OUR BLOG

Welcome to the Koenig|Dunne blog. We have three different blog series for you to find inspiration and encouragement as you go on this journey:

  • Doing Divorce, A thoughtful discussion about divorce: Angela Dunne provides practical advice based on real examples of what she and her clients have faced through the transition of divorce.
  • Divorce Made Simple: Our attorneys breakdown the divorce process in a way that is easy to understand.
  • Money Matters: Patrick Patino provides a fresh, insightful approach to discussing everyday finances by delving into the financial topics of everyday life.
  • NEXT: An Empowerment Series: Attorney and life coach Susan Koenig guides, supports, and inspires you on the journey of creating a life you love.

If you are preparing for or are in the process of getting a divorce, you will want to consider whether or not to restore your former name. Nebraska has a fairly easy process for accomplishing this as part of your divorce process.

If you want to have your former (maiden) name restored, you should take the following steps:

Request the change in your initial filing.  If you are initiating the divorce action, ask your attorney to include a request for restoration of your maiden name in your initial complaint.  If your spouse initiated the divorce, be sure that your answer (counterclaim) to the complaint includes your restoration request.

Check final decree. Your final decree should have the name change provision included, but it’s always wise to make sure that the final decree mentions the restoration of your maiden name.

Submit a separate order to judge.  Once the judge has signed off on your decree, have your attorney submit a separate Order Restoring Former Name for the judge’s signature.  You will need certified copies of this order to apply for a new Social Security card, driver’s license, and other official documents you need to reflect your change.

Even if you are unsure whether or not you want to change your name after your divorce, you should go ahead and make the request anyway.  If you do decide to change back to your maiden name, having already made the request saves you the time and trouble of having to amend your pleading. 

If you decide to make the change at some other time after your divorce, you will need to follow Nebraska law for a legal name change, which is an entirely other legal process and more burdensome than doing it as part of your divorce action.

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to provide you with guidance and advice regarding all of the issues that you will face throughout the divorce process.

“You deserve it,” he says. I’m awkwardly silent. I feel more curiosity than satisfaction.

Why do I deserve it? Would I be entitled to it even if I didn’t deserve it? Does it matter whether I deserve it? Other people deserve it, too, so why didn’t they get it? Am I somehow special?

My charmed life means I hear this phrase often, like the time I got Grigio, my little silver convertible. Why the declarations of my deservedness? Was it because I had the income to afford it? Or because I’d lived enough years to be worthy? I wasn’t sure.

When I fell into a state of mad happiness (which continues to this day) of being in love, people saw my bliss and said, “I’m glad for you. You deserve it.” Did I deserve to fall in love because my first marriage was a sad one? Because my second one left me a widow? It didn’t seem that being happily in love was something one earned.

“You deserve it” is also asserted when the dessert tray with tiramisu tempts me. I eat my greens and manage to fit into the same dress size year after year—surely I deserve this.

I may choose to decline it, but yes I deserve it. I deserve a hot fudge sundae and a new Fiat and a beloved who brings me my morning tea. I do. And you do. We all do. I’m not somehow special.

The question is not whether we deserve joy or peace of love in our life. We all deserve to have good health, loving relationships, and meaningful lives.  The question is whether we can accept that we are.

If there’s credit to be given for the life I live today, I can take a tidbit. But also true is that grace has endlessly influenced my beautiful life far more than most who declare I deserve realize.

My mother deserved a happy love life, too. But her eighth grade education and eight children meant she would remain married in a lonely marriage most of her life. My brother Tim deserved good health, too. But AIDS took his life at 35.  My sister deserves to see our city’s Christmas lights, but she lost her sight as a young woman. They deserved it all no less than me.

The next time I hear someone say, “You deserve it,” I can remember that whether waited for it, worked for it, or previously suffered without it, I still deserve it. Just like everyone else in the world. If it’s good for me, I’ll receive it. A “yes” to the love. A “maybe” to the new purchase. And when it comes to the tiramisu, perhaps I choose a decaf coffee with half and half. Unless it’s my birthday.

Coach Koenig

Can you accept that you deserve happiness?

Might the fact that you “deserve” something be irrelevant to your choosing it?

What do you declare you deserve and say “yes” to?

I couldn’t catch my breath.  I was in a public place and tears were streaming down my face.  The threat of urinating on myself was real.  I could not stop laughing.  It came wave after therapeutic wave – the fits of giggles in between the gasps for air.

When I think back to the four days I recently spent in New Hampshire with two of my dearest friends since age 12, what I most remember is the laughter:  tons of it – days of it – literally stomach hurting from it.  I felt alive, refreshed, and so happy.

Traci and I met in the classrooms of our first year in junior high.  We laugh now and say our friendship was grandfathered into adulthood.  I am far too uptight and introverted to attract a Traci to adult Angela.   But as adolescents, Traci and I fell into every sort of mischief together.  My best, scariest, and smack-your-forehead stupidest stories no doubt involve Traci.

As I reflect now on our friendship and those magical days tucked up in the White Mountains together, I see how rare it is to find this type of friendship and fun and how desperately I need it. 

Laughter is a form of healing.  I can assert with certainty that laughing a lot is not likely on the to-do list of someone divorcing.  But looking back I see how critical it was to my care in my divorcing days.  In that time it was Marcy who got me through.  She was a co-worker turned close friend in the year I was in the depth of my divorce.  We lunched together every day and she made me laugh at least a dozen times every single time we were together.  Whether it was our shared love of reciting lines from Tommy Boy or a weekend trip to Astoria, Oregon to hunt down the Goonies, she brought the gift of laughter into my healing first-aid kit.  Those daily moments of laughter were the triage for my otherwise ruptured heart.

If you find yourself in the midst of dark days, it may not be on your radar to seek out those who are the source of spirited, bellyaching laughter.  Who are those that remind you of the real you?  Who is it that time never seems to pass in between your time together?  Put those names on your to-do list.  Whether it is for a weekend call or a chance to dine together, you may not realize how much you need them.

Some howls of laughter are sure to help your healing.

Angela Dunne

One of the easiest and most common ways to transfer property rights to another party in Nebraska is through the use of a quitclaim deed. This type of deed conveys the interest you have in a property without providing any warranties or guarantees about the interest you are conveying.

If you acquired your home during your marriage, you probably own it together as a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.  This means that the property passes automatically to a surviving spouse.  When you divorce, the property settlement you negotiate with your spouse will typically include one of these two options for your primary residence:

  1. The home will be sold with the proceeds to be divided between spouses; or
  2. One of the spouses is awarded the primary residence, either by agreement or court order.

When one spouse elects to keep the property, a quitclaim deed is used to remove the other spouse from the title.  The spouse who is being removed from the title will be required to prepare and file a quitclaim deed with the Register of Deeds in the county where the property is located.

If you are ordered to prepare this, you will need to do so within the timeframe specified in your decree. If your former spouse was ordered to prepare this, confirm that it was completed to ensure you own the property outright. If you were ordered to refinance the property, make sure you do so within the timeframe specified in your decree.

Mortgage responsibility

Removing an ex-spouse from the title of a property via a quitclaim deed does not remove that spouse’s responsibility for paying the mortgage if the loan was taken out in both spouses’ names.  To remove yourself from mortgage responsibility, you will need to ensure that your former spouse has refinanced the mortgage in his or her name only.  You should include a refinancing agreement in your divorce decree if liability for the mortgage is being transferred to one spouse alone.

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to provide you with guidance and advice regarding all of the issues that you will face throughout the divorce process.

Couple arguing in front of small boy.

Nebraska family courts follow guidelines that keep the best interests of the child at the center of legal decisions, and the courts typically believe that children do best when both parents are involved in their lives. Custody does not usually become an issue until one spouse moves out or seeks an order for parenting time prior to moving out. 

Following a separation, the court can grant temporary custody and parenting time orders that will be in place until a divorce is final. If one parent is being unreasonable and denying the other parent sufficient time with their children, a judge will issue a court order mandating parenting time for the other parent.

If there is domestic violence or abuse involved, it is important for you and your children to find a place where you can be safe.  You should also file a police report and work with a family law attorney to file for a temporary order that gives you custody and protection.  If you continue to leave your children in the care of an abusive spouse, the court could take it as an indication that you do not believe your spouse is dangerous.

Parents who are seriously considering divorce are advised to create a shared temporary custody agreement in writing and signed by all parties.  This can be done by the parents alone, with the help of a mediator, or through each parent’s attorneys.  The agreement should include the same provisions as a permanent custody agreement — determination of legal custody (sole or joint), a physical custody schedule, a parenting time schedule, and detailed parental responsibilities.

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne understands the nuances and complexities of co-parenting, and we are here to help guide you through the process.

When a large company files for bankruptcy to reorganize, it can be a warning sign of things to come. On November 12, 2019, Dean Foods, the largest milk producer in the US, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize. Dean Foods filing for bankruptcy could be seen as the canary in the coal mine. 

“The company’s bankruptcy filing comes as the country’s dairy farmers are also struggling to adapt to the changing milk market. Falling dairy prices, trade turmoil and labor shortage have all hit farmers hard.”1 

Chapter 12 bankruptcy filings are on the rise in Nebraska and nationwide. Poor grain and cattle prices along with the inability to plant or loss of grain because of flooding has started to really hit Nebraska farmers. 

Affecting dairy farmers is the fact that Americans consume less milk than they used to leaving an oversupply in the market. Many dairy farmers operate at a loss or make enough to cover costs. The ripple effect of a bankruptcy the magnitude of Dean Foods may make its way to the producer who is already facing a tough market. 

In Nebraska, there has been a downward trend in the number of licensed dairy farmers since the 1960s. In 1999, there were 748 licensed dairy farmers and by 2013 that number had decreased to only 195. During that same stretch, the average number of dairy cows per farm increased from 98 to 282. The production of milk also stayed steady as the production per cow increased with better diets, management, and genetics.2

Dairy farmers in Nebraska may be faced with unique challenges for addressing the strained milk market in America and how it impacts profits and the ability to survive and grow. For the family dairy farmer with less than $10,000,000 of debt, a Chapter 12 bankruptcy may be the perfect solution to reorganize and keep going. The Chapter 12 bankruptcy may also be a beneficial tool to exit the market by liquidating your dairy farm operation. It may even be the best way to pass your dairy farm operation to the next generation without the burden of overwhelming debt. 

Deciding whether to file a bankruptcy is a complex and emotional decision. Finding the right attorney to work with you to make that decision is crucial. Instead of worrying what will come next, you should meet with a bankruptcy attorney to discover your options for dealing with your financial situation.

If you or someone you know is bracing for or already experiencing financial distress, the bankruptcy attorneys at Koenig|Dunne are here to help.

Patrick Patino

  1. https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/dean-foods-america-s-biggest-milk-producer-files-bankruptcy-n1080586
  2. https://nda.nebraska.gov/promotion/dairysurvey.pdf

By the time I was thirteen I’d concluded that dreaming would not get me that hot pink paisley swimsuit with ruffles on display in the junior department of the Brandeis Department store downtown. I’d been babysitting for years and knew that only money from my summer nanny job and a layaway plan would.

Instead of dreaming, I set goals and made plans. Set a goal to go to college. Plan to finish in three years. Set a goal to have a 100 people protest. Plan a march and get them there. Set a goal to throw a party. Plan the perfect pesto and pecan pie.

I thought the only way to get what you wanted was by hard work and waiting. Dreaming felt like a waste of time when doing seemed to work so well. Besides, who had time to stare out a window when there was a sociology  exam to study for? Even today  the stack of books by my bedside reveals my penchant for the practical. While friends discuss the latest novel offered up by Oprah, I read books with a yellow highlighter in hand.

Hard work and tenacity yielded rewards. Thanks also to white privilege, decent genes, and exceptional teachers.  Student loans paid. Great children raised. More than one meaningful career. Book written.

Dreaming appeared irrelevant to a meaningful life. Why dream about the impossible when you could focus on the attainable?

Then one day, I awoke to realize how many of my unknown dreams had come true without my ever having set a goal or made a plan.

My law partner Angela lived 60 miles away when she invited herself to practice law with me.  I had no plans to hire. Twenty years later she’s running the largest woman owned law firm in the state. Dream come true.

While in California I picked up a magazine and read a description of life coaching. I’d been happily practicing law for twenty years. I’d never considered doing anything else. In that moment my encore coaching career found me. Dream come true.

Last year while on a walk with a coworker she blurted out her certainty that she knew to a man I would make my life with. Being both divorced and widowed, I was happily single without any plan— let alone goal—of finding my perfect mate.  He and I will share our second Thanksgiving together next week. Dream come true.

What else might come true in life without effort? With complete ease?  I may think it unimaginable, but  I have ample evidence that dreams come true. I will always be a goal setter and a planner. I’ll work hard and persist with some measure of patience.  But among my goals is to make some plans for dreaming.

Coach Koenig

When was the last time you allowed yourself to dream?

How does dreaming add to your life?

What dreams have come true for you in your life?

Preservation Paradox

We woke early with our mission in mind.  On this misty morning, we found the tide reaching as far back into the ocean as possible.  We walked quickly on the smooth, sand-soaked surface to discover this spot of local magic.  Here in the tiny town of Neskowin, Oregon (population 134) – just past Proposal Rock – we ventured to Ghost Forest.

Ghost Forest reveals the remnants of an ancient spruce forest.  It is presumed that the trees were likely abruptly lowered due to an earthquake and then were covered by mud from landslides or debris from a tsunami.  The forest reappeared in the late 1990’s when storms shifted the sands and showed what remained.  The tree stumps are over 2,000 years old.

The forest remains because the ocean water rushed in after the earthquake and buried the decapitated tree trunks in mud.  The mud in turn protected the trees from decay and preserved the solid stumps.  The same waters that knocked the forest down paradoxically preserved it for years.

As I walked though these forest ghosts, my heart was tugged simultaneously into sadness and relief.  These solid sentinels stood as a reminder of the roots maintained despite horrific storms.  

Like the nature surrounding me, the divorce paradox mirrors that of the ghost forest.  A divorce may move in as gradually as the tide or may come with the violent force of a tsunami.  Regardless of how it comes, it takes away many of our branches:  Our finances, our housing, our retirement, our neighbors, our family, our belonging (both singular and plural).  The very elements that disrupt are those that bring us back to life – our roots.

As I peer closer to the tree stumps, I see life.  Starfish, crabs, barnacles, and anemone burst all over forming new branches on the weathered trunks.  They create new colors and meaning for these sea-soaked and sea-washed bases.

The ocean whips salt water onto my face to join my tears and I smile standing in this beautiful forest.  We weathered our storms.  We were rediscovered in a new form, with new beauty and meaning, but nonetheless with our roots firmly planted.

Angela Dunne

infographic listing the 4 ways children suffer in a bad marriage

Today, divorce is commonplace, but there was a time several decades ago when divorce was considered socially taboo and couples were encouraged to always stay together “for the sake of the children.”

Now we know that whether or not divorce is harmful to children depends largely on how it is handled by their parents.  We also know that toxic marriages can cause more harm than good to children.  There are several ways that children suffer when their parents have a bad marriage; here are four of the most common:

1.  Chronic anxiety.

Conflicts in a marriage are internalized by children, leaving an emotional imprint that never goes away.  When children are raised in a conflict-filled home, they always feel anxious and tense — and the long-term result is typically ongoing emotional problems like depression and anxiety.

2.  Insecurity.

Warring parents diminish a child’s sense of security and inner peace, often putting them at direct odds with their own impulses.  They crave love, but reject closeness; they want friends, but choose to be isolated.  A child will internalize their parents’ conflict, which hinders their own emotional development.

3.  Fear of intimacy.

Children raised in a dysfunctional household typically have problems with getting close to others for fear of being hurt.  Even if they do manage to have an intimate relationship, they are always on guard for an unprovoked attack.  When a conflict does happen — a normal occurrence in any intimate relationship — they will either run away or imitate their parents’ aggressive behavior.

4.  Mood disorders.

Children who grow up in a house full of conflict lose their sense of hope and optimism and come to expect the worst in any interaction with others.  This often leads to mood problems like depression, substance abuse, or even personality disorders. 

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to provide you with guidance and advice regarding all of the issues that you will face throughout the divorce process.

His rail thin body looked childlike under the sheets. At 35 his once muscular body could no longer stand without someone holding him up.  AIDS was about to take his life.

The lessons I learned from my brother Tim that November were lost on me then. 25 years later, I see.

I didn’t know that learning how to pull back the plunger on a syringe to the precise centimeter or how to manage a morphine pump would be essential skills when the man I would marry three years later was on his death bed.

I didn’t know there was a name—Cheyne-Stokes—for Tim’s terrifying end of life labored breathing. I didn’t  know that one day I would be able to sit with that same sound, taking relaxed deep breaths of my own.

I didn’t know neuroscience. That the part of the brain that is linked to my sense of smell is also linked to the part of my brain that stores memory. I didn’t know that the scent of giant white gardenias, the same as those at his memorial service, would forever feel like a 20 pound weight pressing on my chest.

I didn’t know my eulogy for Tim was one of so many that would follow, or that a decade after his death it would lead to a TEDx talk inspiring an auditorium of 500.

I didn’t know how grief could alter your most deeply held ways. After years of being the first in the  office and the last to leave, I found myself not wanting to get out of bed until noon.  I didn’t know how normal this was.

I didn’t know that the year after Tim died the “AIDS cocktail” would be introduced, and that people would begin to thrive and live with HIV/AIDS rather than suffer and slowly die from it.  I didn’t know Dr. Gendelman, who joined the infectious disease team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center the year before Tim’s death, would—in 2019– announce a major breakthrough in the research toward a possible cure for HIV.

I didn’t know that for each of the next 25 years,  my friends, family, and community would loyally and lovingly arrive on a cold Saturday night, donations for Nebraska AIDS Project (NAP) in hand, to ultimately raise tens of thousands of dollars for NAP in memory of Tim and in honor of all who have lived with or died from HIV/AIDS.

What I didn’t know then, that I do know now, is that one cannot know all of the lessons life is teaching us on our journey. That grief can live on and so can we.  That our darkest hours and deepest heartbreaks can give light to our lives, and can break open our hearts for holding more hope and having more love than ever.

Thank you, Tim, for all you and our time together taught me.

Coach Koenig

What lessons have your hardest times taught you?

How have you been blessed by your past challenges?

What hope can you hold, despite any hardships today?

rolled up 100 dollar bill held with a wedding ring

For many women who face a divorce, the prospects of having to live on half of what used to support you both is frightening — especially for women who have stayed at home to raise the children and now face the prospect of having to look for outside employment.

Alimony is not a given in any divorce.  In Nebraska, the court will look at a number of factors in making a decision about the need for alimony and the amount to be awarded.  Under Nebraska Revised Statute 42-365, these factors include:

  • the financial circumstances of the parties
  • the duration of the marriage
  • a history of the contributions to the marriage by each party, including contributions to the care and education of the children
  • the interruption of personal careers or educational opportunities
  • the ability of the supported party to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of any minor children in the custody of such party

When making a decision about alimony, the courts do NOT weigh fault — meaning that even if your spouse was unfaithful, addicted to alcohol or drugs, or exhibited other bad behavior, this will not impact the determination of alimony. 

In 2018, the federal government threw a new wrinkle into alimony negotiations by shifting the tax burden from the payee to the payor with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.  This takes effect for any divorce agreements entered into after December 31, 2018.  Before the new law, the ex-spouse paying alimony was able to take a tax deduction on the amount of alimony paid annually and the ex-spouse receiving alimony had to declare it as income.  Under the new law, the payor can no longer claim alimony as a deduction, and the payee does not have to declare alimony payments as income. 

Payors may be able to argue effectively under the new law that they are not able to afford high alimony payments without the tax break, leaving payees with less than they may have received under the old law.

If you are planning a divorce soon, we encourage you to speak with an experienced Nebraska divorce lawyer about what these changes in the tax law could mean to you, either as a payor or a payee. Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to answer your questions about divorce in Nebraska and to advocate for your rights.

Now that consumers are foregoing the brick and mortar store, retailers have found new ways to rope consumers into obtaining credit to make purchases. With the holiday season fast approaching, you are going to see an explosion of online retailers offering you the option to buy something now but pay for it over time in installments with little to no interest. However, do not be fooled. This is just a traditional retail installment agreement going by a slighlt different name. The wolf simply has changed the color of its sheep’s clothing.

These deals can seem too good to be true. However, the damage lies in the fine details of these agreements. If a payment default occurs, interest can kick in and penalties may accrue. You may also be faced with the debt being sold to a much more aggressive debt collector or a negative mark showing up on your credit report.

These kinds of accounts can also have negative impacts if you file bankruptcy soon after making a purchase. Debt incurred for purchases of $750 or more for luxury goods purchased within the 90 days prior to filing for bankruptcy are non-dischargeable. If a creditor felt so compelled, it could bring an adversary proceeding the have the debt deemed non-dischargeable. This is not a common occurrence but could throw a wrench in an otherwise smooth bankruptcy.

If a creditor were to bring an action, you would be left to defend that the item or items purchased were not luxury goods or that at the time of purchase you intended to make the payments. Around the Holidays, it is tempting to purchase a new TV or gaming system as a gift. You want to be able to fulfill a child’s request for that certain present request.

An alternative, is to save the money in installments over 3-4 months. If you can do so, great, go ahead and make the purchase. If you cannot, it is a sign that you would have defaulted on the online retail installment agreement. You are always better off creating your own agreement with yourself because if you default there is no interest, late fees, or other adverse effects.

However, if you find yourself in a financial bind and owe on one of these online retail installment agreements, our bankruptcy team will help you navigate how to handle it in your bankruptcy.

Deciding whether to file a bankruptcy is a complex and emotional decision. Finding the right attorney to work with you to make that decision is crucial. Instead of worrying what will come next, you should meet with a bankruptcy attorney with a heart to discover your options for dealing with your financial situation.

If you are someone you know is bracing for or already experiencing financial distress, the bankruptcy attorneys at Koenig|Dunne are here to help.

Patrick Patino

Interior of Saint Cecilia’s Cathedral

I dress in my Sunday best. I arrive in time to take a seat next to her mother and grandmother.  I tuck the narrow gold satin ribbon into the page for hymn #483. Simultaneously I’m an outsider and I am at home.

It is confirmation day for young Sophia, whom I have known since she was born. She walks slowly down the aisle. Covering her floor-length red robe is a white cape with a red cross and  “PHILOMENA”  in big block letters of red felt. The organ fills  Saint Cecilia’s Cathedral as the procession of the baptized now prepare to make meaningful vows.

I grew up Catholic, attending mass six days a week for years. On this day, what touched me deeply as a girl still moves me. The singing of ancient hymns, the ceilings going up to the sky, the richly carved wood, the bold blues and brilliant reds of stained glass. The sense that something important was about to happen.

When I was a young teen like Sophia, I took similar vows.  Like her, I chose my confirmation name. I picked Margaret, not for Saint Mary Queen of Scots, but for my real-life saint named Margaret.

Margaret was my mother’s best friend. She and her first husband had no children. On Sunday afternoons I escaped my seven siblings for the refuge of their tiny three-room house. Margaret sewed my First Communion and homecoming dresses, taught me to crochet the edge of a pillowcase, and baked candy cane cookies at Christmas. She took me to see my first movie—The Sound of Music—and made a noble attempt to teach me to play the piano.

Today I am among the growing percentage of people in our country who have no religious affiliation. I stopped attending Sunday mass during the years when the experience often left me angry rather than peaceful, judgmental rather than loving, and frustrated rather than fulfilled. My path to spiritual growth got rocky. These days my Sunday mornings are likely to be meditative and contemplative in solitude.

But on this Sunday, with all of my mixed emotions about the absence on the altar of a woman in a robe, the use of language that even my law degree doesn’t help me understand, and the thought that my sins prohibit me from receiving the thin white host of wheat, I am fully present and glad to be.

Celebrating a confirmation into an institution that I abandoned is complicated. But the choice to be present was simple. The ritual. The beauty. A memory of Margaret. A chance to sing alleluia. And mostly, my love of Sophia.

Coach Koenig

Who have been the saints in your life?

Where can you find beauty or peace in your everyday life?

What helps you make choices when life is complicated?

There was a hole on the wall.  She stared at it with the tears coming anew.  This hole was not the kind that needed spackling and sanding, but the kind that needed time and space to replace the vacancy.  She had just taken down the wedding portrait of her son and now former daughter-in-law.  The divorce decree had been signed and the woman who had frequented their kitchen table would now be permanently absent.

There are similar hallways in houses we have all been in.  Black and white photos of founding family members, baby pictures never being replaced to the teenagers they now are, and the wedding photos of unions made.  My own parents’ wall still holds a picture of me in my wedding gown smiling into the future next to my brother and sister.  The photo is 18 years old and I have been divorced 8 of those years.

It felt cold to remove an important part of their family’s story – the story that brought her two boisterous grandsons.  She wondered if she was making the right decision to remove the framed photograph.  Would it hurt her son’s feelings?  Or would it renew his grieving if she left it to hang?  Would her grandchildren notice it gone? 

She stared at her daughter-in-law’s young, smiling face.  It was not about the photo on the wall that tugged so fiercely at her heart.  It was the question of who this woman would now be to her.  She was losing her own family member.  Having taken on the protective parent role for her son, she neglected to realize her own grief – her own loss.

Divorce runs deeply through a family – oftentimes leaving extended family members with little to no closure.  After the spouses announce the separation, families typically rejoin their respective sides – typically only focusing on the negative.  Their grieving and loss is an afterthought.

While the former family may now be absent, it does not erase the story that preceded your present.  Look to the value their presence brought to your family.  Make time to do your own grieving as you continue to support a loved one through divorce.  Acknowledging and healing from your own hurt will strengthen you to fill the hole in your heart by fostering love in your family.

Angela Dunne

pen sitting on prenuptial agreement paperwork

A prenuptial agreement is essentially a legal contract between prospective spouses that becomes effective once they become married.  The reason pre-nups are so beneficial is that they can provide significant savings in time and money if the couple should divorce in the future, since the issues a court would normally resolve are already addressed in the prenuptial agreement.

Some of the most common issues addressed in a Nebraska prenuptial agreement include:

  • The rights and obligations of each spouse when it comes to joint and separate property, including the right to use, sell, lease, transfer, assign, exchange, or control and manage the property, and how the property will be divided in case of divorce, death, separation, or other triggering event.
  • The modification or elimination of alimony. (Note that Nebraska courts may not enforce this provision if it means that the spouse being denied alimony would be eligible for public support.)
  • The creation of a will, trust, or other instrument to fulfill the prenuptial agreement’s provisions in the event of the death or disability of either spouse.
  • The disposition of, and ownership rights in, the death benefits from a life insurance policy.
  • How and in what legal jurisdiction the agreement will be enforced.
  • Any other obligation or personal rights the couple chooses to convey upon either spouse.

A Nebraska prenuptial agreement cannot be used to predetermine child custody or support matters, as these are issues left to a court to determine using a “best interest of the child” standard. 

Under Nebraska’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed by both spouses.  It will not be enforceable if it was not executed voluntarily or if there was an issue of unconscionability

Although it is not a legal requirement in Nebraska, it is highly advisable for both spouses to be represented by separate legal counsel when drafting a prenuptial agreement.  Not having the proper legal advice when entering into a pre-nup could be a basis for challenging the agreement down the road.

For over 40 years, your legal team at Koenig|Dunne has counseled clients in thousands of initial consultations, and we are here to ensure that your initial consultation provides meaningful answers to the questions that matter the most to you.  Contact Koenig│Dunne today and schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.

Flowers on the altar, photos of loved ones, food that was their favorite—Dia de Los Muertos arrives each November 1 and we celebrate the “Day of the Dead” with friends. We honor those we have loved and lost. We take turns sharing stories and memories of those who’ve left this earth, but their impact remains.

Tonight my friend Bill will open his latest showing of art. It will include paintings of those he has loved and lost. Among them will be John, my husband who died eight years ago. John was old enough to be Bill’s father. Had John not gotten a terminal cancer diagnosis at 55, he would have turned 75 tomorrow.  Bill and John became friends while John was on his cancer journey.

John was a teacher to all.  He lived for eleven years after the prediction that he would die in two. He walked his talk. He would show, not just tell, how to live well.  He was both wise and silly. One of his closest lifetime friends called him “Guru.”

John’s words of wisdom were familiar to all who were privileged to know him.

On Loving: Whether it’s a lot of miles or a lot of years in between, be sure to let folks know you love ‘em.

On Forgiving: I’d a been sad to miss out on having you in my life if you hadn’t.

On Support: Your prayers and kindness all these years made this journey a whole lot easier.

On Being Present: Be sure to notice all the love around you right now while you’re at it.

On Our Thoughts: Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.

On Stuff: Don’t collect too much. You’ll have more time, money, and fun.

On Generosity: Give away your money. It’s sure to make you happy. (Only maybe keep a little bit just in case you need to buy some flower seeds or an acreage or some vitamins or a car or a plane ticket…)

On the Earth: Be Gentle. Compost, recycle, grow a garden, plant a tree, bicycle, write a check or write a letter.

On Your Voice: Speak up. For what you want, need, or believe. Everyone will be better off for it.

On Acknowledging Others: Never pass up a chance to say a word of encouragement or praise. A cashier, your co-worker, your loved ones, a stranger. It takes so little.

On Gratitude: Be grateful. For everything. For being able to see if you’re lucky enough to. For being able to walk if you can.  For the teachers in your life.  Heck, for being alive!

On Being Wise: Beware the guru with all the answers.

On Faith: I worked on this one my whole life and I still believe in it.

On Dying: Believe it or not it’s possible to be peaceful even at death.  I mean it.

Bill’s artistic ability to capture the essence of a person or a situation has always mesmerized me.  I can’t wait to see the image he’s created of this man who left us with all of this. 

Happy 75th, Johnny.

Coach Koenig

How will you remember those you have loved and lost?

How will you walk your talk today?

Can you celebrate the gifts given to you by those no longer in your life?

Older man thinking about his divorce.

According to recent statistics, approximately 25% of U.S. divorces involve couples over the age of 50.   The incidence of what has become known as “gray divorce” has risen drastically over the past decade, but there are ways you can survive — and even thrive — if you keep these tips in mind:

Prepare emotionally and legally. 

Even if you have been married for decades, do not expect that you will be treated with the same care you experienced during your marriage by the person you are divorcing.  Divorce is always challenging, so be sure you find a good divorce attorney who can help you advocate for your rights.

Prioritize long-term financial security. 

If you are in your 50s, most of your highest earning years are behind you, so you need to focus on getting your long-term financial needs met.  Don’t make decisions emotionally; think practically.  Don’t saddle yourself with extra debt like buying out an ex-spouse because you want to keep the house.

Get financial obligations taken care of before you sign the final divorce settlement. 

If you are splitting retirement assets, make sure there is a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) in place and that the assets are actually transferred into your name before you sign off on your final divorce paperwork.  Also, if your ex-spouse has been ordered by the court to pay off jointly held debts, be sure that’s done too or you could find creditors coming after you.

Adjust your lifestyle to maximize your 401(k) plan. 

Since you have a shorter time before retirement, it is important that you make saving for retirement a priority.  This may mean you need to relocate to a place where the cost of living is lower or adjust your lifestyle in order to beef up your 401(k). 

Work your network. 

Even if you spent most of your married life at home raising the kids, you likely have an expansive network — contacts you know through your kids’ activities or volunteering — that you can take advantage of when looking for employment.

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne understands the nuances and complexities of family law, and we are here to help guide you through the process.

We are here to help. It is a sound bite that I wholeheartedly include in many emails and conversations with clients. It is not merely a slogan or a marketing ploy. In many instances, a client is coming to us at his or her lowest point, faced with having to file bankruptcy to deal with insurmountable debt. As a bankruptcy attorney, I am here to empower the client on the path forward, providing support beyond what is required to comply with the bankruptcy laws.

In my practice, I am here for clients experiencing the joys of babies being born and for the heartbreaks of the passing of a loved one. I am here to see bankruptcy clients as more than just a bucket of debt. People seeking bankruptcy relief crave stability, clarity, and ease. This is all accomplished through providing a bankruptcy practice that provides a heart-centered process. In the end, the law is the law, but it is how a client experiences legal support that makes the real impression.

Bankruptcy is a tough legal process to navigate on your own because of the technical requirements and the legal customs that only a practitioner can know and appreciate. To assist clients as they navigate the process, we have developed a bankruptcy framework that is consistent, but at the same time highly adaptable to specific needs (be that legal or otherwise).

Initial Consultation. The bankruptcy process begins with a free consultation with one of our bankruptcy attorneys. Our client service manager works with you to schedule the appointment. During the consultation, the attorney hears your story and educated on the solutions available to you.

Hiring Attorney. After the consult, the bankruptcy attorney will collaborate with our client service manager to determine a fee tailored to your situation. If you decide to move forward with your bankruptcy, you will pay the attorneys fees and bankruptcy filing fee.

Bankruptcy Drafting. Once you have hired the firm, you will receive a comprehensive list of information and documentation specifically needed for your bankruptcy team to draft the bankruptcy paperwork.

Review and Sign Appointment. Once your bankruptcy paperwork is drafted, your bankruptcy attorney will meet with you to review it to ensure accuracy and that you understand the paperwork that will be filed on your behalf.

Bankruptcy Court. Your bankruptcy attorney will attend the bankruptcy court hearing with you. It is important to us that you feel supported and comfortable going to court.

Deciding whether to file a bankruptcy is a complex and emotional decision. Finding the right attorney to work with you to make that decision is crucial. Instead of worrying what will come next, you should meet with a bankruptcy attorney with a heart to discover your options for dealing with your financial situation.

If you are someone you know is bracing for or already experiencing financial distress, the bankruptcy attorneys at Koenig|Dunne are here to help.

Patrick Patino

She blended right in with the throng of cheering fans. She jumped up to cheer final winning shot by the star of her former high school’s basketball team. But as Victoria walked out the gym door, I saw seriousness rather than celebration on her face.

“How are you, Victoria?” I asked.

“I’m stressed.”

“What’s up?”

“I’m behind in paying for my classes.”  Victoria attended a local community college.

“That’s gotta be tough,” I paused.

“But I don’t think I’m going back to school anyway,” she said. Victoria went on to explain. “It’s the things people say.”

“Like what?”

“One of the other students asked me if I knew how to ‘do cocaine.’ ‘Why would I know how to do cocaine?’ I asked him. ‘Because that’s what Mexicans do, isn’t it?’”

She went on.

“I decided to be brave in my sociology class and tell my story about coming to the United States when I was six years old. About how my family got deported. I got extra credit for it,” she added with a flash of pride.

“I took questions after my presentation. It got bad. One girl said, ‘So if I called ICE right now, they could come and get you?’” Victoria decided at that point it was time to stop taking questions.

I shuddered inside, recalling that day’s headline of more children being torn from their families during ICE raids. Her giant dark eyes intensified. “Going to school is my American dream,” she implored.

The lawyer in me asked some questions. “We don’t have any money for a lawyer,” she said. I gave her the number for the local immigrant legal center, encouraging her to call.

A single question. A single remark. A single moment of listening.

We can crush a dream, inspire a dream, or give hope to a dream with a handful of words.

Victoria inspired me to keep listening. To keep asking better questions. And to remember that everyone you meet is carrying that great unseen burden. Even as they cheer on their favorite team.

Coach Koenig

Are you allowing anyone’s words to crush your dream?

Who might need your listening ear today?

Are you willing to be brave, tell your story, and hold on to your dream?

The first time I saw a man punch a woman in the face, I was in high school, in the passenger seat of my boyfriend’s car, looking out the window at the bowling alley we were passing.  I was shocked, horrified, and instantly felt sick to my stomach.  Prior to that moment it had never occurred to me, outside of movies, that someone would be violent toward a person that they were supposed to love and cherish.  That punch was a pivotal moment shaping the woman I have grown into and what ultimately led to my pursuit of a legal career.

While in college and through law school I worked as a volunteer and then as an employee of the domestic violence shelter, Friendship Home.  The waitlist for women and children to come into the shelter usually hovered at 75.  We housed 25 women and their children at any given time. 

On my first day, I had to choke back tears as I photographed the black and blue of a thirty-something year old mom’s face.  Through the years, I had to steel up when the children would come to me and sit in my lap, clinging to this safety while revealing to me how they feared their father.  I felt terrified when, during an overnight shift, the police were called due to a security breach and news that an abuser was just outside the doors intoxicated and irate.

The unexaggerated reason that I went to law school was to help these women.  I, not too coincidentally, ended up paired with my law partner, Susan Koenig, after she spoke to my law school class on the topic of Domestic Violence and the Practice of Law.

In my practice I monthly hear stories of domestic violence:  “He holds me down and spits in my face,”  “I hid in my closet for 3 hours so she couldn’t berate me,” “He broke my ribs, but I said I fell down the stairs so my children wouldn’t get taken away.”  I represent clients in obtaining protection orders, I counsel them in safety planning, and I wince as the vicious cycle of domestic violence takes hold and she instructs me to dismiss the case.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  Today is Purple Thursday.  It is a national day of action for us to express commitment in promoting healthy relationships.  To support stopping the cycle of abuse that occurs in too many households in our country.  When I was a bright-eyed social change advocate in the late 1990’s I would have told you that domestic violence would surely be extinct by 2020.  I was wrong. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing the warning signs of domestic abuse, let in support now.  Call the 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (800)799-SAFE(7233). Get educated.  Develop a safety plan. Call an attorney knowledgeable about protection orders.  Don’t wait.

Angela Dunne

This blog is made available to the reader by Koenig|Dunne for educational purposes only, to provide general information and understanding of the law, and not to provide specific legal advice. By reading this blog, no attorney-client relationship is developed between the law firm and the reader. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. The content of this blog is not an advertisement for legal services.