single mom

Surviving Financially for a Stay at Home Mom After Divorce

Going through a divorce and dealing with its aftermath are never easy. The journey is often hard, especially for stay-at-home moms as they need to figure out a way to move on and reconstruct their life from scratch after the divorce is finalized.

During marriage, you might have become accustomed to a situation where your husband earned for the family while you took care of the home and looked after the children. However, both the responsibilities are suddenly on your shoulders after the divorce.

To get your life in order financially, you need to objectively review your monthly cash inflows and outflows in detail to understand what your new normal will be like and how to make modifications to reach there. Some suggestions are as follows:

Assess Your Housing Situation Carefully

The family home might have been important to you emotionally during the divorce process, but it is vital to assess the actual costs associated with that home now that you are totally responsible for it. To understand what the effect of downsizing to a more affordable house could have on your finances, you will have to run the numbers carefully.

You will have to assess the mortgage cost itself, plus insurance, taxes, and monthly expenses pertaining to the house’s maintenance, including HOA, utilities, and upkeep. Sometimes it is best to let go sooner rather than later. It will be a major strain on you if you cannot afford the home.

Boost Your Credit Score

Often, divorced women find that their credit score is lower than they anticipated, either because they did not have credit in their own names during the marriage or due to poor debt management as a couple during the marriage. Whatever the reason, now that you are on your own, it is crucial to work on your credit.

With a low credit score, you might be unable to rent an apartment. It may even impact future employment. On the other hand, a good credit score will ensure access to the best possible interest rates on loans. You can start rebuilding your credit by making small purchases using a credit card and immediately paying off the balance.

Also, you can set recurring payments to autopay to make sure that you’re always on time. If you cannot get a card on your own, it is a prudent idea to apply for a secured credit card as soon as possible.

Join the Workforce

You will likely need or want to start earning your own money, even if you receive alimony or child support. The faster you can rejoin the workforce and start earning money, the faster you will be financially independent and restore your financial confidence. You can start by contacting friends and former colleagues to network and let others know about the type of work you are seeking.

If you find that you are not ready or unable to go back to a full-time corporate job, remember that there are advantages to short-term and part-time jobs as well. A freelancer or work-from-home position will be suitable for you if you have small children to care for.

Today, various opportunities are available to work part-time and create an income to meet your expenses and keep things moving ahead, even before determining your next career move. Many people just work week to week until an appropriate career opportunity presents itself. Consider taking online classes to upskill yourself if your credentials need an upgrade.

Protect Yourself from Adverse Circumstances

As you are now fully responsible for your household’s finances, you will need to prepare for the unexpected. A nice place to start is creating an emergency cushion: Try to set funds to cover expenses for three to six months. Doing so will ensure that an emergency medical bill or damaged roof won’t make your finances go haywire. If setting aside three to six months’ worth of expenses doesn’t seem possible right now, you can start small by saving a little each month.

Besides, you can consider disability insurance, which protects your income if you sustain an injury or become ill and cannot work for a while. If your kids are financially dependent on you, ensure that you have adequate life insurance to get them through college and into adulthood.

Amend Your Estate Plan

You will want to assess all your end-of-life documents to determine whether any modifications need to be made. You might want to remove your ex-partner as your beneficiary and appoint a new power of attorney and health care proxy. If you had your ex-spouse in your old will, you might want to create a new one. These measures ensure that your assets go to the right person if something were to happen to you.

Talk to Compassionate and Skilled Alabama Family Law Attorneys

The compassionate and caring lawyers at Alsobrook Law Group can help you with any and all legal matters. Our attorneys will spend time understanding your concerns and offer strong legal counsel. In Auburn, Opelika, and surrounding communities, you can contact us at (334) 737-3718 for a no-charge, confidential consultation on your divorce, child custody, alimony, or other family law matters.

parenting plan

Following Parenting Agreements During a Summer With COVID-19 in Auburn, AL

A plethora of businesses in Auburn, AL, are encouraging employees to work from home while many others have lost their employment or are working on a part-time basis. For divorced parents, this situation can create opportunities to spend more time with their children. They may be able to schedule parenting duties to allow the child to be cared for one of the parents, instead of being in the care of nannies, sitters, or extended family members.

According to public health experts, the best way to limit the spread of the virus is to follow social distancing protocols. During this pandemic, parents in Auburn, AL, should make a joint effort despite the challenges that come with a divorce. It is best to avoid gamesmanship during these unprecedented times, and not keep a detailed record of how many overnight stays the other parent had or to contend that the closure of schools should be treated similar to summer vacation.

 

Voice your concerns and remain amenable to new arrangements. Offer the other parent reassurance that any reduction in the parenting time will eventually be made up. In the meantime, they can interact with the child through increased video chats, phone calls, and other types of non-physical contact.

 

Legal experts suggest keeping records, which include engaging with the other parent by writing (via email or text), raising your concerns regarding the current child custody plan, and proposing a feasible solution. On top of this, it will be meaningful to encourage the other parent to offer their suggestions and views on the proposal. The interests and concerns of either parent should be addressed in any COVID-19 custody arrangement.

 

Today, adults and children alike are undergoing a stressful time due to the coronavirus pandemic. Parental altercations can only add to a child’s stress. At this time, children require more reassurance and stability, particularly regarding their connection and contact with loved ones.

 

Courts will Look out for the Child’s Best Interests

 

Each relationship and ex-relationship is distinct, and it may be challenging to agree. Some ex-spouses may prefer the judicial system to sort things out, which is now less possible compared to normal times.

 

At present, the courts are still functioning remotely or partially. However, after the coronavirus crisis ends, the courts in Auburn, AL will resume full function.

 

When courts resume full operation, judges will undoubtedly be happy with parents who have collaborated to identify the best interests of their child and taken measures to protect their safety, health, and well-being. As expected, judges won’t be pleased with parents who put their own interests ahead of their child’s and were unwilling to cooperate with a reasonable and concerned parent.

 

The Outcomes of Violating a Court Order

 

If the parents are unable to arrive at an agreement, the path gets more complicated. Shared custody orders and agreements were made when the current crisis was unforeseeable. But disobeying a court order is a risky proposition, even with solid reasons. In Auburn, AL, courts may reduce custody and visitation for parents who interfere with the custodial rights of their ex-partner.

 

Parents who are concerned about the health and safety of their children may be amenable to taking chances and may hope that when the pandemic ends, courts will concur that their decision was in the children’s best interest. However, this is a huge gamble, and irrespective of the consequences will likely involve substantial legal expense and time battling in court.

 

Child Custody Settlement in Auburn, AL

 

For ex-partners locked in a dispute over child custody matters, there are other alternatives to blatant hostility and conflict, as well as waiting for courts to reopen and settle matters.

 

Ex-partners seeking to work out pandemic-related custody matters can seek help from family court mediators who remain available. The specific circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic are unforeseen, but parental contention about children’s well-being and health are common. Mediators are experts in these matters and can enable families to arrive at reasonable decisions.

 

A mediated agreement, even attempts at arriving at a resolution, offers a current and objective record of the parent’s situation, thinking, and concerns. Such records may help courts understand who was being rational and accommodating in seeking changes to the custody arrangement, and who wasn’t.

 

In the US, residents are repeatedly reminded that in the effort to fight the spread of COVID-19, the decisions taken today will have direct consequences on our personal and collective welfare in the future. While this warning is not particularly geared towards separated or divorced parents, it is just as meaningful.

 

The custody decisions that parents make in the next few weeks impact not only the immediate well-being and health of their children but also their future custody agreements. Courts do not look kindly on parents who put forth their interests before their child’s. When the pandemic ends, it is not presumptuous to believe that this will ring even more true.

 

In the last few months, the circumstances around many custody disputes have changed significantly. But the safest option, as always, is to cooperate.

 

Consult with a Competent Family Law Attorney Today

 

The coronavirus pandemic has led to uncertainty in all walks of life, and custody agreements are no different. In the current scenario, it can be a tightrope walk to ensure the health and safety of your child while making sure that you are not impinging on the rights of the other parent. If you find yourself in a pandemic related custody-dispute with your ex-partner, the experienced family law attorneys at Alsobrook Law Group can guide you on the most beneficial course ahead. For a free initial consultation, call today at (334) 737-3718.

child support during lost job

Do I Still Have to Pay Child Support if I lost My Job Because of COVID-19?

Over the past couple of months, many people in Auburn and throughout Alabama have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak. COVID-19 resulted in the closure of countless “nonessential” businesses, and although things are opening back up, widespread economic damage has already been done, and many businesses will end up closing permanently because of this pandemic.

 

Nonessential business closures have resulted in millions of individuals throughout the nation becoming unemployed, making it very difficult to provide for even their most basic needs. And for a lot of people in the Auburn area with child support obligations, coming up with the required support payments has been extremely difficult, and in many cases, impossible.

 

What Happens if I Can’t Pay My Child Support because of a Coronavirus-Related Income Loss?

When a child support order has been issued by a court, it must be adhered to. That is the law, and there are severe consequences if the required payments are not made. But what if you can’t come up with the payments because you have lost your income (or it has been significantly reduced) because of COVID-19? There is a remedy for that, known as a child support modification.

 

Under Alabama law, a parent can modify their child support when there has been a “material change in circumstances”. During normal times, proving that your circumstances have changed substantially (since the original child support order was issued) is usually pretty difficult.

 

Auburn area courts tend to be skeptical of claims of income loss by the paying parent, and a petitioner needs to present a very strong argument in order to prevail. Because of COVID-19, courts are more likely to believe that a parent has legitimately lost income because they were laid off or furloughed, or their business had to close. You still need to present a solid case, however, because modifications are not granted without careful scrutiny.

 

Before you get to the point of taking your modification request to court, it is much better to try to work things out with the other parent. If you can come to agreement with the other parent without having to go through a court battle, it is far less costly and much better for everyone involved.

 

The first thing you need to do is communicate with the other parent, inform them of the financial struggles you are going through, and try to reach some type of arrangement that can satisfy everyone. This arrangement may be temporary until you are able to work again or reopen your business, or it may have to go on for a while if you are looking for a new job.

 

Make sure to fully document all communications you have made with the other parent in case the issue ever ends up in court. You should be able to show that you provided plenty of notification about your drop in income, and you should also be able to show the attempts you have made to find work, applications for unemployment, SBA loans, and other types of assistance, and anything else you did to try to come up with your child support payments. This will show the court that you made a good-faith effort to fulfill your financial obligations to your kids.

 

Make your Child Support Modification Legally Binding

It is important to understand that, even if you are able to reach an agreement with the other parent, you still need to go through with a formal modification that is approved by the court. Without this, you could open yourself up to problems later on if the other parent changes their mind and decides to come after you for back child support.

 

The good news is that if both parents agree to a child support modification, a court hearing is not necessary. However, the voluntary agreement must still be approved by the court. On the other hand, if you are unable to come to an agreement with the other parent, then you will need to prepare to argue your case to the court. Either way, it is best to work with a skilled and knowledgeable Auburn child support lawyer to help ensure a smooth process and a favorable outcome.

 

 

Contact the Alsobrook Law Group for Experienced Legal Help

The COVID-19 outbreak has left a lot of Alabamans struggling financially and unable to meet their child support obligations. If you are facing this dilemma, or if you are on the other end and your ex is asking for a reduced support payment, the Alsobrook Law Group is here to help.

 

Message us online or call our office today at (334) 737-3718 for a consultation with one of our attorneys.

 

divorce and your credit score

How Will a Divorce Affect my Finances?

Whether you are in Auburn or anywhere else in Alabama or around the country, getting divorced is expensive. Not only will there be large one-time costs to pay for attorney fees, legal filings, etc., there are also likely to be some adverse ongoing financial consequences as well.

About one out of every five women fall below the poverty line after a divorce, and most men experience a large drop in their standard of living as well. A divorce can also have adverse financial effects on the children.

Here are some of the most significant ways an Auburn divorce may affect your finances:

  • Lower Income: Although Alabama law calls for the payment of child support and in some cases spousal support, those payments will be less the combined income the couple had when they were together. The paying spouse will also have a reduced income because of the payments, which means that both spouses will probably have a lower standard of living at least in the short term.
  • Fewer Assets: When you are married, you own all of your assets together. After the division of property, you will probably end up with around half of the marital estate. This, of course means a lower bank account balance, less money in your retirement account, and a diminished amount of other property.
  • Higher Expenses: When a couple gets divorced, they are now faced with having to support two households on the same combined income. This means double the housing payments, double utilities, and probably higher food costs as well.
  • Damaged Credit: Your credit is not directly affected by a divorce; in other words, the credit reporting agencies will not lower your score simply because your marriage was dissolved. However, the indirect effects of a divorce can damage your credit score. For example, your spouse could run up credit card bills on a joint account that has your name on it. Or you might have to use more of your available credit to cover short-term expenses. Either of these or similar scenarios can result in a lower credit score.
  • Fewer Opportunities for Children: With a diminished income, you may not be able to afford some of the “extras” that you want for your children, such as paying for sports leagues, music lessons, extra tutoring, or private school. It might also be more difficult to contribute to any college fund you have set up for your kids.
  • Tax Consequences: Once you are divorced, you will have a different filing status and you might end up in a different tax bracket. There may also be other tax implications if you have to sell the marital home, sell a business, or make other major financial decisions.

Surviving Financially after an Auburn Divorce

What we have discussed so far in this article sounds pretty grim. But this is reality – divorce is hard financially, and you need to be mentally prepared for it.

All of that said, getting divorced does not mean you will have adverse financial circumstances forever. There is definitely an adjustment period, but you will get through it, and many people even come out financially stronger on the other side.

Here are some ways to deal with the financial impact of a divorce:

  • Understand your Finances: Take an inventory of your income and assets, so you have the full picture of what you will be dealing with going forward.
  • Decide What you Can Afford: It may be tempting to want to stay in the marital home for sentimental reasons, but it might not make financial sense to do so. Take a look at what housing payment you can afford and plan accordingly.
  • Create a Realistic Budget: Understand that you will need to live on less and make a budget that you will stick to. Budgeting is not the most enjoyable thing to do, but your ability to live within your means is the first step toward financial freedom.
  • Protect Your Credit: Take immediate steps to mitigate the effects of the divorce on your credit. Close any joint credit accounts so your spouse will not be able to cause you any damage. Also, try to open some accounts in your name only, so you have more available credit in case you need it.
  • Think About Ways to Increase your Income: Your income will take a short-term hit, but it does not have to stay this way forever. If you are not already working, consider re-entering the workforce if that is an option for you. You may also want to look at getting additional schooling which might open the door for better opportunities, or if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, maybe there is a business you have always wanted to start but felt inhibited to do so by your marriage.
  • Seek Professional Financial Guidance: Not everyone is strong in the area finances, and you might need some professional help to get you grounded in this area. If so, find a reputable financial advisor who can help you create a solid plan going forward.

Work with an Experienced Auburn, AL Divorce Attorney

Because of the adverse financial effects of a divorce, you will need a lawyer who has extensive legal experience and is committed to advocating forcefully for your best interests. In Auburn, Opelika, and the surrounding communities, get in touch with Alsobrook Law Group today for assistance. Message us online or call our office at 334.737.3718 to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to serving you!

what is a protective order?

What Is a Civil Protection Order?

When an individual is a victim of domestic violence, they may feel completely trapped by their violent partner and situation, believing that they have no out and nowhere to turn. While a domestic violence situation can be suffocating, a victim of domestic violence does have options. One of those options is to seek a civil protection order.

At the law offices of the Alsobrook Law Group, our experienced domestic violence and family law attorneys can help you to understand the basics of a civil protection order, including how to request an order and what the order does. Reach out to our team today for representation you can count on.

What Is a Civil Protection Order?

Also commonly referred to as a restraining order, a civil protection order is a court-issued order that that provides protection for victims of harassment, threats, and abuse. A temporary protection order may include the following provisions:

  • Require the defendant (abusive party) to leave a shared residence;
  • Provide the plaintiff (victim of abuse) with temporary custody of any shared children;
  • Order the defendant to maintain a certain distance from the plaintiff’s home, school, work, or other frequently-traveled location; and
  • Prohibit the defendant from committing any abusive acts against the plaintiff or members of the plaintiff’s family or household, including harassing the plaintiff.

A temporary order of protection can be issued by a judge in the immediate aftermath of the filing of a petition for an order of protection without a hearing. Once a hearing is held, where the defendant will have an opportunity to present their side of the case, a final order can be issued. A final order can include many of the same provisions listed above, and may also include orders about the child visitation rights of the defendant, the defendant’s duty to pay attorneys’ fees and court costs, a defendant’s requirement to pay spousal support, and more.

Who Can File a Petition for a Protection Order in Alabama?

A protection order is designed to offer protection to victims of domestic violence. As such, it may be filed by any person who is seeking protection from a spouse or former spouse, a person with whom the victim has a shared child, a dating partner, or a household member. In Alabama, a “household member” is anyone who has maintained a living relationship with the plaintiff/defendant that was romantic or sexual.

How to Get an Order of Protection in Alabama

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you should take steps immediately to protect yourself. In order to get an order of protection in Alabama, you will need to visit your county courthouse and file a petition for protection from abuse order. You can request an emergency ex parte order if you believe that you are in danger and need protection immediately. You can visit a domestic violence shelter for assistance in filling out the forms. You can also work with an experienced lawyer who can guide you through the process.

Important Things to Know About an Order of Protection

An order of protection is a civil order, not a criminal one, and merely orders that the defendant adheres to the stipulations of the order. While there is a consequence for breaching the order, including a $2,000 fine for a first offense and up to a year in jail, an order of protection is not a guarantee that you will be safe. If you believe that you are in danger of harm or death, you need to find a safe place to live where the abusive party cannot find you.

Also note that an order of protection, while it may include language about child custody and support, is not a divorce. If you want to file for a divorce, you will need to pursue your divorce through the proper legal channel.

Our Experienced Family Law and Domestic Violence Lawyers Can Help

Suffering abuse at the hands of a spouse or romantic partner is truly a terrible experience, and one that may leave you feeling terrified about the future. While you may feel hopeless and alone, there is help available. At the offices of the Alsobrook Law Group, we encourage you to get help now – you do not deserve to be abused.

For legal guidance in pursuing an order of protection against your abuser, please call our law office today at 334-737-3718, come into our Opelika office, or send us a private message. We understand how delicate these case types can be, and promise to protect your confidentiality. We are here to help you obtain the protection and feeling of safety and security that you deserve.