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3 Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

Often times couples struggle with the decision of whether to get a divorce. There can be compelling arguments both for and against it. However, once the decision is made to divorce, couples often skip over the next important question – how to divorce. Divorcing couples have options. One of those options is a collaborative divorce. Unlike the stereotypical knock down drag out fight that takes years, fighting over every fine linen and each hour of parenting time, a collaborative divorce involves the parties agreeing to work together to resolve the issues pertaining to the divorce.
There are many benefits to a collaborative divorce. In this article, Zachary Smith, family law attorney in Cincinnati, OH, discusses just a few of the benefits.

Collaborative Divorces Often Resolve More Quickly

On average, collaborative divorce takes between 50 and 70 percent less time than a traditional divorce. There are a couple of reasons for this. In a collaborative divorce, for example, the couple jointly provides all the essential documents and information. Contrast this with a traditional divorce, where the lawyers could spend months fighting over discovery issues. Additionally, in a traditional divorce, the parties each hire their own expert to argue the other side is wrong. In collaborative divorce, the parties hire a single, neutral expert. Finally, in a collaborative divorce, the parties do not have to wait until the judge has time before they can meet and discuss issues.

Collaborative Divorces are Less Costly

Divorce attorneys are typically paid by the hour. In a collaborative divorce, the parties are specifically paying their attorneys to come to a resolution about these issues. This takes less time, and therefore costs less money. Additionally, as discussed above, collaborative divorce lawyers hire experts to work on the team, seeking a resolution, rather than fight against each other.

Collaborative Divorces are Private

Collaborative divorce work is done in an attorney’s office. Couples have the opportunity to discuss past events and future plans in the safety of the meeting. Traditional divorce, on the other hand, results in discussions on the record in open court. In court, a record is made of everything that is said, and this record is available to the public.

Cincinnati, OH family law attorney Zachary D. Smith, serves on the Executive Committee of the Cincinnati Academy of Collaborative Professionals. He is well versed in collaborative law, which allows for creative problem solving. Contact ZDS Law todayto schedule a consultation at 513.275.1164 to determine if collaborative divorce is the best option for you or for further information please visit www.ZDSLaw.com.

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Family Law Myths

Family Law Myths
In family law, there are an abundance of myths and falsehoods that make the rounds periodically. In this post, we seek to debunk some of the more popular myths.

Myth: Divorce Lawyers are Unnecessary if You Have a Prenup

Prenuptial agreements certainly provide some guidance as to how property may be divided, however, that presumes the prenuptial agreement is legally binding. A divorce lawyer first reviews a prenuptial agreement to determine whether it is valid. Factors impacting validity include:

  • Is it in writing?
  • Is it signed by the parties?
  • Was it executed freely and voluntarily?
  • Are the terms unconscionable?
  • Was full disclosure provided?
  • Are the terms fair and equitable given the circumstances?

Even where a prenuptial agreement is valid, there are certain terms and conditions which cannot be dictated by a prenuptial agreement, including parenting time and child support, for more information on prenuptial agreements, see our previous post Understanding Prenuptial Agreements.

Myth: Parents Can Deny Visitation to Those Who Don’t Pay Child Support

Child support is ordered by the court. Visitation or parenting time is also ordered by the court. These two things are not linked. One is obligated to pay child support. One is also obligated to allow the other parent time with the child as ordered by the court. One cannot deny child support if the other parent doesn’t comply with the parenting time schedule. One cannot deny parenting time if the other parent doesn’t pay court ordered child support. This myth can actually get parents in trouble, if they act on the mistaken belief they can deny visitation or refuse to pay child support. Instead, if a party isn’t paying child support, or isn’t complying with the parenting time ordered, the remedy is to return to court, preferably with an experienced family law attorney.

Myth: Property is Divided 50/50 in Divorce Cases

In a divorce in Ohio, there are a number of things a court will consider when dividing assets and debts. While in some cases, the property is divided in half, this is not always the case. Furthermore, this is not what the law requires. Instead, the court is required to make decisions about property division that are fair and equitable, taking into consideration a number of different factors.

Myth: All Divorces are the Same

Some people enter into divorce proceedings with a frame of reference. Perhaps they have a friend or family member who has recently gotten a divorce. However, every case is different. Courts may not award custody or divide property in the same way from case to case. This is because every case comes to the court with a host of different factors and considerations.

Considering Divorce?

If you are considering divorce, contact the and highly reputable and experienced family law attorney in Cincinnati OH, Zachary D. Smith, LLC. As an experienced divorce and family law attorney, Zachary Smith can successfully guide you through the process of divorce from start to finish. To schedule a consultation please contact ZDS Law at 513.275.1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com to learn more.

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Back to School: Preparing Your Children for a Successful School Year

Back to School Preparing Your Children for a Successful School Year

Talk to Your Child’s Teacher About the Divorce

Teachers identify divorce as one of the top five major life changes that can be a barrier to a child’s learning. If you have recently separated or divorced, let your child’s teacher know. You don’t have to discuss the details of the divorce. Rather, just let them know your child is going through some changes at home. Make certain your child’s teacher has contact information for both parents.

Make Certain Everyone Is on the Same Page About Parenting Time

Parenting time schedules may change when school starts, or they may remain the same. However, with the added complication of school bus schedules, after school activities and the like, it may take a few weeks for parents and children to adjust to the new schedule. Consider a system that works for your family, depending on the age of your children and the communication level you have with your ex. Whether you use a synced Google Calendar, or have a color-coded hard copy calendar at each house, your system will help the children (and you) know exactly who will be where and when.

Plan for Important Events

Your children will have major projects due, auditions, recitals, school plays, and athletic events. Make a plan for these important events. Consider a joint calendar where both parents can enter information about the children’s events and project due dates. This allows both parents to provide support and assistance.

Make a Plan for Fees

As soon as children return to school, the steady request for school related funds and fees begin. From lunch money to instrument rental to art fees, kids will need money for school related activities. The first step is to check the divorce decree to determine what plans, if any, have been made to address who is responsible for fees. If no plan has been made, consider creating a plan in advance. Some parents agree to start a joint account, where each parent contributes a nominal amount of money each month to cover unexpected fees. Other parents keep an accounting of expenditures, and “settle up” monthly or quarterly. Still other parents simply pay as they go. As with many post-divorce solutions, there is no “right way” to handle school fees. However, making a plan ahead of time about the way your family will handle expenses, regardless of the plan approach, is a good idea.

If You are Considering Divorce

If you are considering divorce, contact the highlyreputable family law attorney in Cincinnati, Zachary D. Smith, LLC. Zachary Smith believes in strategic advocacy. He works hard to represent your interests, as well as the interests of your family. To schedule a consultation please contact ZDS Law at 513.275.1164 or visit www.ZDSLaw.com to learn more.

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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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