Sometimes legal separation between spouses is the best option for everyone involved. But what do you need to know if you’re getting divorced?
It’s Not You, It’s Me
If your divorce involves property, children, or extenuating circumstances of any kind, seek trusted legal counsel. In general, here’s what you can expect when it comes to making housing arrangements, determining custody, and more.
No Common Ground
Reasons for divorce vary, but there may be some common signs that mean separation is the most beneficial choice.
Not being able to agree on anything is usually a big trigger for the decline of a relationship. If you no longer prioritize the same things, including each other, it can cause little things to blow out of proportion. There’s no need to throw in the towel if you can’t agree on paint colors, what to have for dinner, or which movie you’re going to see. However, unresolved arguments about where you’ll live, how much time you’ll spend working, and whether or not you’ll have children may lead to divorce.
The legal dissolution of marriage may also be necessary if one or both partners are living with mental instability that poses a risk to the rest of the family. There is no shame in addressing mental illness but, if left untreated there may be a variety of repercussions.
There are three common types of divorce:
A divorce in which the agreements can not be reached regarding assets, living arrangements, child custody/support, or alimony.
A divorce in which agreements are reached regarding assets, living arrangements, child custody/support, and alimony.
A divorce in which one spouse fails to respond to a divorce petition filed by the other. If the deadline to contest the petition passes without a response, the court can grant the divorce by default.
Making Housing Arrangements
When you or your partner decide to separate, one of the first steps is probably finding a new place for one or both of you to live. If you rent your home together, it may be more financially feasible to have one person stay in the home so as not to incur fees for breaking the lease agreement. If you own your home, selling the house, split the equity, and starting fresh might be best.
For children, the instability of divorce can be frightening. If it’s possible to keep their living arrangements mostly the same, it’s often advised to do so for a period of time.
While it may sound unconventional, some families keep the kids in the family home during a divorce, and it’s the parents who split their time between houses. Known as “birdnesting,” this arrangement means mom may live with the kids for a week in the house while dad stays in an apartment. When it’s dad’s turn to be with the kids, mom stays in the apartment while dad is in the house.
This short-term solution may not work for everyone, but it can provide children with time to get used to their parents being apart, without them having to be the ones to initially shuttle back and forth between mom’s and dad’s homes.
Benefits of Birdnesting
- Kids don’t experience change all at once
- Kids stay near their friends during the initial separation
- No disruption to schooling or extracurricular activities
Keeping the House
Oftentimes, when a couple decides to divorce they have two choices when it comes to the family home and its finances.
- Sell the house and split the equity 50/50
- Refinance the house under one person’s name
Sometimes it can be beneficial to the family to leave the home and start fresh as in a new place. There won’t be any memories tied to the new home as children and parents alike adjust to their new living arrangements.
However, if leaving the family home is just one more obstacle the family can’t handle, it can be a great choice to do the necessary paperwork to have the loan transferred to just one parent, while the other parent relocates.
Whether you stay in the family home after a divorce or move somewhere new, make sure everyone is involved in the process and feels heard. You might decide to tackle some improvements together, remodeling the current or new home so you can make new memories together as an adjusted family.
Custody Arrangements in a Divorce
Do you know the difference between physical custody and legal custody? The custody options for your family vary by state but these terms mean the same thing nationwide
One or both parents are responsible for having the children live with them for predetermined periods.
One of both parents is legally responsible for making decisions on behalf of the children (medical, educational, etc…).
In a divorce, both parents can share physical and legal custody of their children. In some cases, only one parent has physical custody, meaning the children live with that parent full-time. If that’s the circumstances, both parents could still have legal custody of the children and are both financially and legally responsible for the health and wellbeing of the children. The type of custody arrangement may also impact the child support payments made from one spouse to another.
Keep the lines of communication open with your soon-to-be-ex and your legal counsel to determine whether you’ll pursue joint physical custody, split custody, or something else.
Whether or not children are involved in a divorce, alimony payments may be a part of the equation. While child support is payments made by one spouse to the other for the children’s financial needs, alimony is spousal support.
If, for example, one spouse’s income is not enough to support the family without the added income of the ex, alimony may be part of the terms of the divorce.
How Alimony is Determined
In order to determine if, or how much, alimony will be paid from one spouse to another, the courts will look at a number of factors:
- Each person’s current income
- Individual costs of living for each person
- Who owns what assets in the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The age of each person in the marriage
If one spouse has been the primary caregiver and doesn’t have an income, it’s more than likely alimony will be paid for a predetermined length of time, which could be any number of years, ranging from 30% to 70% of the length of your marriage.
- A couple married for 15 years could expect one spouse to pay alimony to the other for 3 years after their separation.
- A couple married for 20 years could expect one spouse to pay alimony to the other for 8 years after their separation.
- A couple married for 30+ years could expect one spouse to pay alimony to the other for 15 years after their separation.
The longer a couple was married the longer the alimony payments will be made. If there are changes to either person’s employment or cost of living, the alimony payments may be adjusted to reflect such.
Always be mindful that this situation isn’t easy for anyone, and it’s always best to proceed with legal counsel to ensure everything is being done with the family’s best interests in mind. Having a non-biased, well-informed attorney in your corner can make a world of difference when trying to get used to a new family dynamic.
Establish Your Law Firm Brand in an Online Legal Marketplace
If you use the internet for professional purposes. You have an online brand as an attorney. The same is true for your law firm; if it has a website and social media accounts, it has an online brand.
The brands can be positive or negative, but they absolutely exist. This reality means you and your firm must work to establish good impressions of yourself and your legal practice. The best law firm branding comes from figuring out what you have to offer and making it clear to potential clients and professional collaborators that they can rely on you to deliver.
Building a strong brand that conveys trust, garners client referrals, and makes you a resource for media outlets and other practitioners does not happen overnight. Nor does it happen by chance. You and your Ohio lawyers marketing team must focus on website content, webpage design, messaging, and marketing in order reach and attract the people you wish to serve.
What Makes a Lawyer and a Law Firm’s Brand Valuable?
When thinking about bolstering your brand identity, focus on what you can do to communicate the sense that you and your colleagues are among the leading practitioners in your professional and geographic areas. A good way to do this is to regularly include city, state, and case subjects in your webpages, social media posts, and printed marketing materials.
For instance, “Smith Law, Personal Injury Attorneys for Cleveland” leaves no questions regarding where you practice and what you do. Similarly, “Jones & Jones, Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyers” indicates you stand ready to serve all people across the state when they run into problems with debt. Working with a Columbus SEO company can help you focus on the keywords and phrases that best capture and convey your identity.
Other factors that play into establishing your brand are the quality and usefulness of your web articles and blog posts, the appearance of your physical offices, the responsiveness of your staff to clients’ calls and emails, and your track record of securing the best results for clients and co-counsels. Last, keep in mind that your online product is the information you share, so make sure it is always accurate, up to date, easy to understand, and concludes with a call to action like “Contact us for more information.”
How Can You Stand Out Online?
Visit the websites and social media accounts of your competitors. Do not shy away from adapting good ideas, but make sure not to copy. Develop unique color schemes and layouts for your own webpages. Use those design elements and the logos you chose for the site in your printed marketing materials.
Perhaps even more importantly, highlight the services you offer that your competitors do not. Perhaps your family law practice has decades of experience representing military spouses? Maybe you concentrate on criminal assault defense when most other nearby defense firms prefer traffic and OVI cases.
In short, distinguish yourself. Establishing your online reputation as the go-to law firm or attorney in a city, county, or state gives you a solid foundation for expanding your practice into related areas of law.
How Do Will You Know if Your Branding Efforts Are Working?
Tracking the success of your online branding efforts requires completing three steps:
- First, define what you want your online brand to be. Answer the questions of what you do, who you serve, and what clients and co-counsels should expect when working with you and the firm.
- Second, develop and share (i.e., market) messages that communicate that brand in the form of web articles, case results, attorney bios, social media posts, and videos.
- Third, collect and analyze data on website visits, social media engagement, and the rates at which people who view your online content both contact you and go on to hire one of your firm’s attorneys.
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