Michael D. Wysocki 2016-01-23 15:20:53
The Ride Five ways to prepare for the divorce process. This content is for informational purposes only. Consult an attorney regarding specific legal questions. Although societal stigmas still exist to some extent, divorce is far less scandalous these days and is often viewed as something that just happens to some couples. If you are divorcing, this is a healthy perspective for you to remember as you navigate the process and move forward. Clients often say, “Divorce is an emotional roller coaster,” which is an incredibly accurate description. You pay a fee, stand in line, take your seat, strap in, lose control, get tossed about, and eventually come to the end. While you might not avoid the ride, preparation can help dictate whether you are strapped into the amateur-friendly Judge Roy Scream or the “gasp-inducing” and recently fatal Texas Giant. Consider taking the following steps to protect and prepare yourself. 1) Know Your Assets and Debts. There should be nothing about your marital finances that you do not know. Take the necessary steps to access accounts, your financial advisers, and your CPA. Copy all year-end financial statements, work-related documents (W-2s, 1099s, 401(k), Individual Retirement Account, pension) and personal bank and investment statements. Run a credit report on yourself and your spouse. 2) Separate Nonmarital Assets. The dictionary would define nonmarital assets as property considered by the courts to belong to one spouse and to be unavailable for equitable distribution. More simply, this means property that is not divided in a divorce proceeding. Some types of nonmarital assets include inherited property, items brought to the marriage or owned before the marriage, gifts given specifically to one person, or proceeds from personal injuries. Sometimes nonmarital assets can become mixed with marital assets, such as when a boat that was purchased before marriage is sold during marriage to purchase another item like a car. In situations like this, it is very important to have a paper trail documenting the assets’ activity to be able to claim them as nonmarital. 3) Walk the Line. In other words, don’t do stupid stuff. Consider yourself to be under a microscope—so no alcohol, no drugs, no questionable behavior. Put your love life on hold and stay single. Change passwords on all social media accounts and refrain from posting anything that would upset your children or spouse. In fact, it may be best to avoid social media all together until the process is concluded. 4) Focus on the Kids. If you have children, start making a list of parenting issues and visitation options. Be sure to know details of the children’s lives—who their doctors, teachers, and friends are and what activities they are involved in. Hopefully you already have a solid relationship, but if not, there’s no better moment to start spending quality time with your kids. 5) Hire a Divorce Lawyer. Even by adhering to all of these principles, divorce can be very confusing and difficult to manage. There is a large amount of information, often factspecific, that must be considered. For this reason, it is important to consult with and hire an experienced divorce attorney who will be able to walk you through this process. Lastly, respect each other, save the arguments for another day, and try to start a new tradition for yourself. By doing that, the next year will be easier and you will be on your way to making the best of the rest of your life. TBJ Reprinted from the Dallas Divorce Law Blog with permission of the author. MICHAEL D. WYSOCKI is a board certified family law specialist and managing shareholder of O’Neil Wysocki, a Dallas family law boutique firm. Wysocki strives to build solid results for his clients through quality legal representation. Read more about him at oneilattorneys.com/Attorney-Profile/Michael-DWysocki.aspx. EMERITUS MCLE EXEMPTION STATUS REMOVED The Supreme Court issued an order dated August 28, 2015, that amends Article XII of the State Bar Rules to remove the MCLE exemption for emeritus attorneys. Beginning June 1, 2016, emeritus members (members who are 70 years of age or older) must comply with MCLE requirements. How will you be affected? Continue reading to find out about compliance years, why the rule changed, and what to do if you are retired. For more information regarding emeritus exemption status, go to texasbar.com/mcle/emeritus. Why was the MCLE exemption for emeritus attorneys removed? The recommendation to remove the MCLE emeritus exemption came from the State Bar Task Force on Aging Lawyer Issues. The MCLE emeritus exemption was removed to ensure that all active practicing attorneys remain current in the law. The recommendation was approved by the State Bar MCLE Committee and then by the State Bar Board of Directors and the Supreme Court of Texas. When does the MCLE requirement for emeritus attorneys become effective? The MCLE requirement applies to compliance years starting on or after June 1, 2016. Previously exempt attorneys may claim credit for CLE completed within 12 months immediately preceding the first compliance year beginning on or after June 1, 2016, provided that these CLE hours have not been used for compliance in a prior year (see chart below). What if I am retired or no longer practice law? Attorneys who no longer practice law may claim MCLE Non-Practicing Status or Inactive Membership Status. To be eligible for either status as an option for MCLE compliance, an attorney must be non-practicing or inactive during the entire MCLE compliance year. Members who practice law at the beginning of a compliance year and later change to inactivate status are not eligible for an exemption but may defer their MCLE requirements. To request Inactive Membership Status, contact the Membership Department at email@example.com or (800) 204-2222, ext. 1383. To request MCLE Non-Practicing Status, contact the MCLE Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 204-2222, ext. 1806. Please refer to the chart below to determine your first MCLE compliance year. CLE credit hours completed between these dates may be used toward your first MCLE requirement of 15 hours, including 3 hours of ethics/professional responsibility.
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