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.

Evolution Unfolding NEXT Empowerment Blog

A warmhearted melancholy washes over me as I stare out the window. Eighteen years ago this month I returned to the neighborhood of my childhood to begin a new chapter of my life. Today I taste the bittersweetness of my life as I sip my first cup of dark roast in the newly opened coffee shop. I’m surrounded by tall ceilings, brick walls and laptops as I admire the view from the window.

I’m in Little Bohemia on South 13th Street. It was the heart of the Czech immigrants with Little Italy being its cozy neighbor. My family moved to Little Italy when I was four. I joke that we got in under the poverty guidelines not our German heritage. St. Frances Cabrini, site of more than one sacrament for me, is just up the hill.

I look out at what was once Emil Cermak’s apothecary built in 1898.  Emil spoke multiple languages so he served not only the Italians and Czechs but also the Polish and German. When my late husband and I bought what we now call the Koenig Building, it was filled to the rafters with thrift store finds that Mr. Martinez sold under the guise of antiques. It had deteriorated dreadfully from decades of neglect and many questioned the sanity of the acquisition.

I notice the lushness of the green flowing from the second floor window boxes. My eyes turn to the adjacent building with charming black awnings and bright red geraniums running across the entire front. It’s the Dunne Building which our law firm expanded into two years ago after our team had tripled in size. That structure had demanded a similar savior, and my law partner took it on.

Today both buildings are gems of Little Bohemia and transformations like ours are happening all around us.

Last year the Bohemian Café closed after decades. People from around the country planned their family vacations around a return for one last oval plate brimming with dumplings buried in gravy and sweet and sour cabbage. During the restaurant’s final month I donned my apron and my sturdiest shoes to bus tables with them for a night, just to savor some final hours of history in the hood.

Last week we heard the Donut Stop was closing. It’s been a landmark on this street since my childhood. Each morning the same group of men gather to drink the coffee they poured themselves into small plastic cups held by brown plastic holders.

The cat lady’s Mystery Bookstore has been replaced with a design studio and a hipster men’s clothing shop.  A long abandoned warehouse now houses a nonprofit for working artists. Colorful murals are sprouting up on the sides of buildings. New trees appeared last week.

It’s more than a half century since my arrival here. So much and so many are now gone, including my father, my brother, my mother, my husband. I stare out at the brick building that is home for both my business and me. I’m lost in my reverie when I’m interrupted by and enthusiastic hello from a mustached millennial whose just moved into the neighborhood.

There are changes happening here. Some bitter. Some sweet. An evolution unfolding.

Coach Koenig

What changes are happening around you?

What can you appreciate about the old and the new?

What might be transformed?

Perspective on a Path Doing Divorce blog

It was raining.  But all I could see was her smiling face.  I didn’t feel the drops falling on my work blouse.  I didn’t worry about the curly hair on my head it was creating.  I didn’t fret about not finding my umbrella.  Her smile kept me quite unaware.  My first-born daughter was about to walk up the old stone stairways to her brand new high school and instead of weeping in worry I was singularly focused on her bright smile keeping me in this moment where she felt happy and excited – and so too, did I.

I have written several back-to-school posts over these years of raising my school-age children post-divorce.  I have ruminated on several themes that back to school brings forward.  This year it feels deeper.  Maybe it’s the high school milestone, or that my daughters will not attend school together anymore, or that their independence is expanding faster than I can keep up.   But this year it is more than just a change from summer to fall, from slow-paced to busy.  This year I am observing more than most years this unstoppable path.

On the eve before Anna’s big day I prepared a card for her with my heartfelt wishes for her this year and tucked it next to the mirror in her bathroom for her to read the following morning.  The sentiment from the outside of the card read “It is important to remember that the beginning can be anywhere along the way.   Your story will have many chapters – maybe volumes, each a chance to begin.”  I wrote to her that this day would be a start, a continuance, and an end of all beautiful parts of her life.

Our paths may seem straight but a detour can suddenly curve around and meet back to the original path and link to a place we had already journeyed.  Our lives are not straight lines. Beginnings and ends are often temporary.

When divorcing or in litigation, our focus is typically on the end.  Our marriage is over, we want the case to be done, and with so much change – the “last times” come pouring in.  With the flood of endings, we lose our perspective.  We lose our hope.

Now, years after my divorce I can see the circular parts of my path.  I have a greater capacity to reflect on the knowing that my path will hold surprises and connections between past, present and future that I cannot see now, but will.  I see that my divorce was a start, a continuance, and an end of all beautiful parts of my life.

Angela Dunne

Restoring Your Former Name Divorce Made Simple Blog

Did you know that you can change your name back to your former name in your divorce? Nebraska law allows for former names (sometimes referred to as “maiden name”) to be restored in a divorce. If you wish to have your former name restored, here’s what you need to know.

  1. Include the request to have your former name restored in your complaint or counterclaim.

If you are the plaintiff, you should include a specific request to have your former name restored in your complaint – the initial document you file with the court asking for your marriage be dissolved. If you are the defendant, make sure you file a counterclaim in response to the complaint. In your counterclaim, you should include a request to have your former name restored.

You must ask for this in order for the court to grant it. If you’re unsure whether you wish to have your former name restored, you may want to include the request anyway. That way, if you do ultimately decide it’s what you want, you’ve already asked for it. If you have already filed either your complaint or counterclaim and have not asked for your former name to be restored, talk to your attorney about amending your pleading.

  1. At the time of settlement or trial, make sure that there is a provision granting restoration of your former name in the decree.

This, too, can be a simple sentence in your decree. If your case goes to trial, you may request the name change while you’re testifying. In any event, be sure your final decree states that your former name will be restored.

  1. After your decree is entered (signed by the judge), submit a separate Order Restoring Former Name to the judge for signature.

You can obtain a certified copy of this separate order to obtain a new social security card, driver’s license, etc.

Your Koenig│Dunne family law attorneys can help guide you through the tough conversations that may come with restoring your former name. If you aren’t ready to change your name back at the end of your divorce, you can always file a separate name change action when you are ready. Your Koenig│Dunne attorneys will be here when you are.

Lindsay Belmont

Financial Struggles of Aging Money Matters blog

Living on a fixed income is difficult for many older Americans. Over the course of time, there has been a shift to individuals bearing a higher burden of financial risks. Gone are pensions. Health insurance is more of the burden on the insured than before. Savings are usually not sizable enough to cover an unexpected or unplanned expense. Social Security benefits, if taken early, come with a cost as the monthly benefit is permanently reduced.

As a result, the rate of individuals over the age of 65 that are filing for bankruptcy has tripled as compared to 1991. Despite a lifetime of hard work, many face the uncomfortable reality of mounting debt.

It could be that a spouse fell ill or passed away, leaving behind insurmountable medical bills and funeral costs. It could be that you had to retire early because of an injury, a child or grandchild moves in with you, or you could simply miss one car payment. Any small thing that snowballs.

Bankruptcy may be the best way to address the debt. Instead of feeling pressure to liquidate assets, a bankruptcy may allow you to achieve the end goal of being debt free and retaining all of your property.

In some situations, a bankruptcy is not necessary to protect assets but to provide peace of mind. The phone calls stop. The collection letters cease. The fear eliminated. Bankruptcy can provide many emotional and mental benefits beyond dollars and cents. After a bankruptcy, you can focus more on your wellbeing than on how you are going to continue to pay debt. Bankruptcy can be a liberating experience.

I have seen many clients try to outwork the debt. They attempt to find solutions because they were brought up that “you pay your debts.” However, That can be like running on a track and each step you take requires that you run another lap. A bankruptcy allows you to step off the track. There can be a fear that people will assume you have given up or avoided your responsibility to pay for your debt. Alternatively, you are showing that you are brave to take that uncomfortable step towards a fresh start. Peace of mind awaits.

If you or someone you know is dealing with financial distress later in life, please know that Koenig│Dunne is here to support you when making the difficult decision to file bankruptcy.

Patrick Patino

Thrilled NEXT Empowerment Blog

Do you remember a time when you would have been thrilled to have what you have now?

When I returned home from a spring semester of college in Barcelona I weighed close to twenty pounds more than I had when I left. I had spent days walking on cobblestone streets, exploring medieval monasteries and hiking up hills in the Pyrenees. But the months of living on a student loan diet of bread and cheese took its toll. The day I walked of the plane and my family saw me, my five foot two self would have been thrilled to weigh what I weigh now.

Twenty-five years later I had a year when every unforeseen financial hit came in a matter of months. My late husband and I had just purchased a beautiful but beaten down century old building to renovate. The month we closed on the sale John was diagnosed with a terminal cancer. That same summer my fifteen year old headed off to college, three years prior to plan. The debt mushroomed from all directions. Every week I studied the list of creditors and amounts owed, trying to navigate the unnerving numbers.  I would have been thrilled to be focusing on my savings like I do today.

When my heart was broken after my husband’s death, the ocean of loss could pull me under at any given moment of my days. I looked normal on the outside, but the on the inside I was gasping for air, trying to keep my head above water, hoping not to drown in the sorrow. I ached from the fatigue of trying not to fall into the abyss. I would have been thrilled to worry about whether it would be a day or a week before I get to enjoy the company of a beloved in my life like I do now.

When I focus on what I haven’t done, I feel like a failure. When I focus on what I have accomplished, I feel like a success. When I focus on what I don’t have, I experience lack. When I focus on what I do have, I experience abundance.

Going forward, my intentions are to celebrate the progress I have made as I look to my future goals, to acknowledge my past which has prepared me, and to have gratitude for today always. So with the weekend ahead, I will celebrate my savings, look forward to a date night soon, and refuse to fret over the loss of those elusive final five pounds. I will be thrilled to have what I have now.

Coach Koenig

What progress on your path can you celebrate?

                        Are you focusing on your lack or your abundance?

                        What can you be thrilled with now?

Transition Time Back to School Doing Divorce Blog

Every year I buy a new box of crayons… for myself.  The smell of the newly opened box takes me back to the stress-less days of my childhood.  Potential waiting in the pointed colorful tips.  I relish the back to school season.  New teachers for the girls, the starting again of routine and schedules, more structure and activity to the days as compared to the laze of summer, and a clean slate for the school year ahead.

But I confess that getting back into routine is a challenge.  After every 7:35 a.m. drop of –  before which the girls need to remember their gym clothes, soccer cleats, volleyball knee-pads, lunch boxes, signed agenda books, scholastic book order money, and to brush their hair and teeth, I arrive to the office feeling like someone should hand me a medal on the way through the door.  I feel like a cash prize should come with clean uniforms, matchy , and a healthy breakfast.

As with the challenge of the abrupt summer-to-school swap, so too can be the household transfers for children with divorced parents.  I often have clients distressed about their child’s transition time.  It looks like this: “He is wound up for a couple of hours after he gets back home.” “She is withdrawn and sulks in her bedroom and isn’t her ‘normal’ self for a day or so and by then she has to go back again.”

Transitions can be tough – particularly for children going between different households, different rules, different bedtimes, and different family members.  It is normal for these adjustments to be reflected in their behavior.  If your co-parenting relationship makes it difficult to create consistency between households, I recommend the following:

  • Be mindful of your reaction.

If your reaction is exaggerated, negative, or emotional, it will likely exacerbate their behavior.  Avoid making statements about their behavior being linked to having just been at their other parent’s house, as this will only lend itself to them feeling bad, guilty, or frustrated.  Your children didn’t ask for these transitions and shouldn’t be blamed for having to work through them.

  • Establish household routines.

Children of all ages thrive on routines and consistency.  Parents often complain that due to the divorce, their children lack consistency.  Focus on what you can control.  Your own house and the consistency therein.  Move your children into the routine at your house as soon as possible into their arrival.  Is there a chore they should complete?  Is there a place where their belongings should be put?  Is there a favorite activity they can engage in?

  • Be gentle and acknowledge the feelings.

With yourself and with your kids.  We struggle when our kids have difficulty with transitions.  We feel guilty that their lives require constant transitions.  We feel annoyed about the other household having different rules.  We feel sad that we do not just get to have our children with us all of the time.  Know that all of those feelings are normal, but be mindful about displacing those feelings onto your children.   And just as you are having mixed feelings in these times of transitions, so too, are your children.  Let that be okay.

What you will find over time, is that adaptation sets in and brings comfort.  Just like we find in the middle of October that we have gotten into the swing of things and it suddenly feels easier and less rushed in the mornings, the transitions of divorce ease with time.  Household transitions, just like homework at the dinner table, become the new normal.  It gets easier until we cannot even recall how it used to be any other way.

Angela Dunne

Questions to Remember During Mediation Divorce Made Simple Blog

Nebraska law requires parents to develop a parenting plan before a divorce can become final. Parenting plans discuss in detail what the co-parenting relationship will look like between former spouses. Some parenting plans are developed during the mediation process. While all parenting-plan mediations will address major parenting issues—such as routine parenting time, holiday parenting time, and legal decision making—it is important not to forget these important topics:

  1. What should vacation parenting time look like and much advanced notice should be given?
  2. How much telephonic or electronic communication access should our child have with the parent who is not exercising parenting time?
  3. What are the rules for grounding a child with a cellphone?
  4. How will our child’s clothing, toys, and belongings be shared between households?
  5. What will communication look like in case of an emergency for our child?
  6. How will we coordinate our child’s extra-curricular activities’ schedule?
  7. Are there any special occasions that should be a part of our holiday parenting time schedule?
  8. Should we include a right of first refusal in our parenting plan?
  9. If we cannot come to an agreement on an issue regarding our child, how will we resolve it?

A well-drafted parenting plan can provide stability and consistency to your co-parenting relationship. If some details are left unattended, it can incite the need to return to court. Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to provide guidance and foresight in the mediation process and development of your parenting plan.

David Pontier

Life and Death Stories NEXT Empowerment Blog

The stories kept coming. For two hours a non-stop stream of people paid their condolences to the young widow as she stood in front of her wife’s slate gray coffin covered with white lilies and white roses. One by one they told their story of meeting, what meant the most, and the loss they grieved.

After the visitation, the stories continued on the back patio with the sound of August cicadas and more than one bottle of wine selected from the cellar without care as to whether it was the finest or the cheapest. “Remember the time when she…?”  “How about the time when…?”  Longtime friends interrupted one another with ease as they opened their broken hearts a little bit more with each story told.

The following day was the funeral.  After the burial I saw this text: “Sharon had another stroke and is nonresponsive.”  I try not to speed in my little sports car, but there are times one must.

If you have never seen a person lying in a hospital bed with the tubes the size of vacuum cleaner hoses strapped to their face it can be a shock. The scene in the sterile room where flowers are prohibited was familiar to me. The exception was the sweet face of my sister-in-law being the one motionless save the slight rising and falling of her chest under the hospital gown of the sort she had been wearing for seven weeks.

The remainder of the afternoon my brother shared stories. A distraction from thoughts of death and the unspoken worries of mounting medical bills, the stories flowed.  “Did I ever tell you about that time…?”  The hours flew without either of us looking up at the big white wall clock with the second hand marking the preciousness of the minutes.

My day ended with a long planned dinner with my stepdaughter introducing me to her new sweetheart. Still wearing my black funeral dress, I told the tale of my day in short form as we awaited the arrival of a bottle of chardonnay. Our glasses filled, we toasted the present occasion. We set about getting to know one another with, “So tell me about…”

Our stories help us make sense of our world. They help us to understand one another. They bring meaning to the events in our life. We are hungry to be heard and longing to be seen. Storytelling allows us to acknowledge that a life has purpose. That we made a difference. That we matter.

This is a story of a mere twenty-four hours.  It is a new story, unlike those handed down through the generations.  As I search for the meaning, I instantly see that life is precious. That I hope to be present to every story told. That people they never doubt they mattered to me.

Coach Koenig

Which stories help you understand your life?

Is there a story you want to hear from a loved one?

Are you listening attentively to the stories you hear?

Regret Doing Divorce Blog
*Artwork painted by my Aunt Suzy – another gift.

The handwriting immediately made me choke up.  Her beautiful calligraphy stretched across the page in perfect lines.  It was short and sweet.  The notes for me, and each of my daughters pulled from an envelope marked “Passing On Papers.”  After my Aunt Suzy’s death, her husband found them in her nightstand.  My mom waited until we arrived for our annual trip to the Oregon coast to give them to us in person.

Earlier this year, when my aunt passed away, several months before anyone anticipated with her health challenges, I was struck reeling with grief and regret.  I had left an important acknowledgement left unsaid.  Left unmarked on my to-do list is the letter I intended to write expressing gratitude to Suzy for helping my youngest daughter, Sophia.

Now reading her letter to me instead, which she began by calling me her sparkly niece, the tears rolled relentlessly down my cheeks.  Her words washed peace and comfort over me.  It was as if she knew I had sprained a part of my heart with my regret.  It was as if she was whispering in my ear – passing on to me the peace she felt knowing that I would take good care of my parents.  Suzy reminded me of how she has always seen me – as someone much greater than I see in myself.

I cried looking heavenward in appreciation.  I realized this could now be the closing of this chapter between us.

It reminded me of the wise words my coach often recites for me about never knowing when the story will end.  I finally understood.  Looking back at past heartaches – the biggest being my divorce – I see that the story of my divorce continues to be written each day.  My marriage may have ended but the story keeps unfolding.

Suzy’s greatest gift to me is now realized in the reminder that what I once thought was an ending was merely a pause.  A pause I needed to pull away from the hardness of grief before I could fully take in the warmth, love, and wisdom she left for me.

Angela Dunne

5 Important Post Divorce Actions Divorce Made Simple Blog

To ensure a smooth transition into your post-divorce new normal, your Koenig│Dunne team has identified the following important actions for you to take:

  1. Informational filing.  If support (child support and/or alimony) has been ordered in your case, Nebraska law requires you to provide the clerk of the court with your address, telephone number, social security number, employer, and certain information related to employer-provided health insurance. If any of this information changes after your divorce is final, you must provide the updated information to the clerk in your county.
  2. Property actions. If you and your former spouse owned a home and one of you was awarded the home in the divorce, it is likely that the other spouse will be required to prepare and file a quitclaim deed with the Register of Deeds in the appropriate county. If you are ordered to prepare this, make sure you do so in a timely manner (or in 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.
  3. Insurance. Review your insurance policies, specifically, the beneficiary designations, to see whether any changes are needed. If your former spouse is named as the beneficiary, you may contact the policyholder and complete a change in beneficiary form.
  4. Debts. If you and your former spouse had joint accounts or joint credit cards, make sure to either remove your former spouse’s name or close the account entirely. Your decree should specify how to deal with these joint accounts.
  5. Child support. If you will receive support or pay support per the terms of your decree, contact the Nebraska Child Support Payment Center to provide your name, address, direct deposit information, etc., to ensure you receive or pay your payments timely. For more information about the payment center, click here. If your case involves child support and alimony, both payments will be paid through the Nebraska Child Support Payment center.

Your decree should inform you of the post-divorce actions you need to take. Your Koenig│Dunne family law attorneys can help support you to take the necessary actions needed to move forward to the next chapter of your life.

Lindsay Belmont

Click HERE for a helpful post-divorce checklist.

Filing for bankruptcy is not something that most people want to do. However, it may provide the best, most straightforward solution to dealing with overwhelming debt. Many people struggle for months and even years before they decide to take the first step to a fresh start by setting up a free bankruptcy consultation.

During the contemplation phase, a person can experience a myriad of emotions: shame, guilt, frustration, or sadness. It is hard to admit to yourself and others that you may need help. I have seen people make the decision to liquidate a retirement account in an attempt to resolve the situation only to be left with a tax bill from the IRS. I call this replacing the monkey on your back with a baby gorilla: both are a burden to carry. Seeking support from a bankruptcy attorney can protect the retirement account and eliminate the debt.

Figuring this all out on your own can be both overwhelming and isolating. I am here to tell you that you are not alone (https://www.marketplace.org/2017/07/25/economy/americans-emergency-savings-wealth). While confiding with a trusted family-member, co-worker, or friend, you may be surprised that others have experienced similar situations. Having that shared experience will empower you to take steps to address the issues and move toward solutions.

In many consultations, the person I am meeting with will divulge that they finally decided to come in because someone provided them with the support to make the decision. It is also common that the person shares that he or she should have made the decision long ago. You don’t have to go this path alone. Life can change in big ways in a moment. Letting in support allows you to get outside of your own head when making a decision. You may be thinking your way in a circle trying to figure out how to pay off your debt when a simple and straightforward solution like a bankruptcy is readily available.

Letting in support can be hard. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few simple tips to get started:

  1. Write down who you would trust to share your financial struggles with.
  2. Write down your goals, e.g., financial stability, spend more time with my children instead of figuring out how to pay debt.
  3. Let in support for taking meaningful action, e.g., scheduling a free bankruptcy consultation.
  4. Be open to questioning your most closely held beliefs, opinions, and assumptions, e.g., “I have to do this alone. I will never get out of this.”

The Koenig│Dunne bankruptcy team is here to support you on your path forward to achieving your goals.

Patrick Patino

“You’d be perfect,” he said. “It’s a panel. I have two men and I need a businesswoman. Plus you’d get some publicity. Are you free Tuesday?”

“Sure!”  I say enthusiastically.

My ego had just agreed to be a contestant in the inaugural taping of a TV game show before a live audience.

While I have images of the Price is Right on the black and white television of my childhood, I have never been a big fan of TV game shows. Not Jeopardy. Not Wheel of Fortune. I don’t even know what they fight about on Family Feud.

It’s not just TV games. My brain has some deeply grooved neuropathways when it comes to simultaneously playing and competing. As a litigator I was always up for the fight, but the thought of a game of Trivial Pursuit can break me into a cold sweat.

Growing up I played Monopoly with the Frank family across the street. They had eight children, each of whose name started with a “T.” Tammy, Terry, Tracy and so forth. I thought the games dragged on forever. I was more interested in eating the popcorn and Mrs. Frank’s chocolate fudge.

I have never been a part of Bunko group or a poker party. My mother took up card playing as a widow in her 80s. Her close friends had all died and she was desperate to make some new ones. This I understand.

Tuesday arrives.

The audience is seated in rows. Jim, Luke, and I do our sound checks. The lights are bright and hot. Count down—3, 2, 1—“Welcome everyone!”

Before I know it I am drawing a picture with a Sharpie, remembering that art wrecked my GPA. I clap energetically for every right answer of my opponents. I smile a lot.

During the lightning round I am relieved that Luke agrees with my selection of a multiple choice answer about the best business strategy for selling some unknown product, especially when the judge declares us both wrong.

Soon I hear, “Let’s have a round of applause for all of our contestants!”

I may not bring any great desire, experience, or talent. But I can always bring myself—saying yes with enthusiasm, applauding others, and smiling.

Coach Koenig

Are you willing to say “yes” to an unknown opportunity?

Do your childhood thoughts stop you from being your true self today?

Would it be alright to not take yourself so seriously?

Courage and a Conversation Doing Divorce Blog

A wave of nausea hit my stomach every time I thought about it.  There was a conversation about our financial obligations for our kids that I needed to have with my former spouse that I did not want to have.  I dreaded it.  I delayed it.  I downright ignored it.

Our co-parenting relationship has been consistently strong.  We are able to attend parent-teacher conferences together as parents.  Recently, we sat at one table together at our daughter’s 8th grade graduation reception with our respective families and it was pleasant.  I can send him messages with the eyeroll emoji attached when one of our daughters is being dramatic.

But in the seven years since we have been divorced, some things have changed – things that require that we revisit some details in our divorce decree.  I didn’t want to upset the proverbial apple cart. I just wanted things to stay the same.  But I knew deep down that it is best for our girls and us as parents if we are clear about our parental responsibilities.  It would have been unfair to their dad if I had just opted to cover his responsibility, too.  That wouldn’t have felt good to me or to him.  I needed to have the conversation.

Well, as my typical, change-resistant, and Irish self would have it – the first approach was less than ideal.  I acted out of annoyance at an unrelated issue and segued that into an ill-timed and unplanned finance conversation.  I violated my own critical rule not to engage when I am emotional, annoyed, angry, or tired.  I forgot to give myself the space I needed.  It was a disaster.  I came across as defensive and he threatened me right back with court interaction. My last couple of messages went unanswered.  Not good.

I felt terrible.  It was not how I had intended to approach the subject. For all the thought I had given to this topic, it came across as a flippant flop.  I let it sit for a few days (maybe over a week).  I sent a detailed email – thoroughly outlining my goals and my reasons supporting them.  He promptly replied that he received it and would let me know his thoughts.

A couple more days passed and he responded that everything looked good to him and he provided a few more details for consideration.

I was on cloud nine.  What I had spent months fearing in reality was now a fiction of my imagination.  I reflected on my mistakes, my assumptions, and my worry. I forgot to give my co-parent credit. I forgot to accelerate my courage to have the conversation sooner rather than later.  I forgot that we are both good parents with good intentions which inevitably leads to good results

Angela Dunne

After the initial documents of a divorce have been filed, the “discovery” phase begins. Discovery refers to the legal process of exchanging information and documents between spouses that are needed to either come to a settlement agreement or prepare for trial. This process often requires spouses to gather a number of financial documents and to answer questions relevant to their divorce.

Here is an overview of the discovery process:

  1. Sending Discovery Requests

In order to legally require your spouse to provide you with information or documents, you must send formal discovery requests. These typically come in two different varieties. The first is called interrogatories, which are questions asked to your spouse which must be answered truthfully. The second is called request for production of documents, which, as the title suggests, is a list of documents requested from your spouse.

  1. Objecting to Discovery Requests

Not all information requested during discovery must be provided. If a discovery request goes beyond the relevant issues of the divorce, then a spouse may object to providing such information. Nebraska law allows spouses 30 days to issue discovery objections. This deadline starts the day that a spouse (or attorney) receives the discovery request. If a spouse fails to object during this timeframe, they are obligated to answer the discovery request. It is important that you discuss with your legal team whether or not information sought during discovery may be objectionable.

  1. Gathering Information and Documents

Paystubs. Bank statements. Car titles. After receiving discovery requests, you will likely have to collect a number of documents. Some documents may be harder to obtain than others. Discuss with your attorney any concerns you may have about obtaining the information or documents requested of you during discovery.

  1. Providing Discovery Responses

After you provide the information and documents requested, your legal team will help you to compile the information in the correct format to comply with Nebraska legal requirements. Once your discovery is ready to be submitted, your attorney will provide your responses to your spouse’s attorney.

  1. Compelling Discovery Responses

Under Nebraska law, your spouse has 30 days to provide discovery responses after receiving the requests. If your spouse refuses or fails to do so, then your attorney will likely ask the Court for help in “compelling” these responses from your spouse. While court interventions vary, courts do have the ability to sanction your spouse by either assessing fines or by forbidding your spouse to use the information that was not provided at trial.

The timeframe for discovery differs by case. From several weeks to over a year in some more complicated divorces. Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to guide you through the discovery process to ensure that you are able to obtain the information that you need to complete your divorce.

David Pontier

Vacation is a treasured luxury. The sights of the scenery, the tastes of the food, and the step back in time are awe-inspiring.

I pack lightly. Sturdy walking shoes. A wrap for chilly evenings. A simple black dress for dinner that rolls up but doesn’t wrinkle. Ready for the wonder that awaits.

Our first day we had a car. We meandered along rolling hills covered in morning light. Though midsummer, many of the fields were already turning golden. The lush blankets of color reached to the horizon where they met the sky that went from cloudy to perfect blue as we drove.

Around noon we stopped at a town not found on our map and ordered the plat du jour. As we waited for our food, I noticed my mental clock running. It seemed to be taking a long while for the daily special of ham and vegetables to arrive. I reminded myself of where I was and that we had all day. I started to relax.

When we arrived at the inn the owners welcomed us with a sparkling drink made with fresh lime before showing us to our room. Plenty of pillows on the bed. Charming little chandelier like lamps on the nightstands. Towels with blue and green piping stacked neatly. This is our home for now, and I relax a little more.

We had a dinner with our hosts and the grandmother of the family at a long wooden table with benches on either side. Our plates included small summer sweet tomatoes covered in olive oil infused with the freshly picked basil and oregano from their garden. They told of the history of the nearby town. I was sure the perfect red wine was local. I slept well.

After breakfast at a small café, we went for a bike ride in the countryside. A light breeze traveled with us as we came upon fields of yellow and purple flowers, crossed small bridges over rolling streams, and spotted the occasional napping cow.

That afternoon we were invited to join another couple for a boat ride. We slowly moved across the lake that shimmered like a field of tiny diamonds. We paused for a while to watch a small duck family make its way to the shore.

As we stepped off the boat I began to contemplate a nap but had no idea of the time of day. I had not looked at a clock, a watch, or a phone since I’d awoken.

It was insisted that we not leave town without a stop in the shop that sold a chocolate specialty found only in that region. Needing no persuasion, I savored the sweetness on my tongue and the happiness in my heart.

After sunset the temperature cooled to one where you don’t know the number but you know it’s perfect. Story sharing carried on past midnight until the moon had risen through the trees that surrounded the terrace and we surrendered to our time coming to a close.

Returning home, I saw that one need not cross the Atlantic to be restored by simple pleasures. I had crossed the Missouri River to Iowa and celebrated the simple.

Coach Koenig

Are there simple pleasures awaiting you nearby?

Is it time to allow yourself a break?

What can you be present to today?

I could feel it before I could see it.  I knew immediately that something was off.  I walked down the courthouse corridor, unaware at first that I was walking directly down the battle line.  I spotted my client and his family nervously waiting for me.  I did not recognize, because they were strangers to me, that his wife and her relatives sat on the bench opposite.  As soon as I stopped and stood before my client and his family I could see them all avoiding any direct glances over my shoulder.  The “other side” was behind me.  The tension bore down on me like their eyes on my back.  I was suddenly hated, feared, judged, and maybe even mocked.

I have been sitting in the courtroom with clients a lot lately.  As much as we strive to adequately prepare our clients for the courthouse experience, our efforts fall short.  How can I prepare someone for how it will feel to have your soon-to-be former family now staring hatefully at you from across the room?  How can I warn them that they will feel like they have been punched in the stomach when they hear their spouse of several years coldly testify that their contributions to the marriage were minimal?  How can I describe the image they will see when they stand up, turn around to leave, and see families on opposite sides of the pews not smiling in support of a union like they once did, but instead glaring or crying about the dismantling of it?

Nevermind the surrounding dynamics for a minute, how do I delicately deliver news to my client that the judge was not persuaded at all by a detail they hold dear?  How do I convey everything that happened behind closed doors while they sit silently in a large courtroom with their spouse sitting mere feet away – the very spouse who they once laid in bed nose-to-nose with whispering into the night?

The courtroom serves as a crushing blow to an already difficult divorce.  But when settlement negotiations fail, and your best efforts at being objective and reasonable, are not successful, you may find yourself without a choice.  If you find yourself on the way to the courthouse, the following may be helpful:

Be Present.  Pay attention to the outcome you are seeking.  It is tempting to start recalling every negative piece of evidence you can about your marriage.  Be mindful of the big picture and what you actually hope to achieve in the end – the life you want to lead in the future.  Write it down as a reminder.  Do not distract yourself with old dirt.

Bring Support.  The best supporters are not those who will readily bash your former spouse.  The best support comes from those who are specifically focused on how you are doing – how you are feeling.  Those in your life who will bring comfort to you, rather than bring a fan to fuel the fire.

Trust your lawyer.  Lawyers are instinctively competitive.  We want to have more wins than losses on the ledger sheet.  We work hard to prioritize your needs and goals to get the most from the top of your list in court.  Listen to your lawyer.  Trust that they are bringing the evidence in the best way possible for you and when they say that it may be time to let go of an issue, they do so with sincerity.

Most people live their lives hoping to never step foot inside of a courtroom.  These suggestions in approaching that dreaded day can make the experience easier and the focus on your future clearer.

Angela Dunne

One of the first “unknowns” you may encounter when you begin the divorce process is who will get to stay in the marital residence while the divorce is pending. Regardless of whether your marital residence is an apartment or house, whether you’re renting or you own the property, the court can order one spouse to vacate the residence and award possession to the other.

A spouse who is seeking to remain in the home (or, a spouse who is looking to remove his or her spouse from the home) may file a motion for exclusive possession of the marital residence. A hearing will be held on the motion, and the judge will decide who should be granted exclusive possession of the home.

Judges consider the following factors when deciding who should remain in the home:

  • Custody

If one spouse is awarded physical custody of the children, usually that spouse will be awarded possession of the home as well. Judges seek to minimize disruption in the children’s lives. Allowing them to remain in their house is less change.

  • Ownership

If one spouse owned the home prior to the marriage, then the home is likely going to be considered that spouse’s premarital property. A judge may be more inclined to award permanent possession to the owning spouse. However, this factor alone may not be determinative for who should be allowed to remain temporarily.

  • Cost

Typically, the spouse who is awarded possession will also be ordered to pay the mortgage (or rent), utilities, and other similar expenses. The judge may take into consideration as to who can afford these expenses. However, if the spouse who wishes to remain in the home cannot afford it, he or she may ask that the other spouse pay the household expenses.

  • Likely Final Outcome

Depending on the circumstances of your particular case, it may be clear who is going to remain in the home post-divorce. This can be a reason for a judge to award that spouse temporary possession.

  • Housing Alternatives

Let’s say Spouse A is seeking to have Spouse B excluded from the home. If Spouse B has friends or family in the area to stay with temporarily, a judge may be more inclined to grant Spouse A temporary possession.

  • Special Needs

If one spouse has a health condition that would make moving from the marital residence a hardship, which could be good reason to allow him or her to remain in the home during the proceedings.

  • In-Home Business

If a spouse runs a business from the home which could not be readily moved, say an in-home daycare business, the spouse who runs the business would have a strong argument for being awarded possession.

  • Domestic Violence

Abusive behavior is another consideration for excluding the abusive spouse from the property.

Of course, every divorce case is different, and the unique facts of your case will influence the judge’s decision. If staying in your home is important to you, talk to your Koenig│Dunne attorneys about your reasons so that a strong case can be made for you at the hearing.

Lindsay Belmont

Dealing with debt can be overwhelming. Your path to a fresh financial start doesn’t have to be. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy process can be broken down into 7 clear steps.

  1. Meet with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. During a free initial consultation, a bankruptcy attorney will listen to and analyze your situation to determine whether or not a bankruptcy is a viable solution for you to deal with your debt.
  2. Pay a set fee for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. For most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, you will pay a set fee to your attorney, which is due in full prior to the case being prepared and filed. This is in contrast to a retainer that your attorney bills against for time spent at an hourly rate.
  3. Provide your attorney with documents. In your Chapter 7 bankruptcy paperwork, you are required to list all that you own, all the creditors you owe, and your monthly household income and expenses. As such, your bankruptcy attorney will request documentation and information relevant to drafting the paperwork such as:
    1. Tax Returns. Your last two (2) years State and Federal returns. If you have any tax returns that have not been filed as required, you must file them with the proper taxing authority prior to your bankruptcy being drafted and filed.
    2. Income Information. Your last six (6) months of income, which are typically paystubs.
    3. A List of assets. You will complete a handout with an inventory of your assets, including house, cars, household goods, electronics, etc. For many items you will use garage sale or Craigslist values.
    4. A List of household expenses. You will provide an itemized list of household expenses, including mortgage/rent, utilities, food, clothing, insurance, etc. In preparing this information, it will be helpful to review bank statements for at least the last six months.
    5. A List of Creditors. You will receive a copy of a comprehensive bankruptcy-based credit report. If a creditor is not included, you must provide us with a list of creditors, including account number and creditor’s address. Medical debts and pay day loans are common examples of debts that may not show up on your credit report.
  4. Complete a Short Credit Counseling Course. You must complete a credit counseling course prior to filing. The course can be completed online and takes about one hour. The course completion certificate is only valid for 180 days, so you need to make sure you don’t complete the course until you are close to filing your case.
  5. Review and sign your Chapter 7 bankruptcy paperwork. Your bankruptcy attorney will meet with you to review the bankruptcy paperwork to ensure that it accurate and complete. Your bankruptcy attorney will then file your case with the bankruptcy court. Once filed, your creditors cannot start or continue any efforts to collect a debt. This includes phone calls, letters, emails, filing lawsuits, and continuing garnishments.
  6. Attend one bankruptcy court hearing. About 4-5 weeks after you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will attend a bankruptcy court hearing with your bankruptcy attorney called a First Meeting of Creditors. You should not fret too much because creditors rarely show up to the meeting. Also, the name implies that there is a second meeting, which is misleading because this is the only time you will have to go to court. At that meeting, you testify under oath in front of a Trustee (who is not a judge), that the information contained in your bankruptcy paperwork is true and accurate. You usually spend less than 10 minutes answering the Trustee’s questions.
  7. Debts Are No Longer Owed. Typically, 60 days after the court hearing the bankruptcy court enters the discharge order, eliminating your legal obligation on your debt. The discharge does not apply to student loans, child support, and most tax debt. Because of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are freed from past debt and can enjoy your fresh financial start.

Figuring out how to handle your debt by yourself can be overwhelming. Contact Koenig│Dunne today and schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys who can help you become debt free through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Patrick Patino

Have you ever watched yourself become a mistake magnet? I have.

First I type “rick” instead of “nick” in an email about an important business meeting. Then, instead of arriving ten minutes early to a roomful of professionals awaiting me, I arrive ten minutes late. Because three is a charm, I soon realize that I failed to inform a key person about the meeting.

I make one mistake and I feel embarrassed by my kerfuffle. I make two mistakes and I feel both worried about what the other person thinks and guilty for being a source of suffering. I make three mistakes, and my shame is in full force.

None of us likes to make mistakes, even though we all do. We make many mistakes, but most of them are only seen by us. We correct or hide them before others know.

When I amass multiple mistakes involving the same situation, project, or person, the judger in me gets going big time.

What is wrong with you?

Can’t you get anything right?

How is anyone going to think you are competent?

Those are the gentler thoughts.

Compassion is the antidote to judgement. It is exactly what I get when I send the email to apologize, when I enter the room and apologize, and when I pick up the phone to apologize. Everyone is kind, yet I feel like a walking apology not deserving of the generosity of spirit.

If I cannot forgive myself for the times when I amass mistakes, it means I attach judgment to erring more than once in a given time frame. Each of my errors were worthy of forgiveness, yet I put a cap on how many times I was allowed to be human.

Having said that, I know my failures are opportunities for both feedback and constructive curiosity.

Is there a pattern to observe?

What else was going on at the time?

What else is true?

With some real reflection and truth telling, I can take responsibility for my wrongs without blaming or excuses but with a broader picture of the situation. I may have screwed up royally and I may also notice that in addition to my blunders I did a boatload of things right. I can also remember that my intention was always to do my best, despite my disappointing actions.

As I shifted my focus from my cutting self-criticism to rebuilding the relationships where trust was likely damaged, I began making my amends and vowed to do better going forward. Fortunately for me, the forgiveness of others made it possible. The kindness of others helped me find my faith that I could learn the lessons here for me without shame.

Coach Koenig

“It was SO much fun!!” they cried in a collective chorus as they greeted me.  My daughters had just returned to my house after 12 days away with their dad, stepmom, and his extended family.  I unabashedly let the tears fall down my face as I pulled them in for a tight three-way hug.

Knowing my chatty girls, I had prepared for uninterrupted time for them to tell me their tales.  I knew if I wanted to get the details of the trip, I had to strike while they were hot and before they got to their friends on their phones. I had proudly planned ahead.  We plopped down on the sofa together as they predictably started squabbling over who would tell something first.

There was swimming, golfing (more specifically getting to drive the golf cart), badminton in the dark, a haunted house adventure, fishing for hours, a heartfelt reading, and tears at their grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary ceremony where they renewed their vows.  There were inside jokes to be shared, funny family spats to be retold, and new favorite foods to be recounted.

They went on for a solid two hours.  I barely got a bathroom break.  They showed me videos of their fun, delighted in all of their story details, and seemed to never pause for a breath.

I had not planned for my feelings.  I had not planned for the sadness to wash over me I as I fondly recalled being in that same fishing spot with their grandpa teaching me how to fish or being in the kitchen with their nana laughing at her stories.  I missed this former family tradition in which I used to be included.

I gulped down jealousy as my girls talked about new experiences that I missed and detailed all the fun they had – without me.  I set aside annoyances when they inadvertently told me a slight they had experienced from another family member – all normal occurrences after days spent in confined spaces with each other.

I could have been snarky.  It would have been so easy to sneak in a snide comment or two.  I could have been dismissive and said “that sounds great” and moved on with my day until I was reminded again that my contribution to them at this time was allowing them to live this rich vacation all over again.  It simply wasn’t about me.  It was about them absolutely ecstatic to see me and share everything.  It was about me holding the space wide open in positivity to support their time and experiences with their dad and his family. It was about knowing that a precious privilege of parenting is being present in today’s moment despite being absent from any other.

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.