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You May Need an Attorney and Not Even Know It

People take legal matters into their own hands every day, and sometimes they lose money and property in the process. You can make a legally binding contract without using an attorney, but you are risking missing some big legal loopholes and laws you may not be familiar with that can not only make your contract invalid but can actually cost you in the end. When you are selling or purchasing real estate, tackling the creation of a will or even just loaning money to a friend, a consultation with an attorney can be a positive step. I'll show you when and why you need an attorney.



You May Need an Attorney and Not Even Know It

Fair-And-Square Divorce: Can You Split Your Lives 50/50 Without Tearing The Family Apart?

by Barry Butler

No matter what the material possessions during a divorce, it's the family members themselves that seem to suffer the most. What may start out as an amicable separation turns into a nasty battle over every little thing. Don't let that be the fate of your divorce because it really doesn't have to be that way. Entering into negotiations with the intent of fairly dividing everything can help you and your soon-to-be ex part on good terms, preserving the family unit that's separate from your union.

Identify What Each Of You Owned Coming Into The Marriage

If there's no prenuptial agreement involved, it's up to both of you to respectfully admit to what was actually yours before you met. While you could spend a lot of time and money arguing in court, you could also simply draw a line before the marriage took place, separating anything that entered into the relationship after that point. If you do have a prenup, honor it without arguing. Chances are you'll exhaust more resources on the fight than what either of you will gain from the ruling.

Divide Major Items By Equity Value

Unless you can both agree to take ownership of the major items you've accumulated while you were married, the best and most amicable means of distributing property is to divide it by equity value. That means if the house is worth X dollars, X is divided by 2. If the house is sold, you split the money fairly, or one of you could buy out the other's share. This formula applies to all shared assets, including bank and retirement accounts.

A shared IRA, for example, would most likely be split down the middle if the court is left to decide anyway, with half the funds being transferred to one partner. Since you don't want the other parent of your children to be left in a financial predicament, it's important to think of them as a provider for the children and not someone you have to jostle with. What's better for both of you is ultimately better for the kids and vice versa, and that should influence all of your decisions.

Pay Bills Evenly And Accordingly

During your divorce, there will still be bills coming in that need to be paid. If either or both of you decide to withhold payment because of the impending split, the repercussions will be felt on both of your credit ratings. Letting bills pile up, especially credit card bills, in the hopes that a court will order your partner to pay them only adds to animosity, fueling the fight between you and the court might not see things your way after all. Be just as responsible when you're divorcing as you were during the marriage, if not more so.

Make A List Of Things That Can't Be Sold And Split Them

Some things simply can't or shouldn't be sold, such as one-of-a-kind items or things you're emotionally attached to, but they should still be split fairly. Make a list of such items and see if you can't divide them up in a way you both agree. If there's a major sticking point, don't let it rile you up; instead, hold off on deciding what to do with the disputed item(s) until the rest of the divorce is agreed upon. One or two reasons to argue could set off a war between you, which would only lead to fighting over everything and likely, tearing the family unit and each other apart. 

Once the divorce is further along, you could agree to share custody of the item or even randomly decide who gets what by drawing a lottery for the items. You could also keep expensive and precious items in the names of your children to ensure they stay in the family without causing incidents.

Share The Joys And Responsibilities Of The Children

One parent shouldn't be left with all the responsibilities that come with custody, while the other simply enjoys the good times, like holidays and birthdays. Make a co-parenting plan that takes into account both the difficult and fun parts of raising children. Paying for things, driving the kids around, attending their sporting events, and discipline shouldn't be left to one parent, no matter who is earning the most money. Children benefit from having a parental team for nearly all things, rather than feeling fought over or resented. Divorce for kids can lead to emotional, physical, behavioral, and academic problems, so everyone has a lot riding on how you and your ex handle custody and parental responsibilities.

Bring Your Plan To Your Respective Lawyers

Contrary to what's often portrayed in Hollywood or on the news, lawyers aren't out for blood in a divorce, they want a fair and equitable agreement to be reached. Take the rough draft of your divorce plan to your respective lawyers and ask them to formalize it. So long as you both accept the terms, no court should dispute them. Rather than having a knock-down, drag-out battle that forces everyone to take sides, the two of you can keep the family together and manage the money, property, and custody issues that otherwise would have devastated your lives for a long time to come. 

Don't Be Afraid To Be Nice

Just because you're divorcing doesn't mean you can't still be nice to each other, especially for the kids. No matter what prompted the divorce, it will always be made worse by trying to get even. Because you're still connected by kids and maybe even friends and other family members you'd like to remain in contact with, you can't be tearing each other apart.

Preserving the family should be the top priority for any divorcing couple, not who can outfight who in court proceedings. If you both think fair and hire attorneys with the intent of legally dividing assets 50/50, you might just be able to keep the rest of the family together, 100 percent.

For more information, get in touch with a family law firm such as Stoddard Law Firm.