What to Ask a Divorce Attorney Before You Hire a Firm

Before you agree to work with an attorney, you need to make sure they will be a good fit for your case. The following 10 questions about the firm, your case and the financial implications of divorce are a great starting point, but remember to ask all the questions that concern you prior to hiring the firm. Remember that the answers you receive are only going to be as good as the questions you ask. Make sure that you get all of the information you need before moving forward. While the attorney might not be able to answer all of your questions completely, they should be able to give you enough information to make you feel comfortable working them.

While the attorney might not be able to answer all of your questions completely, they should be able to give you enough information to make you feel comfortable working with them.

Questions to Ask About the Firm

  1. Are you certified as a California Family Law Specialist?
    There are many attorneys who practice in various areas of law. It’s imperative that you hire an attorney who limits their practice to family law. Attorneys who have become a specialist have gone through training and a peer review process to ensure that they have considerable expertise in the area of family law.
  2. Can I meet the other attorneys or paralegals who will be working on my case? What type of experience do they have?
  3. How do I reach you in an emergency? How long do you normally need to return a phone call?

Questions to Ask About Your Case

  1. Based on the facts of my case, how long do you think it will take to resolve my case? What is your plan for resolving my case and what kind of strategies would you use?
  2. Can you make any kind of predictions based on what you know of my case? How do you think a Judge would rule on my case? 
  3. Can you advise me on how to handle taxes and other financial repercussions from this divorce?

Questions to Ask About Costs

  1. What are the hourly rates for you and the other people working on my case? Do you require a retainer?
  2. Are there any additional charges I should expect? (Additional charges could include private investigators, forensic accountants, physicians, psychologists, and even office expenses such as copies and postage).
  3. Assuming things run smoothly, what will the total divorce cost me?
    Most attorneys will not want to answer this question, because it is very difficult to estimate a total price. However, a reputable attorney will give you a range of what a typical divorce, like yours, could cost. The answer is typically a price range. Keep in mind that a surprisingly low number might be too good to be true.
  4. What can I do to keep costs down? Are there tasks I can complete on my own? Can I speak directly with my spouse?

An attorney can actually save you money, especially when they advise you on the financial aspects of divorce. None of these questions should come as a surprise to any reputable California divorce lawyer.

If you are not given answers or are not given direct answers, do not hesitate to press on. You deserve the best representation available.

Divorce Lawyer Consultations – What You Need to Know

When you are finally decided to end your marriage, the first thing that you need to do is to talk to a lawyer. It is important that you go through the process of divorce consultation before you take any legal step. It must be noted that anything you do involving the courts has the capacity to change your life. Hence, you need to be careful in all legal dealings that is why there is a great need to visit a divorce lawyer for consultation as soon as possible. Below are the things that you have to do when it comes to consulting a legal professional with respect to divorce:

1. Ask honest questions.

This is the point where you need to orient yourself about the complete divorce process. Be honest in all the questions that you will ask the lawyer. There should be no pretensions in order to guarantee that you will get the right answers to your questions. Do not worry because once the lawyer-client relationship is established, all communications that you will make to the attorney will be privileged.

2. Bring necessary documents.

To make your meeting with the lawyer an efficient and effective one, make sure that you bring with you the documents that have something to do with the possible divorce proceeding. This includes the marriage contract as well as any other private agreements in writing that you have entered with your spouse. At the same time, you may also bring the registered titles of all the martial properties. These documents will give the divorce attorney an idea on what are the proper actions or petitions to be filed in court.

3. Be truthful in all statements.

As already mentioned above, there is a privilege communication for all communications made by the client to a lawyer. This means that the attorney cannot reveal any statements made by the client in confidence to him. When he does so, there is a violation of the Rules of Court and therefore, he can be made liable. As such, you have to be truthful in all the things that you will tell your lawyer. Do not be afraid for the said attorney cannot reveal it to anyone without the possibility of being held liable. When you are honest about the things that you will tell the lawyer, the latter can create a whole picture of the situation. This will enable him to think of strategies that will be beneficial on your part.

We are offering consultations in the Milwaukee and Madison area. Please give us a call to have your family law questions answered and set up a consultation.

Do I Need an Attorney When I Start My Business?

A question many people ask during startup – When do I need an attorney? Can I start without one to save money and get one later when something comes up?

Business Type and Need for an Attorney

Whether you need an attorney to start your business depends in large part on what legal type of business you are starting. The simpler the business, the less need for an attorney. Let’s look at the various business legal types:

Sole proprietorship – This business type doesn’t require you to register with a state. You probably don’t need an attorney to start this business type, since no specific paperwork is required, outside of any local business licenses. 

Partnership or LLC – These business types must register with a state. Other documents must be prepared, like a partnership agreement or LLC operating agreement. You may be able to register online with your state or use an online service to register your business. If your business is at all complicate, it’s a good idea to use an attorney to help you start these business types.

Corporation or S Corporation – These businesses must register with a state, must prepare bylaws and other documents, and have a more complicated ownership structure. You almost certainly need to use an attorney to help you start these business types. (Note: The S corporation starts as a corporation then elects S corporation status.)

Comments from Business Owners on Need for an Attorney

I have received comments from two different groups on the question of whether you need an attorney to help you with business startup. One group says you absolutely need an attorney; the other group says you can do it yourself. Pay attention to the legal types of businesses mentioned in these comments.

Why You Need an Attorney for Business Start-up

The reasons most often cited for needing an attorney are:

  • You need help navigating the many forms and requirements of legal documents involved with startup (like incorporation documents)
  • Even though having an attorney is expensive, you know that startup is being done right. As Paige Stanley said, “Every business, albeit an LLC, LLP, or corporation, faces issues requiring an attorney. The money you spend on experience will save you time, hassle, and money in the long run.”
  • Having an attorney frees you to focus on other aspects of startup, so you don’t have to spend time learning about the legal processes. April Meese said it best: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”
  • An attorney can help with specific tasks, like trademarking your name, reviewing lease documents, discussing potential legal structures, preparing incorporation forms.
  • Online legal form providers don’t do it right. Attorney Susan Dawson says, “It is often more costly to undo what clients have done on their own using those services than if they had hired me to establish their business in the first place.”

Why You Don’t Need an Attorney for Business Startup

Responses against hiring an attorney to help with the tasks involved in business startup focused on these issues:

  • The forms are simpler than you might think. For example, filing Articles of Organization for an LLC is a very simple task that you can complete yourself.
  • You can save a lot of money. Julie Eaton has formed many companies, using online services. She says, “not only did I save TONS of money but I also learned more than I could have by hiring an attorney.”
  • You can find free help. State and local governments can help you with forms, there are business incubation services that provide assistance, and organizations like SCORE can lead you through the process.
  • Forms are available on the Internet. Several responders mentioned using online forms, like those from BizFilings and LegalZoom.
  • Save your money for more important purposes. Seth Mendelsohn, owner of Simply Boulder Foods, created his company without legal help. He says he didn’t have partners and didn’t need an operating agreement; “an attorney would have tied up much needed money for growth.”

what your divorce lawyer should be doing and when



The practice of law is not a science, but it’s not exactly an art either. There are certain things your attorney can and should be doing. For some guidelines, refer to the following list:

  1. Your lawyer should have an overall plan for your case. This might simply mean that she plans to meet with your spouse’s lawyer within the next month and settle the case, have documents drawn up within two weeks after that meeting, have them signed within two weeks after that, and then submit them to court.

    Maybe it means she’s going to make an immediate request for support on your behalf and start demanding financial documents, with the goal of having your case ready for trial within six months.

    Maybe your lawyer can’t say when things will happen because too much depends on what the other side wants; still, she should have a general idea of how the case will proceed from your side given any number of scenarios.

    One matrimonial lawyer tells us that clients often seek her out for a second opinion on their case. The most frequent complaint: their case has no direction, they see no end in sight, and it seems like they’re always responding to their spouse’s action with no overriding plan of their own. One such client eventually terminated his relationship with a lawyer—after five years of delay, during which he waited in limbo for decisions on child custody, child support payments, visitation schedules, and more. Often as not, delays were caused by his own attorney’s exhausting schedule as her city’s superstar divorce diva. She was on every talk show and in every newspaper, but somehow, in terms of this client, she was unable to do her job.

  2. Early in your case, your lawyer should demand any and all financial documents in your spouse’s possession so that you can learn what there is between you to divide up.
  3. If you or your spouse has a pension or any kind of employee benefit, your lawyer should get a copy of the appropriate plan documents and account statements for the past few years. We know of more than one case where the lawyers agreed a pension would be divided up, only to discover that, under certain circumstances, the company had no obligation to pay the pension at all.
  4. Your lawyer should assess whether any experts will be needed in your case. If your wife has a hat-making business she established during the marriage, you might need a business appraiser to estimate the value of that business. Your lawyer should locate a well-respected forensic accountant or business appraiser now for possible later use.

    Maybe custody will be an issue, and you’ll need an expert to testify on your behalf.

    In some jurisdictions, the judge will appoint an expert to report to the court, but you still might need someone to support your case. Your lawyer should start getting you the names of qualified people.

  5. Your lawyer should, under almost all circumstances, tell your spouse’s lawyer that you are willing to listen to any reasonable settlement proposal and to negotiate. Cases have been settled on the steps of the courthouse on the day of trial, so it’s a good idea to leave the door open at all times.
  6. Your lawyer should promptly respond to letters and phone calls and keep you informed of all such communication. Copies of letters should be sent to you within 24 hours of the lawyer’s receipt. He or she should notify you about important phone calls—those concerning settlement proposals, for instance—as soon as possible. If the court hands down any decisions regarding your case, your lawyer should notify you at once.

    Your attorney should return your calls within 24 hours unless there’s some reason why that’s impossible—for instance, if she’s in court or in the middle of a trial. On the other hand, you should only call when you have something to ask or something important to say. It’s a good idea to write down questions and save them for a few days (unless they are urgent) so you can ask several at once. Some lawyers bill you a minimum of 15 minutes per call, so you might as well take up the time you’ll be billed for anyway.

  7. If your case is heading to trial, your attorney, with your input, should begin to interview and line up witnesses as needed. She should be sure to give your witnesses ample advance notice of the trial date.
  8. If your case actually goes to trial, your lawyer should fully prepare you. If possible, you should visit the courthouse and even the courtroom in advance. Your lawyer should review the questions he himself plans to ask and alert you about what to expect during cross-examination.

    One attorney we know even tells her clients how to dress on the day they will be in court. (“Go for the schoolteacher look,” she likes to say, “and leave the jewelry and fur at home.”)

  9. Throughout your case, your attorney should give you some sense of whether the law supports your position. No attorney worth her weight will guarantee you a victory, but a knowledgeable lawyer should be able to tell you whether there is a basis for your position and what is likely to happen if the case is tried.
  10. If your case ends with a defeat at trial, or if there are any defeats along the way (say you lose a motion when the judge denies your request for something), your lawyer should be able to provide you with sound advice about whether to appeal or seek reconsideration at the trial level.

25 Things All Young Lawyers Should Know In Order To Not Screw Up Their Legal Careers

I was a paralegal before law school. I took four years between undergrad and law school, so I knew a herd of practicing lawyers when I was still applying to law school. I thought I had a leg up on everyone; I thought I had it all figured out. But in hindsight, I realize that there was a lot I did not know — not in law school and not as I made my way through seven years as an associate with a top international law firm.

Now as a legal recruiter, I see associates making the same mistakes over and over. I wish law schools would do a better job of preparing students for the practicalities of the legal industry and not just teach the substance of the law. But until they do, here is my list of key points to understand and mistakes to avoid…

Law School & Gearing Up for Practice

1. For the law students out there, first-year grades are what matter for securing a summer associate position that will hopefully lead to a more permanent associate position. But for anyone who may look to lateral to another firm or go in-house eventually (and that is most of you!), second- and third-year law school grades do count. This is especially true for litigators in today’s market. Firms and most companies will ask for your law school transcript when you apply as a lateral attorney. They even on occasion ask for grades from partner candidates. Grades have a tendency to follow you around, so finish strong.

2. Check out bar requirements in advance for any state you might want to waive into eventually. New York, for example, requires that you take the multistate portion of the bar exam at the same time as the essay portion. That means you cannot decide six months later to take only the essay portion — you will have to retake the multistate as well.

3. If you want to become a litigator, strongly consider doing a federal clerkship. This is especially important if you may want to work in a litigation boutique one day (though, of course, you can opt to do a clerkship as a break in your law firm career and not necessarily before starting). If you are a corporate associate, no one cares if you have done a clerkship.

Picking Your Law Firm

4. Law firm prestige does matter. It is certainly not the only consideration, but to lateral to another firm or move to a company, it is very important. You may get much better hands-on experience and training at a smaller firm, but prospective employers usually do not see it this way.

5. Pick practice area wisely, based on your personality:

  • You have to like what you do! Do you enjoy the substance of the work in that field of law?
  • Keep in mind lifestyle factors when picking your practice area. Some areas have a steadier and more predictable flow of work whereas others have a very unpredictable workflow.
  • Certain practice areas attract certain personalities more than others. You may not want to go into litigation, for example, if you do not deal well with aggressive personalities.

6. …Based on your academic background: Be sure you have the right background to progress in your practice area. If you have no finance or accounting background or aptitude, corporate work may not be your best option. If you do not have a hard sciences/engineering/computer science background (preferably an advanced degree), think twice about doing science-related intellectual property work.

7. …Based on geographic factors: Do U.S. lawyers do this sort of work where I want to live? For example, if you want to move to a smaller city one day, do not go into finance. On the other hand, if you want to work overseas one day, strongly consider capital markets over other practice areas.

8. …Based on market considerations: Understand the current market and think about where you see the economy heading. I would hesitate to pick a specialty that is too niche or too dependent on market conditions.

9. …Based on your future goals: Some practice areas lend themselves better to going in-house one day, to going into the government, to setting up shop as a solo practitioner, or to working out a part-time arrangement one day. To the extent you know where you want to end up five, 10, or 15 years down the road, pick carefully today. It is extremely difficult to switch practice areas once you start.

10. Understand the various structures of law firms. It may not be a crucial factor for young associates, but you should at least be aware of the differences and the pros and cons of each. For example, lockstep firms may foster more cooperation and less competition among partners but tend to have more institutional clients and may not encourage the more junior associates to learn client development skills. If you enjoy the business side of being part of a law firm and you think you will have an aptitude for client development, you may want to consider a firm with a two-tier partnership track (income partners and equity partners), where you may have a better shot at proving your worth as a business-building partner.

(Flip to the next page to continue reading….)

40 secrets only divorce attorneys know

Divorce process is a stressful process that can easily bring out the worst in people. Some people even see divorce as a way to seek revenge on a spouse by seizing money and assets.

Although divorce can get you out of an unhappy marriage, it can also milk you for all you are worth if you don’t know your rights. Check out these 40 secrets from top divorce attorneys to help you protect your assets and stay on the winning side.

1. Don’t Let Emotions Lead Your Financial Decisions

People often want to take out their hurt feelings on their exes; however, it’s important not to let emotions interfere with the business at hand. In the long run, being spiteful could harm your own finances.

“Asking your lawyer to write a letter to your ex over who gets the $50 coffee table book is kind of nonsensical,” said Brendan Lyle, a former divorce attorney and CEO at BBL Churchill, a divorce finance firm. He went on to reveal that a short letter could cost you $500 in attorney fees.

2. Everything Is Divisible and Is Fair Game

Individuals often make the mistake of assuming that assets that are in their names can’t be claimed by spouses in a divorce. However, divorce experts caution that the opposite is true.

“Practically everything is divisible, including frequent flyer air miles or royalties from a book you wrote,” said Ann Narris, a Massachusetts attorney with the Narris Law Office & Family Mediation Partners.

Because the same holds true for liabilities like debt and credit cards, couples should be sure to consider all factors when doing their financial planning.

3. Make Big Purchases Before Filing for Divorce

Have a big purchase in mind, such as a new car?

“Most states issue automatic financial restraining orders prohibiting people from making big purchases or liquidating assets after the divorce is filed, absent a court order or an agreement,” said Narris.

In her practice, she advises those considering divorce to buy big items before filing.

4. Keep Track of Your Spouse’s Money

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce or legal separation, it’s a good idea to take a look at your spouse’s financial situation. According to Narris, spouses should start by tracking the partner’s new credit card and loan applications.

“People are more generous in their income reporting on credit or loan applications than they are in, say, their 1040,” said Narris, who went on to stress that loan applications could be crucial parts of a divorce discovery.

5. Gather Key Evidence Before Filing for Divorce

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce, it can be tough not to walk out the door when your spouse pushes your buttons. However, Narris recommended that individuals take time to collect evidence before a split. Along with taking pictures of assets, individuals should make copies of account statements and jot down any important numbers. Preparation is key if you hope to come out ahead in court.

6. Get Property Valued Before You Part Ways

When it comes to divorce, almost all property is fair game. However, spouses can’t hope to get their fair shares if they don’t know the value of assets.

“No sense in guessing on the worth of his baseball cards or your engagement ring — never mind a house or a business,” said Narris, who reminds couples that there are experts available who can appraise just about anything.

Doing your homework now is the best way to come out ahead down the line.

7. Don’t Hide Assets

You can try to deceive your spouse by hiding or concealing assets, but don’t forget that you’re also messing with the law. According to Narris, if what you’re hiding is discovered, you’ll lose your credibility in court. There could also be stiff penalties, including monetary sanctions. To protect yourself and your property during a divorce, it’s best to declare all assets upfront.

8. You Can Write Off Alimony Payments on Your Taxes

People who pay alimony are rarely grateful for the opportunity. Paying alimony can actually help you out come tax time, however. According to Narris, people who pay alimony to their exes can write it off as a tax deduction. On the other hand, those who receive alimony must report it as taxable income.

It’s important to note that alimony is different from child support, which is neither taxable nor deductible.

9. If Not Considered Alimony, the Income Is Not Taxable

If the transfer of money in a divorce is not considered alimony, the receiving spouse is in luck: These funds aren’t regarded as taxable income, according to Christian Denmon, founding partner of Denmon & Denmon, a personal injury, divorce and criminal defense law firm in Tampa, Fla.

Not so lucky is the payer, as there is no tax break for money transferred during the divorce process.

10. There Are Hidden Tax Implications to Watch Out For

During a divorce, it’s important to stay alert to hidden tax obligations.

“A husband might have purchased stock for $50 during the marriage,” said Denmon. “The stock has gone up in value so that at the time of the divorce, the husband ends up transferring $75 to the wife. If not otherwise addressed in the divorce settlement, the husband will be on the hook to pay taxes on the $25 gain on the stock.”

According to Denmon, spouses who are receiving real estate, stocks or bonds need to understand that taxable gains can leave them vulnerable.

11. Get Job Training or Update Your Education Before Filing

If you are currently being supported by your spouse, you might want to consider taking the time to dust off your resume and freshen up your skill set before seeking a divorce.

“Even if you receive support, the courts can impute income and expect you to be working if your kids are school aged and you are not of retirement age or disabled,” said Narris, who cautioned against “depend[ing] too much on a hopeful spousal support award.”

Updating your education now can help protect you later if things don’t go your way in court.

12. Familiarize Yourself With Your Finances Before You Split

Normally, one person in a household manages the finances. However, this arrangement can create a “power imbalance when it comes time to negotiate settlements,” according to Narris. So what can you do to protect yourself?

Seek professional help to guide you in making more informed decisions about finances being filing for divorce. Doing this will help you come out swinging when you get your day in court.

13. Consider Mediating Your Divorce

It’s no secret that divorce can be expensive. In fact, according to Narris, the average cost of legal fees in a divorce is $15,000. One way to cut down on these expenses is to use a mediator.

A mediator doesn’t work on behalf of any one party, just facilitates agreements. If you want to keep your divorce details behind closed doors while cutting costs, a mediator might be the best bet for both you and your bank account.

14. Know What Is Your Biggest Asset

According to Narris, many people mistakenly believe that their house is their biggest asset when it is actually a retirement or pension account. Even if your retirement account is less than robust now, the court will likely consider its future value when dividing assets.

“There are many ways to divide your portion of your spouse’s retirement asset (called a qualified domestic relations order) so give that due consideration,” said Narris.

15. If Your Lawyer Recommends a PI or Forensic Accountant, Hire One

Many individuals are hesitant to shell out for a private investigator or forensic accountant when going through a divorce, but sometimes, these professionals’ services are necessary.

According to Eva Cockerham, an attorney with Burke Jaskot law firm in Baltimore, “Private investigators are useful for investigating people who own small businesses, as independent data about numbers of customers, employees and resources can give a much fuller picture of a person’s true finances.”

Likewise, Cockerham noted that forensic accountants can give “insight as to whether a person going through a divorce is getting accurate information from their soon to be ex-spouse.” By spending a little now, you might be able to save yourself a bundle in the future.

16. The Most Expensive Lawyer Isn’t Always the Best

Pick your divorce lawyer wisely because your choice could save your bottom line.

“Find one that is experienced and knowledgeable but is also a good fit for you,” said Narris. “You have the power to set the tone for your divorce. The attorney should advise you but also respect your position on how to approach the negotiations.”

Just because an attorney has a high hourly rate doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will honor your wishes. For best results, go with your gut feeling.

17. Understand Debt Obligations

According to Heather Sunderman, a divorce attorney with Mirsky Policastri in the Washington, D.C. area, too many clients assume partners’ debts are joint when they’re not.

“Some states do not divide marital debt if it’s just in one person’s name, so if possible, during separation you may want to pay down that debt preferentially,” said Sunderman.

The last thing you want is to be on the hook for debts you didn’t accumulate.

18. Don’t Forget About Beneficiary Designations

Divorce attorneys note that many clients fail to remove former spouses from their beneficiary designations.

If you fail to remove these designations, “those amounts may end up being paid out to a former spouse,” said Sunderman. “Usually that’s not the result you want.”

For best results, handle beneficiary designations and other tedious paperwork as soon as possible.

19. Pay Court-Ordered Attorney Fees

Court-ordered attorney fees are no joke.

“The court can order one spouse to contribute to the other spouse’s attorney fees,” said Denmon, who went on to explain that this type of debt was treated in a special manner. When it comes to court-ordered attorney fees, the judge can throw the offending spouse in jail for failing to pay.

In light of these regulations, Denmon advises that spouses who are receiving financial help have language drafted into agreements clarifying how much money must be paid and by what date. Doing this gives spouses the ability “to enforce the agreement should the paying spouse fail to follow through with his agreement,” said Denmon.

20. Consider Your Income Before Asking for All the Deductible Items

Clients typically strive to get as much as possible in a divorce. However, according Russell Luna, a certified divorce financial analyst in Colorado, higher incomes can disqualify individuals from important tax deductions.

“If you file single and make more than $380,750, your personal exemption of $4,000 is not available,” said Luna.

In light of this fact, individuals might not want all the items they originally requested in a divorce. For best results, speak to a financial professional about your specific fiscal situation and options.

21. Take Advantage of Free Legal Advice

Most attorneys will offer free consultations, said Narris, who advises clients to “take advantage of that and get some basic information, see if the lawyer is the right fit.”

To ensure you make the right choice, be sure to consult with a few attorneys before coming to a hiring decision. After all, the outcome of your divorce depends in large part on the quality of your legal advice.

22. Be Mindful of the Date When Initiating Divorce

While you might be tempted to file as soon as possible, it’s important to note that property division is based on the date of marriage separation in some states. Typically, the court uses a formal date of separation (DOS) to determine property division and the value of certain assets.

“If you are expecting a large increase in the value of a major asset upon a certain occasion, be mindful of that when you decide to initiate the divorce,” said Narris.

23. Design a Joint Parenting Arrangement Wisely

Unlike claiming a child as a tax dependent, claiming head of household is not assignable, said Narris, who went on to explain that individuals either met the criteria or did not.

If you’re negotiating who will claim a child as a dependent, Narris said, “You can include a provision that the right to claim the child is dependent on the parent being up to date on their support obligation.”

24. Plan Finances for After the Divorce

Clients often neglect to consider how their financial planning can change after a divorce.

“Your risk aversion may be very different than your former spouse[‘s] and you do not need to keep the same investment trajectory you had before the divorce,” said Narris.

If you don’t know where to begin, you might want to hire a financial advisor. Remember to think long term when planning finances after divorce.

25. Have a Paper Trail

While most assets are divisible in divorce, there are some exceptions to the rule. Documents can help preserve what you believe to be separate property when it comes to divorce proceedings and should be collected beforehand.

“Too many times the necessary documents seem to disappear after a divorce starts, so to the highest degree possible, gather those documents before you start the divorce,” said Jeff Anderson, a Dallas family law attorney.

26. The Division of Property Can Be Complex

Dividing assets and properties isn’t always a simple numerical transaction.

“Negotiating the division of property is an art form all its own,” said Keith Nelson, a family law attorney with Orsinger, Nelson, Downing and Anderson, LLP in Dallas. “It’s a three-step process: Characterize the asset, value it, divide it.”

After the asset is identified as community property, separate property or both, figuring out the value can be tricky. “For instance, a bank account with cash in it is pretty easy to value — look at the balance,” said Nelson. “But a retirement account, a house or securities can have more complex issues.”

27. Retirement Accounts Are Not Worth the Statement Balance

Just as it can be difficult to value assets, couples often struggle to determine the true value of their retirement accounts. One reason that retirement accounts pose problems is that deferred tax will have to be paid at some point. In light of this fact, Nelson cautions clients that retirement accounts might be worth even less than the balance minus tax.

“If one of the parties will be liquidating a retirement account early, then the highest marginal tax rate and the early withdrawal penalty might need to be subtracted from the value of the account,” said Nelson, who went on to explain that the value of these assets is often drastically reduced as a result.

According to Nelson, “Even if the account is not going to be liquidated, the taxes which will be paid on the money at the time of retirement can be considered and a reduction of the overall value of the asset might [be], and very often is, appropriate.”

28. ‘Division of Property’ Depends on Where You Live

When a divorcing couple heads to court for a property dispute, state law is used to divide the property using one of two classifications: community property or equitable distribution. With community property, both spouses own income and assets equally, and items can be divided evenly. Additionally, individuals can keep separate property.

According to NOLO, a legal advice website, community property applies to the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin as well as Puerto Rico. Every other state uses equitable distribution, which involves “fairly” divvying up assets and money accrued during marriage. Knowing the law of the land can help you avoid surprises during your divorce proceedings.

29. Some States Are Better for Getting a Divorce

According to the government research site InsideGov, the five states with the easiest and most lenient divorce laws are Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa and Washington. The ease of filing, fees and processing times are all considered as part of the rankings. If time and cost are of the essence, you might want to consider where you live before filing divorce papers.

30. Be Mindful of the Worst States for Divorce

Based off InsideGov’s data, the most difficult states to get a divorce include Arkansas, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont. Arkansas takes the longest amount of time at 540 days. If you live in one of these states, you and your spouse might want to consider relocating to expedite the divorce process.

31. When in Doubt, Seek a Professional — Or It May Cost You

Todd Huettner, president of the residential and commercial real estate mortgage bank Huettner Capital and a financial analyst who has helped many individuals dealing with divorce, advises clients to seek professional help at all costs.

“A simple mistake that drops your credit score 40 points can cost you thousands on your next mortgage,” said Huettner. “Making a mistake separating accounts, renaming beneficiaries or not setting up life insurance properly can cost you hundreds of thousands and impact you for years.”

32. Make Sure You Actually Implement the Divorce

Despite their eagerness to be divorced, many people actually fail to complete all the steps needed to make their divorces legal, according to Huettner. For the best results, clients should make sure all their bases are covered and check up on spouses to ensure they have completed the necessary steps.

“You don’t want to find out that your ex-spouse never refinanced the house five years ago like he was supposed to and [it’s] now in foreclosure,” said Huettner. “By the time you find out about it, your credit will be destroyed for years.”

33. Compromise Could Help You

You win some, you lose some, right? Unfortunately, divorcing spouses often refrain from compromising out of spite.

While you might be tempted to fight every battle that comes your way, agreeing to compromises could save you a lot of headaches and money on legal fees when going through a divorce. As an added bonus, your decision to compromise could encourage your spouse to do the same.

34. Don’t Forget About Health Insurance

Although federal law might dictate that you have health insurance access under your former spouse, Narris cautions clients against relying on COBRA coverage long term due to the high cost.

Her advice: “Start doing legwork for available options that may be less expensive. Better yet, find a job for yourself that has benefits.”

35. Belts Are Always Tightened During a Divorce

While individuals tend to factor the price of getting divorced into their budgets, they don’t always consider other everyday expenses incurred during the process.

Narris recommends that clients carve out a little extra money to care for their personal needs during this difficult time. “Factor in a gym membership, therapy co-payments, massages,” said Narris. “You will want to be as healthy as you can to help your kids through the process, and you never know when you may have a bad day.”

36. Take Action but Be Wary

Savvy divorce attorneys advise their clients to be cautious when filing for divorce.

According to Luna, it’s important to make sure you have the current statement for your spouse’s brokerage account before announcing and filing for the divorce. After all, a deceitful spouse could very easily liquidate the account with no paper trail by neglecting to cash checks until later. The last thing you want is to find out your spouse set up a new account after the divorce settlement while leaving the current brokerage statement with a zero balance.

37. Avoid Underestimating Living Expenses

You need to know what your spouse earns monthly, as well as where the money goes. According to a Divorcenet.com article, when considering the cost of future living expenses, it’s important to take into account the effect of inflation.

Narris recommended keeping receipts so you have a good idea of what everything actually costs. Doing this will help you maintain quality of life after a divorce.

38. Don’t Let Emotions Get in the Way of Selling the Family Home

Whether you have an emotional attachment to your family home or are just being vindictive toward your former spouse, be sure you’re thinking wisely about your decisions with regard to shared property. You don’t want to discover later that you gave up other assets just to keep a home in which you can’t afford to live.

39. Know What You Value

When contemplating divorce, it’s important to consider what assets you value most and be prepared to let some things go.

“A major mistake in divorce that everyone can get trapped into is spending hundreds or thousands of dollars fighting for something that you don’t even want,” said Narris.

Take your time so you can make the most rational and intelligent decisions.

40. Dress Appropriately for Court

It might seem like a small matter, but buying nice clothes for court can boost one’s confidence.

“You will feel better and likely fair better with the judge,” said Narris.

Of course, clients should remember to keep it professional and avoid dressing in a manner that’s flashy or overly pompous. Play it safe by keeping clothing neutral and accessories to a minimum.

It’s important to remember that divorce law varies by state, and some of these tips might not be applicable in your region. Be sure to find a divorce attorney in your area to advise you on how to get a divorce. Doing this will help protect your assets and property while ensuring the process goes as smoothly as it possibly can.

From GoBankingRates.com.

10 Things To Know About Startup Law Practice

1. What do you do in a typical day?

It really depends on what the clients have going on, as tech startup practices tend to be much more client-driven than deal-driven. When a number of clients do have significant transactions on the table—like a venture financing, an IPO or a sale of the company—those transactions usually take precedence over the more routine work other clients need on a day-to-day basis. Startup lawyers spend most of a typical day working on bigger transactions for their clients (to the extent they have any at the moment), while trying to spend the short lulls in between handling small questions or requests from clients that don’t have active deals pending. It can be a lot to juggle!

2. Who do you work with?

Attorneys in this practice area work very closely with the founders and executives at their startup company clients, and eventually the company’s general counsel (once the company has reached a stage where they’ve hired an in-house lawyer). Attorneys representing investors work directly with the venture capitalist making the investment and possibly the fund’s GC or COO. Whichever side startup lawyers are on, they’re likely also interacting a lot with lawyers representing the counterparties on the transactions.

Within a law firm, fairly junior attorneys work with either a partner or senior associate. They also often consult with the firm’s specialists in executive compensation, employment, IP and commercial transactions, and tax, as these are the areas outside of corporate/securities where most startups have frequent legal questions and issues.

3. What does a common career path look like?

Startup practice provides some interesting opportunities for junior lawyers because of the sheer volume of clients. Because there are so many smaller, early-stage clients, senior associates often play a larger role in managing client relationships, and junior associates have a lot more client contact and responsibility earlier than they would in some other practice areas. Partners rely on junior lawyers to manage the day-to-day in order to provide the client with an accessible on-demand resource and to keep the client’s costs down. This gives junior startup lawyers the opportunity to develop more quickly, though it also means that junior lawyers need to demonstrate good judgment, maturity and independence early in their careers. That substantial early experience can come in handy, whether these attorneys eventually become law firm partners, go in-house at companies or VC funds, or launch startups of their own.

4. If variety is the spice of life, how spicy is this practice area?

Muy caliente! Startup lawyers, despite being at law firms, typically function as general counsel for their startup clients because early-stage companies rarely have in-house legal resources. As a result, startup lawyers end up fielding a wide variety of questions and requests, only some of which are strictly legal in nature. As with any in-house legal role, when lawyers work directly with business teams and are their first stop for any quasi-legal question, every day brings new surprises. Interestingly, law students often have the opposite impression of startup practice—they tend to think it’s highly specialized and sometimes opt for the well-trodden path to a white-shoe corporate firm (where they can rotate through different practice areas), because they think it will provide them with more variety.

5. How much wear and tear?

When startup lawyers spend most of their time working on the company side, they can get stretched pretty thin. Startups like to move very quickly (as Facebook once put it, they aim to “move fast and break things”)—which can be especially hard on their lawyers, who are usually managing dozens of active companies. First-time founders, in particular, often have unrealistic expectations about how long deals—and legal work, in general—should take. Thus, it’s a constant negotiation, not with the other side but with the startup lawyer’s own client, about timing expectations. Take that trend and multiply it by the many startup companies these lawyers are representing at any given time, and the pace can become challenging.

On the investor side, it’s often a bit better. There’s typically less work to do when representing investors, and the client is also usually more sophisticated about how these deals get done (since they do deals for a living). VCs tend to be easier to work with than investment bankers or private equity investors. Having a nice mix between company representations and investor-side deals can make a startup lawyer’s workload more bearable.

6. Of the people in this practice group who hate it, what exactly do they hate about it?

Many have complaints that are common among most corporate lawyers, with work/life balance probably at the top of the heap. Some startup lawyers find it increasingly frustrating to explain the same things repeatedly to unsophisticated company founders. Venture financing deals can also be very formulaic, which means attorneys often find themselves negotiating the same few points on every deal (which can get old quickly). Finally, there’s a lot of fee pressure with cost-sensitive startup clients, making some attorneys practicing in the space feel like the clients don’t value their work.

7. Of the people in this practice group who love it, what exactly do they love about it?

Many lawyers go into corporate law because they’re also interested in the business side. Unlike most corporate lawyers, however, startup lawyers are regularly asked to give business advice to their company clients. These clients, many of whom are launching a business for the first time, turn to their lawyers for help with deal terms as well as advice on finding and managing investors, and startup lawyers often enjoy being a business and strategic adviser in addition to a legal counselor.

Startup lawyers also enjoy being the first to know about a lot of interesting developments in the technology space and having clients working on cool or interesting products and services. Another plus for many junior startup lawyers is that they have the ability to bring in business early in their careers, since there are more prospective clients in their age cohort and personal networks than would usually be the case in other practice areas.

8. Are there common avenues out of this practice area?

As with most other areas of law, a small minority of the lawyers who start out in this field end up becoming partners in big law firms. Many startup lawyers end up moving client-side, either to their startup company clients or to VC funds (where they often take GC/COO roles). Some lawyers who go into this type of practice do so because they think they eventually want to launch their own startups. Experience in a law firm startup practice can also prepare lawyers for eventually striking out on their own and hanging a shingle.

9. What are some market trends that impact this practice area?

Startup practices can sometimes be countercyclical, because people who are laid off in economic downturns often decide to start their own businesses. However, by and large, this practice area is closely tied to the strength of the VC funding market, as well as M&A and IPO activity.

After significant increases in private company valuations in recent years, there has been a lot of talk among tech industry observers that we may be in the midst of another tech bubble (albeit of a different sort than we saw in the late ’90s). Though there have been some signs that startup financing markets have taken a breather of late, the party does not appear to be over quite yet.

10. If you had to recommend one candidate from a room crowded with recent bar exam graduates, what specific qualities would he or she have that would ensure success in this practice area?

This practice area requires a lot of soft skills: interpersonal skills, communication skills and pragmatic judgment. While it’s not strictly necessary, a demonstrated interest in tech can help land a job at a firm specializing in representing startups, as jobs in startup law practices have become highly coveted in the last few years. Finally, successful junior associates in this area need to be self-starters—being proactive with clients and issue spotting before a problem becomes a problem turns a junior lawyer into a trusted adviser in short order.

Top 10 Things Every Business Lawyer Should Know about Bankruptcy

Every business lawyer needs a basic understanding of bankruptcy law. Your client can be affected by a bankruptcy in many ways: it may be a creditor in a bankruptcy case; it may need or want to do business with a trustee or debtor in a bankruptcy case; or it may be a defendant in a preference action or other bankruptcy litigation, among other possible scenarios. Your client also may face financial distress and need to explore restructuring or wind-down options, including filing for bankruptcy. A business lawyer needs to understand the basics to address common bankruptcy issues that arise in business matters.

Types of Bankruptcy

All bankruptcies are governed by title 11 of the United States Code. There are several types of bankruptcies available under title 11. Businesses are eligible to file under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 11. Chapter 7 is a liquidation case, which may be a good option if your client wants to cease doing business. Chapter 11 is a reorganization case, which is applicable if your client wants to maintain control and continue operating while restructuring its balance sheet. While Chapter 11 is known as a “reorganization” case, many Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases end in liquidation or in a sale of the business to a third-party purchaser.

When a debtor files a Chapter 7, a Chapter 7 trustee is automatically appointed to administer the debtor’s property. Whereas, in a Chapter 11 case, the debtor generally remains in possession of its property (unless a party seeks to have a trustee appointed based on a finding by the court of fraud and mismanagement). The Chapter 11 debtor is known as a “debtor in possession.” If the debtor is a business, this means that the managers of the business continue to operate the business. But because the debtor in possession has the same rights and obligations as a bankruptcy trustee, the debtor in bankruptcy has different fiduciary responsibilities than it would outside of bankruptcy. The debtor in possession in not just accountable to its equity holders, but also accountable to its creditors.

Automatic Stay

The filing of the bankruptcy case imposes an automatic stay against collection efforts on the debtor or the debtor’s property. This means that while the automatic stay is in effect, creditors cannot sue, assert a deficiency, repossess property, or otherwise try to collect from the debtor. Creditors cannot demand repayment from the debtor. Creditors who violate the stay can be required to pay actual and punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

The automatic stay is very broad and does not only apply to collection efforts, but also to any act to obtain possession of the debtor’s property or exercise control over the debtor’s property. The purpose of the automatic stay is to give the debtor a breathing spell to stop collection efforts and to permit the debtor an opportunity to attempt repayment or reorganization. However, under certain circumstances, such as a showing of good cause, creditors can ask the bankruptcy court to lift the stay. Additionally, secured creditors may ask the bankruptcy court for adequate protection from a decrease in the value of its collateral to ensure they are not unfairly prejudiced by the stay.

Proof of Claim

Creditors can assert a claim against a debtor by filing a proof of claim. A proof of claim is an official bankruptcy form that must be used. The proof of claim form recently changed, effective April 1, 2016, and can be found on the United States Courts website. A bankruptcy case will have a set deadline for when proofs of claim must be filed, referred to as a “bar date.” Any claims not filed by this deadline are barred from being asserted at a later time.

The Bankruptcy Code requires creditors to file a proof of claim if their right to payment from the debtor is contingent, unliquidated, or unmatured, except under certain circumstances. A creditor’s basis for filing a proof of claim could arise from contract rights with the debtor, tort claims against the debtor, a judgment against the debtor, or even a not-yet-filed lawsuit against the debtor. The debtor will be given the opportunity to dispute the proof of claim before the bankruptcy court “allows” the claim­—i.e., finds that the creditor is entitled to payment.

Meeting of Creditors

Shortly after the commencement of a bankruptcy case, the court schedules a meeting of creditors whereby creditors are invited to attend the meeting to ask questions of the debtor under oath. This meeting, called the “341 meeting” for the section of the Bankruptcy Code authorizing the meeting, is similar to a traditional deposition. The scope of the 341 meeting, however, is not governed by traditional discovery rules. Instead, the questions mostly will be about the debtor’s assets, income, and debts.

Questions may be asked by the creditor directly, or by its representative. The meeting of creditors is a great opportunity for a creditor to find out information about the bankruptcy case without the need for formal discovery. Recognize, however, to the extent that the creditor has substantial and numerous questions or if the questions do not relate to the debtor’s financial affairs, then the creditor’s questions may be limited.

Priority of Payments

The Bankruptcy Code specifies the order in which claims are paid from the assets of a debtor’s estate. Secured creditors are paid from the collateral securing their claims. Superpriority claims are generally certain types of administrative claims. Some superpriority claims prevail over secured claims while others are paid after secured claims but before priority claims. Priority claims are certain pre-petition unsecured claims that include, among other things, certain wage claims and tax claims. General unsecured claims are paid after priority claims.

If there are insufficient assets to pay all claimants of a particular priority class in full, then distributions to pay claims of the same priority class are made on a pro rata basis. This means all creditors of the same priority class are treated alike. Equity does not get paid unless all creditors are paid in full.


A bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from liability for certain specified types of debts which means that the debtor is no longer legally required to pay such debts. In a Chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy court generally grants the discharge promptly on expiration of the time fixed for filing a complaint objecting to discharge and the time fixed for filing a motion to dismiss the case for substantial abuse (60 days following the first date set for the 341 meeting). In a Chapter 11 case, a discharge is granted when the Chapter 11 plan is confirmed. However, if the Chapter 11 plan provides for the liquidation of the debtor’s property, then no discharge is granted.

Making collection demands on discharged debtor violates the order granting discharge and the creditor can be liable for damages and sanctions.

Executory Contracts

If your business client is a landlord or a tenant, a personal property lessor or lessee, a service provider, or a business that requires services to be provided, then issues about executory contracts are likely to arise. Executory contracts are contracts where material nonmonetary obligations have yet to be performed. The Chapter 7 trustee or debtor in possession has special rights with respect to executory contracts and leases. Specifically, they can decide whether to perform or refuse to perform under an executory contract or lease. Deciding to perform is known as assumption, and refusing to perform is known as rejection. Until the decision to assume or reject is made (or the contract is otherwise rejected by operation of the Bankruptcy Code), the counterparty must continue to perform under an executory contract or lease or be deemed to be in violation of the automatic stay. Counterparties to an executory contract, however, must be paid for goods or services provided under the executory contract during the Chapter 11 case until the executory contract is rejected.

Rejection is treated like a material breach of the contract; however, the only remedy for the counter-party is to assert a claim for rejection damages, which is treated as a pre-petition general unsecured claim, in pari passu with the debtor’s other pre-petition general unsecured claims.

Creditors’ Committees

In a Chapter 11 case, the U.S. Trustee can appoint an official committee of general unsecured creditors which is commonly known as the “creditors’ committee.” The creditors’ committee is comprised of a representative cross-section of the debtor’s unsecured creditors and has a fiduciary duty to all unsecured creditors to maintain the estate’s value, consults with the debtor in possession on administration of the case, investigates the debtor’s conduct and operation of the business, and participates in formulating a plan. Attorneys and other professionals retained by the creditors’ committee are compensated from assets of the debtor’s estate. Individual committee members are not charged directly.

The creditors’ committee’s role includes, among other things, providing access to information to creditors not appointed to the committee. So the creditor’s committee is a great source of information for creditors in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The creditor’s committee is also charged with soliciting and receiving comments from creditors not appointed to the committee. Cost-conscious creditors may be able to piggy-back on work performed by the creditor’s committee, such as by joining in an objection filed by the committee, to protect their positions.

Chapter 11 Plan

The Chapter 11 plan is the culmination of the Chapter 11 process and is considered a binding agreement between the debtor and all of its creditors and stakeholders. The debtor in possession has a certain exclusivity period where it alone can propose a plan; after that period, other creditors can propose their own plan.

The Chapter 11 plan provides the details for the debtor’s reorganization or liquidation including, among other things, the treatment of all claims and interests in the debtor. The treatment of claims can vary widely from distributing cash to the claim holder, converting the claim to equity (or some other interest), or simply canceling out the debt.

With some exceptions, creditors are generally entitled to vote on the Chapter 11 plan. These creditors (or their counsel) will receive a solicitation package that includes a disclosure statement. A disclosure statement is a prospectus-like document that provides relevant background information and summarizes the major terms of the Chapter 11 plan. The solicitation package will also include a ballot to vote on the plan. If the Chapter 11 plan is approved by the bankruptcy court, then the plan is binding on all creditors and stakeholders.

If a creditor wants to object to a Chapter 11 plan, it is not sufficient to just vote against the plan. The creditor must file an objection and state the specific basis for the objection.


Preferences are certain transfers of a debtor’s property made by an insolvent debtor within 90 days of bankruptcy (or one year, if to an insider). Preferences are transfers made by the debtor on account of an antecedent debt. This means that even though the debtor owed a debt to the creditor, the creditor may have to pay the amount back as a preference. The purpose of the preference action is to prevent the debtor from preferring certain creditors’ claims over others just before the bankruptcy filing—or to prevent one creditors from demanding payment on the eve of the debtor’s bankruptcy to the other creditors’ detriment. Instead, through preference actions, the bankruptcy court attempts to provide equality of distributions among all the creditors.

A creditor sued for a preference has many possible defenses. The creditor may defend the preference by showing, among other things: (1) that the transfer was in the ordinary course of financial affairs between the debtor and the creditor, (2) the transfer was made according to ordinary business terms, (3) the transfer was a contemporaneous exchange of value, or (4) that the creditor gave new value to the debtor after the creditor received the preferential transfer.


The Bankruptcy Code’s substance and procedure may be foreign territory for business clients and lawyers alike. It is best to consult a bankruptcy practitioner for insight into your client’s specific facts and circumstances. But every business lawyer should have at least a basic understanding of the core bankruptcy concepts. For a more detailed look at these concepts, the ABA Business Law Section hosted an “In the Know” webinar, co-sponsored by the Business Bankruptcy Committee, on June 30, 2016, titled Bankruptcy Basics: What Every Business Lawyer Needs to Know About the Bankruptcy Process. The speakers discussed the fundamentals of bankruptcy practice for business lawyers including details on the bankruptcy process; how the bankruptcy process impacts various parties in interest and the basics of bankruptcy litigation. Access the webinar archive here.

The authors wish to thank Judith Greenstone Miller, Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss, P.C., Chair of the Membership Subcommittee of the Business Bankruptcy Committee, and Donald R. Kirk, Carlton Fields, Vice-Chair of the Membership Subcommittee of the Business Bankruptcy Committee.

Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Startup: Ten Reasons

When people decide to start a business, they usually have a great idea and some money to invest in the enterprise. Some people opt to start the business by themselves or with family members, while others have partners or other investors who will not be involved with the day-to-day affairs of the business.

The laws that apply to start-up businesses differ based on the specifics of the situation, and even business people who decide to go it alone have options to protect themselves from personal liability for business debts and obligations. For this and other important reasons, you most likely will need a lawyer for your startup.

10. Contracts.  Most businesses execute contracts for space, services, and supplies. Businesses often have agreements between partners, investors, and employees. It is important to get it right so you don’t end up in court.

9. Registering, Licensing, and Permits.  Some business entities are required to register with the state in order to be recognized. Even businesses that are not required to register may be required to obtain licenses or permits.

8. Business Form.  The choice of business form (i.e. sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation) often dictates the legal responsibilities and potential liability of those involved in leading the business, as well as the manner in which it may operate. For example, choosing the wrong entity may make you personally liable for the wrongs of employees or partners.

7. Multi-State Business.  The preconditions to forming and conducting a business entity in one state may not be accepted in another state. If you are not careful, the protections you have in your home state of operations may be lost if you do business in another state. See the State Business Laws section for more details.

6. Strict Conformity.  With some business entities you must strictly conform to the state law governing that business form, or you may lose the benefits and protections of those laws.

5. Capital.  Businesses need to raise money, keep records of income  and distributions, and behave in a fiscally responsible manner. Different business entities may require different procedures for raising capital and making distributions.

4. Variety of Entities.  Although there are five basic business entities, there are other options within these entities that determine things like double taxation and liability for the acts of partners.

3. Autonomy.  With many business entities, the things you don’t decide are decided for you. Most states have adopted “Uniform Laws” that fill in the gaps for business entities where their charters, by-laws, and other organizing documents are silent. You may be subject to a whole set of laws and regulations that you don’t even know exist.

2. Tax.  Different business forms provide different tax advantages and disadvantages. The only thing more crucial to a new business is liability.

1. Liability.  Different business forms provide different protections and risks to the business owner/investor. Personal liability means that your business puts everything you own at risk. An attorney can help you avoid this situation or minimize your risk. Knowing about your personal liability, and reducing the risk that your business may devastate the economic well-being of you and your family, is well worth a visit to an experienced attorney. See Business Liability to learn more.

Get a Free Case Review

In most cases, you will at some point need the services of a lawyer for your startup, perhaps for tax services or employment law compliance. Whatever the reason, make sure you contact the right attorney for your needs. Contact a qualified local tax attorney for a free initial case assessment to discuss your needs and learn how they can help you set up a business that maximizes profits and minimizes liabilities.

Military Divorce Attorney: What You Need to Know about Military Divorce

Military Divorce Attorney: What You Need to Know about Military Divorce

Military divorce is basically the same as any other type of divorce, and you should always arm yourself with a military divorce attorney when you are going through it. While this is the case, there may be special circumstances that can make divorce involving one or two military personnel more complicated. For instance, if one military spouse is serving in a remote area or overseas, the process may take a longer time. If you, or your spouse, are in the military and planning to get a divorce, the information below can be helpful to you.

Understanding the USFSPA

When you are going through the process, important that you have a good understanding of the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, or USFSPA. The USFSPA requires military divorcees to abide by certain laws when they are dealing with issues such as spousal support, child support, and military pension. If you are a retired serviceman or approaching retirement, you should know that the USFSPA allows your state to regard military pension as property instead of income.

Military Pension

In order for a former spouse to be eligible for direct retirement payments, the couple has to be married and one spouse must have served the military for at least 10 years. The criteria for eligibility may vary from one state to another. The maximum portion of military pension that a former spouse can receive is 50 percent.

Determining Marital Share for Active Members

There are basically three ways to calculate the amount of payment a military divorcee will receive, and they are:

  • Net present value
  • Deferred Distribution
  • Reserve Jurisdiction

Other Concerns

Some of the other issues that you have to be prepared to deal with when you are going through a military divorce include:

  • Survivor Benefits Plan
  • Thrift Savings Plan
  • Base Privileges


This is what you need to know about military divorce. Although, the divorce process isn’t different from when you are going through the normal divorce, there are a number of things that you need to consider for you to have a successful process. To have an easy time, you should hire a family lawyer who will not only represent you in court, but also advice you on what you need to do to have a smooth process.