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Divorce Education (Audio & Transcript of Podcast Episode 7)

Listen to the Audio Version of the Podcast

Divorce Education: the Transcript of Podcast Episode 7

Hello and welcome to the Carl Taylor Law Happily Even After Divorce Podcast. This is Carl Taylor –as always– and it has actually been a little bit of a hiatus from our last podcast. And i now feel as nervous as I did with the first episode. For a while I was feeling less nervous but now I feel as bad as ever—but I’ll try and pull it together here.

A couple of quick updates about our firm–Carl Taylor Law, LLC located here in New Jersey – but a couple of updates we actually have a new attorney in our firm, partner Lisa Stein-Browning, so we’re now a two attorney firm which is great.

Lisa brings about 15 years of experience in divorce and family law locally. So she’s helping bring that experience to our firm and also in branching out in mediation and collaborative law as she is trained in those areas. So it’s been great to begin to offer some alternative dispute resolution. So she’s been a great addition to our firm.

We also will soon have my book published – Happily Even After. It will be out in May. It’s going to be about 230 pages so if you want a copy just call us or order it through our website.

And that’s what I kind of want to talk about in the Podcast today: the idea of educating the public. Some people have asked me why do you give out so much free information—but a big part of why I became a lawyer is because I wanted to help people out. And in a divorce or other practice area you can’t really help your client out if they don’t understand the process then their goals become a bit muddled or murky, they may not know what is realistic. That all leads to increased expense and increased emotional expense. So it’s really important for the public to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and to have a sense of just what is New Jersey Divorce and family law. What rights do they have…and what responsibilities do they have.

Because if people just go on the internet, then they can find anything. But we’re trying to create an experience here–across all mediums—where people can go onto our website, www.mynjdivorcelawyer.com and find good information and accurate so they know exactly where the law is–at least at this moment–where it may be heading, and what you can do to protect your rights. And again, what are your responsibilities.

Because if you’re not willing to engage in your responsibilities then sometimes it’s hard to convince others to provide you with your rights, so to speak. Because divorce negotiations is a bit of a tug of war or it can be a healthy give and take and we’ve tried a couple of cases recently, and only about 2% of cases go to trial but it’s really not the best alternative to most people. It’s very costly, it leaves the results entirely up to the judge so you lose autonomy of making a decision.

So that’s part of the background for why we believe in educating the public at large, and now I’m going to go over how we do so. So on our website www.mynjdivorcelawyer.com we have a regularly updated blog, if you go to our website and you click the button in the upper right hand corner it will say Divorce Tools and it will list the blog, our books, faq’s this podcast, video’s, ecourses and firm newsletter.

So we have at this time close to 200 articles on our website addressing everything in New Jersey divorce law. Discussions of alimony, child support, and really specific discussions: how long will it take to get divorced in New Jersey, what types of alimony are there, how much child support will you have to pay, there’s all those articles.

Also, links to some of our offsite articles. For instance I have been published in state and local magazines and newspapers and a few times in the New Jersey Law Journal. Those articles are usually written for other attorneys so they may be a bit more complex to read but they also provide great information on some more in-depth or cutting edge articles. For instance, in Family Law Magazine I published an article on Bitcoin–how do you divide them, what if your spouse is trying to hide assets in cryptocurrencies. So there are both offsite links and onsite blog posts and articles.

As for books we’ve done a few shorter ebooks and now we’re publishing our book Happily Even After aimed at individuals and non-lawyers and what the process of the divorce procedure is like in New Jersey, how to choose a law firm for you, and all the laws at play. It’s sort of written with–i hope– a sense of humor (not too much because I wrote it) but not so dry, but also could be used as a reference as it’s broken down into chapters. If you don’t have children, for instance, you can skip the portions of the book on child custody.

The intent of the book is, if you did sit down and read it all the way through, at the end you would have a really good of the process in front of you, for a New Jersey Divorce. Or even if you’re in the middle of a divorce. You’d have a sense of the path that you may wish to follow. And in truth it’s not just one path, it’s a bunch and you have to choose one of them. It lays out what those paths are and it will light up the paths for you and you can start to work on your goals.

If you work on your goals and you have a sense of how to work with an attorney then you’ll be able to see where this needs to go in terms of motion practice or negotiation.

So again, this book—and people may wonder “you’re an attorney, you bill by the hour, why would you spend so much time on writing books or providing free information on your website,” and I can sell the book although I doubt it will make me any money, but we also believe it’s important to inform the public and when I sat down and put my years of experience into this book I hope it provides a guide.

It also contains our firm’s philosophy. Which is you want to get a good deal but you also want to one day go to your kid’s wedding and not hate your ex-spouse. To take some of the insanity out of your life and have some peace post-divorce, which is not easy to do. And I know sometimes I get wrapped up in what’s fair or not fair and certainly we all want to be treated fairly but the book is also about the mindset. Treating your divorce like you’re training for a marathon. Because you essentially are training for a marathon. You need to get yourself in the right head space or you may make decisions you later regret, decisions that may also negatively impact your children.

So, look out for our new book and reach out to us for a free copy of the book if you’re a reader of www.mynjdivorcelawyer.com. I’m really proud of my book and I think—should anyone actually read it–that it can do some good.

Also on our website we’re going to start a video series about how to handle simple procedural topics so check in the coming weeks on videos like how to do a simple Case Information Statement, divorce pleadings, etc. We’re going to essentially take the information on the website and put it into video form. Just like this podcast is an attempt to take information and put it into a different format. Maybe you can listen to this on the way to work or while you have some down time. A lot of people, if you read all day or you’re on a computer then the podcast is another tool to provide resources.

We also do a quarterly newsletter with updates on the law and on Hunterdon County and on our firm. In the coming months and years we plan to keep doing this educational component, which is sort of laughable because as my children would tell you I’m sort of horrible at teaching things, but hopefully not so horrible that I can’t get some information across about the law. So, don’t ask me to teach you how to tie your shoes, but, when it comes to the law hopefully I can do that for you.

And to bring it sort of full circle, what I tell clients is this: if you’re informed it helps you take the reigns of the process. It helps both of us if we can speak from a common language on how to proceed in a case. And also, it helps keep costs down because now you’re not asking every single question, or you’re asking better questions, some things you may even be handling on your own, you’ll know to avoid certain missteps, and you’re sort of doing that on your own time because there is only so much time you will have to speak with your attorney as funds are always limited for everyone.

So these resources will help people have some ownership of their divorce and to cut down on costs because the whole system should be more efficient. Rather than me sending an email to each client about how to fill out a Case Information Statement, for instance, I can send each client one link to the video or send them a link to all the videos for the whole divorce and that can assist them. It will cut down on billable hours because we are more efficient.

And I think at the end of the day that most clients want that efficiency. And they want to be informed. And they want to be a part of the process. And if they don’t want those things then we can always take on a larger role, or maybe their just not a great fit for our firm. Because we want to work with people who want to be informed, and to do what’s best for themselves and their children, and like it says on our website, the most important person in your divorce is actually you, in my opinion. It’s not even the attorney you choose.

A lot of people can be their own worst enemies in their divorce because it’s so emotional. And that can really hurt their kids. So we want to work with those who are going to do what it takes to be informed–because we make it easy by providing all of the materials and across so many different mediums—and clients who will take this process very seriously. As we do.

So again, our website is www.mynjdivorcelawyer.com where you can find a great sense of what we’re about and the resources we make available. Thanks for listening and take care.

Our Free Book: Happily EVEN After – The Guide to Divorce in New Jersey

If you’re considering a New Jersey divorce or Family Law action you should first learn about the process.  Our 200+ page book is the starting point for how to successfully navigate your New Jersey Divorce. Click here to request a free E-Book version or call 908-237-3096 to request a Free print copy of the book.  

Happily Even After – The New Jersey Divorce Guide (Teaser)

Carl Taylor, Esq.’s Comprehensive New Book on New Jersey Divorce Law: Happily Even After: the Guide to Divorce in New Jersey

Within the next few weeks my book on New Jersey Divorce Law will be published. The book is titled: Happily Even After – the New Jersey Divorce Guide and will provide a comprehensive overview of the procedure, law, and emotion involved in a New Jersey Divorce.

As a “teaser” for the upcoming book, below is the forward by friend and local marriage counselor Glenn Murphy.

If you’re contemplating divorce, you know a
lot about pain: raw, emotional, gut-wrenching pain. The person
you once stood beside and made promises to is now the one who
no longer wants to live another day with you or the one you can
no longer abide … or both.
When a friend becomes an enemy, when a trusted ally become a betrayer, when love turns to apathy or worse, then your
heart will be crushed and your mind may go into the spin cycle:
“What should I do? Where do I begin? How will I survive? How
will I make it financially? Emotionally? What will become of
my home … my life … my future … my children?


No one goes into marriage planning for or preparing for
divorce, but when it hits, and it can hit like a hurricane, it can
devastate everyone in its path. As a seasoned therapist who
has worked extensively with divorced and divorcing men and
women and their children, I have had a front row seat to it all.
I’ve seen lives and hearts scarred beyond recognition, but I’ve
also seen others recover and rebuild their lives, sometimes even
better than before.

And while each situation has its own unique
set of elements and factors, its own nuances, its own story to
be told, everyone, to recover well, will need supportive friends
(definitely), a good therapist (probably), and a wise and experienced attorney (absolutely) to guide them along the way.


No one goes into surgery or should go into surgery without
being well informed about preoperative care, the surgery itself,
and post-operative care. Likewise, no one should go through
divorce unprepared and ill informed.

In his book Happily Even After, family law attorney Carl Taylor has provided a comprehensive guide to the questions you want answered and the questions you didn’t even know to ask about divorce in New Jersey.
Mr. Taylor provides an invaluable manual to a journey you
never intended to walk but has now become (or may become)
yours to walk.

The book will equip you with technical and legal
information, but what makes it unique is that it also addresses
emotions—yours, your children’s, your partners—a topic most
attorneys skittishly avoid.
Glenn Murphy, LPC
New Jersey

Divorcing an Attorney

Divorce is Never Easy. But What if You are Trying to Divorce a Lawyer?

Today I get to write about a subject that makes me feel a bit squeamish: divorcing an attorney.

As I’ve written about in past blog entries, divorce can be different based upon the profession(s) of those involved. For instance, in a divorce involving law enforcement there are often heightened legal issues involving pensions, custody, and the impact of any domestic violence claims.

Like law enforcement professionals, lawyers have an elevated divorce rate. This is likely from the long-hours on the job and the fact that the job is somewhat stressful. As a divorce lawyer, I get to see first-hand that having a lawyer as a client is both a blessing and a curse. We like to pride ourselves on logic but there is an emotional component to divorce law. It can be difficult for me to represent lawyers because they often work in other practice areas than divorce law and do not fully comprehend just how bizarre divorce law in New Jersey can be.

So, if you’re married to an attorney and you are considering divorce you may be concerned that your spouse will have special knowledge of the system or its players over you. However, by hiring an experienced local divorce and family law firm you should quickly be up to speed. Below is an outline of some ways that your divorce from an attorney may be different from other divorces:

Business Ownership/Valuation

Many lawyers are self-employed. Any time a party to a divorce is not a W-2 income earner it adds greater complexity to the case—where the case proceeds to litigation or is able to be amicably resolved.

How are a lawyer’s business contacts and good will valued? Should the spouse receive moneys to offset any “equity” in the law firm? What if the law firm has other equity partners, how may that impact the law firm itself? It is difficult to value a law firm because so much of it is dependent upon the personality of an attorney or a group of attorneys. For instance, a solo attorney may have a thriving business but how much is it really worth if the clients of the firm would not work with another attorney buying the practice?

Another complicating factor to divorcing an attorney is that small businesses such as law firms (and statistically most lawyers in New Jersey work in small or solo law practices), may be reinvesting profit back into a business or otherwise offsetting expenses so that their income may appear deflated. How much income should be imputed for alimony or child support in such instances?

Alimony and Child Support

As noted above, there are many complicating factors in valuing a legal business and that may also create issues for imputing income for alimony and child support if you are divorcing a lawyer.

In many firms bonuses may make up a larger part of the compensation structure. In smaller firms there may be a risk that a handshake and a wink exists with partners that no bonuses will be paid until after a partner’s divorce is finalized. There may be the need for discovery on these issues and even the hiring of an expert such as a forensic accountant.

Custody and Parenting Time

Because lawyers work long hours you may have a stronger claim for custody and/or parenting time versus if you were married to someone in a different profession. If your wife is a lawyer, for instance, she may work 80 hours a week versus your 40, so you may be able to insist upon being named as the parent of primary residence in the divorce.

For these reasons, a divorce from an attorney may be more complicated regarding custody and parenting time than the average divorce.

Prenups

I mention prenups/premarital agreements because it is likely that more lawyers will have sought a prenup than the general population. If there is a prenup then this is another issue that will impact or potentially impact on your divorce.

Knowledge of the System/The Lawyer Personality

Let’s be honest, lawyers can have difficult personalities. I know this because I myself am a lawyer. It’s difficult to live in my own head let alone for others to interact with me. And as much as I love the legal profession and most of my colleagues, there are certainly many unpleasant characters that I get to interact with on almost any given day.

Lawyers tend to be Type-A personalities and may veer into being “control freaks.” This makes a divorce potentially messy as so much is out of your control. Many clients getting divorced from a lawyer are concerned that their spouse may have special treatment because of their profession (and some cases will be moved out of the county for this reason, particularly if you are married to a municipal court judge, superior court judge, or other “connected” local lawyer).

That said, if you retain the right attorney then you will have your own expert in your corner, somebody that is not emotionally invested in the matter beyond your best interests. Moreover, if your spouse is not a divorce lawyer then they will likely have only a vague idea of how the family law courts work. They may even be more willing to settle because they hear the horror stories of how expensive contested divorce cases can be.

Conclusion

And that is perhaps the key takeaway—most cases ultimately settle outside the court system. Very few divorce cases go all the way to trial. Although motions on specific issues are more common, if a judge feels they cannot make a fair decision then they will be required to recuse themselves for the case.

You should not feel intimidated merely because you are divorcing a lawyer. Nobody is above the law and ultimately divorcing a lawyer will have the same court rules, laws, and statutes as divorcing anyone else. By hiring an experienced divorce lawyer you can help level the playing ground and move forward with your divorce and onto your future.