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.

An unspoken judgment wafted through the rear corridors of my mind every time I heard the word. People kept talking about seeking “distractions”. Meanwhile, I tried to avoid them.

I’ve long seen distractions as something that derail me from my path. The phone call that turns the broiling garlic bread to black char. The rabbit hole of the web as I procrastinate starting this week’s blog. The half package of Girl Scout Thin Mints that takes me away from a good cry.

Distractions can interfere with our goals, the precious present moment, and from what we don’t want to see. Too often in a rush, distractions only seemed to slow me down. I didn’t need distractions, I thought. Until I did.

Like most in the Midwest, many hours each day in the month of March were focused on the virus. Every day has been filled with checking in with loved ones, tackling technology challenges, and navigating self-quarantine while staying informed about the constantly changing coronavirus climate.

Who wouldn’t want a distraction?

Distraction is a useful tool for temporarily taking one’s attention away from extreme anxiety. We all have our own worries. My son in hot spot Brooklyn in the close quarters of a co-living space. My stepdaughter in an intensive care unit with an infection. My 70-year-old brother returning from international flights with a cough and fever.

Distraction gives time for the worry to subside. Distraction gives us a break. But distraction is temporary. Eventually, I have to face that which I am seeking to be distracted from.

I may need a break from technology tensions, yet I still need to take time to get those passwords reset. I may listen to my favorite playlist to ease my mind, and I still need to plan my budget.

Even our diversions need not take us away from our intentions but rather move us toward them:

I rejuvenate by researching healthy recipes…to be physically well
I meditate…to be spiritually developing
I play backgammon…to be a loving partner

Deciding my distractions in advance definitely makes it easier. Having them in writing means I can pick the one that’s right for the moment. Distractions action me closer to my most deeply held intentions rather than away from them.

When my focus is failing or my energy is dropping, I can appreciate my distractions. It’s time for setting aside our old beliefs and for using every tool we’ve got.

Coach Koenig

What intentions are guiding you right now?

What are your best distractions?

Do you have a judgment or belief it’s time to set aside?

“I don’t want to go to Dad’s.  I have all of my school stuff here and I don’t want to pack it up.”  I knew it would come.  Last week was “I can’t wait to go” and this week it was bemoaning the same fact.  Co-parenting during COVID-19 continues.

This week in my lawyer role, we saw the good, bad, and the ugly in co-parenting surface. I used to say that divorce sometimes brings out the worst in parents.  Now I know better.  Divorcing during a pandemic beats that by a mile.

The Good

For the most part, parents continue to follow their parenting schedules without incident.  Life for these families is going on as normal.  Fundamentally, these co-parents are doing a great job of not upsetting their child’s normal parenting routine/schedules when all of their other schedules have fallen by the wayside.  And if these parents are anything like me, they are probably relieved when transition time comes after homeschooling their kids for any amount of time.

The Bad

Then we move to those parents who parent differently and refuse to communicate with one another about their needs (for themselves and their children).  Everything is transmitted in bits and pieces through their children.  A parent finds out the other parent isn’t staying at home (like they are) by hearing about trips to Walmart or visits to the park to play with friends.  There is no consistency between households and as a result, children are met with mixed messages.

The Ugly

The worst calls we received this week were those of parents in distress because the other parent was withholding the children for an exchange under the excuse of COVID-19.  Children are already saddened and stressed about not seeing teachers, classmates, and coaches.  Add to this that now they believe they will not see their parent for an indefinite amount of time.  

For co-parents, communication is critical during these days. There is nothing in the state-issued mandates that prevents parents from exchanging their children, nor will there be even if we move to a shelter in place scenario. 

As always, it means putting the love of your children above any negative feelings you have about your former partner.  For some I realize that is a Herculean task, but persist.  Your children need consistency, love, and connection with both parents during this overwhelming and scary time. 

If you are need of additional co-parenting support during this time, please call Koenig Dunne (402) 346-1132 for legal advice with one of our lawyers.  In addition, I am happy to offer Co-Parenting Coaching.  I can do this via web chat, phone conference or email.

Angela Dunne

After your divorce has been filed, you might find that there are temporary issues that need to be resolved before the final Decree is entered and your divorce is complete.  Most commonly, after parents separate households and finances, a temporary child support award is necessary to ensure that the minor children’s financial needs are met during the pendency of the divorce. 

If you and your spouse are unable to agree upon the amount of temporary support to be paid each month, your attorney can file a motion for temporary support asking the judge to determine how much child support should be paid each month and when the support obligation should start.   

There are a number of steps involved in obtaining a temporary child support order from the court:

  1. Discuss your need for temporary child support with your attorney.
  2. Your lawyer requests a hearing date from the judge and prepares the necessary documents, including affidavits
  3. A temporary hearing is held.
  4. The temporary order awarding child support entered by the court. 
  5. If child support is ordered to be paid through automatic income withholding, the payor’s employer will be notified. 
  6. The payor’s employer sends the child support amount to the Nebraska Child Support Payment Center in Lincoln (NCSPC).
  7. You contact the NCSPC to set up an account to receive the money.
  8. NCSPC transfers/sends the money to you.

If you are in need of temporary child support during your divorce, schedule a consultation with a Koenig|Dunne attorney today. 

Angela Lennon

I lifted the dirt filled tray out from beneath the radiator in the kitchen. I pulled back the plastic wrap that had turned it into a mini greenhouse. I gasped. The salvia had sprouted. 

It was just days after the World Health Organization declared the pandemic when the tiny threads of green popped out.   A week earlier, when the country was commencing its collapse under coronavirus, I’d sought solace in purchasing potting soil instead of toilet paper. 

Each morning I say hello to my seedlings. I eagerly examine them.  I gently water them from the cheerful can that once held Tropical Cherry Sparkling Water.  

Connecting with nature. Focusing on what is in front of me. Doing what I can.  Each small act that is within my control helps me feel less out of control about so many questions. 

Will Jan be able to continue her chemotherapy at the medical center? 

Will Benjamin in Brooklyn be safe in his small co-living space? 

Will Lori on the coast get to have her Nebraska spring wedding? 

With the recession now a reality, I recall moments of 2008. I sat sorting the bills—then still arriving on paper—into stacks. Delay these by 30 days. These by 60.  These I must call forth courage to have a courageous conversation. 

My family and the law firm made it through that winter. And then spring came, just as it always had. It came that year and the next and the next. By 2011 we were having our best year yet. 

More winters would come. More darkness and disappointment. But spring. Spring has never failed me. 

I study my sweet salvia each day as a harbinger of hope. And as sure as the salvia would sprout, spring arrived today.  Seasons come and go. I have not just hope but plenty of faith that I can count on spring and other new seasons to return again. 

Coach Koenig 

What small acts ground you in a time of uncertainty? 

What signs of hope do you see? 

What can you be sure of when life is unpredictable? 

“I can’t wait to go to Dad’s!!  HE will let me go to my friend’s house.”  Despite all the instructions not to, both of my hands instinctively went to my face and pulled my eyes and cheeks downward.  And here it was – co-parenting during COVID19.

My eldest daughter and I had just traveled over her spring break from school right at the onset of the pandemic breaking.  My youngest had gone to Washington D.C. for a pre-planned school trip during the same time period.  As the news was breaking around us, I knew that we potentially could have been at risk due to our travel so I was strictly enforcing boundaries and voluntarily containing our household.

My teenage daughters were distressed by this decision to say the least.  They were not afraid to act out and rage against me.  They knew the ultimate weapon – to tell me they wanted their dad more than me.  Fortunately I am a master manipulator spotter.  While their words stung for an instant, I knew better than to engage.  I turned back to my sewing project and said, “Yes, you will see your dad soon enough.”

As soon as they had safely stomped off to their rooms I texted their dad.  “Hey, heads up that the girls think you are going to let them go to all of their friends’ houses next week.  Due to our travel I am not letting them go anywhere.  Obviously you have your own household rules – but just wanted to let you know how I am handling this.”  He replied “okay thanks.”

What did that mean?  Was he really going to let them?  Was he going to pierce the protective bubble I had placed my baby girls in??  What should I do?  I felt the anxiety start to turn in my stomach.

I took a deep breath.  He will not harm them.  I know this.  I believe this.  And now I need to show that I trust this. 

Sure enough the first evening they were with their dad, I received a text from him.  He wanted me to weigh in with him and 2 other sets of neighbor parents on whether the neighbor kids could hang out like they normally do.  I wanted to start crying.  He asked for MY input!!  He trusted me back.  He continued, “Of course I am not letting them go anywhere else.”

During this uncertain time, your co-parenting relationship may be challenged in ways it never has been.  You will have to trust each other and remember that your co-parent loves your children as much as you do.

If you are in need of additional co-parenting support during this time, please call Koenig Dunne at (402) 346-1132.  I provide Co-Parenting Coaching for parents considering divorce, working through a legal action, and post-divorce parents. Added bonus – this service is available to anyone (not just residents of Nebraska).

Angela Dunne

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and in the context of divorce, this adage rings true. If you are considering separating from your spouse and filing for divorce, it is important that you prepare for both the legal process and the fact that you and your spouse will soon be living apart. From budgeting to finding emotional support, a pre-separation checklist should rival the importance, if not the thickness, of a commercial airliner takeoff manual. However, if you only have the time or the energy for a few pre-separation preparations, then here are two actions that all spouses should consider before separating from their spouse:

  1. Equally Divide Joint Bank Accounts: Many married couples share one or two joint bank accounts that comprise the entirety of their savings. Especially in this situation, it is critical to equally divide bank accounts prior to separating and filing for divorce. Without doing so, a spouse risks losing access to his or her only source of liquid assets should the other spouse drain the entirety of those accounts out of fear or spite. And while this situation may be remedied through litigation in court, the process to do so can take months or longer and can leave a spouse without the funds necessary to afford an attorney.
  2. Fairly Divide All Personal Property: If you are the spouse relocating to a new residence, assume that all belongings you leave behind in the marital residence will never be seen again. This is because courts have a difficult time making rulings on personal property issues in the process of litigation. Therefore, it is important that you secure all personal property and belongings that you would like from the marital residence before you leave. A good rule of thumb is that you may take half of the items (or equivalent value) acquired during marriage and all of the personal property that you brought into the marriage. If time or safety prevents you from doing so before you leave, then take date-stamped pictures of all items in the home that you believe have any value, and make an itemized, room-by-room list of all personal property in the home on the day you leave.

A good pre-separation checklist will have twenty items on it, not two, but every preparation you take counts. Our legal team at Koenig|Dunne has decades of experience advising clients on how to prepare for separation and divorce. Contact us today to learn more.

David Pontier

 It is not unusual for financial circumstances to change after a divorce, and Nebraska law allows for either ex-spouse to make a request for modification of support, be it a paying spouse who can no longer afford his or her support payments or a nonpaying spouse in need of additional support.

There may be a justification for modifying alimony if it can be proven that there has been a “material change in circumstances,” usually meaning there has been a substantial change in income for either party.

If your decree states that your alimony order is “unmodifiable” then it cannot be changed. Also, it cannot be modified to award alimony if it wasn’t awarded in the original decree. 

A request to modify alimony for the purpose of seeking additional alimony also cannot be filed if the time for payment of alimony allowed under your original decree has passed.

If you or your spouse has had a material change in circumstances, you may seek to have alimony modified. Some examples of those kind of changes in circumstance can include serious illness or the loss of a job.

If you think you have a basis to modify your alimony, contact Koenig Dunne today to discuss your modification options.

Angela Lennon

“You need a haircut,” he said, looking me straight in the eye. I felt the sting. I looked in the mirror then decided not to argue with a five-year-old.  He went on. “You look like a lion.”

Feeling bad about my hair has been a part of my history since childhood. More than one home haircut left my bangs chopped to the top of my forehead. In first grade a big section of the right side of my head was shaved for a surgery. One well-intended adult said “Well, you’re still a nice girl,” and I knew the rest of the sentence.

In a family of ten, the beauty budget wasn’t big.  No bows and barrettes. The city bus took us downtown to Capital Beauty School for haircuts.  When I was old enough, I would give my mom home permanents, wrapping strands of her hair in small squares of tissue paper and rolling them onto pink plastic rods. I can still smell the stink of the chemical I squeezed from the small plastic bottle onto her head, dabbing the drips as they ran down her neck.

A teen in the hippie era, my thin straight hair hung down to the middle of my back through college. When I left the Midwest for law school in Boston, a friend offered me a free head of curls. At 22 I finally liked what I saw in the mirror.

As a young professional in the era of Dress for Success, I alternated between a short bob and pulling my hair back tightly on the sides. My mother once handed me $15 saying kindly, “Do something with your hair.”

After my divorce I did. I sheared my hair super short as though I were joining the army or a monastery.

For years following, my hair hid under hats until they became my signature accessory.  More years passed.  I went from lawyer to life coach.  I took on another new do that some would call the “Did you forget to comb?” look.

I loved it. Many didn’t. I kept it, nonetheless. These days a Monday morning meeting might mean a curling iron and a Saturday night date might mean looking messy.

Rather than bristle when someone opines on my appearance, I hope next time I can take in the feedback with a chuckle as though a child had just commented on my “just got out of bed coiffure.” Mostly I want to check the mirror to make sure I look like me.

I can choose or change with any season.  For now, I’m sticking with lion.

Coach Koenig

Are you open to feedback? Do you take it personally?

Do you change your appearance to please others?

Do you feel like the “true you” when you get ready for your day?

It was a startling statement.  “You need to go to the hospital right now for a CT scan to rule out stroke.”  I blinked without focusing and shook my head in disbelief.  I had arrived at my doctor’s office with the confidence that she would give me an antibiotic to alleviate my self-diagnosed sinus infection (despite no actual symptoms).  How else could I explain the pain in my head and the blind spots I was having in both eyes?  A Google search had indicated it could be a sinus infection…

I arrived at the hospital gripping the referral sheet – fear keeping one foot in front of the other. I sent texts to my mom in Oregon, my best friend in Florida, and my business partners to advise them I would be late returning to the office. 

I sat in the waiting area and my eye caught a couple – one clearly reassuring the other.  I was scared and felt alone.  I honestly didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.  This turn of events had left me reeling. 

I felt her presence before I saw her.  Instinct made me look up from the study of my hands and there she was.  Susan.  My long-time business partner had arrived to sit with me.  She arrived approximately 12 minutes after I had sent her the text.  I will not soon forget the sheer relief that washed over and surprised me.  I didn’t realize how much I needed someone until she was there.

Being in an unhappy marriage is one of the loneliest spaces in which you arrive.  When married, there is a perpetual expectation/hope/desire to have your life partner support you in your joys, sorrows, chores, and responsibilities.  When they constantly fail to meet that role, the isolation is numbing.

The loneliness that happens when you are divorced and single is a different kind.  It is seeped in wistful heart tugs of what once was and was lost.  I could have had a spouse sitting here holding my hand as I waited for my name to be called.  But I don’t.  Until I did – my substitute spouse.  Susan touched my hand and resolutely told me that answers were on the way.  (And they were – no stroke!)

Substitute spouses are everywhere.  It’s my brother-in-law installing an electrical socket for me.  It’s my co-worker catching a movie with me.  It’s my best friend texting me most nights from 10 – 10:30 about politics, Schitt’s Creek, and when I can adopt another cat.  It’s my mom making a homemade meal for my girls and me to enjoy tonight.

Do not overlook those in your life who provide the support of your joys, sorrows, chores, and responsibilities and do not underestimate your need for them.   I am grateful now that I no longer have that blind spot.

Angela Dunne

One of the most common questions people have at the initial stage in their divorce is whether they are eligible to receive alimony.  In Nebraska there is not a specific calculation that determines whether alimony will be awarded. Rather, an award of alimony is left to the discretion of the judge or negotiating between the parties.  There are several factors the court may consider when making an alimony determination, but the outcome will be most impacted by the unique facts of your case.

The more information about your case that you can provide to your attorney, the easier it will be for your attorney to perform an alimony analysis. 

This information includes:

  1. A history of the interruptions in your education or career for the benefit of your spouse, including transfers or moves due to your spouse’s employment
  2. A history of the interruptions in your education or career for raising children, including periods during which you worked part-time
  3. Your complete educational background, including the dates of your schooling or training and degrees earned
  4. Your work history, including the names of your employers, the dates of your employment, your duties, your pay, and the reasons you left
  5. Any pensions or other benefits lost due to the interruption of your career for the benefit of the marriage
  6. Your health history, including any current diagnoses, treatments, limitations, and medications
  7. Your monthly living expenses, including anticipated future expenses such as health insurance and tax on alimony
  8. A complete list of the debts for you and your spouse
  9. Income for you and your spouse, including all sources

There are other factors to consider, such as additional contributions you made to the marriage, upcoming medical treatment, or lack of jobs in the field in which you were formerly employed.

At Koenig|Dunne, we know no two alimony cases are alike. If you’re interested in spousal support, contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss the specific facts of your case as it relates to alimony in Nebraska. 

Angela Lennon

“You can’t say no to Virginia,” my fellow volunteer smiled, shaking her head. Rows of us lined up at desks, a phone on one hand, a pen in the other, marking off names on our respective call lists. We made requests to those we phoned on behalf of Virginia’s many social justice passion projects.

All because Virginia asked.

Virginia was close to my mother’s age, but she appeared ageless to me with her sparkling eyes and  ever-present smile.  Her long straight hair that fell to the middle of her back was already beginning to gray when we first met decades ago. But her energy always seemed to  exceed that of the young activists she attracted.

Virginia was married 61 years before she was widowed.  A few years later she saw the death of one of her seven children. Over time she cut her tresses into a bob, but always remained a timeless beauty who was always up to something good.

A couple of weeks ago Virginia wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper in support of two women running for public office. I was shocked to see her words “I am a 91-year-old widow.”

This week I opened an envelope neatly hand addressed to me in blue ink. At the top of a two-page letter were these words:

                                I’m sending this to everyone I know.

Virginia set forth a compelling argument in support of her chosen candidate for the presidency. Like so many Americans,  thoughts of this year’s election bring a host of opinions and emotions. But the overriding ones for me upon reading Virginia’s missive was that at every age we can be engaged in the world in which we want to make a difference.

Thank you, Virginia. Whether it’s to your candidate or another, it looks like I may have a donation of some dollars to make, or perhaps another one of those phone banks to show up for. 

After all, you can’t say no to Virginia.

Coach Koenig

Where do you find inspiration for being engaged with your life?

Does the thought of your age limit you?

Who might you inspire through an invitation or a small action?  

As I munched my extra buttery fun size bag of popcorn, I knew that coming alone was right.  Do not depress your friends, I’d decided.

Each year I see the Oscar nominated short documentary films. While the topics are compelling, those who enjoy movies for escape and entertainment might not put down money to see such sorrow on the big screen. I watched:

  • The body of the once lively little refugee now lying in diapers, tube fed in their bed in a coma of hopelessness. Like hundreds of other children, they’ve succumbed to a condition known as “resignation syndrome” in response to the traumas of war and exile.
  • The South Korean diver who retrieved bodies of students on the Sewol ferry who drowned after a ferry sunk,  killing 326 passengers.
  • St. Louis Superman Bruce Franks, Jr., the rapper and community activist turned senator following the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. After the violent deaths of both his best friend and his godson, anxiety and depression became so acute he planned to take his own life.

Why spend three hours of a perfectly lovely Sunday afternoon taking in haunting real-life horrors? Was this how one should pass the day of the week traditionally reserved for rest and rejuvenation?

As our tourism department declares about my home state, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”  But I got what I came for: a dose of bitter medicine that left me better for having taken it. Here’s how:

                Perspective:  There is nothing like a clear picture of the pain of others to adjust one’s perspective lens of the petty. Do I complain about a single bag of trash being missed by the collectors last Tuesday when 15 million people around the world live in dump sites? 

                Possibility:  Hundreds of thousands of families abandon their homes and flea with their children across entire continents simply seeking safety from being raped or bombed.  What’s possible for someone in a secure city who has never spent a single day of her life fighting for survival?

                Purpose:  Each hero said “Yes” to their call and acted when the time came. The devoted diver who entered the deep waters at dark. The parent who tenderly stroked hope back into the body of their little one. The homeboy who carried signs and later donned a suit to sit in the legislature.

It may not immediately feel like Sunday fun for restorative relaxation, but a few hours in a dark theater left me walking out with enough inspiration to light my path for much longer than the week ahead.

Coach Koenig

What reminds you to maintain perspective?

What possibility are you open to exploring?

What are you clear you are called to say “Yes” to?

In Nebraska, a parent wishing to change a child’s name may petition the court for a name change. However, changing a minor child’s name can be a complex legal process. For example, you must file your Petition and give formal notice to the other legal parent that you intend to change your minor child’s name. This Notice along with the hearing date must also be published in a local newspaper. If the other parent consents to the name change, he or she must also complete a “consent” form. 

If the other parent does not agree or consent to the name change, the Court will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine whether changing the minor child’s name is in his or her best interests. In Nebraska, the Court will grant a name change “only when the substantial welfare of the child requires the surname to be changed.”

A review of Nebraska case law sets forth the following factors that the Court may consider when determining if a name change for a minor child is appropriate:

  1. Misconduct by one of the child’s parents;
  2. A parent’s failure to support the child;
  3. Parental failure to maintain contact with the child;
  4. Length of time that a surname has been used for or by the child;
  5. Whether the child’s surname is different from the surname of the custodial parent;
  6. Child’s reasonable preference for one of the surnames;
  7. The effect of the change of the child’s surname on the preservation and development of the child’s relationship with each parent;
  8. The degree of community respect associated with the child’s present surname and proposed surname;
  9. The difficulties, harassment, or embarrassment that the child may experience from bearing the present or proposed surname; and
  10. The identification of the child as part of a family unit.

At Koenig|Dunne, we know that a legal name can have a powerful impact on your identity.  If you’re interested in changing your minor child’s name, contact us today to schedule a consultation to discuss the legal procedure and analysis of the factors set forth above as they relate to your case.

Angela Lennon

Whether you dread it or celebrate it with everything from drugstore candy to animated emojis, Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore. From our childhood memories of shoe boxes stuffed with cute colored cards from classmates to the 25 billion dollar industry of today, we’re bound to think about love. (And if you’re me, also a bit about the working conditions of the woman in the rose factory outside of Bogota.)

Avoiding images of romance is impossible if you own a phone, a television, or a set of eyeballs. Pictures of proposals and candlelit dinners can call forth not just love but also loneliness. If you’re not a romantic at heart (hey, not everyone scores a four on the enneagram test) or not in a relationship, there’s still lots to love about love.

Love comes in many forms. Perfecting your piano concerto playlist. Solving a software stumbling block. Your beloved ferret or your favorite falafel shop. My friend Matt says that we all should find “one thing to love.”  I say, “at least.”

Love is for everyone.  We have all stumbled through an important project, performed poorly under pressure, forgotten what’s most important in a moment that really mattered. Just because I went through an entire interview yesterday with lipstick smeared on my big front teeth doesn’t mean I’m not deserving of love, right? Being human doesn’t disqualify us from deserving love in our lives.

Love is everywhere. The brain tends to filter out evidence that conflicts with our existing beliefs. If you think there is no love to be found, you won’t find it. In fact, you’ll search for signs of a loveless life. When I remember that the truth is everywhere, I find it in the smile of my barista and the first bits of green poking up from the late winter earth. Believe in love and start gathering proof of its existence.

Love heals. Ask anyone you delivered a pan of lasagna to after the death of their dog.

Love is the one thing you can give away and count on having more of. A listening ear, a small chore done without being asked, a thoughtful word of acknowledgment, that text that requires nothing in return.  It may not return to you immediately or directly, but it will expand all around you I promise.

Love costs us nothing more than a choice. We may not feel loved. We might not feel in the mood. But even if we don’t want to, we can be willing. Choose to be loving.

Love endures. My sister-in-law Sharon was born on Valentine’s Day. She received a diagnosis of an incurable condition not long after my brother Mel fell in love with her while she helped him heal a bum knee. Mel was beside her until the end of their long and loving marriage. Sharon’s body is gone, but I can feel her love for my brother pressing on my heart right now as surely as I press my fingers on this keyboard.

We all need something to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.  Here’s sending you some love to go out and find yours today.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Coach Koenig

What thoughts and feelings come up for you on this day?

Where do you see evidence of love in your life?

Are you willing to give or receive some love today?

We know one of the most common questions and concerns clients have when facing a divorce is whether alimony will be a factor in their case.

Unlike child support, there isn’t an alimony calculator in Nebraska.  Rather, alimony awards are left to the discretion of the judge or in an agreement reached between spouses. 

However, there are several factors that the court may consider when making an alimony determination, including but not limited to:

  1. The length of your marriage. 
    • The longer you were married, the more likely it is that alimony may be a factor in your case if other factors (set forth below) are also present
  2. A spouse’s need for alimony
  3. A spouse’s ability to pay alimony
  4. Significant disparity in earning potentials or incomes
  5. Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including interruption of a career to care or children or support the other spouse’s career
  6. If further education or training is needed by one spouse to obtain gainful employment
  7. Serious health issues of one spouse that may impact future employment opportunities

The ultimate test in determining whether an alimony award is appropriate will be most impacted by the unique facts of your case.

Talk with an experience Koenig|Dunne divorce attorney to assess whether alimony may be a factor in your case.

Angela Lennon

The new year brought new changes to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines. If you currently pay or receive child support in Nebraska, a re-calculation under the new rules could drastically change the amount you pay or receive, respectively.

So, what changed?

Monthly Support

The child support tables (found here) have been amended. The new tables affect each parent’s monthly share, and application of the new tables will almost certainly lower the amount of child support owed.

Total Monthly Income

The Nebraska Child Support Guidelines directs how we determine a parent’s “total monthly income” for child support purposes. Courts can consider a parent’s earning capacity rather than his or her actual income under certain circumstances. The amended rule expands the criteria courts must consider when there is an earning capacity argument, including the following factors: the parent’s residence, employment and earnings history, job skills, educational attainment, literacy, age, health, and employment barriers, including criminal record, record of seeking work, prevailing local earning levels, and availability of employment.

Additionally, the amended rule clarifies that a parent’s incarceration is not a voluntary reduction in income or underemployment in establishing or modifying child support. Voluntary reductions in income (e.g., choosing to work at a lower-paying job) can be grounds to defend against a reduction in child support. Involuntary reductions in income, however, are generally not.

Total Combined Income Increase

The income range for total combined net income of both parents has increased from $15,000 to $20,000. If you and your co-parent have a combined net income that is in excess of $20,000, the new guidelines direct how much additional child support could be ordered above and beyond what the basic calculation shows.

If you and your co-parent have a child support calculation with a net income of $15,000 – $19,999 and an additional support calculation worksheet was used – this new change will impact the amount of child support due.  

Minimum Support

This rule has been amended to provide that, in cases except for disability or incarceration, a minimum monthly support of $50 or 10% of the payor’s net income, whichever is greater, per month should be set. Previously, there was no carve-out for cases involving disability or incarceration.

Uninsured Medical Expenses

Under the prior rules, the first $480 of uninsured medical expenses was taken into account in the child support calculation. Now, that amount has been reduced to $250. If your child support order includes language regarding a threshold amount of $480 being satisfied before you and your co-parent share in your children’s uninsured medical expenses, a modification of child support could lower that amount to $250.

Cash Medical Support

When cash medical support is ordered, the new rules allow for that amount to be capped at 5% of the payor’s gross monthly income. Previously, the amount was capped at 3%.

How Do These Changes Affect Me?

Bottom line:  Changes to the Nebraska Child Support Guidelines have resulted in decreased child support payments.  Additionally, the changes to the Guidelines are automatic grounds for modifying child support orders.

If you pay child support, schedule an initial consultation with a Koenig|Dunne attorney to find out if your child support payment can be reduced.  If you receive child support, it’s possible your co-parent may ask to modify his or her child support payment based on these new rules.   Schedule a consultation with your Koenig|Dunne attorney to see how these new rules may impact how much you will pay or receive under the new Guidelines. 

Lindsay Belmont

I forgot to put my trash out. I hope Christine gets that job. I should have called Pam yesterday. I wonder what’s happening with the impeachment proceedings today. Will the coronavirus hit the Midwest?

Researchers claim we have over 2,000 thoughts an hour. No doubt.  I’m a planner, so there’s thinking about whether this is a pearls day, which film to see before it leaves my favorite local cinema, and whether I need to call my accountant.

I’m less of a worrier about the future and more of a past dweller. I think about the real reason the client didn’t accept my proposal.  About how I wished I hadn’t laughed so loudly at that story. About how it’s the end of the month and I’ve not sent those emails I said I’d do by the 15th

I listen to NPR and think about the two surviving children of the parents who were killed with their third child in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash.  I read the New York Times and try not to think about cybersecurity threats. I look at photos on social media of big-eyed puppies needing adoption.

Some thoughts take me to joyful places. Admiration at the thought of my child’s sense of humor. Excited at the thought of my imminent weekend getaway. Inspired by the courtroom victory of an attorney in my law firm.

What is this thinking getting me? Is it inviting insight? Encouraging action? Suggesting shame? At the start of each year I ask myself what I want more of and what I want less of.

Thinking made my “less” list.  

I’ll pay more attention to the energy I feel when I think. Is reading local crime stories meaningful? Is listening to a detailed analysis of the trade wars contributing to my life? Am I drained or delighted by picking out the perfect shade of lipstick for the day?

Thoughtfulness made my “more” list.

More thoughtful not only about the people I love, but about the person or purpose right in front of me.

So as I wrap up these words, rather than think “Who will read this?” or “Why did I procrastinate completing this it until the morning I have a plane to catch?”  I’ll simply close thanking you for being thoughtful enough to read this to the end and wish you a nice weekend.

I’ll be in Vegas being thoughtful.

Coach Koenig

Are you thinking about what matters most in your life?

How do you observe your thoughts?

How can you be more thoughtful today?

“What are you most hoping for in 2020?” I asked sincerely. The pause in her reply made me wonder if another one of my extroverted inquiries had overstepped a boundary.  I’d known her husband for a couple of years, but Emily and I were just getting to know one another.

“A year of cancer-free,” she said with a mix of grim and hope on her thin face wrapped in soft waves of blonde hair.

For over two years Emily’s husband had been battling an aggressive cancer that had refused to stop at his brain. Multiple rounds of chemo coupled with surgeries finally led to a proclamation that there was presently no cancer. They both had hope that their young daughter would still see her father alive at the end of the year.

It’s been 20 years since I heard a doctor say “Stage IV” and that no chemo, radiation, or surgery could stop it.  Although he carefully avoided the word “terminal,” Google gave the rest of what I obsessively wanted to know about the fate of my husband’s future and thus my own.

Eight years after John’s death, I see cancer everywhere. I see my friends anxiously awaiting lab results. I see my friends who no longer have every the part of their faces they were born with. I see the obituaries. I read that one in three Americans will receive a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

I strive to follow the wisdom of Byron Katie to “love what is” and not argue with reality. Cancer is a reality. Cancer “is”. But learning to “love” it is a challenge.

My first lesson came in grade school. My mother’s best friend was Margaret. Her husband Ed, who used to pay me a quarter for shining his shoes, had esophageal cancer. I learned to blend his food and put it in the tube attached to his throat. I loved the feeling of helping.

Margaret would become the first widow I witnessed after death from cancer. After that would come my mother and my sister, both of whom lost spouses to lung cancer. I love that these women taught me that even when cancer created the ruin of your existing life, that it was not the end of all of life. There remained something to love.

I love seeing the soup delivered, the company kept during chemo, the beautiful bouquets sent to console the bereaved.

I love seeing the moments cancer reveals the best in humans. The courage of seeing the doctor about a lingering lump. The vulnerability of disclosing of a diagnosis. The tenacity and will to endure years of needles and nausea. The zeal for life when one wakes up to the reality of death.

This year I pledge to love what is, and to join in Emily’s hope for the year.

Coach Koenig

What “is” in your life that you are struggling to love?

What have the darkest times of your life taught you?

What can you love today?

A recent study by Worthy — Building a Financial Fresh Start — examined the experiences of almost 1,800 adult women who were either facing divorce, were in the middle of a divorce, or had completed a divorce.  Overall, the study found that most of the women surveyed found themselves financially vulnerable due to two primary reasons: (1) the lack of financial knowledge; and (2) the lack of long-term financial planning.

The six shocking financial surprises that divorcing and divorced women most often encounter include:

  1. Being unaware of the scope of marital debt;
  2. Not anticipating having to get a job;
  3. Assuming that alimony or child support would be higher or last longer;
  4. Assuming that they could keep the marital residence;
  5. Being unaware of the high cost of health care insurance;
  6. Underestimating the cost of getting a divorce.

According to the study, the majority of women said that living on one income was their greatest financial fear, followed by re-entering the workforce, the cost of getting divorced, and managing finances alone.  Their top financial concerns were paying off debt, saving for retirement, saving for their children’s education, and protecting their assets.

These concerns are decidedly real, as only 9% of women said they were able to stay at home following their divorce. 

The infographic below details the key findings from the financial independence survey by Worthy:

Once you’re on your own, you’re empowered to plan your financial future.  If you’re lost when it comes to financial investments and strategies (you’re not alone!) seek some help from a financial advisor or take a class or two that will teach you how to manage your money.  If you weren’t working before the divorce, you’ll likely need to obtain employment in the future.  If you can, use this opportunity to find a fulfilling career that can add to your new life.

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to help you navigate the Nebraska divorce process and to advocate for your rights.

The summer of 1969, without warning, a young black girl was shot in the back of the head and killed by a white police officer.  Vivian Strong and her friends were having a party in a vacant apartment, playing music and dancing.  She was 14.

I was 13 that summer. I don’t remember hearing about Vivian, despite the killing taking place in my hometown.  I don’t remember any conversation at home, at school, or with my friends about Vivian’s death. I don’t remember anyone explaining why this happened or how the trial of the police officer resulted in acquittal.

Vivian’s mother had a mental breakdown. Vivian’s younger sister became the caretaker of the even younger children. No one ever talked about these facts either.

A half century later, as we mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, many of us who live the privileged life of being white, will give the day little more than a brief reflection.

Our experience impacts our perspective. A classmate named Francene was the sole black child in my junior high school. My limited life experiences left me blind to the depth and breadth of injustice King sought for us to see.

If we live a life sheltered from hatred and violence, it can be easy to think the work of creating peace and justice in our community is not ours. Other than reading The Diary of Anne Frank as a girl, I was oblivious to the enduring legacy of anti-Semitism until I was in law school. A 2018 survey revealed that 66% of millennials could not identify Auschwitz as a concentration camp, despite a over a million Jews having been led there to die.

So how do we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. if the importance of his message seems distant from our lives?  While not all of us are born to be activists or advocates, King gave us a path. And like all paths we take, we start where we are and take the next step.  Here are some possibilities:

Start learning. Start speaking up. When you hear that joke that isn’t okay. When you see that there is not a single person of color included. When you see your employer is not living up to its pledge to diversity. Each of us has a voice, and opportunities abound.

The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad person but the silence over that by the good.-  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Start reaching out. When was the last time you invited someone to lunch who was outside of your familiar circle? Can you go out of your way to support a minority owned business? 

People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.-  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Start serving. MLK Day is designated as a national day of service. If you don’t have any formal volunteering planned for the day, who is that person in need who might benefit from your help today?  Is it time you act on that intention to begin volunteering in 2020?

Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here’s wishing you a day spent living the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Coach Koenig

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.