OUR BLOG

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

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

“Can you stay after school?” she asked. As a second grader, home wasn’t an especially happy place to hurry to. Dad’s drinking had worsened over the years and Mom had bigger worries than after school milk and cookies.

“We’ll wait until the others are gone,” Sister Leodegard said. I was the teacher’s pet, so I suspected that I might be the recipient of some special privilege that she didn’t want my classmates to see.

The hallways eventually emptied and she opened the wooden closet door. She pulled out a woman’s red wool coat. In the 1960s we would have called it a car coat, one that fell to the hip on an adult. On me, it fell below my knees matching the mandatory length of our navy blue uniforms.

Mom’s best friend, Margaret—seamstress of my First Holy Communion dress that year— transformed the oversized garment into a perfectly tailored winter coat for me.  After that, Sister continued to privately hand me bags of castaway clothing.

As a college student stretching my work study dollars, I learned my budget went farther at thrift stores than at shopping malls. I continued to enjoy thrifting as a hobby even when my salary as a lawyer no longer made it necessary.

I was proud of my cleverness. When someone would complement my newest dress, I would boast about its $4.97 purchase price. One such day, I was cautioned in a low whisper, “You don’t have to tell anyone.”

I was an adult before I understood the subtle shame messages sent since second grade.

While I felt pride from using my money wisely to acquire a wardrobe I loved, my embarrassment came from of not knowing what everyone else knew:  You gain status if you carry a designer bag costing hundreds of dollars. Your status is diminished if that same bag comes from Goodwill.

I didn’t know the rules.

At this season of my life I still enjoy a steady paycheck and can choose to shop wherever I like. I still enjoy an occasional stop in a consignment shop for a piece of vintage jewelry or some other irresistible item. This summer I was in New York City and came home with a hand embroidered summer frock with lime green polka dots and a gorgeous black beaded cocktail dress. Total tab: 35 bucks.

No one can shame me without my permission.

Coach Koenig

Do you ever try to hide what you really love?

Is it time to reclaim your authentic self in some small way?

What would you be delighted to do if you weren’t afraid of judgment?

 The Grounds for Annulment in Nebraska

Under Nebraska law, if your marriage is annulled, it is as if it never happened.  Even in 2019, there are still some people who believe that divorce carries a stigma, so opt to pursue an annulment instead.  A civil annulment is not the same as a religious annulment, which can only be granted by a church and has no legal effect on your marriage in Nebraska.

Nebraska allows for an annulment only under certain conditions:

  • If your marriage is prohibited by law (for example, If you or your spouse are too closely related to be married, making the marriage illegal)
  • If you or your spouse were unable to consent to the marriage because of a mental condition
  • If you or your spouse were induced to marry because of threat or fraud
  • If you or your spouse were already married to someone else (bigamy)
  • If you or your spouse were impotent at the time you married

To obtain an annulment in Nebraska, either you or your spouse must be a resident at the time you file your Complaint for Annulment in the district court of the county where you live.  The judge will hold a hearing and make a determination based on your testimony and other evidence.

Once your marriage is annulled, it is as if you were never married.  If there are children from the marriage, a parenting plan and financial support order will be put into place.  A spouse from an annulment may also be eligible for alimony if it is appropriate. 

When it comes to the division of property for a short-term marriage, each spouse will leave the marriage with what they came into it with, depending on the title on the property and the duration of the marriage.  If you and your spouse held joint title to any property, it is divided equally.  If the annulment is granted after a longer period of marriage, a judge will divide marital property based on fairness.

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

For 13 consecutive years now on a back-to-school morning I have awakened with excitement.  In the early years I picked the perfect bow for my daughters’ hair and took my time while they let me brush and style their pretty hair.  In the latter years I have helped chose the outfit or made sure group pictures were taken with friends at school.  I am not ashamed to admit that I have cried on every single one of these days.  Every. Single. One.

I am proud to say that for each of these days, their dad and I met up with each other and our children to wish them the best on their back-to-school days.  We take pictures of each other with our daughters so we each have the moment captured.  4 of those days we lived together.  The remaining 9 years we have lived as divorced parents. Despite the history, we showed up, with each other, for our girls as their parents.

Unfortunately, I have seen many parents do just the opposite as their children head back to school.  They choose to put their differences with each other instead of their children at the forefront.

In these years I have observed the best ABC’s to managing back-to-school with your child’s best interests at the front of the line.

Always share.  Share the photos.  Share the start times.  Share the bus schedule.  Share the class lists.  Share the school supply list.  Share your child’s favorite sack lunch treat.  Share everything.  Even if there is no response to the gesture, share it anyway and keep sharing.

Be proactive and prepared.  Try to make arrangements with your co-parent about arrival time.  If that is not possible because your co-parent will not cooperate, know that you each have an equal right to be there with your children regardless of whose “day” it is.  Just plan to get to the school early and be prepared for when your child arrives.  Let your co-parent know that you will be there to take a picture and get a quick hug to set the expectation.

Create.  Create the best experience that you can for you child with or without support from your co-parent.  Don’t complain in front of your children, don’t agonize about what the other parent “won’t let you do” in front of your children.  Focus on what you can do.  You can show up.  You can celebrate with a back-to-school celebration of your own the weekend you have them.  You can celebrate on the pick-up from school. 

My hope is that this advice will support you and your co-parent to be head of the class.

Angela Dunne

 How Unemployment Affects Child Support in Nebraska

Losing a job is stressful for many reasons, but especially so if you are responsible for paying — or if you’re receiving — child support.  How your unemployment affects your child support payments depends on your individual situation.  However, one thing is certain: Nebraska courts take child support obligations very seriously, so you shouldn’t believe that you can get your support order modified immediately because of a job loss.

If you have lost your job and have child support obligations, you should work to find another job immediately.  The court can assign an income level to you based on your previous salary if it finds that you could be working or if you take a job that pays substantially less than your previous job.  If you are going to claim there are no jobs available, the court will want proof that you have conducted a serious effort to find a new job comparable to your old one.

If you are unemployed due to a disability, you will need to provide proof of your disability — medical records, expert testimony, or proof of workers comp — to the court.  The court will then modify child support payments based on your disability income.  You should be aware that support payments can be deducted from unemployment or worker’s comp benefits and sent directly to your ex-spouse.

Sometimes a job loss can support a motion for modification of your child support order.  There is a legal standard that must be met to prove a parent is experiencing a “material change of circumstances.” This change must have lasted at least three months and can reasonably be expected to last for another six months.  The material change must also affect your child support calculation by 10% (up or down) and the difference between the existing and new calculation must total at least $25.

It is important to follow the proper procedures to avoid facing a contempt order for violating the terms of the original court order. Your Nebraska child support attorney is the best resource for providing you with the information you need to proceed with a proper modification of support request. He or she will be able to guide you through the necessary steps for filing your modification of support request with the court.

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

I was about to cut off her head when I stopped. The faded flower’s bloom had enough life left to share some wisdom before she landed in the compost pile. “Pay attention!”

I had substituted my morning meditation with time attending to my flowers. I set my intention to focus only on what was directly in front of me. No thinking about yesterday’s mistakes.  No thinking about today’s to do’s.

Simply. Stay. Present.

I am in a season where I have the undeniable privilege of enjoying many of life’s luxuries, including my very own rooftop deck with pots of flowers and time to enjoy them. Lately I’ve considered whether I was willing to allow my charmed life to be even more so.

The flowers had my answer.

All had suffered from the preceding week’s heat wave.  While the tropical hibiscus boasted a few new red blooms, the bachelor buttons were browning and everything looked a little sad.

“Get rid of that old stuff that is no longer beautiful. Clip boldly. Pull the weeds that you’ve been ignoring the past two weeks.  Make space for something else to grow.” 

One by one I watered the pots of geraniums, roses, and petunias. I did not rush as I gave them each a good soak and promised them a dose of MiracleGro soon.  

They kept talking.

“If you nourish us well and regularly we will produce for you abundantly. If you give us a little loving care we’ll give you even bigger blossoms.  And please, won’t you at least once a day spend a little time with us, looking at us, appreciating us, and perhaps saying a kind word?”

I picked yarrow and zinnias for a Monday bouquet. I gave thanks for the advice and the answers.

Drink more water. Eat more greens. Part with more stuff, and maybe even some people. Leave some space for something new and beautiful to bud.

We all have guides. Some quieter than others.  This day I listened.

Coach Koenig

Are you listening to the wisdom that surrounds you?

How might you make space for even more beauty in your life?

What attention my you give yourself to be rejuvenated?

 Developing a Parenting Plan That Works for Your Family

In Nebraska, parents are encouraged to structure a parenting plan based on the best interests of their children.  While there are several options, most parents follow one of the following parenting plan formats:

Joint physical custody.  In the case that both parents seek fairly equal parenting time, a parenting plan may include alternating weeks or blocks of shorter time that alternate between parents so there is a shorter period between time spent with either parent.

Sole physical custody.  When one parent is awarded primary/sole physical custody, the children typically spend most of their week living with the custodial parent.  The non-custodial parent then usually spends time with the children on alternating weekends and one or two evenings each week. 

When developing your parenting plan, you should take into consideration the following factors:

  • The age and emotional development level of each child.
  • How parenting time was divided prior to the divorce.
  • Work schedules for both parents.
  • School calendar.
  • Children’s extracurricular activities.
  • Whether extended family will participate in the plan.

Parenting plans work best when they are as specific as possible, so everyone is on the same page.  If you get along well with your ex-spouse, you may be tempted to leave the plan general for the sake of flexibility, but doing so could mean that you will face difficulties if you want to enforce the plan.  Some of the items you should include in your parenting plan include:

  • The designation of who has legal and physical custody.
  • A detailed description of how time will be split between parents.
  • How holidays, birthdays, vacations, and other special occasions will be treated.
  • If and how any time-sharing arrangements will change when school is out.
  • Provisions addressing traveling with children out of state or out of the country.
  • Provisions addressing any special transportation needs.
  • How private information — i.e., medical and school records — will be shared.

For over 40 years, your legal team at Koenig|Dunne has counseled clients in thousands of initial consultations, and we are here to ensure that your initial consultation provides meaningful answers to the questions that matter the most to you.

It is not the fact of a divorce itself that can hurt your credit; marital status is not included in a credit report nor is it used to factor your credit score.  It’s when a divorce causes financial problems like late or missed payments that your credit can be damaged. 

Keeping your debt down and your payments current are the two vital keys to keeping your credit score from being seriously dinged after divorce.  Here are some tips on how to keep your credit in good standing:

Match your lifestyle to your income.  Adjusting to life on one income instead of two may require some major changes.  You may have to move to a less expensive home or rent an apartment.  You may need to cook more at home and eat out less often.  You may need to trade in that expensive luxury vehicle and get one that is less expensive to maintain. 

Budget.  Create a budget so you know what you can and cannot afford.  Prioritize expenses by order of importance and be sure you stay current on paying bills and loans since those have the greatest impact on your credit score.

Sever financial ties to your ex.  If you are able to pay off your joint debts before your divorce is finalized, do it.  You don’t want any lingering financial ties to your ex. 

Live on your own income.  If at all possible, try to live on your income alone, minus child support or alimony.  If your ex loses his or her job or fails to make support payments, this could put you in financial jeopardy.

Remove your ex as an authorized user on any credit cards.  You want to avoid having your ex run up the balances on any cards that you are responsible for paying.

Track payments.  If your divorce agreement has specified that your ex is responsible for paying off joint debts, you need to ensure those payments are being made.  Setting up credit monitoring is not enough since alerts are only sent once a late notice has been added to your credit report.  You should keep track of all due dates and check that the payment has been made.  If your ex is consistently late in making payments, you may need to pay the minimum yourself to protect your own credit score and then ask the court to order your ex to reimburse you. 

Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is experienced with credit card division and debt during a divorce, and we are here to help you navigate through this stressful and sometimes complicated aspect of divorce.

Relocation Rules in Nebraska

Moving a child out of state is usually a very emotional decision. There may be many good reasons for relocation – a new job, a desire to be closer to family, or even the need to make a fresh start. However, if you are the custodial parent and want to move with your child out of state, your first step needs to be to consult with a child custody lawyer to ensure you obtain the court’s permission to do so.

One of the first things your child custody attorney will tell you is: do NOT move out of state without obtaining the consent of the other parent. If you do not have consent, you must seek approval from the court before you move. Failing to do this could put you in legal jeopardy, and is a risky legal move for both you and your child.

The right of both parents to be a positive influence in the lives of their children – and the protection of those rights – is something a court takes very seriously. In all child custody matters – and especially those that involve relocation – the court will be guided by what is in the best interest of the child.

The custodial parent must prove to the court that he or she has a legitimate reason for relocating and that the move is in the child’s best interest.  The court will look very carefully at several factors when considering if the relocation will enhance a child’s quality of life and how it may impact the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the child.  These factors include but are not limited to the following:

  • The emotional, physical, and developmental needs of the child;
  • The child’s opinion or preference as to where to live (if the child is of appropriate age, maturity, and ability to comprehend and consider the circumstances);
  • Whether the relocating parent’s income or employment will be enhanced;
  • Improvement in the child’s housing or living conditions;
  • Educational advantages;
  • Quality of the relationships between the child and each parent;
  • The child’s ties to both communities, including extended family;
  • Whether the move would antagonize hostilities between the two parents.

There may be other factors the court will weigh as well, but the overarching principle at play here is what is in the best interests of the child.  Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne understands the nuances and complexities of family law, and we are here to help guide you through the process.

A three-hour window.  A three-hour window was all it took to feature the failings of co-parenting.   It was a minor parenting plan problem.  Our case study features an eight-year old girl and her parents two years post-divorce.

4th of July arrived with the provision providing for holiday parenting time to begin at noon.  The 4th fell on a Thursday.  Mom had parenting time Wednesday night and it was her alternating year for the 4th of July holiday.  However, Dad’s parenting time commenced at 9 a.m. on Thursdays for his regular time.

Mom asked if it made sense for her to keep Kami for the three-hour window rather than do two exchanges in that time frame.  Dad was insistent he have his three hours.  So swap they did – the parents each spending a cumulative hour in the car making it happen.

The result was a crabby daughter, a frustrated mother, and an indignant father.  Plugged into a formula, the question is does a crabby daughter + frustrated mother + indignant father = best interests of the child?  No.

If the goal was the best interests of the child, what would that look like instead?

Perspective.  Rather than focusing on the black and white win, shift the perspective to the reality of the experience for the child.  What is being gained by insisting on three hours?  Was there another solution for tacking on the hours to a different day?  Take a big-picture perspective rather than be mulled down by the minutiae. 

Flexibility.  Is it best to hold firm to an 8:00 a.m. start time that was established when the child was 4 and regularly rising at 6:00 a.m. when the child is now 14 and wanted to rise no earlier than 10:00 a.m. on the weekends?  Be flexible as your child’s needs change throughout the years. As long as parents are in agreement with making these adjustments, no court intervention is necessary.  It is free to be flexible and adaptable to current needs.

Pick and Choose.  One of my mother’s most sound pieces of advice to me, her most stubborn daughter, over and over and over throughout the years is to pick and choose your battles.  Do you want to make 3 hours a battle or would it be best to reserve that for the decision around enrolling your child in band – that is a meaningful request from your child that needs to be looked at by both of her parents?  In other words, let three hours go in favor of reserving parenting discussions for the harder and actual parenting decisions that need to be made.

With a little common sense, a good dose of flexibility, and a fair amount of letting the small things go, parents and their children will find an easier co-parenting path.

Angela Dunne

 How to Tell if You are Headed for Divorce

Celebrities have their personal lives played out in the media and because we think we know them, we think we can tell which celebrity couples are headed for divorce.  But do you know how to tell if you and your spouse may be taking that same road?  Here are some signs:

You’re unhappy a lot.  Good relationships bring happiness; bad relationships deliver the opposite.  If you or your spouse is unhappy a lot of the time — and it’s not because you hate your jobs — then you may be headed for divorce.

Your interactions are mostly negative.  All couples fight, but if you find that you and your spouse are fighting most of the time you are together, that’s a bad sign.

You avoid your spouse.  If you find yourself wanting to avoid your spouse and spend more of your down time with family and friends than with each other, you may unconsciously be building a separate life.

Your friends or family want you to get a divorce.  Sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees, so if the people in your life who want what’s best for you are urging you to leave your spouse, you may want to take a longer look at your marriage.

Your gut says leave.  If you feel like your stomach is always in knots, it could be your gut instinct telling you that you are in a bad situation.  Check in with a therapist who can help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of staying in your marriage.

Sudden behavior change.  If one of you starts spending a lot of time away from home or suddenly goes on a fitness kick, there may be another person in the picture.  Just because you’re still having sex with your spouse doesn’t mean he or she hasn’t strayed, since a new sexual partner can bring the spark back to a marriage.

Changed priorities.  Over time, our priorities can shift and what was once important to us is no longer that vital.  If one spouse is pushing for a big change — in lifestyle, religion, or even geography — without considering the impact to both spouses, this could be a sign that he or she is ready to move on.

Determining whether to end a marriage is not an easy decision, nor one to be taken lightly. Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is here to provide you with guidance and advice regarding this difficult decision and all of the decisions that you will face throughout the divorce process.

family estate planning documents

For most people, there are four main estate planning issues that are of concern during a divorce:

  • How assets are divided now, and how they will be distributed after death
  • Re-designation of beneficiaries
  • Whether your spouse will still make decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated
  • Control and management of certain assets

Couples contemplating a divorce should review their estate plan to determine the changes that will be necessary while a divorce is pending or once it becomes final  – and should keep in mind that it is only final once a judge signs the final dissolution decree.

Here are some of the things you should consider in your estate plan if a divorce is pending:

Wills – if neither spouse has a will and one dies prior to the finalization of a divorce, the assets will go to the surviving spouse. If you do have a will, chances are your spouse is named as executor and primary beneficiary. You will likely want to change this.

Trusts – spouses typically name each other as the executor and sole or primary beneficiary of the estate in trust documents. If you have established a living trust, it will be very important to change it after the divorce is final.

Life Insurance Policy – if a couple has children, chances are that the surviving spouse is named as primary beneficiary and the children as secondary beneficiaries. There may also be stepchildren that one spouse has brought to the marriage that are listed as well.  You should remove your spouse as a beneficiary.

Retirement Accounts – beneficiary designations on IRAs and other retirement accounts are usually a spouse; if these are not changed after a divorce is final and the account holder dies, the assets still go to the person named as beneficiary.

Powers of Attorney – if you have an estate plan in place, you have probably given your spouse a Durable Power of Attorney to handle your affairs in case of your incapacitation. If you have named your spouse in a Power of Attorney for Healthcare, they will have the power to make health care decisions for you.  These should be changed immediately once a divorce action is filed.

Other Estates – your or your spouse may be named as a beneficiary of your parents’ or other relatives’ estates. If you inherit before the divorce is final, those assets will likely be considered when calculating spousal support.

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

She gave a short cry of shock. I turned around to see her mouth open in amazed confusion and her arms outstretched, a cup in one hand. When she selected a cup from the shelf for her morning tea, she did not expect it to shower her with coffee.

Her coral shirt that looked beautiful against her pale skin and curly dark hair was soaked. I reached for a cloth from the sink as she went for the paper towels. My apologies were met with her reassurances the coffee wasn’t hot and there was no harm. Together we knelt to wipe the puddle on the tiled floor.

“I was trying to find the one with hearts on it,” she explained. I kept my shamed face in a downward gaze as I sponged.

It was the morning of the third day of the retreat. I was on kitchen duty and had arrived cheerfully early for chores.  Without a thought, I rested my cup— coffee on the inside and hearts on the outside—on the shelf that housed empty mugs.

There it sat, just waiting to douse the start of Debra’s day.

She quickly headed back to her room to change.  Meanwhile, I continued to contain the lump in my throat so as to not cry over spilt coffee.

Debra was a minister. Though I’d only known her for two days, her gentleness was undeniable. She returned for breakfast freshened and with a kind smile.

“It was nothing. Really,” she said, touching me gently on the arm. While I did not doubt Debra’s sincerity, my embarrassment lingered. I imagined the mess I’d made of her morning being bigger than it was. She forgave as quickly as the coffee splashed. Me forgiving myself was another matter.

I replayed the scene in my mind throughout the morning. How thoughtless I’d been. How I turned someone’s peaceful retreat morning into an irritation and inconvenience. How I’d made a mess of it.

That afternoon Debra approached me. “I have a favor to ask,” she said. “I washed my shirt and hung it on the clothesline. I’m afraid I’m going to forget it when we pack to leave tomorrow. Would you remind me?”

In her generosity, Debra offered me an avenue for making amends. Rather than allow me to wallow in overthinking the incident, she allowed me a path to restoration.  Instead of focusing on my failure, I could focus on helping a friend.

That evening our paths crossed in the narrow hallway where our rooms were just a few doors apart.

“Be sure to remember your shirt,” I said happily.

 “Got it!” she smiled back.

Debra forgave from the get go. Even greater was her rendering of a way I could shift from my past mistake to being helpful and connect anew.

Redemption filled my heart to the brim.

Coach Koenig

Have you been obsessing over a small mistake?

Is there a path to redemption you can offer someone who has hurt you?

If you weren’t focusing on a failure, what might you focus on?        

How to Reduce Mom Guilt During a Divorce

There’s no doubt that divorce takes a lot of time and energy out of a Mom — energy you’d rather be spending on your children.  Feeling powerless to find the extra time to devote to your children during a very stressful time in your life and theirs can lead to “mom guilt,” a condition that does nobody any good. 

Here are some thoughts on ways you can banish the dreaded mom guilt as you cope with divorce:

Set aside some special time just for you and the kids.  Did you used to have a date night with your ex?  Why not turn that into date night with your kids?  Even if you just make sure you have dinner together every night, you and your kids need to know that there is time set aside for making new traditions.

Be a little more flexible with screen time now.  During this difficult time of divorce transitions, it’s okay for you to ease up a bit on screen time restrictions for your children.  Remember that screen time can actually be productive if you curate a playlist for them that is both educational and entertaining.  This can include documentaries on nature or people, or you can download some educational apps on your computer or tablet. 

Get moving.  When you move, you feel better, and those endorphins can provide a welcome rush when you’re going through a divorce!  Use your time with your kids to do something active, indoors or outside — walk the dog together, go bowling, or play in the park.  Getting some exercise will help even out everyone’s stress levels, and can be a great way to reconnect with your kids daily.

Get support.  Lots of moms just like you have gone or are going through a divorce and are facing the same challenges that you are.  You can find a support group online or in your community, or just spend time with friends that have already walked the path you’re on. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Give yourself permission to feel your feelings.  You are not always going to feel good, and that’s okay.  Your children need to see that you can have difficult feelings and still get over them — it’s a great way to teach your kids resilience.

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

Couple shopping in high end retail store.

If you are getting ready to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have hopefully secured the advice of a Nebraska bankruptcy attorney – advice that should cover not only what to do before filing bankruptcy, but what NOT to do:

Raiding retirement accounts.  You may be thinking of cashing out your retirement accounts prior to filing bankruptcy.  Big mistake.  Retirement accounts are usually exempt and protected, which means you’d get to otherwise retain that asset. .

Changing property ownership.  Transferring the ownership of property may not protect it from bankruptcy, and will probably get you in hot water with the bankruptcy trustee to boot.  The trustee can undo some property transfer that occurred during the two years prior to filing bankruptcy.

Paying off family loans.  You should not pay off any loans made to you by family members prior to filing bankruptcy.  If you do so within one year prior to your filing, the money may be reclaimed and added to the bankruptcy estate.

Lying about your assets.  If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are required to disclose all your income and assets.  If you leave out any assets or income, your case could be dismissed or you could have your discharge denied. 

Transferring assets.  Attempting to stash assets — a car, cash, property, etc. — with someone else with the understanding that they will return it to you after you file bankruptcy is not only forbidden, it’s also a good way to lose those assets.

Not consulting a bankruptcy attorney. An attorney can help you determine the best bankruptcy choice for you and advise you on how to protect assets that may be at risk.  Bankruptcy is a complicated area of the law and although you might be tempted to “do it yourself,” it is likely that choice would do you more harm than good.

Figuring out whether to file bankruptcy can be overwhelming. Contact Koenig│Dunne today and schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

I awoke early. I set an intention of ease. My Saturday started with my weekly stroll to the farmers market. I had twelve whole hours to get ready. There would be no rushing.

List in one hand, two bags in the other, I took my time perusing the stalls for the perfect ingredients.  After tasting the samples I made my purchases. Parsley. Mint. Scallions. Cucumbers. Tomatoes.

Once home, I penned my agenda for the day on the back of an envelope. 

Make tabbouleh

Ready the rooftop

Tidy apartment

Assemble dishes

Prepare drinks

Get ready

I resisted the urge to add a detailed time line. I only had to prepare the main course. This was going to be easy.

As the quinoa cooked, I chopped. Two bunches of mint. Two bunches of parsley. One giant of scallions. Somewhere between the cucumbers and the tomatoes I felt it. The settling in to the present.

I reflected back to a time when my late husband was still well enough to eat, and how I would relax into Sunday summer afternoons cooking from the bounty of summer’s harvest. Nothing seemed more important than mincing fresh ginger to for the broccoli miso. Back then it was a joyful necessity. Now it seemed an indulgent luxury to squeeze the juice out of a half dozen lemons.

For a time I found it. The present moment. Eckhart Tolle’s power of now.  Eternal time. My mind quieted, I was at peace.

And then I looked at the clock. Hours had passed without my noticing. While I was in the flow, time had flown by.  A party for ten would be starting in under two hours. Suddenly the once stopped time began to zoom faster by the minute.

Prepare drinks would mean chill the chardonnay, ice the soft drinks, and make a pitcher of cucumber water. No time for the specialty ginger cocktail in gold rimmed champagne glasses. Skip the extra appetizer. Setting up the coffee to accompany dessert would have to wait.

I had just hopped out of the shower when my co-host arrived to help. I immediately began giving directives to retrieve the ice and carry a tray of dishes up the spiral staircase to the deck on the roof. Time was of the essence. 

My fellow Birthday Club guests arrived, bearing delights from caprese salad and bottles of wine to Lithuanian torte and homemade apple pie. 

Before long I forgot all about my undone tasks. We ate, drank, listened, and laughed. The tabbouleh for ten was a hit. The sun went down. The cake came out with the moon. The candles lit and gifts given. Everyone was grateful.

My heart was whole. My hope is to remember to set my clock to summer time in any season.

Coach Koenig

When are you in the flow of your life?

What are you willing to leave “undone” in your day?

How might you be more present to the simply joys of this season?

Should You Stay in Business With Your Former Spouse After a Divorce?

Divorce can be more difficult than the norm if you are divorcing a business partner as well as a spouse.  There are several options you can explore — sell the business and split the profits, have one spouse buy the other spouse out, or continue to operate the business together.  Here are some thoughts on which scenario might be best for you:

Selling the business.

This option is probably most suitable for divorced spouses who cannot find common ground.  If you are divorced because there was a lot of conflict in the marriage, that probably carried over into the business — which is bad for business as well as for your own well being.  Selling the business provides a clean break from having to see each other on a daily basis, and the profits from the sale can provide a nice cushion for each of you to pursue your own paths.

Buyout.

This option works best when one spouse wants to continue in the business and the other one wants to leave.  The business will need to be valued and assets divided appropriately, with a buyout plan that either allows for a one-time payment or payments over time if the spouse being bought out is flexible enough to consider that option. 

Staying in business together.

When a divorce is amicable and the spouses get along fairly well, there is a chance for success when you elect to continue operating your family business together.  There should be an operating agreement that spells out the general rules on how the business will operate, the roles each of you will play, how profits and losses will be apportioned, and guidelines for what will happen if one spouse wants to eventually exit the business.  Don’t forget to address any concerns upfront and honestly with employees, who often pick sides when owners divorce.

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

How Will Bankruptcy Affect Your Retirement Savings?

If you are nearing the age of retirement – or have significant assets stashed away in retirement accounts for when that day finally arrives — how would filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy affect your plans for retirement?

The good news is, if you have money in an ERISA-qualified pension plan like a 401(k), 403(b), Roth IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA, Keogh, profit-sharing plan, money purchase plan, or defined benefit plan, all of your money held in these plans is exempt from creditors.  That means you get to keep it, even if you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. 

The only exceptions to this rule are for traditional and Roth IRAs: the exemption is limited to $1,283,025 per person, so if you have more than that in a traditional or Roth IRA, anything over that amount can be used to pay off creditors.  If you have more than one IRA, the exemption applies to the combination of all your IRA accounts — you are not allowed to exempt $1,283,025 for each plan.

You should also know that while the funds in your account are exempt, any income you receive from retirement benefits is not.  If you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and are currently receiving income from retirement benefits, you can keep what is necessary for your own support and the rest will go to pay off debt.  If you file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your paid benefits will be figured into your income when determining your repayment plan.

When it comes to Social Security benefits or disability income, these funds are protected by federal law from creditors.  However, since benefits are usually deposited directly into bank accounts, these monies may be susceptible to garnishment — even though banks are supposed to know which funds in an account are federal benefits before garnishing any assets.  You can play it safe by having a separate account for your federal benefits.

Figuring out whether to file bankruptcy can be overwhelming. Contact Koenig│Dunne today and schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

How to Modify Alimony in Nebraska

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.

The court will look carefully at the needs of the person receiving alimony and their ability to meet their own needs as well as the ability of the person paying alimony to meet their obligation. The person making the modification request must prove changed circumstances, and those circumstances cannot be temporary or small.

For those who are currently unable to meet their spousal support obligations, it is vitally important to take steps right away to have a support order changed. Any support payments that are missed – called “arrears” – cannot be discharged by the court retroactively. Support payments are also not dischargeable if you file bankruptcy.

It is also important to follow the proper procedures to avoid facing a contempt order for violating the terms of the original court order. Too often, people will get into trouble because they thought they had an agreement worked out with an ex-spouse, only to find themselves facing charges of non-payment and contempt of court.

Your Nebraska divorce attorney is the best resource for providing you with the information you need to proceed with a proper modification of support request. He or she will be able to guide you through the necessary steps for filing your modification of support request with the court, so it is formalized and a matter of record.

Since every divorce situation is unique, you should speak with your divorce attorney about support modification in your specific case. Contact your Koenig│Dunne family law attorneys to decide the best way to protect your interests.

Nebraska Bankruptcy: How the Automatic Stay Stops Foreclosure and Collection Efforts

Perhaps the greatest source of relief for distressed debtors who file bankruptcy is what is known as the automatic stay.  As soon as your bankruptcy attorney files your petition, the automatic stay goes into effect – meaning that creditors must stop all their collection efforts, including phone calls, letters, lawsuits or anything else they are doing to try to collect on a debt.

The automatic stay also prevents secured lenders – those who hold your mortgage or car loan note – from repossession, foreclosure or selling any of your property.  However, when it comes to secured creditors, these benefits are temporary – if you do not keep up with your payments after your bankruptcy is over, secured creditors can still proceed with a foreclosure, repossession or sale of your property.

There are also some exceptions to the automatic stay, including alimony, child support, student loans, most taxes and criminal restitution.

If you have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the automatic stay terminates as soon as your Chapter 7 bankruptcy is discharged (closed).  If a majority of your debt is unsecured (credit card debt, medical bills, etc.), you will not care that the automatic stay has expired because that debt will have already been wiped out through the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

However, if most of your debt is secured debt, then you should consider filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which extends the automatic stay throughout your repayment period of three to five years.  Plus, the automatic stay in Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings also protects anyone (spouse, parent, etc.) who may be responsible for the same debt as you are.

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

A weekend on a Mediterranean island could have been mine.  Relaxing on the beach.  Admiring the mountains.  Perhaps a palace tour or a walk among the Moorish remains. It could have been mine, had I said yes.

All of my friends were going. I was in the middle of my semester as a Spanish student in Barcelona, thanks to a program in which my room and board cost the same as it would have had I spent the semester in a Midwestern dormitory.

A year and a half of straight A’s in my college classes hadn’t eliminated my fear of failing to perform in our upcoming midterm exams. I turned down the island invitation.

It is said that at the end of life people have fewer regrets about the things they did than regrets about things they did not do. While I’m not one to dwell in regret, the lesson of missing Mallorca remains with me. I was nineteen years old. The year was 1976.

For much of my life I chose to “do” rather than to “be” and I was well rewarded for it.  When I chose to study I got scholarships, GPAs, and boosts to both ego and resume.  When I chose to work on weekends I got the approval of clients and a silent sense of holy martyrdom.  When I refused help from others, I remained protected by the illusion of my invulnerability.

While I don’t doubt that these choices contributed by my work ethic, I likewise don’t doubt what they cost. Enjoyment. Memories. Relationships. In short, all of the things that we most wish for when we consider what matters most.

Summer arrived last week, and with it my choices for the season.  When I travel to North Carolina to lead a day long retreat, I say yes to the extra day and spent Saturday at the beach.  I say yes to the wedding in Chicago along with the road trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I say yes to my coach’s recommendation for a retreat in the Catskill Mountains. I say yes to a stay in New York City because I can.

I missed Mallorca, but I thank her. She reminds me to listen to my heart as well as my head when I make choices about how I invest my hours and my dollars. 

This summer I set aside the fear of a failing grade. This summer I surrender to the possibility of decades of happy memories with loved ones. Rather than regret, this summer I say yes.

Coach Koenig

                        What choices will you make for enjoying your summer?

                        What memories will you make this season?

                        How will you balance “being” with “doing” without regret?

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.