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Isn't that my lawyer's job? Things you need to do to help your family law attorney
In many instances, people who hire a family law attorney have had limited exposure to lawyers and the legal process. Some may believe that hiring a family law attorney is the only step that needs to be taken to get thorough representation in a divorce. While it is true that your family lawyer should handle most aspects of your case, their ability to help you is limited by the quality and quantity of information that is available to the attorney.
In order to help your family law attorney to provide you with the best possible representation, it is essential that you be exhaustively thorough when disclosing required information. Furthermore, in a divorce case, it may be necessary to obtain expert valuations of assets such as real property, businesses, or other valuable property. The Court will normally try to divide marital assets equally, but the ability of the Court to divide and distribute assets will depend on the values that the Court is given at trial. It will often be necessary for you to contact a licensed property appraiser or valuation expert to obtain this information before trial.
The client may also need to employ the services of an accountant to assist with tax issues that may emerge during a family law case. This is especially relevant in cases where there are "tax effected" assets. For example, if the Court has two different assets worth $100,000.00 to distribute such as a money market account that will have no tax consequences and a 401k that will have tax consequences, it will be necessary for an accountant to give values for any assets that will have tax consequences to get the true value of the asset for the person to whom the asset will be distributed. Remember that most lawyers are not tax professionals. Sometimes, the best advice they can give you is to contact another professional.
Finally, in divorce cases involving retirement plans, it may be necessary to hire an expert to draft a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (or QDRO), which effectively creates or recognizes the existence of an alternate payee (such as the former spouse) who can receive all or a portion of benefits payable to a participant under a retirement plan. The QDRO divides a retirement plan during a divorce while avoiding the tax consequences to either party. In effect, two different accounts are created, one for each party. Your attorney will file this Order with the Court and ensure that the QDRO is in effect at the conclusion of the divorce; however, it is best if the Client hires a QDRO expert to draft the actual document to avoid unnecessary complications and ensure that you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.
Regardless of the type of legal matter you may face, it is always in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights and assets are protected. DonĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t attempt to go at it aloneĂ˘â‚¬â€ťhire an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the complex process ahead of you.
In addition to divorce matters, our firm also takes on cases involving child support, custody battles, relocation issues, domestic violence injunctions, will and probate, criminal defense, personal injury, medical malpractice, and wrongful death cases. While our main office is in Gainesville, we also handle family law matters through our satellite offices in Ocala, Chiefland, Lake City, and Palatka.
For help with your legal issue, contact the Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller for a free phone consultation at (866) 496-8752 or via email at Info@ForYourLaw.com
BY: Stephanie N. Mack, Board Certified Marital & Family Law Attorney
Serving: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie,
Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Kissimmee, Lafayette,
Lake, Lake Mary, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Orlando, Putnam, St.
Johns, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor, Volusia and Union Counties.
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