If Your Divorce Lawyer Tells You What You Want to Hear, You Already Lost

Val KleymanVal Kleyman, Esq., a New York divorce lawyer with the The Kleyman Law Firm and a National Advocates Top 30 Matrimonial and Family Law member, announced today that the number one rule for divorce lawyers is to tell their clients the hard truth about divorce even though it may be difficult for them to hear it and may push them away. “Having to tell your client that divorce may devastate them emotionally and financially, that their actions hurt their own children, or that they are acting without reason or logic is very difficult for someone to hear,” says Kleyman. Yet, Kleyman says this necessary dose of harsh reality is absolutely crucial from the very early stages of divorce to help couples understand the potential setbacks and collateral damage a prolonged and acrimonious divorce process can cause them and their loved ones. “We find our clients driven by strong negative feelings of hate, empathy, and selfishness,” Kleyman says, “but letting these powerful emotions take the steering wheel of a divorce will likely lead to a very unfavorable outcome for everyone involved.” At the same time, while guiding your clients towards a peaceful and cooperative resolution certainly will decrease the amount of time a divorce will take, it will also reduce the billable hours and income a divorce attorney can earn – which explains why some lawyers choose to stoke those emotional fires.  Kleyman believes that divorce lawyers must pursue a higher calling and put their clients and their families above the lawyer’s own business interests on every case. In service of this higher calling, The Kleyman Law Firm is actively participating in and supports the Matrimonial Mediation Pilot Program in Brooklyn developed by Judge Jeffrey Sunshine, Supervising Matrimonial Judge for Kings County. This program provides divorcing couples the opportunity to sit at a table with a neutral mediator to try to settle their disputes – a much faster and less costly process than pursuing extensive litigation. “Telling divorcing clients what they want to hear may benefit you financially as a lawyer. Telling them the truth, however, no matter how difficult it may be, will absolutely benefit them,” says Kleyman, “and that is what we are here to do.”

5 divorce mistakes that can cost you

ntl, national advocates, aaj, atla, divorce, family lawUnless you’ve been through a divorce before, going through the divorce process can be a bewildering move into the unknown. Mistakes may be inevitable, but some mistakes can cost you more than others, says financial planner Liz Weston. She tells the Associated Press that there are at least five divorce mistakes that can can be costly, and she offers advice on how to avoid them. Read her list of five costly divorce mistakes here. More divorce advice is also available at NerdWallet. 

Don’t Rush Into A December Divorce For Tax Reasons

cash moneyNobody likes to rush in a divorce, but frequently things happen that may make a couple want to get it done more quickly than usual. This year, the reason may be taxes for some couples.  Since 1942, the person paying alimony got to take payments off of their income and the person receiving it had to declare alimony as income. This all will change with any divorce finalized on or after Jan. 1, 2019. After this date, neither party’s income will be adjusted for paying or receiving alimony. Lawyers are expecting December to be a busy month for divorces due to the change.  Any case settled before the end of the year will continue to follow the old rule. But that is not as important as taking your time to make sure everything about the divorce is properly handled. “The few dollars somebody may or may not save on their tax bill is not a reason to rush a divorce proceeding,” says Pegotty Cooper, co-founder of Divorce Coaching Inc., (www.certifieddivorcecoach.com), which both provides divorce coaching and trains divorce coaches.  “Frequently, in complicated divorces, issues surface halfway through the proceeding that will take time to investigate.” Cooper, a co-author of Taking the High Road in Divorce – Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce, said it is in the best interest of both parties to focus on the divorce and make sure everything is done properly instead of trying to meet artificially induced deadlines. Cooper offers the following tips for those about to enter divorce proceedings:
  • Don’t forget who the decision makers are. The decision maker in the proceeding is not the judge or your attorney – it is you. More than 90 percent of cases never make it to trial, so don’t think the judge necessarily will set all the issues straight.
  • “My way or the highway” is the wrong attitude. Taking this attitude will be more costly, emotionally draining and time-consuming than you realize. The only one that will benefit is your attorney, who will rack up legal bills fighting tooth and nail for everything instead of negotiating.
  • Don’t throw in the towel. You may want to quit early in the divorce proceedings just to get it over with. This may result in forgetting about important things that you wanted to be resolved.
  • Don’t bet the farm on another relationship. Don’t give up on negotiating just because you have met somebody new and you want to end the divorce as quickly as possible.  Your focus should be on ironing out the details of an equitable agreement with your spouse, no matter how long it takes.
“While it may be uncomfortable and even distressing to go through a divorce,” Cooper says, “it is rarely a good idea to try to speed up the process.”  

Legal terms for divorcees

divorceThe rate of divorce may be declining, but those seeking to split up may have little to no experience with the legal system. Couples filing for divorce may be unfamiliar with the legal terminology that they’ll need to know as they navigate the process. Understanding the legalese they’ll be facing can help them be better informed and make better decisions. Glamour has created an A-to-Z list of legal terms for divorcees that you can find here. 

What Is A Divorce Coach And Why Do You Need One?

divorceIt used to be a coach was just somebody who helped you get better at a sport.  But these days there are all types of coaches – physical fitness coaches, life coaches, marriage coaches, relationship coaches – and even divorce coaches. You may need an attorney to get divorced, but do you really need a divorce coach?  It turns out that it’s possible you do – but don’t confuse a divorce coach with an attorney. “The goal of a divorce coach is to try to make the divorce as smooth and painless as possible,”  says Pegotty Cooper, co-founder of Divorce Coaching Inc., (www.certifieddivorcecoach.com), which both provides divorce coaching and trains divorce coaches.  “Attorneys are the only ones who can provide legal advice or advise a client about their rights.” Cooper, a co-author of Taking the High Road in Divorce – Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce, says divorce coaches and divorce attorneys do work together, however. One of the goals of the divorce coach is to help the client prepare to meet with the divorce attorney, including helping the client get all the paperwork together that will be required.  The divorce coach also works with the client to develop ways to make the divorce as painless as possible. Divorce coaches can help their clients build self-confidence, and provide them with the tools they need to effectively communicate with everyone involved in the process, Cooper says. She offers these reasons why a divorce coach is so key to a successful divorce:
  • There are many issues to resolve.  The coach can help the client navigate through the details of those decisions.
  • The divorce is complicated. Sometimes in complicated divorces, a spouse just doesn’t know where to start.  A divorce coach can help the client go through the issues and organize them.
  • Money is limited.  By making sure the client is organized and has all the relevant paperwork, meeting with the attorney is more efficient.
  • Emotional support. The divorce coach can offer emotional support to a spouse who may be overwhelmed and not ready to tackle all the painful issues of the divorce.  This is especially true for people trying to tackle their divorce alone.
“A personal divorce coach can help build your self-confidence, and provide you with tools on how to effectively communicate with your spouse,” Cooper says.  “Divorces are huge emotional events, and sometimes friends and relatives mean well but they will push people in the wrong direction.  A professional and caring divorce coach can reduce the stress and help the person get on with their life.’

How to prepare for a divorce

divorceWhile making the decision to get a divorce can be heartbreaking and difficult, there are some things a person should do to prepare themselves for the process. One of the many things to consider is the impact divorce will have on your finances. HuffPost talked to five divorce attorneys for some tips on how to prepare to protect your assets in a divorce. They include knowing your assets, creating a budget, looking for an attorney (of course) and more. 

Who gets the dog in the divorce?

SmokeyWhen marriages fail, two people who were once in love can find themselves skirmishing over seemingly insignificant and petty things. But one possession can stir the same sort of feelings one has for his or her children: pets. According to HuffPost, only two states, Alaska and Illinois, don’t see pets as property that could potentially be sold in a divorce. Fighting over who gets the dog, cat or other pet can be as intense and divisive as any other divorce-related disagreement. And if the two sides can’t agree, a judge may decide who gets the pets and when the other ex can visit them. Read more about how these sometimes petty problems get solved at HuffPost.

New California non-profit wants to help family courts work better for families

divorceBudget cuts, outdated procedures, and unrealized reforms have left families using the California family courts system suffering unnecessarily both financially and emotionally. For a decade, strong recommendations for fundamental change in the family law system have gone unrealized. Family Justice Advocates in Action is providing needed support to help make those reforms a reality. “As hard as our family courts work they don’t have the resources a state like California should have to properly serve the families going through what can be an emotionally and financially draining process. Our families are our most precious resource.  To help protect that resource, we are working to support the courts and families so their emotional and financial exposure is limited and they can move on with their lives,” says Family Justice Advocates In Action Founder and Board Member Jennifer Moores. Family Justice Advocates in Action is working to ensure equal access to justice within the family court system for all families, increase the focus on child safety and to make navigating the legal system easier and more effective.  Among the issues impeding equal access to justice and child safety is the reality that many families cannot afford to pay for court reporters in their proceedings.  Without a court reporter there is no transcript of the proceeding, and this can cause errors, delays and the prolonging of proceedings.  This both increases the costs to families going through the family court process, and can significantly delay or defer court orders for child custody, visitation or support. A verbatim record is especially critical when an individual is appealing their case. Under current law, the appeal, in many cases, will be dismissed or denied without the reporter’s transcript. An independent 2013 survey by the Judiciary Committee showed that court reporter services were no longer provided for 30 out of 58 trial courts in California that deal with civil, family and probate proceedings. In those courts, the people involved in the case must now pay the substantial cost of hiring a private court reporter so they can have an official record of the court proceedings. The inability of a family to pay for a court reporter should not be a reason they lack access to due process, justice and ultimately to safety. Family Justice Advocates In Action is supporting the California Assembly and Senate budget proposals that include funding for court reporters. Providing equal access to justice and focusing on child safety and well-being must be a top priority. To learn more about Family Justice Advocates in Action’s mission, go to www.fjaia.org or their Facebook page www.facebook.com/FamilyJusticeAdvocatesInAction/.

Podcast: Love and divorce edition

divorceThe state of the marriage union is discussed by two top Chicago-area family lawyers in this podcast from The Chicago Bar Association on the Legal Talk Network featuring Miles N. Beermann and Kimberly Cook. Hosts Jon Amarilio and Jennifer Byrne ask about the current state of marriage and divorce in America, as well as their guests’ experiences on the front lines of this contentious area of the law. Beermann and Cook also talk about how they might have handled some high-profile celebrity divorces.

Not all assets are equal in a divorce

divorceDivorce can take a terrible toll on those who choose to end a marriage. But making financial missteps during the process can make matters even worse in the long run. Depending on how intertwined your finances are, you may want to hire a financial advisor as well as a family law attorney to help guide you through the process of unwinding your marital assets. CNBC has a list of five financial mistakes you’ll want to avoid if you’re going through a financially-complicated divorce.