Interview with family law attorney Lauren Fields: Common questions for divorce lawyers
No one imagines themselves going through a divorce. Unfortunately, some couples are unable to reconcile, and divorce is their only option. What do you do if you want a divorce? We sat down with Lauren Fields of Roth Davies for an interview to answer common questions for divorce attorneys. (Lauren Fields is a well known Overland Park Divorce Lawyer )
Question: Do you need an attorney for a divorce?
Answer: I recommend that at least one party have an attorney, even if the case is uncontested. Family law can be very complex, and it is important to have an attorney draft the paperwork, especially the final settlement agreement. I have unfortunately seen too many cases where parties encounter issues that were not contemplated by the original settlement agreement because neither party had an attorney in the divorce. With an attorney, you can ensure that the final settlement agreement contains safety provisions that contemplate any post-divorce issues that may occur.
Question: How long does a divorce take?
Answer: In Kansas, a divorce will take a minimum of 60 days due to the statutory waiting period mandated by law. The maximum length of time that a divorce will take depends entirely on the parties. If the parties are unable to settle the case, the divorce can take anywhere from one to two years if the case eventually requires a trial. To save fees and time, I advise parties to attempt to work out their issues without court intervention.
Question: Does “fault” matter in a divorce?
Answer: Most states allow for “no fault” divorce. This means that neither party is required to prove fault in order to get a divorce. In Kansas, all you need to allege is incompatibility to get a divorce, and the consent of the other spouse is not required. In some unique cases, fault does matter if you have a contested child custody case, or if a spouse was extraordinarily abusive or spent significant marital funds on gambling, adultery, etc. If you have any questions about fault and divorce, you should consult a competent divorce attorney who can advise you regarding the unique facts of your case.
Question: Is it better to file for divorce before my spouse?
Answer: Yes, there is an advantage in filing for divorce first. In Kansas, the spouse that files first has the opportunity to request temporary orders at the beginning of the case without the consent of the other spouse. The temporary orders can range from a temporary parenting plan, temporary child support, a temporary restraining order, or a temporary order awarding exclusive possession of the marital home to one spouse. If your spouse files before you and receives temporary orders, you can request a hearing to modify the temporary orders if you do not agree with them.
Question: How do assets and debts get divided in a divorce?
Answer: In Kansas, the court will divide the assets and debts of the marriage in a fair, just, and equitable way. An equitable division does not mean that assets and debts are equally split, but in most cases, they are divided equally. The court will take a variety of factors into consideration when determining an equitable division of assets and debts. The common factors are the age of the parties, the length of the marriage, the property owned, the present and future earning capacity of the parties, the time, source, and manner of acquisition of the property, family ties, spousal maintenance, dissipation of assets, tax consequences, and any other relevant factors.
Question: How are parenting plans and child support determined in a divorce?
Answer: When a couple has minor children in a divorce, specific planning is required to ensure the children are cared for after the divorce is finalized. The court will require the divorced parents to have a parenting plan and child support order. A parenting plan outlines issues related to custody, such as parenting time and general responsibilities of each parent for their children. While a parenting plan focuses on day-to-day care of the child, child support ensures the child will have sufficient financial support to be properly cared for. Child support typically requires one spouse to make payments to the other spouse for expenses related to the children.
Question: Do you have a final message for our readers?
Answer: No one imagines themselves in a divorce or custody battle. But if the situation arises, you will need a high level of service with a strong and attentive attorney to achieve your goals. I have several years of experience providing quality representation to both men and women in Kansas. I advise when to settle your case through strategic negotiation to save the expense and fees of trial. I also advise when to take the case to trial to protect your interests or your children. I provide each client with a personalized and comprehensive case strategy, and I will fight for reliable results in every step of your case.
Story by Virginia Sagal