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  LEGAL - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
 
 

 
Q If I'm getting a divorce, when can I start dating other people?
A: The technical answer to this question is that from the date the Petition is filed, the divorce process is considered started . We always tell our clients that they should not begin dating until the case is concluded. This is for a number of reasons. First, the quickest way to get the other side angry and in no mood to cooperate is to immediately bring another person onto the scene.

Secondly, if you have children, it may be too difficult for them to deal with the divorce and deal with another new person; they need to be given time (and hopefully counseling) to help deal with their feelings and should never be introduced to a new person unless and until the parent feels this will be a long-term relationship. Finally, for their own mental and emotional well-being, clients need to give themselves time (and counseling) to deal with all these emotions. Adding another person to the mix usually makes for a longer more difficult divorce and a longer period of recovery afterwards.

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Q. How long will a divorce take?
A: The more fighting, the longer the case takes, because in those situations each issue is contested. Also, it can depend on how much information is agreed upon and how much information needs to be gathered. If you are convinced that your spouse has assets hidden, then much time and expense can be spent in trying to track assets. If, however, you both pretty much know what there is, where it is and how much it's worth, this cuts the time required dramatically.

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Q,What if my spouse says they won't give me a divorce?
A:Many people have seen TV shows or movies where one spouse has threatened they wouldn't "give" the other spouse a divorce. Although this mattered under the old fault laws, it does not matter today. Nebraska is a no-fault divorce state, which means that as long as one person believes the marriage is "irretrievably broken", the Court must grant the divorce. Even if the other party does not believe so, it does not matter and the Court must grant the divorce. What people fight over now is not the granting of the divorce, but custody, child support, property and debt division, etc.

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Q, My spouse says they will never pay me child support, no mater what the court says. What do I do now??
A:If your spouse does not pay the support they are ordered to pay, the Court has the authority to find them in contempt and put them in jail to make them do so, and most of the judges will do this to people who refuse to provide for their children.

The state has set up Child Support Enforcement Offices where at no charge to you, lawyers will file the necessary documents with the Court to force your ex-spouse to pay the support they were ordered to pay.

Unfortunately, the public process is fairly slow and you must always remember that attorney's involved in government provided child support enforcement are working for the government and not for you. Your privacy and personal information may not be confidential. Our attorneys have over 15 years of Child Support Enforcement experience and we can provide the same services much faster and with the same results while at the same time ensuring you of a client relationship and confidential handling of your information.

If your ex-spouse moves to another state, each state has reciprocal laws where the child support office of that state will register your divorce decree in the state where your ex-spouse is working and will enforce the court order through garnishing wages, etc. Our office is prepared to follow through on such actions.

One other important issue is seeking child support where the parents were not married. While you may use public services to get a child support order and then to enforce it, you may not be the legal guardian of the child and the other side may move for guardianship. The government can do no more than basic child support enforcement in these matters!


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Q, My oldest child is 20 and still living at home and going to college. Will my spouse have to pay child support for this child?
A:The obligation to provide child support for a child ends at the age of majority, which is the age of 19 in the state of Nebraska. The Court cannot order child support beyond the age of majority in those circumstances. If your spouse would agree to provide support for this child and would agree to include that in the final divorce decree, the Court can approve this type of voluntary agreement. Also, in awarding alimony, the Court can give some consideration to the monthly expenses of the spouse who is providing for a child who is still living at home, although this is very speculative.

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Q, Who gets temporary possession of the house and when?
A:The Court cannot remove someone from their home until there has been a hearing. At the time of the filing of the Divorce Petition, it is very common to file a Motion for Temporary Allowances, asking for, among other things, temporary child custody, temporary support, and temporary possession of the family residence. It usually takes 10 days to 2 weeks to have this hearing scheduled, depending on the judge to which the case is assigned. At the hearing the Court will consider such issues as the best interests of the children, the cost, the difficulty of either party moving, whether or not both parties could remain in the home, etc. to decide who will remain in the home and how soon the other party must vacate

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Q, Can I keep the divorce out of the newspaper?
A:No. This is public information and the newspapers are allowed to print this information. The notice will appear two times. First when the divorce is filed and second when the final decree is entered.

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Q, Does it matter who files first?
A:Under the old fault laws, it could make a difference who filed, but today the only difference it makes is a strategic difference in court. The person who files is the person who presents their case first in the Temporary Hearing and at the final trial. This can be a benefit strategically, as the person who files "sets the tone" for the hearing or trial and the other side can very often be put in the position of having to answer the issues brought up by the person who filed. It can also matter if the two parties are living in different counties at the time of the filing.

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Q, Does the husband always have to pay the attorney's fees for the wife?
A:Not usually. However, in this day and age, the Court's position has become one of both parties are expected to work and attorney's fees are usually awarded only where one parties' income is much larger than the other party. This is an issue that can vary dramatically from judge to judge.

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Q, How much will child support be and how is it determined?
A:In Nebraska, child support is always ordered in line with the child support guidelines.

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Q, Does the Court always uphold the child support guidelines?
A:In Nebraska, in almost every situation the Court will follow the guidelines to the penny, especially if there is no dispute about how much income the paying parent makes (for example, they have a salary that does not change from month to month as opposed to a self-employed person whose income can vary dramatically from month to month. The only other variable that the courts have considered and given credit for is for extraordinary ongoing medical expenses on the part of the payor. See Child Support Guidelines.

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Q, Are overtime and bonuses included in the income calculation for the child support guidelines?
A:If they are usual and regular they are included. The Court will usually take the average figures for computing the guidelines, rather than the high end of a pay stub that contains many hours of unusual overtime.

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Q, How can I protect my pre-martial or non-marital assets?
A:Keep them separate. Keep cash in separate accounts with only your name. Do not commingle, or "mix" marital money with non-marital money. Don't put your spouse's name on the title of any pre-marital home, car, etc. If you do spend pre-marital or non-marital money on your house (for example for the down payment) keep very clear documentation of exactly where the money came from and where it went to.

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Q, What if II haven't lived Nebraska for one year? Can I still file for divorce?
A:No, but you can file for Legal Separation and then change the case to a divorce as soon as the one year period is up. With a Legal Separation, the Court will still make a determination of temporary child custody and order child support and alimony, and determine who will have temporary possession of the house, just as in a divorce.

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Q, What is the difference between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
A:In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy , your debts are wiped out and some of your assets are transferred to a court appointed trustee. In other words, you surrender property of your estate that is "nonexempt" in exchange for a discharge of all your debts. After the bankruptcy process, you no longer owe creditors anything. Chapter 7 is often called a "straight" bankruptcy or "liquidation" bankruptcy. In contrast, in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy your debts are not wiped out. With Chapter 13 you keep all your assets and establish a new workable repayment plan. The repayment plan typically lasts between three and five years. Chapter 13 can be a good option for individuals who have a steady income and believe they will be able to make steady payments over the term of the plan. Often the plan is designed so that you make regular payments on your secured debts and may reduce payments on unsecured debts. At the end of the plan, any remaining amounts owed on the unsecured debts are discharged.

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Q, How do I know if I qualify to declare bankruptcy? Are there any special requirements?
A:Most people qualify to declare bankruptcy. However, if you recently declared bankruptcy and want to file again, there may be some restrictions. It is best to check with an attorney in this situation. In general, if you received a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 discharge of debts within the past six years you will have to wait until more time passes before filing under Chapter 7 again. The six year period begins when the petition is filed, not when you were granted a discharge. There is an exception if you obtained a Chapter 13 discharge in good faith and paid 70% of your unsecured debt. Also, note that Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be filed for at anytime. So if you need immediate relief from creditor's collection efforts and are barred from Chapter 7, this can be a good option. There is also a rule that forbids filing a bankruptcy within 180 days of a previously dismissed petition in some circumstances.

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Q, But what if I'm not a US Citizen, Can I still declare bankruptcy?
A:Yes, so long as you live in the United States, have property here, or a business here. US citizenship is not required. Q: What property can I keep if I file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy? A: If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, it is natural to want to know what property you will be able to keep. Unfortunately, an accurate and complete answer is too complex for this FAQ. However, in most states the list of "exempt" property is extensive. California's exemption guidelines are relatively generous! In most cases you can keep all of your clothing, household goods and furniture, public benefits assistance (such as Social Security payments you haven't spent) and many other basic items. For more information on exemptions, see the subheading below.

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Q, Are there alternatives to bankruptcy?
A:Yes, and in some instances they make sense. The situations where these other courses of action are appropriate include:

  • If you previously received a bankruptcy discharge.
  • If you only want to stop abuse and harassment from collection agencies and other bill collectors.
  • If a friend, relative, or significant other cosigned a large loan you are trying to avoid.
  • If you could pay off your debts in less than five years.
  • If you are worried that creditors will seize all your property or garnish all your wages.
  • If you defrauded your creditors.
  • If you recently purchased large debts for luxuries such as vacations, hobbies or entertainment.
  • If you expect you will soon be incurring more debts for necessities such as medical care for an existing illness.

For more information, or to set up an appointment for a FREE bankruptcy consultation, send e-mail to: or call (402)734-0635. Evening and weekend appointments are welcome! Patricia Ann Geringer, Attorney at Law, 2421 'O' Street, Suite 01, Omaha, NE 68107. Use this convenient FORM to schedule an appointment for a FREE consultation.

Please check back often to view additions and enhancements.

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Q, What are Child Support Guidelines?
A:Child support in Nebraska is computed according to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines. The main principle behind the guidelines is to recognize the equal duty of both parents to contribute to the support of their children in proportion to their respective net incomes. The guidelines are intended to be used for both temporary and permanent support determinations.
When Are the Guidelines Applied?
In determining child support obligations in a divorce proceeding, the Court is obliged by law to use the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines unless there can be shown some very compelling reasons for the Guidelines to not be applied. Deviations from the guidelines are permissible under the following circumstances:
  • When there are extraordinary medical costs of either parent or child;
  • When special needs of a disabled child exist;
  • If total net income exceeds $8,000 monthly, child support for amounts in excess of $8,000 monthly may be more but shall not be less than the amount which would be computed using the $8,000 monthly income unless other permissible deviations exist;
  • For juveniles placed in foster care; or
  • Whenever the application of the guidelines in an individual case would be unjust or inappropriate.
Child support is paid until the child reaches the age of majority, which is 19, or until the child is emancipated, which means that the child is supporting himself, for example, if the child gets married or joins the military. The child support guidelines take the gross income figure for each party and deducts taxes, FICA, the cost of health insurance for the children, mandatory retirement, and court-ordered child support paid for children not of this marriage. The net figures are then combined, percentages determined and a formula using the net income figures and the number of children is used to determine the child support.

Daycare Costs
In addition to Child Support, the non-custodial parent will be ordered to pay a percentage of work-related daycare expenses incurred for the children.

Issues Regarding Children Subject to Change
Understand that while all issues of your property settlement and debts will be final as of the finalization of your Divorce Decree, the Court retains continued authority over issues regarding children (custody, visitation, child support, etc.). Therefore, if there is a substantial change in circumstances, it may be possible to change custody from one parent to the other. In order to prevent children being shuffled back and forth from one parent to the other, however, this will usually happen only in extreme cases. Child support can also be changed if there is a significant change in income (either up or down), or if the current child support does not comply with the guidelines.

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Q, In a divorce, who gets the kids?
A:The best way to determine custody of children is for the two divorcing parents to agree who should have custody of their children. This decision should be based on what would be best for the children. The less conflict between the parents on this issue, the better for the children. Although this is the ideal, many parents cannot decide who should have custody of the children and in that situation, it will be decided by a judge.

In The Best Interest of the Children
Child custody is determined in the Court by what is in the best interests of the child. In determining the child's best interests, the Court may consider factors such as the respective environments offered by each parent; the emotional relationship between child and parent; the age, sex and health of the child and the parents; the effect on the child of continuing or disrupting an existing relationship; the attitude and stability of each parent's character; the moral fitness of each parent, including the parent's sexual conduct; parental capacity to provide physical care and satisfy educational needs of the child; the child's preferential desires regarding custody if the child is of sufficient age of comprehension-regardless of chronological age, whether the child's preference is based on sound reasoning; and the general health, welfare and social behavior of the child.

Gender Is Not Relevant
The Nebraska statutes on custody specifically state that gender is not to be considered in determining child custody.

Joint Custody.
Joint Custody can be granted. Joint custody is usually a situation in which the children live with one parent for one week, or month, or year, and then live with the other parent the next week, or month or year. Judges are hesitant to grant this because it can tend to be very unstable for the child. This can be particularly true if the parents live in two different school districts. Another type of joint custody can be granted where the child actually lives with one parent, but both parents have an equal say in important matters regarding the child, including things such as where the child attends school, religious instruction, medical care, etc. Obviously, an arrangement like this is realistic only in situations in which the parents get along and are extremely cooperative with each other. Usually that is not the case in most divorces.

Parenting Plans
In 1994, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Parenting Plan Act. This provides for mediation and for parties to develop their own plan for custody and visitation.

Visitation
The party that does not have custody will receive visitation rights. It is usually a good idea to have the specific visitation times set out in the final Decree so that everyone (parents and children) know exactly when the visitation will take place. Minimum visitation is typically considered to be every other weekend from Friday evening to Sunday evening, one evening during the week, alternate holidays and at least 30 days in the summer. This visitation may be modified if the children are very young or there are some other critical extenuating circumstances. Mothers are usually awarded Mother's Day and fathers are usually awarded Father's Day.

Permission to Leave the State
It is important for every custodial parent to know that they must have permission of the Court in order to permanently leave the state with the minor child. In most situations if the custodial parent is leaving the state for an important reason, for example, a new better-paying job, the Court will typically grant permission and will make provisions for visitation for the non-custodial parent and for transportation costs.

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Q, Who pays for the children's health insurance?
A:In addition to child support and daycare expenses, the Court will usually also require that health insurance must be provided and that any uninsured medical, dental, etc. expenses be divided between the parties, usually in proportion to their income.

In addition, the Court will order the spouse with health insurance coverage to continue to cover the other spouse with health insurance coverage while the divorce case is going on until the final Decree is entered.

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Q, Some general information regarding obtaining a divorce.
A:The fact that you're visiting our web site means that you have probably decided to get a divorce or are considering doing so. If that is the case, there are a number of things you should consider even though it is certainly a time of great stress, upheaval and uncertainty. At this point, it may be difficult to see how you can ever get through this divorce, get back to a "normal" life and be OK.

In order for you to get through this period feeling as good as possible and with the least emotional turmoil and stress, it is important that you have answers to your questions and information on which you can truly rely. When you understand the process of divorce and the steps involved, much of the fear and uncertainty may be dispelled. Equipped with information and an understanding of just what to expect, you can start rebuilding your life right now by making smart choices and good decisions as you move forward with your divorce.

A number of pages on this site are extremely important to you and these can either be accessed from our Homepage or by selecting them from the list below.

A Basic Guide to Divorce is designed primarily to prepare you with the basic information and knowledge you will need as you go forward with your divorce.

About the Attorney will introduce you to the Senior Attorney and her resume, answer questions about fees and show you how to reduce your legal costs.

Non-divorce Family Law Services describes the other types of cases handled in the practice including bankruptcy, paternity cases, restraining & protection orders, modifications of custody, child support and alimony, real estate services, father's rights, wills & trusts, guardianships and, adoptions.

Thanks for educating yourself about divorce and for learning more about us and the services we provide. If there are any questions you have that have not been addressed at this site, please feel free to schedule an appointment. The first half hour consultation is FREE. Unfortunately, because of malpractice and insurance issues, we are unable to provide legal advice by e-mail or telephone. You are encouraged to use our e-mail link, [email protected] or to schedule an appointment. What would a lawyer's web site be without a disclaimer? Please read it. And when you're ready to take the next step in your divorce, please call us at (402) 734-0635, email us or use this convenient FORM to schedule an appointment for a free consultation.

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Q, Where the parents were not married, how is paternity established?
A:According to the law, both parents are responsible for a child's upbringing, both emotionally and financially. In situations where the parents of a child have never been married to each other, a paternity case can be brought by either the father or mother. The paternity case.
  • Establishes that the father is the legal, biological father of the child
  • Determines custody and visitation.
  • Sets Child Support according to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines.
  • Can order the other parent to be responsible for the expenses of the pregnancy and the birth of the child.
  • Can order the other parent to pay a portion of work-related daycare expenses.
Can Be Filed By Either Parent
Most often, paternity cases are filed by the mothers of children who want to receive child support and other financial assistance such as daycare reimbursement and health insurance for the child. However, paternity cases can also be filed by fathers who want to establish their rights of visitation or custody with their child.

It is important for mothers to understand that filing a paternity action for child support may also result in the other parent receiving rights of visitation with the child. It is also important for fathers to understand that filing a paternity action for visitation will also result in being ordered to pay child support, daycare expenses and health insurance.

The process works like this: A Petition is filed asking for the Court to make a determination that the father is found to be the legal biological father of the child. If there is a question about whether or not the father is the biological father of the child, DNA-based paternity testing will be done. DNA testing is highly accurate and very reliable.

If the testing is positive or the father admits paternity, the Court will determine child custody, visitation, child support according to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines and will order the non-custodial parent to pay a portion of work-related daycare expenses, and will apportion health insurance costs.

Mrs. Geringer has over 18 years of experience in Child Support, Paternity and Enforcement law. She is recognized for her knowledge of Paternity and support law and regulations.

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Q, What is a legal separation?
A:In Nebraska, legal separation is not a first step to divorce as it is in some other states. In Nebraska a legal separation is designed for people who have decided that they are going to live apart but who do not intend to get divorced. Most often people who do not want to get a divorce are for religious reasons or older couples who do not want to create problems with their pensions, Social Security or health insurance coverage will get a legal separation instead of a divorce.

Similar Process
With a legal separation, all of the documents are the same, the waiting periods are the same and all issues involved in a divorce (custody, child support, property and debt division, etc.) must be addressed. However, at the end of the legal separation you are simply separated and not divorced. If you wish to get a divorce later on, you must file for a divorce and go through the process all over again.

People who have not lived in Nebraska for the required one year, must file for a legal separation rather than a divorce.

We encourage people not to use a legal separation as an emotional "first step" to divorce, because they are usually going to end up spending more money to do so. If you are unsure, it is important to know that the divorce process can be stopped at any time if both parties want the case stopped. Under the Progression Rules of the Court, you will have approximately 6 months to finalize the case from the date you file and at any time up until 30 days from the date the Decree is entered, the case can be dismissed.

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Q, What is Alimony?
A:Alimony is spousal support which is paid by one party of the divorce to the other. In Nebraska this can be paid by either men and women depending on the circumstances. In considering whether or not alimony will be ordered, the Court considers a number of issues, including the circumstances of the marriage, the length of the marriage, health of each party, the contributions each made to the marriage, interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities, who contributed what to the care and education of the children, and the ability of the custodial parent to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of minor children in their custody. In determining alimony, the Court will look at the income and expenses of both parties, balancing the need of the one party against the ability to pay of the other party.

An Example
Let's take an example of how to compute a typical alimony award. In our situation, the two parties have been married for 15 years. They have two children, ages 12 and 10. The wife is in excellent health and is 35 years old. The husband is also in excellent health and is 37 years old. The husband is an executive and earns $80,000.00 gross per year, $50,000 after taxes. His net take home pay, after the payment of health insurance is $4,000.00 per month.

The wife completed three years of college before she got married and had children. Throughout the marriage, she has primarily been a homemaker. The family has moved to three different cities because of the husband's career. The wife has now decided to go back to school to finish college and get a master's degree which will take a total of 3 years, but at the end of 3 years she will have an estimated income of $35,000. She currently works part time doing scheduling at a doctor's office. Her take home pay is $750.00 per month. She will continue to work while she goes to school.

The wife and children have monthly expenses of $2,700, which the Court finds to be reasonable and not excessive. This includes school expenses. Husband has monthly expenses of $2000, which the Court finds to be reasonable and not excessive. In this scenario, child support according to the guidelines will be $1,266.00 for the two children.

In determining alimony, the Court will look at the income and expenses of both parties. In this situation:

 
Husband
Wife
Net Monthly Income
$      4,000
$          750
Child Support
- 1,266
+1,266
 
Total
2,734
2,016
Monthly Expenses
2,000
2,700
 
 
$         734
$      (684)
In the above example, the wife needs approximately $700 per month to meet her expenses and the husband has an excess of approximately $700 per month over his expenses and his child support obligation. In this situation, it would appear fair that alimony of $700.00 per month be paid, as this is what the wife needs and this is what the husband has the ability to pay.

Of course, this example has been an easy one and we were able to make up the figures so that the wife's need corresponded exactly to husband's ability to pay. In real life, the numbers usually aren't that neat and tidy.

How Long Will Alimony Last?
The next question is, how long will alimony be paid? This again is an issue that will vary greatly on the circumstances of the parties and the judge the case is assigned to. In our example, Mother needs the alimony for 3 years and at the end of that time, will be earning enough to support herself, plus she will still be receiving child support. The Court could order the alimony to go for three years only, or perhaps a little longer to make sure she "gets back on her feet."


The example above reflects the most common type of alimony that is awarded, namely "rehabilitative alimony" which is ordered to help the spouse who has not been working full time to re-educate or re-train themselves to get back in the job market.

In this day and age, however, large alimony awards are usually not made unless you have a situation where it has been a long marriage (generally at least over 10 years) and one party makes substantially more income than the other. If you have a situation where the incomes of the parties are not that different, alimony is typically not awarded.

Termination of Alimony
Alimony ends on the death of either party or on the re-marriage of the party receiving alimony. It is also important to note that alimony is tax-deductible by the payor and the person receiving the alimony must pay state and federal income taxes on the alimony.


If alimony is not awarded in the original Divorce Decree, neither party may ever come back to request alimony. This is a very important law to remember, and some people will have a Decree ordering alimony of $1 per year so that if something happens in the future (for example, disability, etc.) they can come back into Court to request alimony.

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Q, Division of Property.
A:The Court will look at all your assets that were accumulated during the marriage. This is referred to as the "marital estate". Assets that were owned by one party prior to the marriage are considered pre-marital and will not be included in the marital estate. Also, assets or monies that were inherited by one party or received as the result of a gift from one's family during the marriage will usually not be included in the marital estate.

Calculations
The Court will look at the net market value of each asset in the marital estate. For example, if you and your spouse purchased a home during your marriage with marital funds and the home could be sold today for $100,000.00 and has a mortgage against it of $60,000.00, the net market value is $40,000.00, or the current value of $100,000 minus the mortgage of $60,000.00.



$  100,000
   Current Market Value
- 60,000
   Existing Mortgage
$    40,000
   Net Market Value

The $40,000.00 net market value will be included in the marital estate and divided by the Court.

Personal Property
For personal property, the market value will be how much you could sell it for today (not replacement value). For example, if you paid $500 for a television three years ago, it is probably worth around $250-$300, depending on its condition.

All of the net values of the assets will be added together and then divided. Property will be divided anywhere from 1/3-2/3 to 1/2-1/2 for each party. More and more often the Court tries for roughly a 1/2-1/2 division.

Title
It does not matter whose name is on the title of the asset, whether it is a house, a car, or a savings account. If it was accumulated during the marriage with marital funds, it is part of the marital estate and subject to division.

Pension & Retirement Benefits
Within the past few years the Nebraska law has been changed to provide that pension benefits accumulated during the marriage are part of the marital estate and subject to division. Valuation of a pension can be somewhat difficult and it is always important to have a qualified attorney handle this. If the pension is something like a 401-K plan which has a set value, valuation is easy. But if the only information you have is that at age 55 your spouse will receive $600 per month, it may be necessary to have an actuary determine a present value, or simply provide that once the spouse begins receiving the pension, the other spouse will receive 50% of the present monthly amount. Awards of pension benefits are almost always covered by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, and again, it will be to your benefit to consult an attorney regarding this.

More On Pre-Marital Assets and Inheritance
Under the law of the State of Nebraska, any property that was inherited during the marriage or gifted from your family is considered non-marital property and is not subject to division. The key here is whether or not these assets are traceable and whether or not they have been commingled with joint funds. If they are not traceable or if they have been commingled with joint funds, there may be a problem.

Similarly, other pre-marital property is not considered marital and will not be divided. For example, personal property brought into the marriage is non-marital and not subject to division. If one party owned a home prior to the marriage and it was sold at the time of the marriage and the net proceeds were placed in mutual funds in the name of the party owning the home, these funds would typically be considered non-marital.

Division of Debts
What will happen with your debts? In determining a fair division of property during a divorce proceeding, the Court will also take debts into account. The Court will usually subtract all outstanding debts from the net assets of the marital estate to determine the net amount that each party is to receive.

Future Liability of Debts
It is very important for you to understand that the divorce Court can only determine the rights and responsibilities between you and your spouse and cannot relieve you of responsibility for a debt you have incurred. So, for example, if your name is on the car loan for the car awarded to your spouse and your spouse defaults, the loan company can sue you for the balance even though the Divorce Decree orders your spouse to pay the debt.

In this situation, you would need to take your spouse back into Court and ordered to reimburse you. The Court could find the spouse in contempt and order your spouse. to reimburse you for any of the spouse's debts which you paid.

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Q, What is involved in the Divorce Process

A A number of steps are involved. We've attempted to provide an overview here:

Initial Interview with Attorney
During your initial interview, you will need to decide if you feel comfortable with your attorney and want him/her to proceed with your case. Most attorneys require an up-front fee (known as a retainer) of several hundred dollars to "retain" their services. Most attorneys charge an hourly rate and their time is charged against the retainer. Your attorney should provide you with a detailed accounting of all the time he is charging you for and what he did during that time.

During your initial interview and any subsequent meetings, your attorney will begin to collect detailed information on you, your spouse, your incomes, debts, assets, family situation, children and any other information pertinent to your case.

Preparation of the Petition
The Petition is the basic document asking the Court for a divorce, for a division of property, determination of child custody, child support, etc.

Filing the Petition After the Petition is signed, it is filed with the Clerk of the District Court, along with a statistical report required by the Court, a financial affidavit and child support guidelines (if there are children involved). The assignment of a judge is made by computer at this time.

Restraining Order
At the time the Petition is filed, it is quite common to have a Restraining Order entered. A restraining order is an order entered by the Court which can do two things: 1) restrain the other spouse from harassing, threatening, or harming the other spouse and 2) restrain the spouse from selling, transferring, hiding any assets, or taking out a loan against any of the assets.

Notice In Local Newspaper
Court proceedings are public information. Most local newspapers monitor activity within the courts and report it in the paper. If your newspaper does so, and most do, there is no way to prevent their announcement of your filing of a divorce petition. The announcement usually appears in the paper within one week after filing.

Giving Notice to the Other Spouse
After the Petition has been filed, the other party must have legal notice of the action. This can be accomplished in one of two ways: 1) forwarding a copy of the Petition to the spouse and having them sign a document called a Voluntary Appearance; or 2) having the spouse served with the documents by the sheriff's office.

Temporary Hearing
In most, but not all situations, it will be necessary to have a Temporary Hearing to determine such things as temporary child custody, temporary support, whether or not one spouse should be excluded from the family home, etc. This hearing will usually take place 10 days to 3 weeks from the date the Petition is filed, depending on which judge the case is assigned to and how quickly the hearing can be set on the judge's calendar.

60 Day Waiting Period
From the date of the filing of the signed Voluntary Appearance or the spouse is served by the sheriff, there is a mandatory 60 day waiting period before the final divorce hearing can be set. Usually during this time the attorneys will send out Interrogatories which are written questions. The other spouse must answer the Interrogatories under oath giving information about their assets, debts, income, etc. Also during this time the attorneys will usually be attempting a settlement of the case.

Final Trial
If the parties are not able to settle the case, the case will go to trial and the District Court judge assigned to the case will decide any of the issues not agreed upon by the parties.

Final Decree
After trial or settlement, a written Decree will be prepared by one of the attorneys setting out the parties' agreement and/or the judge's decision. This is probably the most important document that will come out of the entire process, as this document will govern everything after the divorce.

30 Day/Six Month Interlocutory Period
The Decree is final 30 days after the entry of the Decree, except for remarriage, meaning that neither you nor your spouse may remarry anyone anywhere in the world for six months after the decree is final. For purposes of inheritance and purchasing real estate, the Decree is final immediately.

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Q, What are the requirements for a divorce in Nebraska?
A:There are two requirements for getting a divorce in Nebraska.

Residency
At least one person must be a resident of Nebraska for at least one year. This means that either the husband or the wife must have actually been physically present in the state for at least one year. If you are in the military and claim another state as your permanent residence, you must have been stationed in Nebraska for at least one year.

Marriage Irretrievably Broken
The second requirement is that at least one of the spouses must testify that the marriage is irretrievably broken. It doesn't matter if the other spouse disputes or does not believe that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the testimony of either husband or wife is all that is necessary. There must also be testimony that reasonable efforts were made to reconcile the differences. These efforts can include marriage counseling, talking to your minister, or simply talking to each other.

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Q, What is 'No Fault' Divorce?
A:Nebraska is a "no-fault" divorce state. This means that with regard to property division, it makes no difference who is "at fault" in the marriage or who "caused" the divorce or who "wants" the divorce, the Court will divide property between the parties in a range between 1/2-1/2 and 1/3-2/3.

With regard to custody of children, fault can be a factor. This means that if you and your spouse are contesting custody of your children, negative aspects about you or your spouse can be brought to the attention of the Court as reasons why custody should not be awarded to that person. This is explained in more detail in the section on Child Custody

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Q, What should I consider when employing a Bankruptcy Attorney?
A:Bankruptcy litigation requires an experienced and steady professional.

The Patricia Geringer Law Firm works on Chapter 11 and 13 reorganizations, Chapter 7 liquidations and the restructuring of debt through out-of-court workout agreements.

Whatever you do, never let legal actions concerning debt collections go unanswered - get a competent attorney. If bankruptcy appears to be the only answer, please feel free to give our office a call. Our firm also represents out-of-state creditor interests in bankruptcy related matters.

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Q, What is involved in Modification of Custody, Child Support and Alimony?
A:All issues regarding the children in a divorce are always subject to modification, or change, until the children reach the age of majority (age 19). This includes child custody, child support, health insurance coverage, etc.

Custody Modification
Changes in custody after a Decree has been entered are difficult and should not be undertaken lightly. This is because the Court wants to maintain a stable environment for children and they do not want a "running gun battle," with the parents constantly fighting over the children.

More Difficult Standard
As far as custody is concerned at the time of the divorce, the Court's determination is based on "what is in the best interests of the children." However, for a modification of custody at a later date, the standard is supposed to be: "Has there been a change of circumstances since the time of the entry of the Decree (or the last Order of the Court whichever is later) which was unforeseen by the parents and which now makes it in the best interests of the children that their custody should be changed." This is a much more difficult standard and the Court will generally not change custody unless there has been a significant change of circumstances.

Examples of such changes would be if the custodial parent is providing an unsuitable home for the children, for example with drug use or excessive use of alcohol; the relationship between the custodial parent and the children has seriously deteriorated (for example to the point where the child does not obey the custodial parent or is running away). Again, in order to have custody changed, this must be much more serious than just that the child is not getting along well with the parent.

Child Support
Child support can be either increased or decreased depending on the circumstances of the parties. The increase or decrease will depend upon whether or not there has been a change in the income of either party which will result in a child support change of at least 10% and the change is expected to last for at least 6 months.


The child support increase or decrease will be determined by the Child Support Guidelines. It is important to note that the change can only occur if the necessary documents are filed in Court and approved by the judge. Every month that goes by without filing the papers, the child support amount stays the same and accrues.

As an example of this, if you and your former spouse agree that the child will come to live with you for a few months, you must file the necessary documents that month, or you will owe the child support. Also, even if your former spouse gets a big raise that starts in May, if you don't file until September, the Court does not have the authority to go back to May when the new income actually started. The Court only has the authority to reduce or increase the support based on when the proper documentation was filed with the Court.

Alimony
Essentially the same rules used to determine increases or decreases of child support apply to alimony. If there has been a substantial increase or decrease in the incomes of either party, the Court has the authority to increase or decrease the alimony.


Remember that if the original Decree does not award any alimony, neither party can come back later to request alimony.

Also, the statute says that the paying party must be current on all alimony payments before they can file to have the alimony reduced. This is important to remember if you have lost your job or had a substantial pay cut. File now, don't wait for six months when you're already behind on your alimony payments.

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Q, What should I know about Domestic Violence, Protection and Restraining Orders?
A:Domestic violence is one of the most difficult issues involved in a divorce. Our number one concern is the safety of our clients and the safety of the children in these situations.

One of the first questions to ask is, where do we go? If you believe that you or your children are in any danger, it is a good idea to remove yourselves from the present situation immediately, for example, go to the home of a family member or friend or to a shelter. Do not wait.

Restraining Order vs. Protection Order
At the beginning of a case we can immediately file a Restraining Order. However, in Nebraska if the other spouse has a history of violence it may make more sense to have a Protection Order entered. A Protection Order is essentially the same as a Restraining Order, in that they are both court orders that order a person to not harass, threaten, abuse, or disturb the peace of the other person.

A major difference between a Restraining Order and a Protection Order is that a Restraining Order can only be between spouses, whereas a Protection Order can be between two people who were not married to each other. But a more important difference is that it appears that law enforcement officers seem to believe they have more authority to arrest a violator under a Protection Order than under a Restraining Order. For that reason, when there is a history of violence, we usually recommend a Protection Order.

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Q, Prenuptial Agreements?
A:We are equipped to construct 'Prenuptial' Agreements which are fair, reasonable and agreeable to both parties. In today's marriages - especially where two professionals or business people are involved, prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more popular. Not meant to impose a threat or a punishment - they can go far to bring children from previous marriages together with the new family. For more information on this topic, please call us at 402-734-0635, email us at or use our convenient FORM to schedule an appointment.

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Q, Can I employ the firm to represent me if I live out of town?
A:Our firm actively seeks business and corporate representation of out-of-town interests. For a small retainer and reasonable fees - a small firm can rest assured that they will be represented properly in the Metropolitan Omaha area; A large firm can expect the same - while still paying the same reasonable legal fees.

Personal Out of Town Representation We would be happy to represent you and your family if you live out of state. However, we can only represent you for actions which take place in the State of Nebraska regarding issues which are best litigated in Nebraska. We can not provide advice or assistance to individuals living elsewhere in the nation. If you would like additional information regarding this policy, please call us at 402-573-734-0635, email us at or use the convenient FORM to schedule an appointment..

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Q, What type of Legal Real Estate Services are available?
A:Mrs. Geringer has an exceptional combination of education and actual experience in this particular field -- ensuring her clients of complete representation in matters involving real estate and real property. With over twenty years as a real estate professional, you can count on her to protect your interests when involved in real property sales, purchases, closings, contracts and escrow issues.

Do you know who your real estate agent is representing (who is actually paying for his or her services), and is the agent's company collecting client service fees from both the buyer and seller. In any event, you would be wise to consider employing a competent attorney. You'll at least have some one in your corner whom you know is representing your best interests!

The purchase of a home may be the most important commitment of your lifetime! Good legal representation may cost you much less than a protracted court action once the sale is final.

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Q, What should I know about Wills and Estates?
A: Everyone should have a will prepared for disposition of their property upon their death. Our office can prepare separate wills along with estate programs which will meet your individual needs. We also prepare and/or act as guardians in the case of parents or grandparents whose children live either here or out-of-town. If you're in the market for any of these services, we encourage you to give us a call. You may telephone us direct, email the firm at - or schedule an appointment using this convenient FORM..

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Q, What type of service do you provide for Adoption?
A:The Law Offices of Patricia Geringer does not set up or arrange adoptions. Rather, it represents both prospective parents - and birth mothers, in legal adoption procedures, court appearances, orders and agreements. For further information on this important field, you are encouraged to call us, email us at or use this convenient FORM to schedule an appointment.

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Q, What other information do you have on your legal rates and charges?
A:Aside from the fee information found on the fee page, the firm maintains a set schedule of general fees and charges. This information should aid prospective clients in estimating what their legal expense will be - in advance of litigation. Please note, careful planning has went into this schedule to protect not only you - but other clients and prospective clients depending upon their attorney to meet important court dates, have documents prepared in a timely basis and to represent their issues in as efficiently a manner as possible. Unexpected phone calls (asking for case status or to vent) may cause an interruption in a consultation - a court case or an important meeting. Also, missed appointments may also cause another client to postpone an important legal meetings. Because of these issues - the following legal expense has been developed. Naturally, we thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation. You may wish to review the section of this page that deals with how to maintain or reduce your expected legal costs.

General Fee Schedule (Fees and Associated Expenses)

  1. Missed Legal Appointments will be charged at fifteen minutes at the standard hourly rate. If the missed appointment is for an initial FREE consultations, the following appointment will be chargeable.
  2. Phone Calls to an Attorney will be charged per time (min fifteen minutes) at the regular hourly attorney rate. If a phone call is taken during a meeting with a client, that time will be charged to the phone call - not the current client.
  3. Court Appearances will be charged at the standard hourly rate. NOTE: if unscheduled delays are brought about by situations beyond the control of the parties - the maximum charge which will be charged (in addition to the regular court appearance) will not exceed one-half hour.

If you have any additional questions concerning fees, expenses or charges, we encourage you to email us .

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Q, What can I do to reduce my legal fees and expenses?
A: The major cost in getting a divorce is your attorney's time. You can significantly reduce the amount of time needed by your attorney to prepare your case by being organized. Your attorney will need a lot of financial information from you. Information regarding your home, your mortgage, your savings accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions, debts, living expenses, etc. You can either pay your attorney to collect and organize this information for you or you can spend a little time and energy getting it yourself. With our guidance and coaching, we find that our clients can save a significant amount of money by taking responsibility for this part of their divorce. in cases of bankruptcy filings - to assist you in the initial process, you are encouraged to complete the confidential information FORM here on our site prior to your first appointment. This will allow the attorney to be prepared to realistically discuss your case and suggest other courses of action and proceed efficiently with your case.

Computerized Information Management
Additionally, to further reduce your fees and keep your costs as low as possible, we have developed an extremely efficient, very effective proprietary system of computerized information management and document preparation which we use in all of our cases. With this system, we can effectively manage the process of organizing the information that is so crucial to the preparation of your case and ensure that we have everything we need. Once the information is collected and entered into a computerized database, it can be directly merged into the various petitions, motions, exhibits and other documents that are generated in your case. In some instances, the petitions and other filings can be electronically filed thereby saving additional time and cost. These management procedures significantly reduces your costs by minimizing our document preparation time.

Settling Out of Court
Finally, with Mrs. Geringer's 20 years of experience and her reputation as a winning litigator, we've found that this "intimidation factor" often makes it unnecessary to take your case to trial. In fact, a high proportion of our cases, approximately 75%, are settled before trial. We recognize that getting a favorable settlement out of court is much more cost effective for you because it eliminates the time and expense involved in taking a case to trial. Also, with our experience in family law matters we know which issues to fight for in court and which issues to settle and how to settle them.

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Basic Guide To Divorce
To prepare yourself for your upcoming divorce, you should know some basic information which can be involved in the various elements of the action:

For other information, contact the Law Firm - either by calling us at 402-734-0635, emailing us at [email protected] or complete our confidential appointment FORM.

If you know of someone who needs legal assistance but may not have access to the internet, most - if not all of the materials included on this site are available in printed form from the Law Office of Patricia Geringer.

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