Divorce: Divorce encompasses identifying and valuing the marital estate; determining actual incomes for purposes of support (child support and or spousal support); the division of the marital estate; and if there is a minor child(ren), then determining what custodial arrangement is in the child’s best interest.
Custody/Parenting Time: Among the most sensitive and emotionally charged subjects is child custody and parenting time. Understanding the family dynamic, personalities, habits, and past behavior is crucial in determining the most effective strategy to work within the governing law in order to secure a custody and parenting time arrangement that is in your child’s best interest. While our first approach is facilitative in nature, our polished negotiation skills and years of courtroom experience allow us to navigate quickly and effectively to protect and secure your child’s physical and emotional well being. Custody and parenting time are modifiable so it is imperative to know the warning signs so you can always be your child’s advocate.
Child Support: Child support is calculated by weighing several factors including the earnings of each parent (which includes the possible imputation of income), the custody and parenting time schedule, child care costs and health care costs. While a computer program allows the Court and the practitioner to plug in the variables and obtain a monthly support figure, the program cannot address the intangibles. There are issues which impact child support such as undisclosed income, the need to impute income, carefully buried income of the self employed party, a party’s remarriage, investment or rental property income, and the list goes on. We are experienced in performing a forensic evaluation of the marital estate and spending pattern which enable us to determine the party’s real income which is not necessarily consistent with what is reported to the IRS! Child support is modifiable and therefore can and should be reviewed periodically.
Spousal Support (Alimony): Spousal support is intended to rehabilitate a spouse by providing financial support for a period of time to enable the recipient to become financially independent from their ex spouse. Spousal support is also intended to maintain financial security when a marriage of long duration ends and there are unequal earnings or earning potential. Whether spousal support is appropriate depends upon the specific facts and circumstances of each family. While the governing law identifies eleven factors for the Court to review, it is our responsibility to gather the facts and evidence to support our position. It is also our responsibility to anticipate the opposing party’s position and take appropriate measures during the divorce to control and ensure the desired outcome. Spousal support may be modifiable and therefore, it is in your best interest to understand the factors that may trigger a modification in the support.
Separate Maintenance: A legal separation is procedurally the same to that of a divorce in that the marital assets and liabilities are identified and divided. The final result, however, is that the parties remain legally married while financially separated. Common reasons for pursuing a Separate Maintenance otherwise known as a legal separation, are religious preferences and health insurance benefits. A Separate Maintenance action or judgment can be converted to a divorce at the direction of either party.
Pre-Nuptial or Post-Nuptial Agreements: These agreements are the smart and sophisticated way to protect premarital assets and pre-determine the division of the marital estate in the event of a divorce. It is important for the document to be detailed and comprehensive as well as prepared by an experienced practitioner in order to withstand a possible future scrutiny test.
Post Judgment Modifications: Issues involving children, including custody, parenting time, child support, health insurance, medical expenses, child care may be reviewed after the Judgment has been entered. Modifiable spousal support may also be reviewed after entry of the Judgment.
Change of Domicile: Parents who share legal custody cannot move more than 100 miles away from the other parent without the party’s consent or the approval of the court. It has become more common to request a change of domicile not only to move more than 100 miles from the other parent, but to relocate out of the state. The Court must review the factors identified in the statute in order to determine if relocating a child would be in that child’s best interest and if the relationship between the child and the non custodial parent could continue through a modified parenting schedule.
Alternative Dispute Resolutions: Litigation is aggressive in nature. When an issue/issues are brought before the Court for resolution, the attorneys at Ben Swinnen & Associates present the strongest most comprehensive presentation of the facts and evidence in support of their client’s position. These skilled attorneys are also prepared to break down and diminish the opposing counsel’s case. There are circumstances and situations which necessitate the Court’s involvement in resolution. There are also other arenas and techniques for problem solving which are based upon some level of cooperation and skilled negotiation. This collaborative effort allows the parties with counsel, to identify issues in dispute and work creatively together towards a workable resolution. Mediation is another option where a third party neutral attorney works with both parties to achieve an equitable compromise. Arbitration is where a neutral third party attorney stands in place of the Judge and makes a final determination as to all disputed issues.
Paternity: For unwed parents, establishing paternity is a vital first step in securing and protecting your child’s future. Legal parentage must be established before a custody and parenting time plan is established and prior to the determination of child support.
Estate Planning and Probate: After a divorce, the attorneys at Ben Swinnen & Associates recommend that people devise a new estate plan, including a new will. Ben Swinnen & Associates can assist people in obtaining the maximum benefits under the law. Ben Swinnen & Associates can also handle probate matters in which a will and the estate of a decedent is administered through the court.
Business Law/ Collections: The attorneys at Ben Swinnen & Associates routinely conduct forensic reviews of business tax returns and financial statements, and interpret business documents as part of its practice. Ben Swinnen & Associates can assist people with their small business matters, such as collections, drafting and reviewing contracts and the litigation associated with the same.