Friday, August 16, 2013

Divorce Process in Nebraska, and General Advice

I am an attorney that practices family law (including divorce, child custody modification, paternity) in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska.  I work in Lancaster, Douglas, Sarpy, Otoe, and Cass Counties.  When a client retains me do do a divorce in Nebraska for them, I generally send a letter with the information below which helps clients to understand the divorce process in Nebraska.

The purpose of this post is to provide you with an outline of the divorce procedures in Nebraska when children are not involved. Naturally, it is oversimplified and may cover many of the topics you would discuss in a meeting with me about your Nebraska Divorce. Nevertheless, you may find it useful to have a shorthand explanation of the procedures from beginning to end should additional questions arise.

Fees for Nebraska Divorce Services

Clients are often concerned about the cost and length of the divorce process in Nebraska. In order to avoid misunderstandings regarding the fees in your case, I always have clients sign an Employment/Fee Agreement.  At this point I offer my family law services at the rate of $125.00 per hour.  I send bills on a monthly basis. The fee agreement requires a retainer, which clients must pay before I will represent them. Additional retainer payments may be required, and services may be suspended or terminated if you fail to make these payments or if the monthly bills are not paid within 15 days of the statement date. The retainer is not necessarily the entire fee for the divorce. If you and your spouse make a good effort to reach an agreement via mediation or negotiations, you can expect your divorce to cost approximately $ 3,000.00. If you have sophisticated financial issues to unravel, or if either you or your spouse is not making a good faith effort to reach an agreement, then you can expect these numbers to double or even triple.

Length of a Nebraska Divorce

With regards to how long the divorce will take, again if you and your spouse make a good faith effort to reach an agreement, you can expect your Nebraska divorce to take approximately three to six months. This time will also be affected by such things as whether or not there is cooperation between you and your spouse, and whether or not there are sophisticated financial issues involved. While every case is different, it is my opinion that the foregoing expectations regarding fees and time are reasonable.

Nebraska is a No-Fault Divorce State

As you know, Nebraska is one of the states which has "no-fault" divorce. This means that the court may dissolve a marriage whenever it determines that it is irretrievably broken, and that all reasonable efforts of reconciliation have been made. It is not necessary to prove that one spouse is responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, nor does the court explore in any detail why the marriage has broken. In fact, the court will rarely permit you to offer testimony regarding fault.

Nebraska Divorce Process

The divorce in Nebraska commences with the filing of a Complaint in the District Court of the Nebraska County in which you or your spouse reside. The filing party must officially notify their spouse of the divorce. Notification can be done by having the Sheriff serve a Summons or by signing a Voluntary Appearance. A Voluntary Appearance does nothing more than save the time, expense, and the embarrassment of having the Sheriff appear at you or your spouse's doorstep or workplace. Once the Summons has been served or the Voluntary Appearance filed, the first of two waiting periods begins. The first waiting period is a sixty day period during which you can continue with efforts to reconcile, attempt to resolve the matters such as support, and property division, or do nothing. During the sixty day waiting period, you may not go to court to finish the divorce. The sixty day waiting period cannot be waived or shortened.

During the sixty day waiting period, the court does have the power to enter temporary orders, and these orders can include, but are not limited to: matters of temporary support and restraining orders. Not everyone needs temporary orders from the court. Frequently, the parties are able to reach informal agreements on support and other matters while working out a final settlement. Whether or not you need assistance from the court depends on your circumstances, and you should discuss any questions you have in this regard thoroughly with me. Temporary orders are not automatic; they must be requested. Let me know if you believe you need to request an Order from the Court.

The Decree which dissolves your marriage must also contain provisions regarding support, the division of the property and debt, and other matters. If you and your spouse reach an agreement on these matters, that agreement will be reduced to writing, signed by both of you, and presented to the court for approval. The agreement will be presented at a hearing which takes about five minutes, and only one of the parties needs to be present to testify. Usually, the spouse who filed the Complaint testifies at the hearing.

If you cannot reach an agreement on all matters, it will be necessary to present evidence to the court at trial and have the judge decide for you. It is possible to agree on some things and not on others. Your trial involves only the matters on which you and your spouse disagree.

Once the Decree of Divorce has been signed, it becomes final in 30 days, except you may not remarry for six months. It may also be possible to continue group health insurance for an ex-spouse during this six month period. Like the first waiting period, this second waiting period cannot be shortened or waived. You will not receive notification of the expiration of this period from me or the court.

The Decree which dissolves your marriage in Nebraska must also contain a provision regarding alimony. The purpose of alimony is to provide for the continued maintenance or support of one spouse by the other when the circumstances of the parties make it appropriate. There are no hard and fast rules with respect to how much or how long alimony is appropriate and many factors can affect the court's decision. It is normally awarded in lengthy marriages in which the earning capacity of one spouse is significantly below that of the other. Fault is not a factor which the court will consider in determining whether to award alimony.

You and your spouse may agree on the amount and duration of the alimony or if the alimony shall be waived. One important fact to remember about alimony is that if the original Decree does not contain an award of alimony, alimony may never be awarded. Once awarded, however, it is subject to modification when there has been a change in circumstances. Generally speaking, alimony is taxable to the receiving spouse and tax deductible to the paying spouse.

The property accumulated by you during your marriage (the "Marital Estate") must be divided by the Decree. The objective of the court is to divide the marital estate equitably between you and your spouse. "Equitably" is not synonymous with "equally", though the two should not be greatly different. The marital estate is the property which you and your spouse have accumulated during the course of your marriage. The property you have received by gift outside of the marriage and inheritance (with some exceptions) is normally not included in the marital estate in Nebraska. The party claiming the "non­ marital property" bears the burden of proof on the separate property. Occasionally, a couple owns property which is titled in one name only. If that property was accumulated during the marriage, it is part of the marital estate in Nebraska regardless of how it is titled. This will include, for instance, pension and retirement programs, and other assets. 

Advice On Other Issues in a Nebraska Divorce

If you are worried that your spouse is using your credit cards or other lines of credit (such as a home equity loan) to increase your debt while the divorce is pending, I suggest that you contact the lender in writing and advise them that you will no longer be responsible for additional charges made by your spouse from that date forward. You should obtain a current balance on the account and keep a copy of the letter. You should advise your spouse if you close the credit card account or line of credit.

I also suggest that you obtain information from the Internal Revenue Service, your accountant or a tax specialist as to how your divorce may affect your tax responsibilities. You can call 1-800-829-3676 (1-800-tax-form) and request Publication 504 to receive an IRS publication entitled Tax Information for Divorced or Separated Individuals which may answer many of your tax questions and concerns.

I also advise clients you to give careful consideration to personal issues, such as dating and Facebook. There is no legal restriction against dating. However, you should consider how your spouse may react. Legally, it is not an issue; however, emotionally, it may have serious consequences to your case progression. My best advice is to be discreet. Facebook and similar internet profiles cause all sorts of problems with pending divorces. Again, be mindful that your spouse or friends in common have access to everything you post, including photos. You should not post anything that you do not want your spouse to see or that you do not want to appear in Court. My best advice is to shut down your profile while the divorce is pending.

If you would like to have a free consultation with me regarding your Nebraska divorce, contact Madathil Law office at (402) 577-0686.

Angela Y. Madathil
Lincoln and Omaha Nebraska Divorce  Attorney

285 South 68th Street Place, Suite 322
Lincoln, NE 68510

1625 Farnam Street #830
Omaha, NE 68102

T: 402.577.0686
F: 402.415.0635

Image from here.

1 comment:

  1. We had been married for a while and things were OK, I was in love with her, she was crazy about me, but later on everything changed and by complicated exterior circumstances which did not have to do with us, we decided to pause for a while, but still remain friends. But in the end, she started getting cold: she treated me as if she did not know me, she acted too immature to the point where she did not even say hi to me when we bumped into each other (we had the same circle of friends). Of course, it hurt so badly, I wanted to kill her. Then out of nowhere she disappeared. I wrote her for her birthday and she replied little. Some of my “friends” saw she had left and started going cold with me too, as if it was my fault that she had left. The few that were still my close friends and still hers, told me she had moved on, that it was best not to make contact with her. Then out of the blue some months later she reappeared, but still acting like a douche. I was suffering emotionally of course, because we had never even had a divorce, it was just supposed to be a pause, so I did not know how to react, what to feel, what to do… anyway, she kept coming over and over on the weekends, and I had to deal with my “friends” who the moment they saw her, immediately left me and went over to her. Eventually, I decided to give up trying to restore anything with her as she was showing no signs of wanting me back, and started healing. Around four months after we had ended our relationship, I find out she is with another guy! That’s when I knew I had not gotten over her, because I cried, I was mad, it was just a feeling of “oh, poor me”. I could not stand losing her to some other guy, I decided to go diabolical (i.e. via spell). I got involved with a lot of fraudulent so-called spell casters on the internet who ripped me off my money without getting a result as to what I wanted. I almost lost my sanity. Just as I almost was giving up, one faithful morning, I received a mail from one of the spell castes I had applied for spell with but never got a reply all along. He made me to understand that he could not attend to all his costumers then because it was that time of the year for his annual fellowship with his ancestors for the renewal of his spiritual and supernatural gift. I told him not to worry about the spell anymore, that I was done with all of them fake spell casters. He assured me of his 100% genuine work of this gift which he possessed. I decided to give it a try. After spending about 2500 USD (which was due to my inability to provide a whole lot of materials which he needed for the spell process), I am happy to announce to the world that I have gotten back my wife and we are expecting our first baby. All thanks to Dr. Kene Dilli. All you out there tired of all these fraudsters that call themselves spell casters (seeking to rip were they have not sown) and you require legitimate spell for whatsoever purpose, contact Dr. Kene Dilli on his email address; kenedillitemples AT yahoo DOT com