A major issue which arises in the dissolution of a longterm marriage in Kentucky is that of spousal maintenance, known otherwise in some other states and in the common culture as alimony. Practitioners of the law all too frequently present it to clients as an "it exists, live with it" proposition, and laymen understand it only as a nebulous concept. Sadly, this conclusive and nonexplanatory concept is all too frequently reinforced in the opinions of both trial and appellate courts; further obfuscation comes from the earnest efforts of legal scholars in creating voluminous (and largely incomprehensible to anyone outside the legal community) articles on the topic. Because of this, the general public has difficulty in understanding how spousal maintenance awards are even justifiable in an age where there is rough parity in employment and economic potential among men and women - this leads to miscommunication and misunderstanding between lawyer and client. To my way of thinking, it is important to distill the notion of why it exists down to an explanation that is simple, yet not a soundbite, if only to clarify available options.
Child custody and parenting time become especially fraught with conflict around the holidays. Each parent wants to have the children for their extended family's holiday traditions during the earliest phases of litigation, and later, once new relationships are forged, parents want holiday schedules to mesh with those of their new significant other.
A divorce can be a traumatic, emotionally draining event. Rather than seeing it as a new beginning, some litigants abandon common sense and view the process as a vehicle with which to settle scores, make points, rehash old arguments and pick at wounds long thought healed. The results of this sort of "scorched earth" strategy are generally not as had been originally intended - children and extended families are alienated and the parties are in a considerably diminished financial condition, unable to move forward to the next stage in their lives in a hopeful fashion.
A divorce has a profound effect on a couple's estate plan in Kentucky law. While there is no legal effect up until the entry of a decree of dissolution, once that decree is entered, any disbursements or powers granted to the other party to the dissolution by will are treated as if that party died on the date of the decree.
Another summer holiday is upon us, bringing about the all too frequent set of disputes about holiday and summer parenting time in child custody cases. Over our years of practice, we've seen this time of year create needless lost time and stress.
Over the years, I've had occasion to deal with a surplus of ridiculous advice given to people facing the worst event of their lives - their divorce. This advice can create many problems - discord between litigant and lawyer, poor strategic decisions and unnecessary disputes between the litigants. Once the bad advice is given and taken to heart, it takes a great deal of time and effort to dispel and results in significant expense of the litigant.
Kentucky legislators and judges have a lot to say about matters of child custody and parenting time in divorces. There are hundreds of statutes and thousands of pages of judicial opinions addressing issues of jurisdiction, of best interests, of factors to be used to determine what happens in modifications and what happens when someone leaves the immediate area. Sadly, in all of this material, there is very little said about how to act as a parent.
In Kentucky, a action for the dissolution of marriage (commonly referred to as a divorce) is the culmination of the period of turmoil that reflects a relationship in great crisis. In the months prior to the actual filing, there is usually a period of stagnation because the decisions to be made are difficult, costly and have a huge impact on the lives of the litigants. Allocations of parenting time, child care decisions, school choices, child support, alimony/spousal maintenance and the division of hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of assets and debts all have to be considered, all while the couple is under severe emotional stress.
In my divorce practice, I frequently see questions of taxation arise. All too often, one spouse will have been the long time preparer of household financial documents and expects to continue on with the chore out of habit, but with the shattering of the trust that comes about from the end of a marriage there also comes a reluctance to cooperate.
In Family Law, all too frequently, we sadly see that not everyone wants or feels a need to spend time with their children. The reasons are different for each such parent - some feel that there is too much underlying strife in the relationship between the parents and rationalize that staying away is easier, some are struggling with mental illness or emotional disorders, some are mired in chemical addictions and some are simply too lazy to care. Wen this occurs, the children are inevitably impacted by that absence of emotional support, and if the parent has completely given up, by an absence of financial support.