Birmingham Divorce Attorney: 4 Tips For Trial Day

Tips for Trial

Divorce in the Magic City isn’t necessarily magical. Give us a call for an initial consult at 205-582-2832.

You’ve been waiting for this day for months, maybe years. You are going to trial. You show up with your posse. Everyone is ready to go! You’ve had your coffee and you’re wearing your smarty pants – you are READY TO GO. You have read through your notes. You’ve been up since 4am. It is time to start the show. Your attorney has explained that the docket is rather long, and that you may not get to go that day. You figure that you’ve waited long enough so you take that with a grain of salt (and maybe a tequila shot – please don’t). You go in for the docket call and realize you’re pretty low on the food chain. Some of the cases here have been waiting for three years! So, what now?

Follow these Tips for Trial:

1. Bring a book, a few magazines, or something to occupy yourself.

Here’s the thing: divorce, court, the entire process is rather slow. You think that once you get to trial (or just simply, court) that things will speed up? Not going to happen. The judges’ dockets are so full they usually make the lawyers go talk. That means that we will have to go talk to the other lawyer, who has to talk to their client. Then that lawyer comes back with an offer. We have to take that offer to you, and then come back to them. It’s a lot of volleying back and forth. Sometimes both lawyers have multiple cases so this process is happening over and over again. Your lawyer has been pounding the marble (would say pavement but not in courthouses) trying to keep up with the other attorney. Sometimes the Judge will call us and make us explain to them why we’re having issues settling. There is a lot going on behind the scenes. This is very upsetting to some clients as all they want to do is “see the judge”, but it is how things are done. Judges don’t want a five day trial of “he said- she said” if it can be avoided.

2. Leave most of the friends at home.

Friends love you and they want to be supportive, but there are only so many times that they can take off work to help you talk ___ about your ex. If you need emotional support from your friends or family members, pick a couple and leave the rest. A lot of times those helpful emotionally supportive friends can insert their opinions when they aren’t needed. Sometimes they can conflict what your lawyer is trying to help you do because they’re angry. They merely want the other person to suffer, and they don’t know the law. Sometimes they will beg the two of you to reconcile. Also, on days when there’s a lot going on behind the scenes, they may start blessing you with their own worries. Choose the team wisely, and make sure they’re supportive and minimum drama.

3. Bring a jacket & a snack.

It’s pretty cold in the conference rooms. Negotiating can last hours. Your nervous jitters may give way to hangry times. Make sure that you have the necessities. When it comes to our tips for trial – this one takes the cake. Seriously.

Tips for Trial

Bring a Snack: One of our 4 Trial Tips in this blog… you’ll need it.

4. Don’t sign a settlement just because you want to leave.

I feel like settlement negotiations can imitate police interrogations. You are cold, hungry (unless you followed our advice), and ready to get this DONE. You are presented with a few offers, and you’re not happy. Then you start to realize that you’ve wasted your entire day. You feel like maybe you should simply sign and walk away. You’ll forego some of what you want BUT YOU ARE FREE TO GO EAT AND WARM UP AND RELAX… Just think before you agree. There are no “takes-backsies” after you sign. You probably should think it through and contemplate how you’ll feel the next day. Don’t let the uncomfortable nature of negotiation and court looming in the background to cause you years of unhappiness.

4 Points On Standard Visitation Schedules

Looking to get more than a step visitation schedule? Afraid you won't get it because you're "not the mama"? Give us a call at 205-582-2832

Looking to get more than a step visitation schedule? Afraid you won’t get it because you’re “not the mama”? Give us a call at 205-582-2832

DISCLAIMER: We do not feel that we will take either side. Each case is evaluated on a case by case basis. We have simply seen that there are good fathers being disadvantaged due to the mere fact that they are the father and not the mother. This post is not intended to offend anyone in particular, but merely to give light to a way to fix a long standing issue.

Couple 1: Princess and Michael met in a bar one night. He had a hard day at work, and she was everything just right for that night. He was a little intoxicated. They ended up going home together where they inevitably made a baby. They continue to text each other from time to time. For months neither of them knows that Princess is pregnant. She continues to go out drinking, and takes different guys home. She works at a local strip club, and when times are tight, she sometimes gives the customers a little extra sum’n sum’n to get a bigger tip. They go on a few dates, but Princess has a different type of life than Michael who works an office job each and every day until 5. She has the baby, and has a new guy at this time, so she doesn’t tell Michael. When he eventually finds out via Instagram a year or so later (#wheresmychildsupport #wheresmaurywhenyouneedhim #19years19yearsandonthe19thbirthdayfoundoutitwasnthis) he immediately files for custody. He goes to court, and sits next to the other unwed couples awaiting to find out if this is his child. Turns out that Kleverleigh Un-Xpected does in fact belong to him. He, the working father, with no previous drug issues and nothing on his record, gets supervised visitation until the child is 3.

Couple 2: Claire and Robbie are childhood sweethearts. They get married in a small town on the outskirts of hunting territory and nowheresville. BAM, they’ve got six kids. She stays home, and he works to provide for the family. He’s always been involved with the kids. He comes home each night to take each of them to their various hobbies whether it be ninja ballet or laser tag football training camp. He bathes them, puts them to bed, and reads them their favorite stories. He goes to every single recital or game. Eventually the long hours to help feed all the little mouths begins to take a toll on the marriage. They decide to get a divorce. Robbie goes into the courtroom and realizes quickly that he’s getting supervised visits with two of his kids until they’re three and the rest? He gets them for every other weekend.

Couple 3: Claire and Robbie are childhood sweethearts. Instead of staying in that small town, they decide to move to a bigger city in the biggest county in the state. Again, Robbie’s always been involved with the kids. (Same facts as #2). They decide to get a divorce. Robbie gets joint custody.

Couple 4: Claire and Robbie are childhood sweethearts. He beats her/He does a lot of drugs/He partakes in child torture. He loses custody and gets supervised visitation. He blames the system and her for losing custody and having supervised visitation. He doesn’t understand why she won’t modify the agreement to give him more time with his kid. (This is the exception, and these are the ones that waste the mother’s money with modifications because they’ve gone to one or two counseling sessions or AA meetings and expect to get unsupervised visits with their children).

Obviously looking at the above situations, one could see why lawyers everywhere have to say to you that it depends on the judge, on the court, or on the situation for whether or not you will get custody. Your lawyer may be the type who doesn’t care to learn what each judge thinks regarding visitation and just encourages the ancient schedule to push settlement along, as well as your case. Sometimes you’re just on an assembly line with little thought being given to your case. The problem that we keep seeing at our firm is that there are good and loving fathers with no history of drug or alcohol abuse, nor any child abuse issues, who come into our office after they’ve signed an agreement that “grants” them the ancient step schedule where it gives the father a certain amount of time with the child depending on the child’s age such as (and they aren’t this “simple”):

ages 1-3: supervised visits for a few hours

Ages 3-5: one night every other weekend

Ages 5+: every other weekend

Here’s the short of it:

  1. A marriage makes a huge difference when it comes to custody, even in the best of counties. The difference between married parents and unmarried parents can make or break a custody case for the father of the child. It can put you into a different courthouse with a whole different set of rules. These rules normally point to the step visitation schedules mentioned above. If you are married, then you definitely need to know your rights before you sign them away. Further, you need to find out how your Judge feels about Fathers. If you are unmarried, please look to #4 then continue reading and read #4 again.
  2. Are these step visitation schedules based on age compliant with Alabama law? We would argue no. These types of visitation schedules that automatically increase without requiring proof of a material change in circumstances have been deemed to be improper in divorce cases where the parties agree to a modification based only on time without any material change in circumstances to justify the modification. These step visitation schedules, just like the cases allowing for a modification after a mere passage of time, have the same issue in that there would be no reason other than the child’s inevitable aging that would indicate that a change in visitation is justified. In Long v. Long, where unsupervised visitation was automatically changed to supervised visitation, the Court stated that the “evidence did not support modification of child custody after six months from supervised visitation to unsupervised visitation, as trial court did not impose any conditions or obligations on noncustodial parent to fulfill during six months, there was no evidence to indicate that there would be any change of circumstances or conditions to warrant modification after six months, and there was no basis to determine future events.” Long v. Long, 781 So. 2d 225 (Ala. Civ. App. 2000). So, does this mean that these step schedules have made it so that fathers have supervised visitation forever? Well, that just seems like a disaster, but maybe… In that case, are these schedules justified in making all visitation with the father supervised… FOREVER? Well, that seems like poppycock. It has been stated that restrictions such as this are deemed okay “only when necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the child. A juvenile court exceeds its discretion, however, when it imposes an overbroad restriction on visitation that does more than is necessary to protect the child and thereby unduly infringes on the parent-child relationship.” Pratt v. Pratt, 56 So.3d 638, 641 (Ala.Civ.App.2010). B.O. v. Jefferson County Dept. of Human Resources, 70 So. 3d 1286, 1291 (Ala. Civ. App. 2011). So tell me why these fathers have to have supervised visitation with the children if their only discretion is that they are not the mother?!
  3. Are men less capable of taking care of their children? Yes, SOME men are. Just as some women are less capable of taking care of their children as well. There are tons of cases such as Couple # 4 in which the father OR THE MOTHER go to yet another rehab program/counseling session/child abuse program and they think they’re suddenly parent of the year. However, looking at just a man versus a woman with no other facts doesn’t really seem like a good way to determine custody. Isn’t deciding something based on genitalia and/or gender called something— wait, what is that word? Oh, yeah: sexual discrimination. Isn’t there also something in the Constitution of the United States that deals with this type of law making? Pretty sure there’s that whole Equal Protection Clause thing…
  4. Should men just take the abuse and settle out of court because they won’t change the law anyways? No! It’s time to take a stand. Fight for your children. Find a lawyer who knows the courts and the judges in your county. Pay attention when you’re on the assembly line of cases. Don’t just be a case in a line of cases that the lawyer is going to throw some settlement talk at you and make you settle so they get paid and they can move on to the next case. Also, don’t take her word for it. Unless she is your lawyer and is not your baby momma, then you should not believe what she has to say. Wouldn’t you tell her what you think would make her give up the fight and give you want you want? You wouldn’t? Well, that’s nice of you… but custody battles aren’t nice.

Birmingham Divorce Attorneys: 5 Facts about Divorce in Birmingham (The Magic City)

Divorce in the Magic City isn't necessarily magical. Give us a call for an initial consult at 205-582-2832.

Divorce in the Magic City isn’t necessarily magical. Give us a call for an initial consult at 205-582-2832.

Sometimes in the Magic City couples lose the “magic” in their relationship. They no longer feel the way they once used to, leading to a very expensive fight. Maybe financial problems have torn them apart. Perhaps, it was a vice of some sort like alcohol, marijuana, heroin, excessive brownie intake, or even strippers. Regardless of the core reason that caused the dissolution, those people inevitably have to figure out the best way to split up everything without destroying themselves in the process. They begin googling divorce, child custody, and alimony (we’ve even seen the term “aliMONEY” in our google analytics) and start asking friends for advice. Then they start the divorce process highly educated in a variety of jurisdiction’s principles. They fail to realize that even one county away divorce is vastly different than the Magic City.  Sadly, they’re in for a rude awakening when they begin filing things and visiting with attorneys. Here’s a few facts about getting divorced in Birmingham to help you along the way:

  1. There are thousands of attorneys in the Birmingham area. A large portion of these attorneys handle domestic cases regardless of whether they are truly capable of doing so or not. Since the true nature of domestic or matrimonial law is fact based and ever changing, there are numerous lawyers who thrive in that gray and hide behind the safety of the statement “there’s no guarantee of a good outcome.” Ever since the criminal appointment system in Birmingham dissipated, lawyers who only practiced criminal law are now jumping into the domestic arena with little or no experience. There are lawyers everywhere who practice “threshold law,” meaning they’ll take anything that pays the bills. This has led to an increase in fees because domestic attorneys are forced to either teach the other side what they need to do to make this process move smoothly or deal with the incompetence of the other side. The pleadings and negotiating go downhill. The trials are flooded with nonsensical mess. Just because you found an attorney, doesn’t mean they do what you need. Would you go to an allergist to solve your heart problem?
  2. As the General of your army, you need to make the proper decision in regards to choosing an attorney right for you. The large amount of attorneys in this area comes with a large variety of attorneys you can choose from. If you are simply googling, you’ll get the people who pay the most for search engine optimization. This doesn’t mean you’re getting an attorney who is right for you. There are a few of those attorneys who will bleed you dry and send you on your way. How do you think they pay to be #1 on Google? If you have a complicated custody issue, look for an attorney that focuses on custody. Many lawyers advertise custody but have never been a Guardian Ad Litem. Ask your lawyer directly what they think an ideal custody situation is. If they are giving you what you want to hear, you know they aren’t looking out for your children first. If you have a high asset divorce, don’t just look for someone who advertises high asset divorces because sometimes…that’s just code for “clients that can afford to pay me.” Do your own research and NEVER hire someone who lists another area of law as their primary area of practice. You may save money at first, but you’ll end up having to hire someone else to clean up what they didn’t understand later.
  3. You could be waiting at least a year for your day in court. Just because you’re wanting to duke this out in court doesn’t mean that you’ll be in court in the next couple of months. Jefferson County is flooded with divorce cases, and don’t get me started on modifications. Sometimes it takes three months to get a Final Order on an Uncontested Divorce. You have to be patient, and you need someone who knows realistic time expectations, especially when it comes to which Judge is assigned to your case. You are in the largest county in the state. What does that mean? Larger numbers of people flooding the court system.
  4. Stop assuming that the mother is always getting custody, child support, and alimony. There are some counties where this is a guarantee. This is not one of them. Once again, this depends on your judge, but as a woman do not go in there expecting to win everything simply because you are a woman. As a man, stop giving up everything because you expect that to happen. This is not 1950. If it were, my outfits would be so much cuter. Also, people would never think it was okay to wear jeans to court. It’s not okay to wear jeans to court. Please, if you’re my client, do not ever wear jeans to court.
  5. There are two divisions for Jefferson County and so
    Your family's law firm. 205-582-2832

    We love the Magic City so much, we put in our firm’s name. We want to be your family’s law firm in the Magic City. 205-582-2832

     

    many courthouses. There is not just one almighty courthouse downtown like most counties in the state of Alabama. Jefferson County separates its domestic courts from the civil court, family court, and the criminal court. They even have another Bessemer Division that handle cases in the Bessemer area. The odds of getting lost without proper guidance are pretty good. Make sure your lawyer informs you of where and when to show up to court.

5 Ways You Can Help Us Help You

It’s thirty minutes after trial has ended. The client looks over at her attorney and mutters, “I had witnesses that could have testified to all of that. Why are they saying it’s only my word against his? I have letters, emails, text messages, and even recorded phone calls that can prove what I just testified to! He was lying too. I can prove that in a heartbeat. Look, I’ve got his mistress on speed dial and she said she’d testify to him paying her in diamonds. She said she’d tell the Judge he’d make it rain with diamonds while she was naked on the bed! I even have pictures in my glove compartment to prove that they were doing all this, and a video in my backpack. Oh, and she’s only 16.”  The lawyer, who has been prepping for this case for months, worried about no evidence, worked with her client over testimony, is absolutely flabbergasted.

After all this time prepping, talking to the client each and every day, could her client not mention any of this? Was she not listening when her client told her that her ex husband was making it rain with diamonds? There’s absolutely no way. That is something she would surely remember. It comes down to this simple fact: clients keep things from their lawyers. They don’t tell us everything. Okay, the good ones tell us a lot and help us prepare for trial. The ones that keep things from us are the ones that don’t always win their trial because we were missing proof that could’ve helped them. I almost want to say “Well, too little too late.” I don’t though. Instead I think of every way I can to help them tell me what will help them. Which brings us to this:

  1. If you think it could help your case, then help us help you. Don’t keep anything
    5 Ways You Can Help Us Help You!!!

    5 Ways You Can Help Us Help You!!!

    from your lawyer. (There are exceptions to this when it comes to criminal cases.) We suggest that you keep a diary. Write everything down. We don’t have to be phone pals, talking each and every day, but we want to know what’s important. If he is playing “Pretty Pretty Princess” with his mistress, then write it down and bring us proof if you have it! If you want to keep your bill down, then write short little notes to help you remember or to give to us to review. You don’t have to be our pen pal just to keep us informed, but you must tell us. If we were mind readers, we’d all be billionaires.

  2. Don’t wait to tell us. Write it all down immediately and let us know WAY before trial. If there is Discovery that is due, it might be a good idea to tell us before we do all of that. In order for us to fully prepare, we need ALL your information before the other side gets it. We need to know the good and the bad of our clients, so we are fully prepared to go to trial.
  3. If you have evidence, stop telling us about it and give it to us. There’s only so much that words can do. Clients can talk a lot of talk, but when it comes to proving their case, they often fall short. Bring us the bacon… or… uh… the smoking gun? We had a client bring us her husband’s lover’s prescription meds boxes and hair out of her shower drain that didn’t match her or her husband’s. Is this gross? Sure, a little, but at least she could prove that girl was in her home and using her shower. If you find naked photos or love letters, bring them to us. We don’t want you to describe them to us.
  4. Do not hold on to past criminal acts to use against your ex at the last minute. It doesn’t look good for our case. You cannot simply throw mud back and forth when you’re holding onto a time bomb. If you don’t want to use it against them, then by all means, do not use it against them. If you get angry enough to use it against them, it shouldn’t be at the end of the case. You either try to be nice and stay that way, or you bring it up fast. You should tell your lawyer about this time bomb before it is ready to explode. The last thing we want to do after negotiating a visitation schedule for four weeks is to then say, oh never mind, she’s been having an affair with a student at school for the past year. The Judge’s reaction if that comes out after multiple hearings will not only be disbelief but distrust.
  5. Just communicate. We know when it comes to lawyers that talk isn’t cheap. However, if you don’t talk to us because you fear the money implications of it all, then you end up only cheating yourself. Be effective by keeping a diary. Come in for short meetings where you stay on track telling us the high notes. Don’t call every day, but call and keep us informed. Make and keep appointments. Get us evidence without us having to work extra hard for it. Call your witnesses and talk to them before we do so they know what to expect. Be open with everyone, and your case will be economically efficient for you and time efficient for your attorney!

Birmingham Divorce Attorneys: 3 Times You Should Let Your Lawyer Be “The Bad Guy.”

No one wants to be the bad guy. No one wants to be the one who raises the stakes until it’s past the boiling point. Everyone dreams of having a happy ending even in a divorce. The truth of it all is that the happiest and the fairest agreements of all are usually the ones where no one is happy. There’s so much give and take that those who want to be nice end up giving up everything just to be nice or to get the situation over with for once and all. Is that fair? What happens when the story is over and you’re left with an ending that’s the equivalent to Two and A Half Men’s Series Finale? Or Dexter’s? You should’ve listened to your lawyer. Here’s 3 times that you should listen to your lawyer and let her be the bad guy (or girl… like Cat Woman – who doesn’t love Cat Woman?!)

Give us a call TODAY at 205-582-2832, and we'll help you figure out when it's good to be bad in your case.

Give us a call TODAY at 205-582-2832, and we’ll help you figure out when it’s good to be bad in your case.

  1. If we say it’s a bad agreement, it is. We’re not greedy. (Haha, okay, some lawyers really are very greedy, but they don’t normally advise you not to settle just to get more money. Normally the greedy ones will start unnecessary filings left and right to deplete your retainer before negotiations even begin.) We’re not going to lead you into pointless fighting that you’ll lose if we go to court. We are looking at our experience, case law, similar cases our colleagues have had. We typically know which way the court sways. If we say multiple times that it’s not a good agreement, but take it if you want to take it. That’s not us blowing smoke. That is a warning that you are being a push over.
  2. If we say to record conversations, we’re not doing it just for our amusement. He said, she said. That’s just how that goes. There’s countless times when people say that their ex is badgering them or saying these terrible threats, but they have no proof. There’s no witness because the other person is smart and cunning. The bad guy always is. The other person waits until no one else is around and cuts you down. You are left tattling later with no proof on your side. Then that same cunning devil, well, he/she gets to get up on the stand and lie their way out of trouble.
  3. Unleash the dragon. Sometimes it’s okay to blame your lawyer. You can use us as a scapegoat left and right. We don’t mind. We’re accustomed to being hated. If you’re going to court, there’s conflict. Maybe you want to be able to have a decent custody exchange so you don’t want to admit that you’re the one pushing for a little more alimony. It’s perfectly fine to say that your lawyer is pushing you into asking for more. If we minded so much, do you think there would be so many lawyer jokes in existence? We think they’re funny too. Let us be the mean guy and push for what you deserve. We often try negotiating first, but we know when it’s necessary to go from being Elle Woods nice to being David Lee mean (these are famous fictional lawyers that you should learn about now if you don’t).

Birmingham Custody Attorneys: 3 Tips for Fathers in Court

Are you a father and need help in court? Give Meyer, Middleton, & DeLuca a call at 205-202-0070!

Are you a father and need help in court? Give Magic City Law, LLC a call at 205-582-2832 TODAY!

Unless you’re living in a hole, not on Facebook, and not sensitive to over aggressive marketing techniques you probably noticed that Father’s Day was Sunday. Fathers are appreciated for their monster under the bed battling skills, spider squishing skills, and (in my dad’s case) mad dance skills and killer HTML skills. Whether you were a father by choice or by unexpected circumstances, you are a father nonetheless. It is wrongly assumed that fathers aren’t really given fair treatment when it comes to their children in court. This is not always the case. Father’s need to listen up because here’s three things you should know about being Father in the Court System:
1. Fathers CAN get custody, too! The Tender Years Doctrine that mothers have relied on for years and years stating that they are the number one best parent to raise their child due to them being the mother is not really used that much anymore in most courts. You see, with feminism on the rise and women going out into the workforce, the view on both men and women is changing by the court system. Fathers are seen as equals to their children, and not just the second in command money maker. The trend today is shared custody and shared time. Fathers, whether they really like it or not, are supposed to be Susie homemaker along with Mr. Fix it! We take the position that unless something pushes otherwise, children are at their best when both of their parents are equally involved in their lives.
2. Pay your Child Support! There are no excuses. I don’t care if the woman is a gold digging money grubbing demon, you should be paying that child support if you are ordered to do so. That money, whether she knows it or not, is for your children. That money is not hers to spend on lipo, and it’s not yours to withhold. You need to pay it like you’re ordered to do so that you are always in the right. There is a Courtroom here in Jefferson County with a board of excuses for why people are not paying their child support. Every time there is a new one, the Judge will add it to his board. Why? Because he feels that if a man isn’t doing his job as a father, and paying child support for his child when he has been Ordered to, his bad excuses should be ridiculed. Tip: If you aren’t paying child support because you can’t afford it, do NOT show up to Court in a Lexus.
3. Be Active as a Father! Don’t be a doormat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a father say that he has been denied visitation for years and he’s been waiting years to file for visitation. If it were important to him, he would have shown up to court before now to make it known that he was not getting to see his children. As a Father, you should make sure you’re on the birth certificate, that you are given court ordered visitation or custody of your child, and that the other side is following that Order. Make any and all attempts you can to have visitation with your child, and if it is denied, document, then go see any attorney! The last thing I want to hear is that she denied you visitation, and you haven’t seen your children in years. It makes me think that your child isn’t important enough to you to fight for the opportunity to see them grow up!!!

5 Fears Men Face In Divorce

Don't be illogical, us a call!

Don’t be illogical, give us a call!

Men are tough creatures (most of the time). They don’t want to show emotion, they put on a good front and go forward with logic. They trek through a divorce like Mr. Spock on the outside and like Amanda Bynes on the inside. Before the term divorce is even mentioned, men are terrified of the consequences that’ll hit them when a Judge gets involved. Men will avoid divorces because they have very valid fears that hold them back. Every time they wish to move on, they hold themselves back because a friend says, “She’ll get half of everything even though you’ve only been married six months.  She’ll get a good lawyer, and you’ll be on the streets.” Or they might say “You’ll never see your kids again. Judges always prefer the moms.” Stop over thinking these fears. How about we just address them right now? Perhaps that way you’ll “live long and prosper” instead of worrying yourself to death!

  1. She will take my children from me. First, what have you done to make you think that? If you’ve been a good father regardless of if you’ve been a great husband, the court will not see that keeping your children from you is in their best interests. There was this thing called the “tender years doctrine” a while back where women were seen as the primary caretaker automatically. It took a woman going cray cray to stop her from getting full custody. Today, more and more judges are moving toward joint custody arrangements. They see that having both parents involved, YES EVEN YOU DADDY, as what’s best for the children. Think about it, it’s only common sense. If staying a family is the go-to way to keep kids in a stable environment, doesn’t it make sense that allowing both parents to visit and take care of the children after the divorce would be the best alternative
  2. She will get my business.  Perhaps the two of you created the business together or maybe she ran the books and you are the “talent.” The Judge isn’t going to run a perfectly good business into the ground for the sake of equitable division. Most of the time, we, as lawyers, negotiate a way to separate the two of you without destroying the business whether it be that she gets a property settlement for her interest in the business, or she keeps the business and you get a property settlement. Sometimes there is restructuring involved which may involve some finance geniuses. Whatever it may be, if you are the “talent” or the one who is performing the business and she’s merely helping, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be the one leaving. It’s more likely the two of you can negotiate a win-win for both of you.
  3. She will take all of my money now. Unless you have a prenuptial agreement that states if you did something awful she gets all of your money immediately upon a divorce, it is unlikely that any court will say “She gets it all because he refused to empty the trash last week” or “She gets it all because they can’t get along!” Here’s the deal, the court will look to equitably divide everything. This doesn’t mean equally, but it means that they will look at what’s fair under the circumstances. If you have a wandering eye, that will be taken into account. If you are downing two bottles of scotch and beating your wife, that will be taken into account. However, if the two of you fell out of love, and there’s no way to fix things, it’s not likely that the judge will say it is equitable to leave you with nothing. 
  4. She will take all of my future money. When it comes to alimony and future payments, the amount is based on a few factors, the most important being what you’re both currently accustomed to having. It is rare that I’ve seen someone modify money up in alimony later on in life. Normally, it is more likely for people to modify alimony down because someone isn’t making as much money as they were during the marriage or they had retired, etc.  If you’re concerned about child support, well that ends at 19 years and if you end up with a true split custody arrangement, the two of you should be sharing in the associated costs. If I were you I wouldn’t be too concerned about her being able to take your starship in the future. (Besides that’s not her money it’s the kid’s money). If she’s not accustomed to the U.S.S. Enterprise when you divorce, they won’t be beaming her up anytime soon.
  5.        She will take all of my retirement.  There is a 10 year rule that if the two of you have been married over ten years, she MAY get half of your retirement. It’s not a guarantee, but it is in place so that she has a retirement too if she has been a stay at home mother or has given up having a retirement to pay for marital bills. However, this goes both ways meaning if she has a retirement and you don’t you MAY get a portion of hers. Don’t let fear of her sipping margaritas in Florida or on the Officer’s Lounge on of your dime keep you from years of happiness.

Birmingham Divorce Attorneys:6 Truths Behind Adultery

I’m a T.V. junkie. I adore television because for a brief moment I can just absorb myself into something and not think so hard. My mind is always on overdrive, so the brief break is very welcome. However, while watching my Sunday shows last night I began thinking about today’s blog. I was watching Betrayal (ah, now that makes sense). If you haven’t checked out the show, watch it.

The thing is, Betrayal is based on a steamy affair. It begins with a man and woman meeting and having this unbelievable attraction to each other immediately. They begin seeing each other secretly (both of them are married to other people). Of course, their lives are completely tangled up in each other because apparently the woman’s husband and her lover are actually opponents in court, BUT without that little twist, the idea behind the show, betrayal of a spouse is quite common.

This is evidenced by the saturation of adultery in television and the news. From Khloe Kardashian to Scandal (whew, that’s one amazing show) adultery is running rapid on television.  People are drawn to these stories. Why? Because art mimics life. Adultery is the epitome of drama. It is secretive, dirty, and messy. It causes pain and pleasure at the same time. People want to hear about it and they want the details.

The Six Truths Behind Adultery

The Six Truths Behind Adultery

It’s almost shocking to NOT hear adultery as a reason for divorce. It’s so common that I’m no longer shocked to hear the details of people’s sex lives. It isn’t behind closed doors so much anymore but out in the open. The reason it isn’t such a big deal is because adultery isn’t the end all be all. There is a misconception that adultery means that the adulterer will have to pay alimony or, in the alternative, the adulterer will not receive alimony , or even that it can truly affect custody battles. What does it really mean if you prove your spouse committed adultery?

  1. It’s a factor in the fault of the divorce. If there were problems way before the adultery started it may not be the actual reason for the divorce. A judge must weigh the facts to determine why the couple is truly getting a divorce. Did the husband belittle his wife, calling her fat and not worth his love for years before she sought another man’s arms? Did the wife wait for her husband to go to work every day to provide for his family before sneaking out to see his brother?
  2. It’s a factor in determining alimony. It is not means for punishing either spouse. There are a multitude of factors in determining whether a spouse will get alimony. Similar to above, the Judge needs to weigh all the factors to determine fault and to determine the need for alimony.
  3. It’s a factor in determining custody. Normally if a spouse is committing adultery it is not a reason to deny custody, unless that spouse is being so reckless as to commit the adultery in front of the minor children. If the children are exposed to extremely immoral behavior, the judge will step in. However, if the adultery is happening late at night while the children are asleep or even during the day while the children are at school or daycare, the weight will be much less.
  4. Adultery isn’t extremely easy to prove.  Of course it’s easier than most things in court to prove because the court system realizes that adultery is something that is done in secret, behind closed doors, and (sometimes) in the dark. It is something that people try hard to hide and when they don’t that’s when people get caught. Basically, you have to prove adultery through by having someone testify or give facts in such a way that the court can infer that adultery was committed. (Private investigator’s testimony, a witness who saw your spouse at the motel with the other person, testimony of you walking in on them).
  5. Post separation sexual relations cannot prove adultery alone. The adultery must have started before married couple decided to get a divorce.  If you decide to file for divorce, move out, THEN you decide that you’re going to pursue something, that’s not exactly adultery.
  6. Adultery IS a crime. It just isn’t one that the state really prosecutes. That means you can plead the 5th when asked about the adultery you committed.

Bayliss Overturn: Post Minority Support Reversed After 24 Years

No more Bayliss! College students are about to get owned by Sallie Mae.

No more Bayliss! College students are about to get owned by Sallie Mae.

Last Monday we wrote a blog based on post minority support focusing on support for college expenses. Under the 1989 Bayliss case we mentioned and covered, the noncustodial parent could be Ordered to pay for some post minority support granted the factors previously mentioned were covered. However, ironically, on Friday the Alabama Supreme Court reversed Bayliss causing many of our clients and other custodial parents relying on its standing and enforceability much distress. It caused me so much distress that I delayed this blog post FOUR days! (Kidding, I have been super busy at work).

The case in which I’m referring to is Christopher v. Christopher. In this case the father and mother were fighting over whether the mother would contribute to their child’s college expenses. She was Ordered by the trial Court in Limestone County to pay 25% of the expenses.  She appealed the decision of the Order because she said she was not financially able to provide for her son’s college education among many other numerous reasons. Of course this is the short and sweet version. This case challenged multiple aspects of the 1989 case that provided for post minority support for over 24 years now. What was the outcome?

Today we no longer have caselaw supporting post minority support for children who show an aptitude, ability, or willingness to go to college. To put it simply is this:

  1. There is no statutory law allowing for support past the age of majority. Support is statutorily supposed to stop at the age of 19. That is when the child is removed from the restraints of minority.
  2. The Bayliss Court overstepped their powers by legislating through caselaw.
  3. If the Legislature had agreed with Bayliss they would have passed a law extending the age of majority throughout the college years.
  4. All cases pending and in the future requesting post minority support are to follow the new rules. However, all cases that were decided before this decision will be upheld. (Though one has to wonder, if the Bayliss court overstepped their boundaries and legislated through judicial authority thus technically creating a law and then upholding that law for 24 years… what is this really going to lead to in the future?)

My opinion on this decision is unimportant. I won’t bore you with how we reacted to the change, but let’s just say that many children will now do without college because who’s going to force the parent who refuses to help as it is to step it up and help when the time comes that the child is no longer under their parent’s wing.  Perhaps, that’s not the case though. Maybe the amount of student loan debt in this county will continue to rise. OR… maybe the legislature will draw up something requiring some college education…

Can Child Support Last Longer Than 19 Years?

Post Minority Support

Post Minority Support: Helping children have a future without the weight of loans crushing their hopes and dreams.

Child Support is often feared and sometimes hated. Child support is seen as the state’s intervention into parent’s personal decisions on how much they should spend on their children. Where some parents would love to give a child mac n cheese each night for dinner, the state is requesting the parents fork a little more money out and perhaps provide some chicken with that easy mac. When clients learn that there is something that extends their obligation to pay child support past the age of 19 (sorry Kanye fans, I know you like to sing 18 years, but Alabama adds one more year) they can’t fathom that the state will force them to pay for 4 more years of support, so that their intelligent child will be able to go to college. Where most parents are proud to say their child is going to college, they aren’t too happy about being ordered to pay for that college especially if the child decides to major in something completely unique from their parent’s predicted future for him or her.

Yes, Bayliss applies, even if you don't want them going to that cow college (or that "redneck" college).

Yes, Bayliss applies, even if you don’t want them going to that cow college (or that bammer (?) college). (I’m not accustomed to making fun of my alma mater, please let me know if UA is called something comparable to cow college. Either way, they’re both great schools.)

 

The Court doesn’t always order the support, but the court does have the authority to order Post Minority Support or College Expenses (yes, even if your child decides to go to your rival school for college). This was established in the case Ex Parte Bayliss and has helped children achieve their college degrees ever since. 550 So 2d 986 (Ala. 1989). The following factors are considered by the Court when deciding if post minority expenses will be Ordered:

  1. Financial Resources of the Parents & the Child
  2. Standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage were still intact
  3. Child’s relationship with his parents
  4. Child’s commitment to and aptitude for college (Is the child willing to go to college and will the child be able to succeed?)
  5. Responsiveness to parental advice and guidance
  6. Other relevant factors that the Court deems to be necessary

If you’re considered a divorce, look to those factors and see if college expenses might be a possibility. Is your child smart? Does she hit the books more than Alex on Modern Family? Can you do without your monthly trip to the salon so that your child can go further in life? Or, would your child be better suited for a different form of post minority activity such as something more hands on and less book nerdy? Is your contention with your ex forcing you into paying for college, or that your child decided to go to Auburn/Alabama and you graduated from the other great school?