Frequently Asked Legal Questions (Legal FAQ’s)

Frequently asked legal questions regarding divorce and family law:

Below are some commonly asked legal questions regarding divorce and family law.  If you do not see what you are looking for, feel free to contact us.  We will be happy to schedule a consultation with you and answer as many questions as we can during that time.

What legal issues, in general, should I be thinking about related to my divorce?

Your lawyer should provide you with an explanation of the law during your initial consultation.  Each case is different, and the legal advice you get will be based on your unique circumstances.  For example, if you have children, the legal issues in your case will be more complex.  You should talk to a lawyer before making any major decisions, such as moving out of a residence or transferring property.

What are the basic requirements for getting divorced?

You should talk to a lawyer and seek legal advice before taking any action in your dispute.  You have to be a resident of the State of Nebraska for more than one year before you can file for divorce, but you can file for a legal separation as soon as you are living here (and get your divorce later).  Generally speaking, no matter what you file, your children must live in Nebraska for six months before a court here has jurisdiction over custody and parenting issues.  Once you file for divorce and obtain jurisdiction over your spouse, there is a 60 day waiting period before a divorce can be granted.

What amount of child support is likely to be ordered in my case?

Child support in Nebraska is based upon the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines provide a formula for child support that uses the combined monthly net income of each parent to arrive at a child support figure. Put simply, there are two stages to calculating child support.

First, each parent’s net monthly income is used as a numerator of a fraction. The denominator is the parties’ combined monthly net income. These fractions are then used as multipliers. For example, if the husband has $75,000 of net income and the wife has $25,000 of net income, the husband’s multiplier would be .75.

Next, the combined monthly net income of the parties is located on the child support “table” created by the Nebraska Supreme Court and the Nebraska Legislature. This table can be found here. Each level of combined monthly net income corresponds with a child support amount, based on the number of children involved. For the party paying child support, his or her multiplier is then applied to the amount set forth on the chart.

This answer oversimplifies a somewhat complex series of calculations and considerations. Child support depends on a variety of factors, and there are additions and deductions from income that can significantly alter the child support amount. Kinney Mason will calculate your child support based upon our experience with the law and the facts that impact support amounts.

How will property be divided?

Nebraska law requires that your property be divided “equitably.”  Typically, this means that the property acquired during the “marital partnership” be divided “equally.”  Property division is an issue that is dealt with during the later stages of the divorce process.  There are important considerations in every divorce related to property division.  For example, there are standard approaches to determining the methodology for dividing the equity in the marital home that have developed as a “rule of thumb” over time in Nebraska.  Dividing retirement accounts can be complex and will require the input of your lawyer.  At Kinney Mason, we will communicate with you concerning the identification, valuation and division of assets, in that order.  Each stage of that process requires the focus and attention of both attorney and client.  To learn more about property division, contact us to schedule a consultation.

Will alimony be an issue in my case?

Next to custody and parenting time issues, alimony can be the most controversial and difficult matter to resolve in a divorce case.  This is because there is no “formula” for alimony.  There are certain “factors” (according to state law) for a court to consider in making the award, which are the following:

Circumstances of the parties, duration of the marriage, a history of the contributions to the marriage by each party, including contributions to the care and education of the children, and interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities, and the ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of any minor children in the custody of such party.

These “factors” are often difficult for non-lawyers to interpret or understand.  Almost all states give trial judges tremendous discretion in awarding alimony, and many states vary significantly in their approach to the issue.  This has led to arbitrary results and makes alimony a difficult issue to resolve.  Alimony, as a concept, is criticized because it does not have a readily understandable rationale and lacks standards by which to predict the outcome of the award. At Kinney Mason, we focus on the issue of monthly expenses.  If the marriage is of significant duration and there is some disparity in earning power, we analyze the expenses of the spouse seeking alimony to see if there is a “shortfall” each month, after factoring in net income and any child support award.

What is collaborative Law?

Collaborative Law is a process wherein the husband, wife and both of their attorneys agree to resolve all issues in their case without involving a court. They work together, in private, to attempt to find a way to negotiate a settlement so that the couple, hopefully, can transition from being married to being single without some of the damage that can result from litigation. The lawyers and their clients sign a written pledge to disclose all assets and debts and to work together to resolve conflict.  If no agreement is reached, the attorneys must withdraw, and litigation counsel must step in. The process is criticized because attorneys familiar with the case may be required to step out after months of hard work. The process is also criticized because of the number of additional professionals that are required to be involved (cases typically involve a child specialist, a “coach” for each party, and a financial specialist). However, under the right circumstances, collaborative law can be a good alternative. John Kinney is trained in collaborative law and has handled collaborative cases to successful conclusion, although he does not handle more than a few at any given time at this point in his practice.

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Looking for more specific legal information?

Contact us to schedule a consultation.  We will be happy to sit with you, learn about your situation, and provide you with the legal advice to help you sleep easier and take actions towards your goals.