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Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney

Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney
When you decide to get a divorce, choosing the right divorce attorney may feel overwhelming. Below are some tools to assist you in finding a divorce attorney that will meet your needs.

Interview Attorneys

Trust is one of the main factors in choosing a qualified attorney. The best approach is to visit and interview more than one family law attorney. At some point during your divorce proceedings, you may find yourself overwhelmed, guided by emotion rather than common sense, or otherwise in a position where you need level headed counsel. Interview with an eye towards whether you and the potential lawyer communicate well and whether you believe you can trust them when you say, “I’m not sure what I should do.”

Look for an attorney who listens to your situation before determining the best course of action. You also want an attorney who has familiarity with different ways to resolve cases. Any attorney can litigate a divorce. However, attorneys open to mediation and collaborative law alternatives may better suit your needs.

Understand the Difference between Divorce Resolution Approaches

As we have written about before, there are a number of options for dispute resolution, including collaborative law, mediation, and litigation. Mediation and collaborative law approaches are both typically less expensive than litigation. Additionally, agreements made in mediation and collaborative law are reduced to writing, just as litigated court order are, however, the process and discussions leading to the resolution are private in collaborative law and mediation approaches. Litigation occurs in court, in public, with a record made for anyone to review if they are so inclined. Most people agree that it is in your best interest to seek an attorney who is at least open to the possibilities of mediation and collaborative law approaches.

You’d be surprised how many people ask the lawyer that did their will if they can handle their divorce, or some similar mismatch. While technically, any attorney licensed to practice law could take your divorce case, a divorce is too important to leave to someone who doesn’t regularly practice family law. If you are looking for a highly experienced and successful family law attorney in Cincinnati, OH, consider Zachary D. Smith, LLC. Zachary Smith dedicates his practice to family law issues. He is experienced as a family law mediator and serves as the co-president of the Cincinnati Academy of Collaborative Professionals.

To learn more about ZDS Law Firm and how we can successfully help you through this difficult time please visit www.ZDSLaw.com or contact Zachary D. Smith, LLC at 513.275.1164 to schedule a consultation. Together we can determine if your case and our firm are a good fit.

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General Guidelines While a Divorce is Pending

Guidelines While a Divorce is Pending
If your divorce is pending, there are a few guidelines that you should follow. This is for your protection. Some of these are absolute requirements, and others are simply suggestions, however, it is a good idea to follow these simple rules to avoid problems down the road.

Avoid Social Media

Rarely, if ever, does someone regret not posting some detail or another about their lives on social media. On the other hand, there are plenty of documented cases of people regretting sharing information they, in retrospect, wish they hadn’t. Keep your divorce out of social media accounts. Let it proceed to resolution without public comment. Certainly, you are permitted to speak with friends and family about your situation. There is just no good reason for posting it to the world. Recall, while you may no longer be connected with your soon to be ex on any social media platforms, odds are good that you have some friends or family members in common. You should presume anything you post will be seen by your ex, and your ex’s lawyer. There’s no need to create additional problems by posting something you can’t take back.

Do Not Involve Your Children

Even if your children are grown, they have no place at the table in divorce discussions. Do not involve your children in divorce settlement negotiations or provide them with the intimate details of the demise of your marriage. The interests of your children are best served by letting them know you will always be there for them and will always love them. It is not their job to handle the adult and private concerns surrounding your divorce from their other parent.

Do Not Make Decisions Recklessly

Sometimes a person makes a reckless decision during divorce proceedings, and clings to it beyond all reason. For example, there is only one marital bed. It cannot be divided into two. It cannot be awarded to both parties; hence, being adamant about the bed at the cost of the rest of your divorce settlement, is an example of a reckless decision. This decision may be made in anger, as a response to something unrelated to property settlement or otherwise completely lacking a rational basis. This is one of the reasons you hire an attorney. You need someone who is not emotionally tied to your divorce to consult with you and advise you when you are making reckless decisions.

Considering Divorce?

If you are considering divorce, you need a qualified family law attorney in Cincinnati, OH on your side. Zachary D. Smith, LLC offers strategic advocacy in the area of family law. Mr. Smith is trained as a family law mediator, participates in collaborative law divorces, and is also experienced in litigation. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact ZDS Law Firm at 513.275.1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com.

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Child Support and Remarriage

Child Support and Remarriage
It is not uncommon for someone with a child support obligation to remarry. Nor is it uncommon for a person marrying someone who has a child support obligation to wonder the impact of the obligation. Here we seek to answer some of the questions that may be too uncomfortable to ask before marrying someone with a support obligation.

Will My Income Be Considered In Assessing Future Child Support?

The short answer is, “No.” In both Ohio and Kentucky, child support is calculated based on the biological parent’s income. As a general rule, because you are a non-parent, your income will not be considered in child support.

Will My Income Be Used To Pay Back Child Support?

As a couple, you can decide together if you will use your income to pay their back child support obligation. It is not required.
However, there may be tax implications as tax season approaches. If you file joint tax returns, and you are expecting a refund, the government may take the refund under something called “revenue recapture.” They may take a refund, up to the amount of the back child support owed. If some of the tax refund is based on your earnings, and your previously withheld taxes, you can file a form with the government, preserving your portion of the refund.

Can I Lose Anything Besides Tax Refunds?

If the parent owed child support is so inclined, they can put a lien on any property owned by the person owing the debt. If you and your spouse own a home, even if it was originally yours before marriage, it is possible the parent owed child support could put a lien on the home. However, if the home remains yours, as premarital property, they cannot put a lien on the home.

How Do I Preserve My Property As Premarital Property?

The safest and best way to ensure the assets you own remain yours is to sign a prenuptial agreement before marriage. A qualified family law attorney can help with this.

If You Are Considering Remarriage

If you are considering remarriage, and either you have or your fiancé has a child support obligation, there are steps you can take to protect yourselves and each other. Of course, you will want to take care of the children. However, you should also take steps to protect your personal, premarital property. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that, should the marriage break down, each party to the marriage retains the property they had when they came in to the marriage. A prenuptial agreement takes little effort, but is an important investment in your family’s future.
Contact top family law attorney in Cincinnati, Zachary D. Smith, LLC, for assistance with your prenuptial agreement and all your family’s legal needs at (513) 275-1164 and /or for further information please visit www.ZDSLaw.com.

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How to Tell Children about the Divorce

How to Tell Children about the Divorce
Any parent will tell you the decision to divorce is not something undertaken lightly. Parents agonize for weeks and months, sometimes even years, trying to figure out if there is a way they can save the marriage, or at least make it work for the children. However, once the debate and discussion are over, parents spend surprisingly little time discussing the divorce with their children. Your children will likely need to revisit the issue repeatedly in the weeks and months to come. The following are messages which may ease the discussions you may have with your children regarding divorce or separation.

We Will Always Be a Family

It is important that your children know both parents will always be around, regardless of whether your divorce is finalized. Both parents should emphasize that they will be involved in all life endeavors. This includes providing love and support at the children’s music concerts, sporting events, high school graduation and beyond. If you are able, attend these events together. At a minimum, make sure you are both there, offering support. Children are focused on how the divorce will impact them. You can lessen the impact by presenting a united front of support for your children.

This is a Joint Decision

Regardless of the details that led to the divorce, present the decision as a joint one if at all possible. Children crave safety and security. Airing your dirty laundry won’t make you feel better, but rather may make your children feel worse. Sending a united message adds finality to the decision.

You Didn’t Cause This, and You Can’t Change It

Children need to know they did nothing to cause the divorce. This is a message that will need to be reinforced long after you and your spouse are comfortable with the decision. Children also need to be informed (repeatedly) there is nothing they can do to change the parents’ minds. Children may feel an odd sense of responsibility when parents divorce. It is up to both parents to remind the children they are not the reason for the divorce, and they will not be able to change the decision based on their words or actions.

If You Are Considering Divorce

If you are considering divorce, contact Zachary D. Smith, LLC. With a practice focusing exclusively on family law, Zachary D. Smith, top family law attorney in Cincinnati, can give your family, and your situation, the care and attention you deserve. From determining the best parenting time schedule to resolving issues around assets and debts, together, we can find a path forward for your family. To schedule a consultation or inquiries please contact ZDS Law at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com for further information.

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2018 Divorce Planning

2018 Divorce Planning
If you are considering a divorce in the new year, you are not alone. In fact, in the first three months of the new year, divorce filings steadily increase. Divorce takes time. There are many facets to a well thought out divorce. Consequently, if divorce may be in your future, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Here are some proactive steps you can take while considering your options.

Understand Your Big Picture

Proper divorce planning includes understanding household needs and wants. Whether you are a married couple, have kids in common, or are a blended family, take the time to review your spending habits. Your spending habits provide insight into your expenses. Include groceries, club memberships, lessons, and extra curriculars for the kids, as well as any other expenditures for the family.
Gather credit card statements and other bills you pay regularly to get a good handle on your debts. Both assets and debts will be addressed in the divorce proceedings, and few things are as costly as an overlooked debt during a divorce.
Make a list of your assets. Assets may include items such as your house, cars, vacation homes, stocks, bonds, and other investments. However, assets may also include items which are often overlooked such as jewelry,art, coin collections, and antique furniture to name a few. Finally, don’t forget to include retirement accounts.
Calculate your income. You will need personal tax returns. If you or your spouse owns a business, you will need the business tax returns. Gather W-2s and 1099s, recent pay stubs, and copies of work related bonuses, including stock options, dividends, etc. If you or your spouse receives tips as part of the job, this should also be documented.
Gather essential documents. If you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement, or a post nuptial agreement, this must be located. Your attorney will want to review it – and any modifications made to the original agreement – for legality and to determine the mandates of the agreement. If either of you have a prior divorce that mandates child support, spousal maintenance, or both, these should also be gathered for your attorney’s review.

Divorce Considerations

When couples divorce, assets are divided, debts are allocated, spousal maintenance, and child support may be considered, where appropriate. Understanding your big picture is critical to understanding whether divorce is right for you. With all the necessary documents and information, your situation becomes more clear to you and your attorney.
If you are considering divorce in this new year, you probably have questions. Contact the reputable law firm of Zachary D. Smith, LLC. Licensed in both Ohio and Kentucky, Zachary D. Smith has extensive experience in family law. His practice includes mediation, collaborative divorce, and, when necessary, litigation. For further information or to schedule a consultation with leading family law attorney in Cincinnati, please contact the office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513) 275-1164 today or visit www.ZDSLaw.com.

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Strategies for Co-Parenting After Divorce

Strategies for Co-Parenting After Divorce
While you can divorce your spouse, you can’t divorce your children’s other parent. In other words, you don’t have to be married to them, but your child’s other parent will always be in their lives, just as you will. Consequently, it is a good idea to develop co-parenting strategies.
Consider the following strategies:

A United Front

Children feel more secure when their parents are on the same page. When one parent makes a discipline determination, it is essential the other parent back them up. If possible, attend parent teacher conferences together. When the child has a sporting event, is in the school play, or performs at a concert, both parents should attend. Even if you don’t see eye to eye on anything else, you should be able to unite on celebrating your child’s achievements.

Recognize Family

With two sets of extended family, there are bound to be celebrations on one side when the other parent has parenting time scheduled. Consider being flexible to allow the child to participate in extended family celebrations on both sides – regardless of the parenting time schedule. Let your children know you value your child’s extended family on both sides. Work together with your ex to coordinate parenting time and family milestones.

Refrain from Criticism

It is inevitable your ex will do something to annoy, frustrate, or hurt you during your time as divorced parents. Do not criticize his or her actions to your children. You are welcome to feel and express your feelings – just not to your children. Children should never be put in the middle of parental disagreements, or made to feel the need to choose sides. Your therapist, your family, and your friends are all better choices for expressing frustration and disappointment.

Make it a Team Effort

Co-parenting provides certainty and comfort to children. Talk with your spouse about your desire for co-parenting if at all possible. If you can keep the best interests of the children at the forefront, in most instances, co-parenting works. There may be some missteps as the two of you adjust to your new normal, but in the long run, co-parenting pays off for the entire family.
There are many ways to co-parent. With shared parenting time part of the new normal of divorce, the law office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC – leading family law attorney in Cincinnati -can come up with a parenting plan that works for you and your family.
To learn more or schedule an appointment please contact ZDS at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com.

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When Can a Family Law Attorney Help?

Family Law Attorney in Cincinnati
Numerous situations exist where a family law attorney can help you. Everyone knows attorneys are expensive, but there are situations where you should not “do it yourself.” There are a number of circumstances where the counsel of a family law attorney is essential.

What Happens During Separation?

Family law attorneys are familiar with common issues that present themselves during separation. During a separation, many questions are raised. What about child custody? What about child support payments? What about the family home? Who lives there and who makes the mortgage payments? Many of these topics are legally complex and require an experienced, qualified family law attorney in Cincinnati, who can help craft an agreement during separation.

Hidden Assets

Sometimes during divorce proceedings, one party will hide assets. Perhaps one spouse transfers money to a brother with the idea that the asset will be transferred back after the divorce is finalized. Maybe one spouse delays exercising stock options to prevent them from becoming part of the marital estate. Hidden assets are an attempt to prevent a fair division of property. A family law attorney has access to professionals who may assist in locating hidden assets to ensure fairness in the divorce settlement.

A Modification of Alimony or Child Support

After a divorce, when alimony or child support is ordered, a change in circumstances may require a motion for a modification of alimony or child support. A party may have an increase or decrease in income. Either way, a family law attorney can help navigate the court process for adjusting support.

Do You Want to Establish Paternity?

Paternity is typically established at the time of birth. In ideal circumstances, both parents will be named on the birth certificate. However, sometimes a parent will need to use court process to establish paternity. A family law attorney can help with the court process to establish paternity and secure parental rights.

When You Think Your Spouse is Planning a Divorce

Sometimes one has a suspicion their spouse is planning a divorce. Divorce is often not a surprise to the parties involved. If you think your spouse is planning a divorce, securing your own qualified, experienced family law attorney is vital. You will need representation to protect your rights.

If you have a need for a family law attorney in Cincinnati, contact the law firm of Zachary D. Smith, LLC. Zachary D. Smith is a leading family law attorney in Cincinnati with the experience and knowledge to assist you in all your family law needs. To schedule a consultation please contact ZDS Law at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com for further information.

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Marital vs. Non-marital Property

Marital vs. Non-marital Property
When dividing property in a divorce, it is important to understand the difference between marital and non-marital property.

What is Marital Property?

Typically, property acquired during the marriage is marital property, including any wages earned during the course of the marriage. It may include the marital home if it is acquired during the marriage, as well as any retirement or investment accounts developed during the marriage—regardless of which spouse earns the money in the accounts.

What is Non-marital Property?

There are several categories of non-marital property. First, property acquired prior to the marriage is likely non-marital property. For example, if one of the parties owned a home that the parties use as a residence, some of the value of that property may be considered non-marital.

Retirement benefits may also be non-marital. If a party was employed prior to the marriage and earned retirement benefits prior to the marriage some or all of those benefits may be non-marital.

A family heirloom, such as grandmother’s engagement ring, owned by one party prior to the marriage, is non-marital property.

A vacation home may be non-marital property depending on how and when the property was acquired. Property may be passed down through a family and may be viewed as an inheritance.

Inheritances

An inheritance received by one spouse is a non-marital asset. This is true even if the inheritance is received during the marriage. This is one of the few assets acquired during a marriage that is considered non-marital property. This is true regardless of the form of the inheritance, real property, cash, stocks, or other property. However, whether an inheritance remains non-marital property depends on certain facts.

Co-mingling Assets

It is possible that assets that are originally considered non-marital assets lose that categorization when they are deposited with marital assets. This is known as co-mingling assets. If you want to preserve non-marital assets as non-marital, those assets must be kept completely separate. For example, keep any financial assets that are non-marital in a completely separate account. Do not deposit marital funds in that account.

Determining Property Division

Determining property division can be complicated in any divorce. Determining marital versus non-marital property requires the application of a complex formula. This requires the employment of a qualified, experienced family law attorney in Cincinnati. The law office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC has the experience and expertise to assist you in your divorce. For further information or to schedule a consultation please contact ZDS Law at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com.

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Avoiding Financial Mistakes in Divorce

Leading family law attorney in Cincinnati
Divorce brings with it tremendous emotional and financial consequences. There are steps everyone can take to help minimize the negative financial consequences of a divorce.

Hire an Experienced, Qualified Attorney

Attorneys are expensive, but this is not the time to practice law on your own. Even experienced attorneys hire a family law attorney for their divorce. A qualified, experienced family law attorney will guide you through a complicated process. Your future financial and family situation depends on what happens in your divorce.

Get a Professional Appraisal of the Family Home

For many married couples, the family home is their most valuable asset. When going through a divorce, it is important the parties know the actual value of the home. One of the parties may want to maintain the family home. Or it may be necessary to sell the home. The parties need to know how best to proceed from an educated point of view. Understanding the value of the home (not just what is owed on it) informs the parties when negotiating the distributions of other assets.

Do Not Give Up Retirement Benefits Easily

Sometimes a party is tempted to give up retirement benefits in exchange for short term gain. During a divorce, retirement can seem like a distant prospect. That can make it easy to trade retirement benefits away. Consider how much time you have before retirement. Do you have enough time to rebuild retirement savings? When do you want to retire? Consider your standard of living upon retirement. Do you hope to move south? Will downsizing help pay the bills? These factors should be considered while negotiating your divorce settlement.

Consider Your Priorities

Tell your attorney what is most important to you. Some parties value the family home, some retirement benefits, some custody of the children, and some the family cabin. Your attorney needs this information. Negotiation is crucial in a divorce settlement. To effectively negotiate on your behalf, your attorney needs to know what your priorities are.

Consider Mediation

Mediation involves a third party neutral. The mediator works with both parties and their attorneys to attempt to resolve any or all issues in the divorce. Mediation is not binding. It is an inexpensive alternative to protracted litigation. Mediation resolves some or all of the issues in a divorce much more inexpensively than litigation.

If you are considering divorce, you need an advocate working for you to protect your interests. At Zachary D. Smith, LLC, we focus exclusively on family law. Zachary D. Smith is trained as a family law mediator, serves on the Executive Committee of the Cincinnati Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and has experience litigating cases other methods of case resolution fail. To schedule an appointment with a leading family law attorney in Cincinnati, contact Zachary D. Smith at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com for further information.

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Understanding Gray Divorce

Family law attorney
What is a “gray divorce”? A gray divorce is the term for a couple over the age of 50 getting divorced. “Gray” is a reference to gray hair. While the overall divorce rate has been consistent, divorce among older couples is on the rise. Why is this?

Why are Older Couples Getting Divorced?

Four common themes present themselves in gray divorce:

  • An unwillingness to settle;
  • Different expectations about retirement;
  • Having nothing in common; and
  • Disagreements about money.

An Unwillingness to Settle

People are living longer than ever. As a result, parties are less inclined to tolerate a bad marriage. Spouses know that they have time to meet someone new. More and more people are deciding they don’t need to settle for a mediocre marriage.

Different Expectations

Different people have different expectations about aging. Sometimes spouses disagree about retirement. One party may just want to stay home and enjoy the grandchildren. The other party may want to go on cruises and see the world. This incompatibility can lead to a divorce late in life, after retirement.

Growing Apart

Sometimes couples simply grow apart. After the children are gone, they realize they have little in common. In addition, after retirement, couples have more time to spend together. This may result in a realization that they no longer want to spend time with each other.

Money Disagreements

The parties may disagree on how to spend money. After retirement, the parties are likely living on a fixed income. One party may be more free spending while the other is a more conservative spender. This can result in serious tension and ultimately divorce.

What are the Potential Issues in a Gray Divorce?

Gray divorces present unique challenges requiring an experienced, qualified family law attorney.
The parties need to determine the value of non-marital and marital property. For example, if one party had a job prior to the marriage, how much of their pension is marital property? Did one of the parties own the home prior to the marriage? What about other retirement assets? In a gray divorce, it is difficult for a party to make up lost retirement benefits. If one of the parties received an inheritance, this can be a complicating factor. Generally, the inheritance is nonmarital property. However, if the assets are co-mingled with marital assets, the inheritance may become marital property.

If You are Considering Divorce

Gray divorces present their own unique challenges and Zachary D. Smith has the experience necessary to handle the special issues present in a gray divorce. For further information or to schedule a consultation with a reputable family law attorney in Cincinnati please contact the office of Zachary D. Smith, LLC at (513) 275-1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com.

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