high asset divorce attorney in Auburn Alabama

Navigating the Complexities of High Asset Divorces in Auburn

For couples experiencing the end of a marriage or relationship, it can be an extremely difficult and emotional time. Therefore, it offers great peace of mind to know that you have a skilled team of legal experts working hard to help you navigate the process and secure the best possible results, especially if you or your spouse have a significant amount of assets.

The situation can be complex with the need to protect substantial assets, finances, properties, and international interests, besides children, maintenance, and custody. A high net worth divorce attorney in Auburn, AL, can guide you through various aspects, including:

  • Spousal and child support, including matters such as school fees and lifestyle choices
  • Pensions
  • Properties
  • Business assets
  • Trusts
  • Personal assets
  • On and offshore assets
  • Freezing injunctions where there are concerns that assets may be placed beyond the court’s reach
  • Inheritances

Divorce and Asset Division in Auburn, AL

An experienced Auburn, AL divorce lawyer will offer you the right guidance on the possible legal consequences of hidden assets in a divorce case. In the divorce process, spouses in Alabama are duty-bound towards each other to make full disclosure of all assets. Without full disclosure of assets, “equitable distribution” of marital assets and liabilities would not be possible in a divorce.

In the area of discovery and disclosure, there exists a fiduciary duty on the part of each spouse making them legally responsible for reporting all assets, such as real estate, cash, business assets, jewelry, investments, stock options, retirement funds, offshore accounts, or any other valuable assets such as art or antique collection.

Protecting your Rightful Assets during Property Division in an Auburn, AL Divorce

Working with a seasoned family law attorney who has extensive experience in high net worth divorce cases can help ensure that your rightful assets are completely protected during the property division process. For example, if you started a business before the marriage, the intellectual property, goodwill, and other business assets will be divided considering your contribution to the business prior to marriage.

Also, if you have stock options from your employer as a performance reward for work undertaken before the marriage, your attorney will make sure that this fact is taken into consideration during the asset division. The same rule is applicable to other marital assets, such as the family home and other real estate.

Legal Repercussions of Hidden Assets in Divorce in Auburn, AL

A skilled divorce lawyer will advise you about the possible repercussions of hiding assets in a divorce case in Auburn. Doing so could lead to serious consequences, including criminal charges. The act of intentional financial misrepresentation in a divorce petition is considered the same as lying to the court.

Suppose hidden assets are revealed after the divorce process is complete. In that case, the other party still reserves the right to file a motion to vacate the previous judgment or even levy charges of contempt of court.

Don’t Ignore Tax Implications

You will need to adopt a more hands-on approach to taxes now if your spouse used to manage the taxes and you never really focused on that facet of your marriage. The tax implications in a high net-worth divorce case can be significant. For instance, regarding alimony payments, the alimony paid by one spouse is no longer deductible from their gross income and it is no longer taxable for the receiving spouse.

There may be tax consequences associated with child support payments as well. These payments are also a part of the taxable income of the paying spouse but are tax-free for the spouse receiving the payment. An experienced lawyer can connect you to leading accountants in Auburn if you are unsure about how to handle the taxes or sale of your properties.

Child Support Calculation in Auburn, AL May be Different

Under Alabama law, there are guidelines on the calculation of child support. This determination is made by taking into account the combined net income of the couple and the number of children requiring support. If the couple’s income is higher than the maximum income amount, then the court may decide to calculate child support on a case-by-case basis. They will assess the amount of support necessary to meet the needs of the children after the divorce.

Spousal Maintenance Calculation May Also be Different

State guidelines exist for handling spousal maintenance, or alimony, during a divorce. Every divorce does not involve spousal maintenance. However, a judge can establish whether or not spousal maintenance is required. In general, spousal support is awarded in a divorce, where there is a substantial difference between spouses’ incomes. If one partner’s income is very high, the court can deviate from the guidelines and determine a spousal maintenance award that they deem appropriate.

Free, Private Consultation with an Experienced Divorce Attorney in Auburn, AL

At the Alsobrook Law Group, we fight tirelessly to protect our clients’ best interests and accomplish the most favorable outcomes possible. For assistance with divorces or other family law matters in Auburn, contact us today at (334) 737-3718 for a free, no-obligation consultation.

divorce of parents with special needs children in mobile alabama

Challenges for Divorcees with Special Needs Children in Auburn, Alabama

Getting divorced is a highly stressful process, even under the best of circumstances. But when divorcing spouses are also the parents of a disabled child, there are several other issues that need to be considered as well. This makes the process even more trying, and it is important for those who are facing the situation to be prepared for some of the unique issues that will need to be dealt with.

If you are facing a divorce in Auburn, Alabama or any of the nearby communities, you need an experienced attorney by your side to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this difficult time. The Alsobrook Law Group has helped numerous clients through the divorce process, and we are ready to go to work for you. Call our office today at 334-737-3718 to schedule a free consultation.

Divorces for Couples with Special Needs Children in Auburn, AL

In Alabama, family courts prefer that both parents maintain an active role in the lives of their children after a divorce. Custody could be granted jointly to both parents, to only one parent, or both parents may be given joint legal custody (i.e., authority to make important decisions regarding the child) with only one parent receiving physical custody. This is all determined based on what the court believes is in the best interests of the child, and the court considers a number of factors in making this determination.

Even in cases when one parent receives sole physical custody, the other parent is usually given liberal visitation rights. Exceptions could be made of course if there is a history of abuse or other reasons to believe that granting visitation to the non-custodial parent would not be in the child’s best interests.

Child support in Alabama is determined using the “income shares” model. In a typical case, this would combine the incomes of the two parents and estimate the amount that an intact two-parent family would most likely spend on the child(ren). Then the amounts are split proportionately between the parents based on their incomes.

When the couple has a child with special needs, things are not always resolved in the same manner as with a traditional divorce case. Additional factors need to be considered in determining issues such as child custody, visitation, and child support, for example. These may include:

  • The Child’s Ability to Travel: A typical child custody and visitation schedule could call for the child to have visitation time with the noncustodial parent on a weekly basis (often on weekends). This, however, may not be an ideal schedule for a child with special needs. Some special needs children are upset by frequent transitions, and it might work better to create a schedule that involves fewer visits that last for a longer period of time.
  • Special Needs During Visitation: Parenting plans will need to be very detailed, and with each transition from one parent to the other, accommodations will have to be made for the child’s diet, medications, behavior management, adaptation to new surroundings, and similar issues. In some cases, one parent may not be aware of some of these issues, and they may need to be educated on what has to be done during each visit.
  • Additional Medical Needs: A special needs child usually has ongoing medical needs that need to be addressed, such as medications, therapies, and doctor visits. Since health insurance does not always cover 100% of these expenses, child support may need to be modified in order to account for this.
  • Special Educational Needs: There may be additional educational expenses as well, such as the cost of special schooling and/or home tutoring.
  • Eligibility for Government Benefits: Many children with special needs receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid to help with expenses. Child support and alimony payments will need to be structured in a way that does not jeopardize the benefits the child is receiving. In some cases, it might make sense to set up a special needs (OBRA) trust to address this issue.
  • Child Support Termination: In most cases, a parent’s obligation to pay child support ends when the child becomes an adult. This may not be true with a special needs child. With disabled children, the child support obligation may continue into adulthood.

As noted above, children with special needs such as physical limitations, autism, health issues, educational needs, and developmental problems require a parenting plan that causes the least possible destruction to the child’s daily routine. Parenting plans for disabled children must offer consistent, stable care. The parent who has primary custody needs to be able to meet the physical needs, medical routines and therapies, educational requirements, and have the understanding and skill to handle the child’s disability.

Further, a plan that details visitation with the non-custodial parent should take these matters into account when scheduling overnight or prolonged visits. The non-custodial parent may have to agree to limited visitations to avoid disruption, depending on the severity of the child’s condition.

Careful Consideration of Medical Needs and Expenses

Special needs children typically need specific health care or treatments, such as:

  • Speech, physical, or behavioral therapies, among others
  • Medicine plans and assistive devices, such as a wheelchair
  • Additional treatments or surgical procedures

Medical insurance can cover a substantial amount of these expenses. However, it can be hard to pay for these services after dividing assets and finances. Therefore, parents must plan for how they will continue to manage these bills and pay for the services required by their child.

Besides the cost of this care, parents will need to plan on how they will arrive at decisions regarding the medical care needs of their child. The parents must agree on a meticulous and comprehensive plan regarding how to make the medical decisions for their special needs child. It is essential to decide on aspects such as emergencies, routine supervision, transporting the child to and from medical facilities, and necessary emotional, physical, and occupational therapy sessions. Other critical matters to decide include health insurance coverage and financial facets pertaining to the child’s care.

Such considerations must allow each parent to assume some responsibility to prevent an individual parent from feeling overwhelmed with the care necessary for the disabled child. Further, educational decisions must be included in these plans to allow parents to provide the child with the ability to develop into a well-adjusted adult.

Visitation Arrangements in Auburn, AL

Shared parenting, unfortunately, may not be as effective with special needs children. For instance:

  • When a disabled child has equipment that they require at home, such as wheelchairs and feeding tubes, it can be challenging to move everything back and forth in a child custody arrangement. Doubles of everything at both households can be prohibitively expensive.
  • Autistic children might find transitioning between each parents’ house incredibly unsettling if they depend on a routine.
  • In such cases, arranging parenting time, visitation time, and dividing parenting duties might be tricky. Therefore, Auburn, AL parents must determine the most suitable arrangement for their family after careful consideration.

Financial Support in Auburn

In Auburn, AL, standard child support regulations do not account for the extra costs associated with caring for a child with disabilities. A special needs child likely has increased expenses for medical treatments, equipment, medicines, services, nutrition, and rest time for caregivers.

The management of a disabled child’s care may be a full-time endeavor for the custodial parent, which must be taken into account for spousal support. On the other hand, if neither parent wants to be involved in caring for the child, assistance must be sought from relatives or hired caregivers. What help is necessary, and how will the expenses be financed?

Child support often ends when a child reaches the age of 18 or 21 years. However, special needs children may have financial support needs throughout their lifetime. Also, parents must understand how child support payments influence government benefits programs, such as Medicaid or Social Security.

Work with a Seasoned Auburn, AL Divorce Attorney

For divorcees with special needs children, there are numerous challenges that need to be dealt with. Each situation is unique, and you need a skilled advocate in your corner who understands these issues and is committed to looking out for your rights and interests and the best interests of your child(ren). In Auburn, Opelika, and the surrounding communities, contact Alsobrook Law Group today for assistance. Call our office at 334.737.3718 or message us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.

Managing Child Rearing and Divorced Parents

It is not the way you envisioned your marriage but sometimes they do end in divorce. Alabama’s divorce rate is higher than most of the rest of the nation. According to data from the Census Bureau, Alabama ranks 16th in the country with a 12.3% divorce rate.

And while dividing your lives and property is one thing, how to raise your children is quite another.  If you disagree on anything it should not be the children.

In Alabama, a divorce is a civil action. The party who files is the plaintiff and the other party is the defendant. At least one of the parties must have lived in Alabama for at least six months.

Alabama law specifies you can ask for a fault or a no-fault divorce. The latter means there are no grounds stated for the divorce but the marriage is irretrievably broken.  

Alabama recognizes legal separation and you can file for alimony and child support plus property division as part of a legal separation lawsuit.

Any divorce will mean new schedules will have to be put into place and adhered to in order to promote a continuing relationship with both parents and to create the least disruption to that child’s life.

Alabama Child Rearing and Divorce

Under Alabama child custody law, Section 30-3-150, parents should have frequent and continuing contact with their children and should act in the best interest of their children. Parents are also encouraged to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing children.

Under Alabama law, custody can be given to either mother or father or whoever the court determines will act in the best interest of the children.

Factors to determine custody include:

  • Age and sex of the child
  • The emotional, social, moral, and educational needs of the child or children
  • The home environments offered by either party
  • The characteristics of each parent including their age, health, physical, and mental stability
  • The capacity of each parent to provide for the needs of the children
  • The relationship between the child and parent
  • The interpersonal relationship between the children
  • The parent the child prefers to live with
  • A report by a witness or independent investigator

Under Alabama law, adultery can be considered as one factor for the court to use to determine child custody. 

Where the Child Resides

Children may choose which parent they want to live with.  Under Alabama law (O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3, (5)-(6)) the child should be at least 14 in order to have that right.  The judge also has the option to determine if the child is mature enough to be part of this conversation. 

In some cases, a judge may believe the child is being manipulated by one parent against the other parent concerning living arrangements. Under Alabama law, the child will not likely have to testify about his/her custodial preferences, but an expert or professional counselor might speak for the child.

In most cases, joint legal custody will be awarded with one parent having “primary physical custody.”  That requires the child to live primarily with one parent but both parents will be involved equally when it comes to major decisions.  The non-custodial parent will pay child support to the residential parent.

The other option is shared physical custody where the child or children split their time between two homes.

The bottom line before a court is which parent should have primary custody based on what is “right and proper.”

In some cases, the child may have to relocate with the custodial parent. This will affect the non-custodial parent as well as the child’s friends and others involved in his life.

The court will have to decide the impact on the child as well as important relationships.  The court will also take into consideration the amount of time it will take for the non-custodial parent to visit the child and the financial burden a relocation places on either party.

Alsobrook Law Group will help you navigate the courts with the least amount of disruption to you and your children. Retaining a family law attorney will make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. Call our Opelika, Alabama office at 334-345-2765 to schedule a consultation about your case.  

impact of social media on divorce case

How Can Social Media Negatively Impact My Divorce?

Once your divorce proceedings are in full swing, you should be prepared for the other party (through their attorney) to explore all legal ways to scrutinize your activities and behavior and find any possible evidence to support their case.

Considering the high popularity and usage of social media, chances are that they will go through your publicly available messages on various social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Social Media Comments that could Weaken Your Case

If you were contemplating divorce for a while, and shared status updates or messages on social media against your spouse that could be perceived as angry, abusive, or even threatening, the other party may be able to use them against you at some point during the divorce proceedings.

For instance, even if a friend suggested to you to hide marital assets or indulge in marital waste (frittering away of marital assets), your encouraging responses to such ideas could show you in a bad light in court and in the eyes of the opposing defense counsel.

Even if you had no intention to commit these wrongful acts, a visit to the casino or another expensive entertainment venue around the same time could be misconstrued when seen together with such conversations. This could undermine any argument you have that you are financially responsible.

Social media networks such as Facebook have a ‘checking in’ feature, which could disclose your visits to hotels or other travel and entertainment locations. So, even if you remain discreet on social media and avoid making direct comments, any social information about your activities or whereabouts could be twisted out of context and used against you.

Social Images and Videos could Hurt Your Claims

Your images and videos shared on social media showing you smiling, laughing, sun bathing on the beach, partying, or celebrating with friends could pour cold water on your claims in court or during a deposition that you suffered domestic abuse or violence (or were miserable) during the same period when these images or videos were posted online.

Remember the saying “a picture paints a thousand words”? Well, video says even more than that! If you are fighting a child custody battle in a divorce and the other party introduces photos or videos from your social media account that shows you drinking, acting wildly, and so on (which could mean your influence on the child is not exactly wholesome), it could hurt your claims.

If you did not attend a school function for your child, missed several of their sporting events (soccer or Little League for instance), or failed to visit her or him when they were hospitalized, and your social media account/s undermine your word that you had something vital to attend to – the chances of you winning custody could be in jeopardy. Parents that put their kids first will avoid these types of situations, so they do not hurt their case.

Discussing Your Divorce Proceedings on Social Media can Only Compromise Your Case

Your family and friends may be interested in knowing updates about your divorce proceedings. Once you indulge in sharing information publicly about your ongoing case, you may end up making remarks or observations that might not be appreciated in the court.

If the other side is watching, they take any opportunity to embarrass you in the court or harm your case, depending on how self-damaging your commentary may have been. Any discussions related to your ongoing divorce case should be done strictly offline.

Avoid making any case-related discussions even through private online messages or social chats. If you must give a status update on social media about your case, let your lawyer do it for you.

Things to Remember about Social Media

  • If you are using Facebook, your ex-spouse may have friended some of your common Facebook friends. So, he or she could have access to your posts, even if you have changed the privacy settings to block outsiders from viewing them.
  • If you are on Twitter, you should be aware that all your tweets are accessible to anyone, even if they do not have a Twitter account. You need to change your privacy settings and check “Protect my Tweets” in order to ensure privacy.
  • Even if you want to delete some old social media content during the proceedings, never do it without consulting your divorce attorney. Any suspicious behavior could be viewed negatively by the opposition and your spouse.
  • If you have downloaded social apps on your cell phone, simply deactivate the geo-location feature from them so that you are not leaving a trail of your movements on social media.
  • Avoid accepting new or unknown friends or joining or following new groups or social media pages while your divorce proceedings are ongoing.

Consult with an Experienced Alabama Divorce Attorney Today

Alsobrook Law Group has a dedicated and tenacious team that will work hard to ensure you achieve the best possible outcomes in a divorce. Call 334.737.3718 or contact us online for a free consultation.

divorce and your credit score

Can Divorce Impact My Credit Score?

There are many consequences–both good and bad–of filing for a divorce and permanently and legally separating from one’s spouse. While these consequences can extend to the personal and the private, certainly affecting relationships and feelings, many of the consequences of divorce are financial. Indeed, when one is separating from their spouse, they will need to consider the economic repercussions of doing so, and may have to ask–and answer–tough questions about supporting oneself, tax consequences of divorce, and more.

One question that our clients often ask is whether or not getting a divorce will impact their credit score. While the act of filing for divorce alone will not have an impact on one’s credit score, other elements of divorce could affect one’s credit health. Here’s what you need to know about the impact of divorce on your credit score, and steps that you can take to keep your credit in good standing.

How a Divorce Can Impact Your Credit Score

Again, simply filing for a divorce will not have an effect on your credit score; however, there are multiple ways that divorce could take an indirect toll on your credit standing and your overall financial health. Consider these ways that a divorce could impact your credit score:

  • You start to fall behind on payments. For whatever reason, it’s possible that a person may start to fall behind on their credit card and other payments as a result of a divorce, and as such, their credit score is negatively impacted. You may fall behind on payments because you’re distracted by the divorce and simply have too much on your plate to effectively manage, or you may miss payments because, as a result of the divorce, you no longer have the economic means to make payments on time and/or in full.
  • Your (ex-) spouse starts to miss payments. Another situation that could affect your credit score is in the event that your ex-spouse starts to miss payments. Keep in mind that, just because your spouse has been ordered to pay down debt as part of a divorce judgment, this does not necessarily mean that they will. If both you and your ex-spouse’s names are connected to a debt and you are counting on your ex paying that debt, you are taking a risk.
  • Your ex has access to your credit cards. It’s best to have your spouse’s name removed from your credit card and bank accounts the minute that you decide that you want to file for divorce. While it’s unlikely, if you have an especially vindictive spouse who has access to your credit cards, they may rack up credit card debt intentionally, which could ultimately harm your credit score.
  • You have to refinance your home. Depending upon how property is divided in your divorce, you may end up with ownership of your home. However, in order to afford your home, refinancing may be a necessity. Refinancing your home will result in a credit inquiry, and, could have an effect on your credit score if paying your mortgage solo means taking on more debt than you can really afford.
  • Your credit limit is decreased. When a couple separates and there are no longer two sources of income contributing to costs of living, a credit card company or bank may decide to decrease a single person’s credit limit as such. This could impact your credit utilization percentage, which is one of the factors in your overall credit score.

How to Maintain Good Credit During a Divorce

If you’re going through a divorce, you have a lot of different things to worry about and maintaining good credit health should be one of them. Bad credit can impair your ability to do everything from rent an apartment to take out a loan and much more. Some tips for maintaining good credit during a divorce include:

  • Remove your spouse’s name from your credit card and bank accounts as soon as you know that divorce is imminent;
  • Make paying your credit cards on time and in full a top priority;
  • Create a budget that takes into account how much you can afford and how debts can be mitigated; and
  • Work with a skilled divorce lawyer who can help you to obtain a favorable asset and debt division judgment.

Call the Alsobrook Law Group Today

To learn more about debt and divorce and how our lawyers at the Alsobrook Law Group can provide you with quality legal representation, please call our lawyers directly today at 334-737-3718 or send us a message telling us more about your situation. We offer consultations over the phone and in person at our Opelika office. 

child visitation and the Holidays

Holidays and Visitation

The holiday season is upon us, and this is the time of year when families gather to spend quality time with each other. For divorced or separated couples with kids, the holidays can be especially hard on the children. They are used to spending time with Mom and Dad together, and now they have to go back and forth between the two depending on what the child custody and visitation schedule says.

In Alabama, most child custody arrangements call for the non-custodial parent to be allowed liberal visitation rights. The state recognizes the role of both parents in the lives of their children, so they are inclined to grant frequent visitation in the vast majority of cases. In some rare and extreme cases in which there is a history of abuse, the court may only grant limited supervised visitation.

Holidays and Visitation in Alabama

Visitation for holidays is an area that couples should try to work out on their own. Each family has their own traditions and their own ways of celebrating the holidays,and the holiday visitation schedule should reflect the uniqueness of each individual circumstance.

There are several ways parents may handle visitation during the holidays. Here are some common approaches:

Alternating Holiday Schedules Annually

One popular way parents may choose to divide holiday time with the kids is to rotate holidays in alternate years. One parent could have the children for a certain holiday in even-number years, while the other parent has them in odd-numbered years. In addition, you can rotate major holidays so that each parent has some holiday time each year with the children. For example, during even-numbered years, Parent A could have the children for Thanksgiving weekend while Parent B has them from Christmas Eve through Christmas morning. Other holidays throughout the year could be scheduled in the same manner, and the parents would swap holidays in odd-numbered years.

Assigning Fixed Holidays for Each Parent

Another way to fairly divide the visitation schedule around the holidays is to have the children spend the same holidays with each parent every year. So, in this example, Parent A would have the children for Thanksgiving weekend every year,Parent B would always have the kids for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and other holidays would be divided up accordingly between the parents. This arrangement might work well if the parents want a more simplified schedule and/or the parents have different holidays that they believe are most important.  

Splitting Holiday Time in Half

You may choose to split the holiday time between the parents, so the children spend part of the day (or series of days) with each. For example, one parent could have the children for the night before Thanksgiving and most of Thanksgiving Day, while the other parent takes the kids on Thanksgiving evening and keeps them the rest of the weekend. A similar arrangement could be done with Christmas Eve/Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day. The time-splitting approach works best when the parents live close to each other and can coordinate the schedule so there is not too much traveling involved.

Alabama Standard Visitation Schedules

If parents are unable to come to an agreement on their own regarding visitation,the courts usually have a standard visitation schedule that is followed. The standard schedule varies depending on the county you are in, and judges have discretion to account for various factors; such as the age of the children, the distance between the two parents, whether or not one parent lives out-of-state,and many others. A strict standard visitation schedule is usually only imposed if there is no agreement at all between the parties. More commonly, this schedule is used as a starting point for negotiations, and it is customized as needed based on what is important to the parents and children.

Contact an Experienced Alabama Family Law Attorney

Holidays and visitation schedules can be a source of dispute during a divorce or parentage case. When working out a schedule that fits your needs and the needs of your children, it is best to have a skilled advocate in your corner arguing forcefully for your rights and interests. At Alsobrook Jackson, Attorneys at Law, we extensive family law experience, and we work closely with clients to ensure that they receive the strong personalized representation they need and deserve. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 334-737-3718. You may also send us a message through our web contact form or stop by our office in Opelika.