Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Received a complaint for divorce? Meet with an attorney immediately!

You've received a Complaint for divorce in the mail, or on your front door and you probably want to put off dealing with it for as long as possible.  Here's why you shouldn't put it off at all and meet with an attorney as soon as possible.

Once you are served a Complaint for divorce, you have 21 days to file your Answer and any potential counterclaims.  Most likely, you want an attorney to handle those pleadings for you and begin advising you on your divorce case (see here for information on choosing an attorney).  Those 21 days will go by very quickly and means you need to move fast.  Here's an idea of what I mean: it will take you a couple of days most likely to get an appointment to meet with an attorney.  After meeting with an attorney, you may want to take a few days to decide if that is the attorney you want to hire or if you want to meet with other attorneys before deciding (this could take anywhere from a day to over a week).  Once you have retained your attorney (paid them a retainer and have a written agreement they will be representing you), your attorney has to draft the documents.  Most attorneys, after drafting the documents, send those documents to you to review before filing.  It may take a couple of days for you to review, the attorney to make any corrections and for the papers to be ready to be filed.  If you even put off calling attorneys for a week, you have severely limited your options and created a huge time crunch for both you and your potential attorney.  As soon as you get the complaint, start making plans to move forward.

If you fail to answer the complaint in a timely manner, your spouse can ask the court to deem anything stated in the Complaint as admitted by you.  This means, if she alleges you deserted her or were cruel to her, you no longer have the opportunity to dispute those facts.  Not being able to dispute those facts could create major legal problems towards the end of your divorce, particularly with child custody and spousal support.

These are important issues you are working through and the best way to protect yourself is to move in a timely manner so that you know and understand your rights and obligations and the best way to protect yourself.

If you are going through a divorce and would like an initial consultation, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Why You Should Take Your Child Support Obligation Seriously

One of the most intense arguments co-parents have is over child support and finances.  Typically, this results in one parent taking the other parent to court and having a child support order entered by the court.  In some cases, this amount seems reasonable to both parents.  In other cases, the parent having to pay the child support feels like it is too much and they are unable to pay that amount.  Here's why you should take your child support obligation seriously:

1. It is ongoing and constantly accruing.  Likely, you will be obligated to pay this child support until the child is 18 or graduates from high school.  This means if you ignore this month's payment, next month you owe double.  And if you ignore next month's payment, the following month you will owe triple the amount.  Ignoring the payments only makes it add up to a bigger number.

2.  Child support accrues interest.  When you fail to pay child support, the amount that is owed and not paid (what we call the "arrearage"), accrues interest, typically at a rate of about 6%.  This means, the support you weren't paying that we just talked about above in Number 1, is not only growing as more support accrues, but is growing by 6% every year.

3.  When your child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school you still owe the arrearage and interest still accrues.  Your child support obligation will never just disappear; it will constantly grow.  In some cases, the state will even get involved in pursuing you to pay your child support.

4.  You could lose your professional licenses and being held in contempt of court (i.e., jail).  This means if you are a doctor, you could lose your license to practice medicine.  If you are a lawyer, you could lose your license to practice law.

These are just the immediate, direct consequences of failing to pay child support.  Additional consequences could include being denied credit or approval for a home loan due to large amounts of outstanding debt, losing your job, etc.  If you are involved in a child support case and would like an initial consultation on that matter, please contact us at (804) 447-0146 or clbaudean@baudeanlaw.com.