Family Law Education
Understanding Family Law
There is more to Family Law than just divorce. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing the best legal representation in Montana, no matter what you need help with, a restraining order, a parenting plan, an adoption/guardianship, or another family law service.
Let’s take a look at a brief overview of some of the most common Family Law questions, issues, and situations:
Before Filing for Divorce
Before you file for divorce, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions:
- What are your goals?
- How long will achieving your goals take?
- Are you ready to move forward?
- How cooperative do you expect the other party to be?
These questions will help prepare you for your initial consultation with a family law attorney.
Do You Need an Attorney?
Many people want to try to resolve complex family law matters without an attorney. You absolutely can do this, but you should be honest and ask yourself if you think you can:
- Reach your goals in an acceptable amount of time.
- Avoid creating hostility or problems that need to be repaired later.
- Make sure you obtain everything you are rightfully entitled to.
- Understand the law well enough to avoid mistakes with all of the above.
The unfortunate reality is that many people make the mistake of trying on their own without an attorney first, only to make a mess of the situation.
It can be very difficult (and expensive) for an attorney to clean up such a mess.
The Danger of Not Hiring a Lawyer
Without attorney representation you run the risk of:
- Complicating the lives and living situation of your children
- Exacerbating property and money disputes
- Allowing the other party to hide assets or sell off assets without your knowledge
- Wasting your valuable time
Investing in an attorney at the beginning of the divorce process will allow you to outline your goals, and create a realistic timeline for achieving them. Similarly, when an attorney is hired right away, there is no need to “clean up” or resolve issues that occur without an attorney.
Maintenance, Alimony and Child Support
Financial security after a divorce is very important. Ensuring you maintain the necessary standard of living for yourself and your children can be a complicated problem to solve. Every case is different, but here are some things you should know:
Maintenance is what Montana Courts call alimony. It is not child support. This is money that is paid by one spouse to the other for living expenses and can be either temporary or permanent. It can also be changed over time.
Individual cases can become very complex and it is not uncommon for a spouse that will owe maintenance to start hiding assets and not claiming sufficient wages in an attempt to manipulate a maintenance award.
Only an experienced attorney can guide you and ensure you receive a maintenance award that you deserve and that is fair. At the Judnich Law Office, we can investigate to confirm that no assets are being hidden.
In Montana, child support is guided by calculations that are set by state law. Child support can be changed from time to time, depending on whether changes in the financial status of one of the parents has occurred.
When we calculate child support we usually:
- Interview children and parents
- Review financial statements and records
- Use child support calculation software
Mediation and Trials
In Missoula, every family law case must attempt to be resolved with a mediator prior to it actually going before a judge for a trial. A mediator is a non-involved attorney that will listen to both sides of the matter and attempt to get both parties to agree on all issues.
In the event mediation fails, many cases do proceed to an actual trial at the courthouse. Negotiation can always continue, but our office is very proud of our history of winning cases and not backing down.
Trials can take a lot of time and are quite expensive. Many people say that they want their “day in court.” Anyone can have their day in court, but consider the costs of such a position. Having a contested trial before a judge means that hours upon hours must be devoted to the preparation of the case to ensure a sought after verdict.
Witnesses must be interviewed and evidence must be prepared and documented. This can take quite a bit of time. Not to mention that an actual trial may take days as well. Keep in mind the costs of hiring a lawyer when you think about getting your day in court.
About the Judnich Law Office
The Judnich Law Office offers very aggressive representation with a history of trying and winning cases. However, we are here to achieve your goals, not generate billable hours.
If we can achieve your goals without a trial, then that is the way to go.
There is a very old and wise saying that we impress upon any client – cases only go to trial when at least one party is being unreasonable.
Keep that in mind.
When You’re Ready, We’re Here to Help
We’ve been helping couples come to peaceful resolutions for over 15 years.