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.

10 Items Required in a Parenting Plan in Nebraska Divorce Made Simple

The Nebraska Parenting Act requires that a parenting plan is created for legal issues involving the custody of a child. While parents may choose to include a number of different agreements in their plan, there are some provisions that are required to be included.

Below are 10 items which must be included in a parenting plan:

  1. Legal and Physical Custody. Your plan must state who has legal custody (the authority to make fundamental decisions on behalf of the child) and who has physical custody. Examples of some arrangements include the parents have joint legal custody while dad has physical custody, and to mom has parenting time. Or, mom has legal custody and the parents share joint physical custody. Regardless of the legal and physical custody arrangement, it must be clear
  2. Routine Parenting Time. Your plan must state with specificity when and how your child will be transferred between households. This includes specific times, transportation, and how the parents will communicate each other to facilitate the logistics. You may also include a provision providing for flexibility in the schedule if both parents are in agreement.
  3. Holiday Parenting Time. Your plan must list annual holidays and set forth the schedule for whom your child will spend that holiday with each year. This provision should also include whether holiday parenting time takes priority over routine parenting time and when the holiday parenting time starts and stops.
  4. Vacation Parenting Time. Vacation parenting time for both parents must be detailed in your plan. A typical plan usually provides for each parent to have two weeks (14 days) of vacation parenting annually. However, you and your co-parent are free to agree on fewer or more vacation days.
  5. Medical and School Records. Your plan should include a provision stating that each parent’s name will appear on all medical and school records for your child, and that each parent shall have access to all records without assistance from the other parent.
  6. School Attendance. There must be a provision in your plan stating that both parents will ensure regular and continuous school attendance and progress when the children are of school-age.
  7. Day-to-Day Decisions. You should include details on how day-to-day decisions regarding your child are made so that those decisions are consistent with the decisions made by whoever has legal custody.
  8. Safety Provisions. Specific provisions must be included to maximize the safety of all parties and the child if child abuse or neglect, intimate partner abuse, parental conflict, or criminal activity affecting the child is involved.
  9. Remediation. Your plan should have a requirement that you and your co-parent agree to remediate any (or all) of your plan in the event it becomes unworkable or if either parent wishes to make modifications.
  10. Relocation of a Parent. Your plan should provide that each parent agrees to provide the other with change of address information, unless a parent is relocating because of safety concerns. Also, a parent may not move a child from Nebraska without the court’s permission.

All provisions in your plan, whether required or agreed upon by you and your co-parent, must be in your child’s best interests. Contact your Koenig│Dunne attorneys to help tailor your plan to your unique circumstances that will best support you and your family.

Lindsay Belmont

When You Remember It's You Too NEXT Empowerment Blog

I felt a hand on my right breast. I sat up abruptly, frightened. My fear quickly turned to relief as I realized the hand was my own. Just a bad dream.

The week before I had spent an entire day of my otherwise beautiful California vacation captivated and crushed as I watched the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Supreme Court nomination. Thereafter I watched for news updates on my phone, read my copy of The New York Times, and remembered.

I remembered the familiar feelings. Of shock. Of disbelief. Of sorrow. This was not the first time.

By the time Anita Hill braved the all white male Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 for the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing, I had practiced law for a decade. As Hill bravely and plainly told how her boss Clarence Thomas had pressured her for dates while he talked about pornography and sex, I remembered.  I, too, had remained in my first attorney job after my boss propositioned me. Twenty-seven years ago I knew Anita Thomas spoke truth to power that refused to listen.

As I remembered, I alternated between not being able to talk about it for fear I would drown if the pent up dam of sadness broke, and trying to talk only to have my throat tighten to a close as I choked up mid-sentence when I did. How could I begin explain why my deep grief over my country’s response to Dr. Blasey Ford’s sexual assault was about more than my political party or my opinion on Roe vs. Wade?

How could I concisely convey a small portion of what I knew to be true? The case I tried before the Catholic judge who could not believe that the deacon molested both his daughter and his preschool granddaughters. The jury who awarded the nine women I represented a mere pittance despite their landlord humiliating them with years of lurid acts. My testimony before a judicial nominating commission in opposition to the appointment of an attorney who had offered sex in exchange for legal services.

How could I begin to explain how I knew I would remember today’s gut wrenching moment in history?

How could I explain my non-reporting of how males more powerful than me had abused that power? The teenage boy who took me behind the alley one dark summer night when I was little girl. The man in the white car who called me over to ask directions while I was on a walk with my three younger siblings, only to expose himself. The relative of my mother’s best friend who fondled me in my little red checked shirt when I barely had breasts. The father of the two little boys I babysat the summer I was thirteen. The sociology professor who wrote sexually explicit comments on my exams. The date rape that happened in a matter of minutes.

Then I did not report. I still remember. As our only place of power is in the present. I reclaim my power in this telling today.

Coach Koenig

How can you find support when difficult memories arise for you?

Can you find your voice for telling your story safely?

Do you have power that you can exercise for good today?

Evidence in a Divorce Made Simple Blog

Divorce trials and other court hearings often hinge on which spouse can provide the best evidence to the court to support his or her arguments.

  • Which spouse has been his or her child’s primary caregiver?
  • How much income has a spouse earned over the past year?
  • Did a spouse acquire a disputed piece of property before marriage?

When courts must decide these types of issues, courts must rely on the evidence they are presented by the parties.

Here are five tips for improving the evidence for your case:

  1. Written Communication

If something important must be said between you and your spouse during divorce, make sure that it is preserved in writing. Text messages and emails between spouses are vital pieces of evidence and are often used during divorce trials, especially when children are at issue. Even if your spouse is unwilling to communicate with you in writing, preserve your one-way attempts at written communication with your spouse.

  1. Calendars

Dates and the timing of events are often disputed at trial. If you and your spouse kept a family calendar prior to filing for divorce, make sure that it is preserved. If not, start calendaring daily events and other important exchanges with your spouse as soon as possible during divorce. While calendaring, be sure to note any missed parenting time by your spouse, any work trips taken by your spouse, or any children’s appointments or activities that you have facilitated.

  1. Social Media Postings

Spouses often post inadvertently harmful information on social media sites. Ensure that if you are in the process of divorce, that you carefully consider the information that you post on social media, and ask your friends who “tag” you in posts to do so, as well. Furthermore, preserve your spouse’s social media posts by either printing dated screen shots of their accounts or by downloading their posts (if the site allows).

  1. Pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words. Take photographs (and date them) to catalog the property in your home or to evidence any physical harm committed against you by your spouse.

  1. Financial Statements

Bank statements, tax returns, W-2’s, paystubs, retirement account statements, and credit card statements—all of these documents are freely exchanged between spouses during marriage, but they can become problematic or expensive to obtain from your spouse during divorce. If you have access to these marital documents, preserve them in a safe place.

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne has decades of experience in gathering and preserving evidence for divorce, and we are here to guide you through the evidence-collecting process.

David Pontier

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Money Matters blog

Plan Payment

  1. Wage Withholding. The Chapter 13 Trustee will contact your employer to set up the wage withholding to ensure the plan payment is made each and every month. The plan payment will then be withheld from each paycheck you receive. To calculate how much will be withheld from each paycheck use the math in the chart below.

Example: Let’s say your plan payment is $400/month. Your employer will withhold the following based upon your pay frequency:

Frequency of Pay Amount withheld per paycheck The Math
Weekly $95 =(Plan Payment*12)/52
Bi-weekly $185 =(Plan Payment*12)/26
Twice per month $200 =(Plan Payment*12)/24
Monthly $400 =Plan Payment
  1. Direct Payment. The main reasons for making the plan payment directly are that you are self-employed, unemployed, or receive your income from non-wages (i.e. Social Security, retirement, disability, alimony, etc.).

If you are making a direct payment, you must make the payment via certified funds i.e., money order, postal order, cashier’s check, or certified check made out to Kathleen Laughlin, Chapter 13 Trustee. The Chapter 13 Trustee’s Office will not accept cash payments, personal checks, or wire transfers. You will need to reference your case number.

The payment address:

Kathleen Laughlin, Chapter 13 Trustee

P.O. Box 3287

Omaha, NE 68103-0287

  1. ACH/Withdrawal from Bank Account. At this time, Nebraska does not have a system for you to make your payment from an automatic withdrawal or ACH payment.

Mortgage Payment

  1. Pre-filing Arrears. If you were behind on your mortgage payments, then your plan will cure the default and pay the arrears through the plan.
  2. Post-filing Payments. Your regular monthly mortgage payment is not paid through your plan. You are required to make your post-petition regular monthly mortgage payment directly to your mortgage company.

Vehicle Payment

  1. Pre-filing Arrears. If you were behind on your car loan payments, then your plan will cure the default and pay the arrears through the plan.
  2. Post-filing Payments. Your car loan payment will be handled through your plan. You should not make any payments directly to the car lender once you file your bankruptcy.
  3. You must keep your vehicle insured. From time-to-time, the car lender may request proof of insurance.

Keep your Attorney Informed

  1. Change in Employment. Your attorney will inform the Chapter 13 Trustee’s Office so that your new employer can be informed to set up the wage withholding for the plan payment.
  2. Change in Household Size. A change in your household size may impact your household income and/or expenses, which may require an adjustment to your plan payment either temporarily or permanently.
  3. Temporary Increase in Expenses/Decrease in Income. You need new tires for your car or you had a larger than normal medical bill arise. In these situations, you may have the option to temporarily stop or reduce your plan payment.
  4. Need a replacement vehicle. Before you finance a replacement vehicle, you will need to file a pleading, asking for the court’s permission to incur the new debt.

Plan Confirmation

  1. Certification Regarding Domestic Support Obligations. Your attorney will provide you with a certification regarding court-ordered domestic support obligations (child support and/or alimony). If you have a domestic support obligation, then you have to state that you are current on your post-filing domestic. If you don’t have a domestic support obligation, you simply state as much. The reason why this is necessary is that you have to be current on post-filing domestic support obligations in order to have your plan confirmed.
  2. Tax Returns. In order to have your plan confirmed, you must have filed all required tax returns. If you have not done so, you will need to prepare and file your tax returns as soon as possible after filing.
  3. Your creditors, the Chapter 13 Trustee, and other parties in interest have an opportunity to review and object to your plan. The Chapter 13 Trustee almost always finds a reason to object to the plan.
  4. You have an opportunity to provide a response to any objection. Your attorney will prepare and provide this to you and file it with the bankruptcy court.
  5. The ultimate goal is to have your Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan confirmed. Sometimes your attorney will have to prepare and file an amended plan to address the issues presented in any objection. Once the court confirms your plan, it will remain in place for the next 3-5 years unless it is modified. More on that next.

To explore your bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy solutions, contact Koenig|Dunne to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

Patrick Patino

Punched in the Gut NEXT Empowerment Blog

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  Each year we work with clients who have been abused by their spouse.  Each year we continue to hear the truths of parents who suffer so as to protect their children, who stay silent for years before seeking security, and who come to our office full of trepidation and vulnerability as they courageously begin to break the cycle.  Today we re-share Susan’s own personal journey of domestic abuse.

We argued about the garlic in the guacamole. He backed me up against the kitchen wall. He was furious. I remained calm. He berated. I quietly said, “This is abusive.”

He stormed outside. I took off my apron and went upstairs to finish my makeup. We were about to leave for his family reunion.  I stood at the bathroom mirror focusing my shaking hand on my mascara when I heard the front door open and his footsteps coming up the stairs. He instantly punched me squarely in the gut and calmly said, “Now you can tell your friends I’m abusive.”

I was young but I was strong, confident, independent. How had I been reduced to justifying the purchase of a two dollar tube of lipstick? Of defending why I wanted to see a movie with a girlfriend?  How did I stay with a man who threw the bowl of my freshly made pasta against the kitchen wall as I set the table, cracked the windshield with his bare fist as I drove, and smashed the bouquet of mums against the mantle as I wept?

Being in college during the second wave of the women’s movement, I knew that domestic violence is the misuse of power and control. Still, I didn’t want to look at something that could end my world that was so wonderful in so many ways.  Besides, I rationalized, my situation paled in comparison to my clients with blackened eyes and broken bones and battered children.

Friends helped me see the truth. One gently asked “Is this the first time he hit you?” Another asked without judgment, “Do you think that’s normal?” A third phoned claiming she’d left her favorite pen at our home. She later revealed she was worried about my safety, and her call was to check on me.

I was lucky. I had a job, places to stay if I needed to, and extraordinary friends. The thousands of victims who die each year from intimate partner abuse weren’t as lucky. Whether you are a welder or an accountant, rich or poor, a Gen Xer or a boomer—you are not immune.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Despite decades of public education and the fact that one of every four American women reports being physically abused by a spouse or partner at some point,  many still don’t understand. 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). Develop a safety plan. Call an attorney knowledgeable about protection orders. Don’t wait.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the time to be aware of the risks, your rights, and the next small step forward for your future.  As for me, the only regret I ever had about my first step was that I didn’t make it sooner.

Coach Koenig

Finding Friends Doing Divorce Blog
*Image courtesy of my new friend – from a card she sent me after coffee

I was nervous. I carefully considered my outfit and my hair. I was being set up by a friend who cautioned me in her initial message that she did not make these introductions regularly or lightly.  I respect her a great deal, so this added to my nerves.  It was a blind date, but not the normal, romantic kind.  I was being introduced to a potential friend.  A potential new girlfriend.  The stakes felt high.

We met at the new coffee shop across the street from my building.  She wore a pretty patterned dress and when I saw her through the window I instantly liked her.  We launched into our introduction with ease.  Within five minutes we knew we were fellow writers who had inclinations toward cuss words.  We were kindred spirits and not afraid to feel it.  I was relieved, happy, and content – the way being with a good friend makes you feel.

I am an introvert by nature.  I am plagued with being socially shy.  Once in my comfort zone that wears off – but I am not the type to insert myself into a social setting with strangers.  In marriage, I was in my comfort zone.  We had a handful of good “couple friends” that we would socialize with, had good neighbors, and were close to our families.  That was enough.  It kept me tucked safe inside a familiar bubble from which I was never stretched.

My divorce popped that bubble and took with it my security.  I was alone more often than I had ever been in my life – a trend that continues now 7 years later.  I have no one to hold me accountable for getting me off the couch and away from my cats the way my spouse once did.  This scared and challenged me.

In the year after my divorce, I made a vow that by my annual luminary party in December I would have at least one new friend to invite to my party that year.  This small promise to myself held me accountable.  It forced me to pay attention to my relationships and the potential for new friendships.  When I was mindful about the possibility of the people around me, it was easier than I thought.

This goal annually met revealed rich and meaningful friendships – a collection of friends that I could call at a moment’s notice for support, a coffee, or simple companionship.  These relationships removed the fear I had post-divorce of being alone.  These friendships have far exceeded a spouse substitute and empowered me beyond being sad and single.  So this year, when I send out my luminary invites, I will not only have met another yearly goal, but will have a new kindred spirit with whom I can share the evening.

Angela Dunne

P.S.  My new friend in 2012 introduced me to my 2018 friend 🙂

Remarriade after divorce made simple blog

If you get divorced in Nebraska, you must wait six months after your divorce is final before you can re-marry. If you are contemplating getting married after divorce, you may have some questions about what will happen. Below are answers to common questions about remarriage after divorce:

  1. Does remarriage affect child support?

No. When calculating child support, only your income and your former spouse’s income is considered. Your new spouse’s income is not factored into the equation. In other words, you will not have to recalculate support based on your new spouse’s income.

  1. If I have children with my new spouse, will that affect my child support?

Maybe. The Nebraska Child Support Guidelines recognize that parents may have children in their subsequent marriage and that having additional children impacts the family’s finances. One of the intentions behind this is to treat children equally. If you have subsequent children and want to see whether your child support calculation from your divorce decree should be modified, contact your Koenig│Dunne attorneys.

  1. Does remarriage affect alimony?

It might. Your decree may include a provision similar to the following:

“Alimony shall terminate upon the death of either, the remarriage of Plaintiff/Defendant [recipient of alimony], or the expiration of the term of alimony, whichever occurs first.”

In this case, if you receive alimony and you remarry, the alimony you receive will terminate. If you pay alimony and your former spouse remarries, the obligation will terminate if your former spouse’s gets re-married.

Note: you and your soon-to-be former spouse may agree that alimony will terminate for reasons other than those stated above. Nebraska law states that alimony shall terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient, unless the parties agree otherwise (or the court orders otherwise).

  1. Will stepparents have the right to be involved in parenting decisions affecting our children?

No. Parenting decisions should remain between you and your former spouse, unless you agree otherwise. You may consider adding a provision in your parenting plan regarding what happens if either you or your former spouse remarries. You may also re-mediate your parenting plan if it has become unworkable after you or your former spouse remarries. Re-mediation will only be between the parents of the minor child affected; stepparents should not be present at mediation.

  1. Is remarriage grounds for modification of custody?

Maybe. If you or your former spouse wish to modify custody, the parent asking for the modification must show that a material change in circumstances has occurred and that it is in your child(ren)’s best interests that custody be modified.

Remarriage can affect provisions of your divorce decree from your prior marriage. To learn more about your rights and options if you or your former spouse remarries, contact your Koenig│Dunne family law attorneys for a consultation.

Lindsay Belmont

The Company I Keep NEXT Empowerment Blog

“I live a charmed life,” I say as the weekend came to a close.

“It’s the company you keep,” she teases back.

For close to 30 years Gretchen has gathered a group of women to her lake home to honor autumn’s start. Pumpkins, pots of chili, and piles of pillows greet us upon our arrival. We prepare by packing away our phones and putting on our comfiest clothes. Karla brings the red Twizzlers. I bring the red wine. No one spends much time talking about the Big Red football game.

We are here for the company we keep.

The company this year was like most. Women who are my role models. Women who challenge me. Women who support one another.

Tami brings the perfect kale salad with nuts and berries, reminding me I can nourish myself happily with options beyond the perfect tiny squares of dark chocolate brownies that kept calling me.  Molly listens attentively, never interrupting while I burst in with a tale of my own twice as often as I wish I had.  Sherrill, who once routinely got up at five in the morning to see her heart patients, had that day got up at the same hour to serve breakfast to hungry homeless immigrant children.

Inspiration everywhere.

A combination of curiosity, courage, and caring caused a light to shine on my life. I saw so much to celebrate and plenty more to reflect on further. “Whatever happened to that cowboy you were seeing?” “Didn’t you say you were going to work on a book this year?”  “Have you started thinking about retirement?” (Gone. Yes. No.)

The nearly full moon poked through the pines and from time to time one of the women would stand and silently place another log on the fire. We watched the flames turn to embers hour after hour. Since last year, Mary had traveled to five continents, three of us had buried family members, two had fallen in love, and one had a child in rehab. Admiration, appreciation, and acknowledgment were abundant as we shared the unfolding of our lives.

By Sunday I had seen hummingbirds at the feeder, the moon and the stars away from city lights, and the steam rise from my coffee as we snuggled under blankets on the porch enchanted by the morning light and the geese on the lake. Each autumn my life is charmed anew by these simple gifts of the season wrapped in connection.

I owe it to the company I keep.

Coach Koenig

What rituals help you to honor the next season in your life?

Are you pausing to enjoy the simple pleasures in your life?

What do you appreciate about the company you keep?

Knowing Our Needs Doing Divorce blog

My daughters hurt my feelings.  They didn’t mean to and I am sure they were not aware of their infraction.  But I was feeling sad and put out all the same.  They were at their dad’s house when my newly published book had arrived.  I excitedly opened the box and pulled out the neat stack of hardbound books.  I hugged one to my chest and sighed with pent-up cheer.  The celebration would be a day delayed.

This goal was years in the making and one of my proudest accomplishments.  I was bursting.  Of course I shared the news with my close friends, colleagues, and family – but I couldn’t wait to share this moment with my daughters.  They had, after all, inspired nearly every sentence of my new book.

The next day, we finally all got home from school, work, and activities.

“Look (!!!)” I semi-squealed, pulling the book from the box.  “Cool,” my youngest replied.  “Oh wow Mom, that’s great.”  My other daughter said.  Neither held the book, looked at the book, or wanted to read from the book.  They went on unpacking their backpacks and moving on to chores and homework.

Wait, what?  What just happened?  To say I was deflated would be a massive understatement.  I started to sulk.  However, I am a master at doing so passive/aggressively so they didn’t even notice.  Then I became unsure.  Maybe this wasn’t that neat.  Maybe I was expecting too much.  Maybe this was yet another example of my ego riding high and getting in my way.  I was quiet and kept to myself for the remainder of the evening.  They didn’t seem to mind.

The next night I brought it up.  I wish I could report that we were like a picture out of a Norman Rockwell painting sitting at the dinner table as a happy family when I calmly told them they had hurt my feelings.  But I can’t.  Instead I just blurted it out in frustration.

“You hurt my feelings yesterday.  I was really excited to share this accomplishment with you.  You are the people I want to have these moments with.  I had to wait a whole day and the night it happened I was by myself and I just couldn’t wait until you got home.”

They looked at me – the understanding slowly sinking in.  “I’m sorry Mom” came in unison.

“Your opinions matter to me.  It is important to me that you are proud of me.  When there are big things that happen in my life, it is you I most want to share it with.”  They understood.

The next day, after work, I found the post it note and my favorite comfort food waiting for me.  My girls come to my house after school, but had been picked up to go to their dad’s before I came home.  In that time and space my daughter met my needs.

And so this became yet another silver lining of divorce – I have to ask my daughters for what I need.  Their dad doesn’t nudge them in the right direction, reminding them to say nice things to their mom, or do it for them.  I have to be clear.  I have to talk about it.  I have to avoid being passive/aggressive and say what I need.  I am grateful for this lesson because not only am I practicing the skill of speaking aloud my needs, but modeling it for them as well.  And as you can see, they know how to sweetly meet my needs.

Angela Dunne

Domestic Abuse Protection Order Divorce Made Simple in Nebraska blog

Spousal abuse is a potentially life-threatening situation—the seriousness of which cannot be overstated. If you or your children are experiencing physical violence, or even the threat of physical violence, from your current or former spouse, you should seek advice from your attorney immediately about obtaining a domestic abuse protection order.

Here are the basic steps to obtain a domestic abuse protection order in Nebraska:

  1. Determine Whether You Are Eligible

To obtain a domestic abuse protection order for you or your children, you must be either the current or former spouse of the abuser, a current or former romantic partner of the abuser, the parent of an abused child (whose other parent is the abuser), or the parent or child of the abuser. Another requirement under Nebraska law to obtain a domestic abuse protection order is that you or your child are presently in fear of bodily harm by the abuser.

  1. Submit a Protection Order Petition to the Court

If you are eligible to apply for a domestic abuse protection order, the next step is to completed and submit a domestic abuse protection order petition to your local courthouse. You will need to describe the reasons why you feel a protection order is necessary. It is critical to be as detailed as possible when describing the incidents necessitating your request. After you have submitted the petition to the Court, it will be reviewed (which can take either a few minutes or a few days). If the Court feels that there is enough evidence to support your petition, a protection order will be granted and instructions given to the local sheriff to serve a copy of the protection order to the abuser, referred to as “the respondent.” The protection order does not go into effect until the sheriff has successfully provided a copy of same to the respondent.

  1. Defend Your Protection Order

Once the respondent is provided with the protection order by the local sheriff, he or she has the ability to contest the protection order at a trial-like hearing. The respondent must request this hearing within five days of receiving the protection order. If the respondent does not contest the protection order, the order will last for one year from the time that it is issued. If the respondent does contest the protection order, contact your attorney immediately to determine what actions you should take to defend your petition in court.

  1. Renew Your Protection Order

As mentioned above, a domestic abuse protection order lasts for one year. If you feel that the protection order is needed beyond a year, you may request that the Court renews your protection order.

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to provide guidance and advocacy in obtaining domestic violence protection orders to ensure that you and your family are safe.

David Pontier

Back to School Budget Blues Money Matters Blog

Labor Day is behind us. Pools are closed for the season. And you are back in the swing of your school year routine. Now might be the first time you have had an opportunity to review your bank statements since your kids needed new clothes, shoes, school supplies, and sports gear. The expenses came at you fast and furious. Before you knew it, you had spent more than you would have wanted. You have a case of the back to school budget blues.

Do not fret. You can make some simple changes to cure the back to school budget blues.

  1. Write it down. You don’t have to keep track of your budget and expenses in your head. Start with an itemized list including a total budget. Keep track of expenses as you go so that you know where you need to make adjustments on the go.
  2. Be realistic. Don’t be over-conservative. I see this all the time. A client will state that an expense is much lower than in reality. The outcome is that the client blows past the budgeted amount, which impacts decisions and the ability to pay for another item.
  3. Try to stay under budget. You almost always come out better when you spend less than your budget. This is not always possible, but should be a goal.
  4. Want vs. Need. How many of us heard this growing up: do you want it or do you need it? You should answer this sage question when creating your budget. Provide yourself a category for wants because it is okay to treat yourself every once and awhile.
  5. Learn how to say “No”. We all do it, say “Yes” to avoid someone’s negative reaction if we were to say “No.” However, we can’t give more than we have. Math does not lie. If you have $4,400 net household income, spending more than that will mean tapping into savings or credit. Saying “No” is a powerful tool to ensure you stay under budget.
  6. Save. This is easier said than done. Recent studies suggest that the almost 50% of households in the United States couldn’t come up with $400 if they needed it for an emergency. If you work more overtime than usual, save the extra income. If you receive a bonus, save that extra income. If you receive a sizable tax refund, save it.

Over the course of the year, there are several opportunities for you to review your finances. For some it is around the holidays. For others it is right before they receive their tax refund. For people with school-aged children, it is right around the time that school starts. No matter the time of year, that review could show whether or not you are in financial distress.

To explore your bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy solutions, contact Koenig|Dunne to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

Patrick Patino

Hurt Heart Healed Next Empowerment Blog

“You’re not going to have your mother’s heart problems,” he said with confidence. My exam complete, I left the office assured I would not face years of living with heart disease.

This week my oldest child turned 35, the same age as my brother Tim when he died. The love in my heart for my child makes it impossible for me to comprehend how my mother ever got out of bed again after Tim’s death. She was my best teacher of a resilient heart.

Research has long shown that stress, grief, and fear  literally damage hearts. As our “fight or flight” response is triggered, blood vessels constrict, blood pressure rises, and the heart works harder.  With “broken heart syndrome”  the patient can even experience symptoms that  mimic a heart attack.

When things got bad in her marriage to my alcoholic father, Mom stayed and she prayed. Would the week’s grocery money go to pay his weekly tab at the Rinky Dink Bar? Would he be sober enough to pick her up at the end of her evening shift disbursing supplies in the hospital basement?   But she endured as she raised their eight children.

When Tim’s AIDS diagnoses demanded he come out to our mom, the fear of shame kept it a secret from even her closest Catholic friends. But even after his death, bitterness never knew her lips.

Mom was widowed at 59. She got knee replaced and got rides to church on Sunday. She thrived on the predictability of her small social security check and a tiny monthly pension that paid the gas bill.

When she met Edgar and loved again, he would arrive wearing fragrance and ready to treat her to dinner and a drive. In my lifetime I had never seen my parents go out for an evening together.

Each time my mother’s heart was broken open, it was made bigger and somehow healed enough to continue living life wholeheartedly. Sally Koenig died of congestive heart failure three days after Christmas at the age of 85 after years of living with heart disease.

I inherited my mom’s resilient heart. When things got bad in my first marriage, I got therapy and got a divorce. When Tim died, I became an advocate and ally for the LGBTQ community and begin hosting an annual event in his honor. (Mark your calendars for November 17.).  When I was widowed at 55, I eventually got a new hair style and a sports car to match.

Author and cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar says that a happy heart can help heal a hurt heart. My mother had her heart broken over and over again. Each time, she allowed light to pour into the opening. Her heart expanded. Her heart grew. Despite the scars, she never closed it.

I am grateful for the diagnosis of a strong heart, but even more so for the lessons my mother taught me about capacity for loving, experiencing loss, and loving again.

Coach Koenig

What is your heart feeling today?

Have you closed off your heart to something or someone you love?

What are you willing to open your heart to?  

Mandala Madness Patience Doing Divorce
(top: before; bottom: after)

Preface:  If in your mind’s eye you fancy me a sophisticated and/or elegant lady lawyer:  number one – thank you; and number two – you should probably stop reading now.

One of my favorite hobbies is hand stitching.  My preferred medium is felt and sequins (think 1980’s childhood and me adoring the handmade ornaments my mom made out of sequins and felt).  One of my prized possessions is a plastic box with 16 compartments that holds my rainbow-color-coordinated sequins.  My daughters tease me that I would save that box before them if our home were burning.  Point is – I love my sequin box.  I love the order.  I love the colors.  I love the sparkles.  It provides instantaneous happiness for me.

I sat down to sewing and my trusty crafting companion, my cat Mac, jumped up in my lap and knocked my sequin box to the floor.  The box had been open.  Out they all dumped.  I sat in complete disbelief.  I could not move.  I didn’t know if I should start laughing or crying.  I don’t want to admit to crying over spilled sequins, so I won’t.

My first instinct was to bend down and begin collecting them and putting each color back in its respective box.  10 minutes in and 20 sequins later, I realized this was not going to work.  I did not have 25 consecutive hours to re-organize the thousands of sequins that were on my floor.

I swiped the sequins up in handfuls and dumped them in the box.  It was a manifestation of chaos. It hurt my stomach to look at it.  The next day when my law partners and I were having lunch in my home, I showed them the box.  Susan, my trusty coach, remarked that this could be my meditation – like the Buddhist sand mandala – to slowly and surely reorganize them over time.  I wanted to strangle her.

You may not know the Buddhist sand mandala.  It is an ancient meditative practice of creating a work of art made with one grain of colored sand at a time. Upon completion, it is destroyed (more on that once I have evolved into a better human…).

Like many distressing events, when I sit in reflection about them, I am often reminded of the lessons learned from my divorce.   The analogy is too strong to ignore.  When facing divorce, the sequin box of life has been dumped to the floor.  You want to fix it, you want to ignore it, you want it to just all be better right away – all while knowing each of these outcomes is impossible.

You have no option but to engage in the madness of the mandala:  to find a new box; start anew; making a same but different box than before; and ultimately reclaiming your happiness.  It may take years – but the slow and steady practice will help unwind the feelings of angst. It will encourage the perspective of being wholly present to taking one tiny bit at a time to create something beautiful.

Angela Dunne

 

“No point arguing”  he would say calmly. My litigation skills gave me a distinct advantage.  No need for him to tell me I was wrong.  He simply showed me.

John and I loved each other. We shared deeply held values. We also approached life differently, and I had a lot to learn.

On Fridays, John joined friends for a happy hour. I eked out a few more emails after everyone left the office for the weekend. I silently claimed the moral superiority of a staunch work ethic.

“You’re welcome to join me,” he would say when he headed to our little getaway  in the country. I took it quite personally that my presence was irrelevant to his level of enjoyment and that he would just as soon be with me as be away from me.

When I did join him, I would set about doing chores nonstop.  Dusting, pulling weeds, stocking the woodpile. He would water the trees, feed the birds, mend a fence. But unlike me, he would regularly pause to watch the wild turkeys or simply study the sky.

“It’s me, Susie,” he would say when I became unnecessarily defensive. It was his way of reminding me I was no longer in a prior relationship filled with constant criticism that left me often shutting out feedback of any kind.

John died on the 14th day of September seven years ago. Though I pride myself on being a sterling student, I never boast of being a quick learner. I am only now beginning to grasp the lessons for which I would have gotten a failing grade throughout our years together.

While I tried desperately to prove my worth through work, John easily loved life and everyone in it. While I surrounded myself with people whenever I could, he understood one’s essential need for solitude. While I raced while he knew not to rush through this precious life we have.

John taught me that life was more than achievement. He had plenty, mind you. Launching multiple businesses, growing gorgeous gardens, succeeding in three careers. But he knew it wasn’t everything.

He knew that what mattered most were people, and it didn’t take his terminal cancer diagnosis to teach it to him.

John taught me that rest for rejuvenation is essential for being your best self. He showed me that being alone with yourself can be transformative if you listen to the silence. Since his death, I’ve had plenty of homework on being alone.

John taught me that my present was not my past.  I continue to study this teaching, knowing not to need an A while seeing a passing grade is enough.

                                                                                    Coach Koenig

Who are the teachers in your life?

What lessons are you willing to learn?

What have you learned that you are most grateful for?

 

Perfomance Review Doing Divorce blog

I get nervous just thinking about it – all of my co-workers rating me in all areas of my professional performance.  Do I keep my promises?  Do I approach my work with enthusiasm?  Do I listen without interrupting?

Every year I must remind myself why I actively choose to put myself through a performance review. Founded on the principle “look, see, tell the truth, take authentic action,” our firm coach, Susan, teaches us that to move toward growth and betterment these four steps are key.  Performance reviews help us pause to look.  Our co-workers and supervisors help us see and tell the truth.  With feedback we identify opportunities to move toward improvement.

This past week I found myself reflecting on how this exercise may support us in a holistic view of our life – particularly during a period of struggle.

How would you rate yourself in these categories?  How would your family and friends rate you in the same categories?

How are you showing up for your children?

Are you present to their individual emotions during this time?

 Are you inadvertently involving them in the litigation to their detriment?

 Are you listening to them without interruption?

 Are you mindful of their needs as opposed to yours?

How are you doing with self-care?

Are you allowing extra sleep and rest more to restore your energy?

Are you moving your body to expel stressors?

Are you creating quiet time for grieving or planning your next actions?

Are you paying attention to your finances?

Have you looked at your finances honestly?

Have you reduced “want” spending during this time of financial transition?

Have you created a revised and realistic budget?

Are you practicing self-compassion?

Are you letting in support from those family members and friends who know you best and truly ease your suffering?

Are you quieting your inner critic knowing that this is a temporary season that will pass and now requires being gentle with yourself?

As with any performance review, the questions may seem overwhelming.  A few may jump off the page at you as you identify one or two areas that you know need attention.  I encourage you to focus on those and identify a minuscule step.

Most importantly, I hope you will review your performance the way I hope my co-workers will review mine – truthfully, thoughtfully and compassionately.

Angela Dunne

Child Support and Parenting Time Divorce Made Simple Blog

In Nebraska, the amount of parenting time with your children directly affects the amount of child support you will receive or owe to your former spouse. Generally speaking, the more parenting time, the more child support you will receive.

Here are answers to three frequently asked questions regarding how parenting time affects child support:

  1. How Is Parenting Time Calculated?

For the purpose of calculating child support, parenting time is defined by the total number of “overnights” that a parent has with the children during a year. For example, if you and your former spouse share an equal amount of parenting time, it is calculated that you both have 182.5 overnights per year.

  1. How Much Parenting Time Is Required to Receive “Full Child Support”?

A parent receives “full child support” (also referred to as “Worksheet 1” child support) when that parent has 257 or more overnights with the children per year. However, a parent can still receive full child support if they spend between 224 and 256 overnights per year, if the court decides that the child support amount is in the best interests of the children. If both parents have at least 142 overnights per year with the children, courts will award “joint custody child support” (also referred to as “Worksheet 3” child support) unless the parents voluntarily agree to another calculation.

  1. What Is the Difference Between “Full Child Support” and “Joint Custody Child Support”?

Full child support provides a much larger monthly payment to the parent receiving child support than joint custody child support. In Nebraska, courts and attorneys calculate full child support by using a mathematical formula often referred to as “Worksheet 1.” Alternatively, joint custody child support provides less monthly support, if any at all, to the parent receiving child support. Instead, both parents are equally responsible to pay for the needs of the children. Often this is effectuated by reconciling receipts on a monthly or quarterly basis. Joint custody child support is calculated by using a mathematical formula often referred to as “Worksheet 3.”

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to answer your questions about child support and to protect the financial stability of your family.

David Pontier

Money Matters Blog Sued by a creditor

For many, the initial response to being sued is to panic and avoid the reality that the creditor has taken the steps to get paid by filing a lawsuit. Typically, before a creditor can garnish your wages or seize any assets, there needs to be a judgment against you, which is a court order stating that you owe the money.  Filing the lawsuit is the first step for the creditor to obtain that judgment.

A creditor may take several months or years to finally file a lawsuit for an unpaid debt. You may have hoped that the creditor simply forgot about you. In reality the cause for delay is that the debt may have switched hands several times, being sold to debt collectors all over the country. A debt collector may also wait until it has acquired several of your debts from the original creditor or creditors.

When you know a creditor has or is about to file a lawsuit against you, the worst thing you can do is turn a blind eye and hope it goes away. Below are some simple steps you can take when a creditor sues you.

Step 1) Take a deep breath. You are going to have options to deal with the lawsuit.

Step 2) Do not avoid service. Typically, the sheriff will deliver the initial documents to you. If you avoid being served documents, the creditor will simply ask the court for permission to give you notice another way such as publishing it in the newspaper.

Step 3) Read the complaint. The complaint is the legal document that the creditor files with the court setting forth the facts and law for why you owe the money. The complaint will provide information such as the creditor’s name & location, amount of the claim (debt), and nature of the debt (e.g., goods, services, lease, or personal loan). It is important to understand who is bringing the lawsuit and the basis for the debt.

Step 4) File an Answer. In Nebraska, you have 30 days from the date you were served to file an Answer with the court, which is the document where you set forth the facts and reasons why you do not owe the money. It is also your opportunity to claim any defenses (e.g., that the statute of limitations has run). If you fail to file an Answer, the creditor can and most likely will obtain a default judgment, meaning that you will owe the money without having your day in court.

Step 5) Contact the creditor or their attorney and offer to settle the debt. In almost every case, the creditor is willing to work out a deal. A lump sum or repayment plan for less than 100% of the debt is very common. Many people, however, miss the opportunity to resolve the debt early on in the process, waiting until years of interest have accrued.

Step 6) Schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney to understand your options. If all of this seems overwhelming, an experienced bankruptcy attorney will be able to advise you of your bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy options for handling your debt.

Being sued is frightening and can sometimes come out of nowhere. Know that you have options for handling the lawsuit when it arrives.  At Koenig|Dunne, our experienced bankruptcy attorneys are here to empower you to address your financial distress.

Patrick Patino

NEXT Empowerment Blog Empowering Partners

I’ve always loved law students. Their intelligence. Their enthusiasm. Their commitment. I taught law as an adjunct for close to a decade. A single guest lecture I gave on domestic violence at another law school  led me to a law student who would change my life: Angela Dunne.

I would become her employer, her mentor, her coach. She would become my role model, my teacher, and the manager of our law firm.

When Angela and I met for the first time at the Flatiron Café her plucky attitude enabled her to ask for what she wanted before the dessert menu was offered. When she asked for a job, I don’t recall scrutinizing her history of accomplishments (of which she had many), her class rank, or  her experience in the state legislature. I had no plans to hire, no space to put another employee, and no budget.

We both wanted our careers in law to make a difference in the lives of others. We both wanted our advocacy to empower people who had survived and who wanted to move forward with their lives. We both had boundless enthusiasm for life. We both believed in possibilities.

I hired her on the spot.

I had started a law practice. Then we built a law firm together. Now she runs the firm. We both continue to lead.

I wrote a book. Then we wrote a book together. Last week her book, Patched up Parenting, came off the printing press. We both continue to edit one another’s writing.

When we met I was a mother of teenagers and she was in love with the man she would marry. Eleven years later, in the same year, she and he divorced and I was widowed. Today she navigates single parenting through the teen years and I am in love anew.

By personalities, we might appear unlikely partners. I’m an extrovert who loves to be the first to arrive and the last to leave the party that introvert Angela will politely decline attending at all. My home is full of century old woodwork and vintage; hers is bursting with color and playfulness. She will cozy up to her cats and cross stitch while I head out to a gala.

“We are becoming each other,” we joke. She has taught me that after decades of working I don’t need to justify leaving work early for a massage. Experience has taught her that despite one’s desire to make each and every employee happy every day that running a business makes that an impossibility. We both want the absolute best for our clients, a great culture for our team, and a good life for one another.

We both have become wiser through life’s journey. We have supported dreams coming true for one another. Often, we hold a greater vision for the other than we held for ourselves.

When we met, I was the only name on the door, the chief rainmaker, and the attorney who brought the dollars into the firm. The firm’s future was on my shoulders. Today, Angela is about the same age I was when we met. Now there are eight names on that door and the future of the firm lies with them. Meanwhile, my encore career is so joy-filled that it doesn’t feel like work.

When we are able to say “yes” to empowering people on their path forward in life, we might find them taking you places you never imagined.

Coach Koenig

Are you willing to ask for what you want?

Is there someone you can support on their path forward?

What would it be like to hold a greater vision of yourself and your future?

Doing Divorce Blog May I Have My Children

The text read:  “Two tickets to Taylor Swift.  You get first dibs if you want them.”  My heart started beating a bit.  I started nodding my head to Swift’s lyrics “Big reputation, big reputation” playing in my mind.

Two tickets.  Dang.  I will have to pick – although really, the choice was made for me. My youngest daughter’s birthday was this week. This could be a fun birthday celebration.  I would take Sophia.

“When is the concert?” I asked.  “This weekend.”  Double dang.  It wasn’t my weekend.  And to compound the whammy – Sophia’s birthday was this weekend while she was with her dad.  My heart sank.  I would need permission to take her since it was not my day.

Sigh.

I sent the text to my former spouse explaining the offer and asking if I might be able to take Sophia as an extended birthday treat.  I crossed my fingers and hit send.  I waited what seemed liked hours for the response, but in reality was about 25 minutes.

“That sounds fun.  I assume Soph will want to go.  Do you know what the details would be?”  Fist pump – yes!  I told him my tentative plan and got more and more excited.  Relief washed over me.  He said yes.  I could have my daughter.

This is one of the most unnatural nuances of divorce – asking permission to have your children.  In the split second that I realized it wasn’t “my day” I felt frustration, resentment, and worry.  The hardness of being a divorce parent was again, front and center.

My former spouse no doubt experienced the same thing a few days earlier when he asked me if he could take the girls on my Thursday evening to a family event sponsored by his employer.  I said yes with a slight annoyance because I would now miss out on the mini-birthday celebration I had planned for Sophia since her birthday was Friday and I would not see her.

But we are the lucky ones.  More specifically, my kids are the luckiest.  Their dad and I can make these adjustments, can be flexible, and can keep our intentions to support our kids’ top of mind.

For many parents this is impossible.  Many parents lose focus.  Their sole focus ends up being the “mine” as in it is “my time.”  They lose sight that this is a two-way street and that if they extend a gesture in flexibility then it may be reciprocated in the future.  And even then, worst case scenario – it isn’t – oh well.  When faced with a “my time” issue, consider the following:

  • What is my intention in granting/denying? Are you deciding based on an assumption you will be able to leverage something in the future?  Are you declining because you are annoyed about a past decision your former spouse made?
  • Would this deviation be good or bad for my child?
  • Am I saying “no” for me or for them?

Using these questions as tools for a “gut check” will ensure that you are making a decision outside of the renewed frustration, resentment, and worry that being a divorced parent brings.

Fast forward to Sophia getting in the car and me excitedly telling her about the opportunity for this weekend.  She grimaced.  “Is Anna going?” She asked.  “No – just me and you!”  I triumphantly exclaimed.

“Oh.  I don’t want to go.”

To be continued in another blog series about when your children no longer want to spend time with you…

Angela Dunne

Post-Trial Actions Divorce Made Simple blog

Throughout the divorce process, you or your attorney may have disagreed with some of the rulings the judge made. The following are the most common post-trial actions to consider if your case proceeded to trial and you believe the judge erred in the final decision.

Motion for New Trial

After your trial is complete and you have received the judge’s ruling, you may file a motion for new trial. A new trial is a reexamination in the same court (same judge) of an issue or fact after the court has made its decision. If the new trial is granted, the initial decision is vacated, as if it never happened, and a new trial will be held.

There are multiple reasons a Motion for New Trial may be filed, including:

  • There was an error committed in the trial/litigation process;
  • The decision that was reached by the judge was not sustained by the evidence or is contrary to the law;
  • Accident or surprise, which could not have reasonably been guarded against; and/or
  • There has been newly discovered evidence that was not reasonably discoverable before trial, which may have a material impact on the ultimate outcome of the case.

You must file this motion no later than 10 days after the judge issued the ruling. Your Koenig│Dunne attorneys can provide a recommendation as to whether filing a Motion for New Trial is advisable.

Motion to Alter or Amend

An alternative to filing a motion for a new trial is to ask the court to alter or amend, or possibly vacate, its order. Your judge may vacate or modify its own orders if:

  • Your spouse committed fraud in obtaining the ruling; or
  • There has been newly discovered evidence that was not reasonably discoverable before trial, nor could have been discovered with reasonable diligence in time to move for a new trial.

The district court has the power to vacate or modify its orders during the term of the court (which is generally January 1 – December 31), or it may also be exercised after the term upon a motion filed within six months after entry of the orders.

Seek advice from your Koenig│Dunne attorneys promptly if you wish to have your decree altered or modified.

Appeal

If you are interested in having a higher court review your judge’s decision, you may file an appeal. An appeal of the district court’s order goes to the Nebraska Court of Appeals where it is heard before a panel of three appellate court judges. In some cases, the Nebraska Supreme Court may review your case.

Appeal deadlines are strict.  If you want to file an appeal, a notice of intent to appeal must be filed no later than 30 days after the Decree was entered, unless you have filed either of the motions discussed above.

If it is your intention to appeal the orders in your decree, contact your Koenig│Dunne attorneys at once to be advised of the proper procedure and your rights. If you do not adhere to the deadlines, you waive your right to appeal.

Lindsay Belmont

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.