Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is Collaborative Divorce Right for Me?

             Collaborative divorce is a process by which couples work through issues of child custody, parenting time, division of financial assets and payment of marital bills and expenses through non-litigation techniques guided by specially-trained, experienced family law attorneys with the assistance, if necessary, of collaboratively trained professionals, such as child and financial specialists.  The goals of collaborative practice are similar to litigation in that collaborative professionals consider the best interests of the children in custody and parenting time issues and the law in the division of assets and debts.  However, collaborative professionals do not consider these issues in a vacuum, but rather in ways that also address the emotional and personal needs of the family that is being separated.  Collaborative practice recognizes that the spouses are often forever linked – even if divorced – by children, grandchildren and long-time friends.  

            The collaborative model is designed to assist divorcing spouses work through their disputes constructively and peacefully.  This allows both parties to move forward as individuals with dignity and respect without the post-traumatic stress that often accompanies divorce.  

            Just as in divorce litigation, collaborative practice requires both parties to provide full disclosure of all relevant issues and facts involving the children, as well as a full disclosure of all financial assets and liabilities.  Both parties exchange all information and documentation necessary to make informed decisions regarding custody, parenting time, and division of the marital estate.  Moreover, each party is given the time necessary to process, evaluate, and apply the information to his/her individual circumstances.  Through collaboration and communication, parties are able to resolve their differences in such a way that is beneficial to both.      

            There is a Chinese proverb that is often used by collaborative professionals:  “Never cut what can be untied.”  This is especially true in cases where married couples, especially those with children, know that divorce is inevitable, but do not wish to undergo the financial, personal and emotional expense and stress of litigation.  Dissolution is never a “winner-take-all” proposition.  In fact, in most cases, there are no real winners, only losers.  Protracted litigation takes a personal toll that may never be repaired.  Litigation often results in emotional hurt, hard feelings, distrust and outright hatred, which negatively impacts the ability of the parties to successfully co-parent their children.    

            Collaborative dissolution is for anyone who doesn’t want to ruin his/her life by a divorce.  Divorce is never a happy experience, but collaborative practice makes it as good as it can be.  If you are interested in collaborative divorce, call any member of our collaborative team.  We will be glad to answer any questions, and help you decide whether collaborative divorce is right for you!      

Friday, June 21, 2013

What's in a Name?

            Five days after Kim Kardashian and Kanye West welcomed their baby girl, the new arrival's name has been revealed. And it's likely to surprise the couple's fans. The reality star and the rapper named their daughter North West.  In most states, you may give your child any first, middle, and last name you like. Whether you are married or not, you don’t have to give the baby the last name of either parent if you don’t want to, and the child does not have to have the father’s last name to be considered “legitimate.”
            In Indiana, the natural father of a child born out-of-wedlock enjoys no rights regarding child's name until his paternity has been established in the eyes of the law. It is only once paternity is established and both mother and father potentially enjoy equal legal rights as parents that both mother and father will have equal rights in naming of child.
            So what would happen if Kim and Kanye break up? Or if Kanye is not the biological father? This presents an interesting question… can Kanye take away his last name or can Kim rename the baby a Kardashian?
            In an Indiana case in 1995, the Courts found that where one legal parent contests petition filed by the other to change name of their minor child and paternity has already been established, trial court must determine whether name change is in child's best interest; beyond insuring child's continued welfare, this inquiry guarantees both parents equal opportunity to assert their legal rights in regard to naming of their child.
            So in conclusion, it depends. If Kanye is not North’s biological father and Kim wishes to have the baby have the same last name as hers, it seems likely that the Courts would find that that is in the baby’s best interest. However, if they break-up, but paternity is established, it would be unlikely that either could change North West’s name.
            At Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to assist with your family law needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding divorce, custody, support, or any other family law concerns contact our firm at 317.DIVORCE or  visit our website at www.hzlegal.com.