter the job market and have an independent income.

Planning for retirement can feel overwhelming, even for couples who are stable and financially secure. Divorce can be costly, combined with the division of assets and household goods. For couples who divorce post-50, it can be even more difficult to recover.

According to a study published by the National Center for Marriage and Family Research, one in four people who divorced in 2010 was over 50. Researchers have been amassing increasing evidence that there is a greater tendency for couples to divorce when they are older. According to the study, baby boomers have been the first generation to file divorce and remarry in such large numbers into adulthood. These numbers continue to rise as boomers enter their 50s, 60s, and 70s.

Divorce is becoming more acceptable for older adults for a number of reasons. For one, second and third marriages have always been more likely to end in divorce. Older adults are also growing more accepting as they see their friends and other family members file for divorce in their golden years. More women working means that they are less likely to stay in a dependent marriage when they can survive on their own. With longer lifespans than generations ago, Americans also have more time where they can see their marriages find a natural end.

As a growing number of persons who are approaching retirement or in retirement head for divorce, financial planning is key. Younger couples may not worry about dividing retirement plans and real estate, but these issues are critical for older adults. When a couple has significant debt, the division can be even more complicated. Unfortunately, it is often the dependent spouse who faces the most challenges, according to analysts. Employed and divorcing will still amount to benefits upon retirement, where a divorcing spouse has to develop a new plan and fight for benefits through a divorce settlement.

Whether you are facing retirement and considering divorce or you are already retired and are considering the benefits of a divorce, it is important to know your rights and options.

An experienced attorney can help you identify your priorities, fight for your legal security and financial interests and help you navigate the family law court system. Even if you are concerned about not having retirement savings, a strategic approach can help you tackle your financial future.

Our Birmingham divorce attorneys help clients from all walks of life achieve independence and security in the divorce process.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

When Alabama Was the Quickie Divorce Capitol, March 26, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed Change in NC Law, April 29, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Minimizing the Costs of Birmingham Divorce

Posted in Alabama Divorce

When making the decision to divorce, the issue of cost is a primary concern.

Of course, you will have to consider the immediate burden of paying for the divorce, including court fees, as well as long-term expenses involved in dividing a household income, moving and retirement. To minimize the substantial financial impact of your divorce, it is important to protect your rights at the outset. Proper planning with an experienced lawyer minimize the costs through the course of divorce and into the future.

Some people think they can save costs by avoiding hiring a lawyer. This is a mistake. While “expensive” doesn’t always mean “better” when it comes to family law representation, a good attorney can help save you a great deal in the end by helping you assert equitable division of assets, fair custody proceedings and reasonable support payments.

money-problemsThe costs and losses of your divorce will vary depending on how long you have been married as well as your assets, debts and income.

Families once comfortably middle-or upper-class could have face hard times after a divorce. One of the most important considerations is whether to keep the family home. Though you may feel like protecting the family home is important to your children, you must also ask yourself whether it is something you and your former spouse can really afford. More specifically, is it a cost one parent can take on alone?

Even when a divorce is agreeable to both parties and both want to move forward amicably, dividing financial responsibilities can be problematic. Untangling property, credit card debts, real estate and other assets that have accrued over time can be more than a little complicated. In addition to making plans to survive the day-to-day, you will also have to make long-term plans for retirement. Here are some tips for minimizing the immediate and long-term costs of divorce.

Set realistic expectations. It is important to look at your budget and the reality of cutting two paychecks into one. Not only will you have to look at your fixed expenses, including a mortgage or car payment, but consider how you will pay for the difference on your own. Many people are stuck paying for things they would never have been able to afford on their own. It may be necessary to cut back and determine what you can reasonably pay for after divorce.

Consider your divorce budget. Keeping the costs of divorce down means working toward solutions as quickly and amicably as possible. The more protracted your dispute, the more costly litigation can be. Remember your immediate and long-term financial goals, but don’t make any concessions that can cost you income and assets in the future. Our Birmingham asset protection and divorce attorneys can help you evaluate your budget and work towards the most affordable resolution.

Create a new financial plan. During marriage, it is likely that you and your spouse created a retirement and long-term plan together. Now you will have to reinvent your strategy with a new retirement plan and budget. During divorce, make sure that you protect your rights to retirement assets, savings and pensions. You may also need to consider going back to work or finding another income to compensation for any losses. Remember that tax liabilities will also change after divorce.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

Costly Engagement Rings Linked to Higher Divorce Rates

Posted in Alabama Divorce

With the rates of divorce hovering around 50 percent, researchers are often analyzing certain patterns and factors that can determine what will make the marriage last. Conversely, they will also look at certain common denominators in what can make a marriage fail. According to the latest from marriage research, more expensive wedding rings were linked to a greater chance of divorce.

Emory University’s Department of Economics published a recent study revealing that the splurging on a wedding ring was inversely related to the duration of the marriage. In short, the more spent on a ring, the more likely that a couple will split.

ringsoSome wedding industry experts say that a wedding ring should cost approximately two months of a man’s salary—but is this too much? Diamond company ads and slogans have conditioned couples to believe that spending exorbitant amounts on engagement rings, expensive weddings and honeymoons is the key to a successful union. Now research proves the more a couple feels they have to invest on engagement rings, the more likely  their marriage will divorce in the end.

Researchers surveyed 3,000 adults who had once been married for more than 13 years, finding that men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring were 1.3 more likely to get divorced than those who spent between $500 and $2,000.  The study also showed that couples who spent less than $500 on a ring were also more likely to divorce.

Researchers suggested wedding expenditures could be an indicator of general spending habits as well as financial stress and burdens that can carry on through the marriage. These factors are likely to raise the chances of marital dissolution, as there has already been significant research linking economic stress and divorce. Study authors also indicated couples who spent more than $20,000 on a wedding were significantly more likely to divorce than those who spent between $5,000 and $10,000. For weddings, spending less than $1,000 was associated with the lowest risk of divorce.

Factors that increased the likelihood of marital success included experiences such as attending regular religious services, having a baby and even splurging on a honeymoon. For every couple who is planning a wedding, it is important to remember the importance of the celebration is in creating a lasting union, not in having an unaffordable, lavish affair. Putting more energy into the future and lowering expectations can also help a couple form a more solid and lasting relationships.

Still, regardless of early choices, many couples will head down the path of divorce—regardless of how much they paid for the ring or the wedding.

Every couple who decides to file for divorce knows it is a highly personal decision and often comes after months, even years of agonizing the pros and cons. There is no shame in filing for divorce when you know the relationship is no longer right for you.

Our Birmingham family law attorneys are experienced in providing sound counsel and advocacy in the event of divorce. We will take the time to understand your personal concerns, identify your priorities, and help you protect your rights in the divorce process. By helping you establish your legal rights and protect your financial interests, we can help you move forward with your life after divorce.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

More Blog Entries:

Defining Equitable Distribution of Property in an Alabama Divorce, Oct. 14, 2013, Birmingham Divorce Lawyer Blog

Alabama Divorce Preparation: Compiling a Secret Divorce Fund, Sept. 25, 2013, Birmingham Collaborative Divorce Lawyer Blog

Thomas v. Thomas: On Temporary Support Orders in Divorce Cases

Posted in Alabama Divorce & Family Law Updates

The division of martial property can be one of the more complex aspects of any divorce proceeding.  In Thomas v. Thomas, a case from the Delaware Supreme Court, Husband was an independent contractor for a financial services company with an annual income of around $60,000 per year. Wife had two part-time jobs at which she earned $16,700 annually.

In March of 2012, Wife filed a motion for interim alimony.  In that motion, Wife stated that she had inherited $450,000.  The parties had agreed that Wife’s inheritance was her separate property and not part of the martial estate.  Husband argued that, while the money may not be part of the marital estate, it did mean that she was not dependent upon his support, since she had nearly $500,000 in the bank.  The court factored in the interest income of 2.2 percent from the money in Wife’s bank account and ordered Husband to pay just over $2,000 a month in spousal support. Continue Reading

In re: C.C. v. L.J.: Termination of Parental Rights Cases in Alabama

Posted in Alabama Child Support

In re: C.C. v. L.J., an appeal from the Alabama Supreme Court, deals with the very complex process a court can use to terminate the parental rights of a biological parent.  In this case, mother filed a petition with juvenile court to establish paternity of the child involved in the case.  In the same petition, mother attempted to terminate the parental rights of father.

Mother stated in her petition that father had already filed a petition with the circuit court and that court ordered a DNA test.  The DNA test established that father was the biological father of the child, but father withdrew the petition prior to the court making an official finding of paternity. Mother further alleged that father had abandoned the child. Continue Reading

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