3 Tips on Communicating With Your Spouse During a Divorce in West Virginia

How to Set Boundaries While Still Keeping In Touch

Deciding to proceed with a divorce is one of the most difficult events that a person can go through. The guidance of a West Virginia divorce lawyer is needed to guide you through the process and help you to obtain the items that you want to receive after the divorce, spousal support that has been requested, and arrange an adequate child custody schedule for you and your children. Divorce attorneys are there to help you navigate each step of the divorce, along with aiding in negotiations between you and your spouse. 

Be Cautious of Your Tone

Some issues should be discussed before obtaining divorce papers and especially throughout divorce mediation meetings when possible. Unless there is a reason for you to not communicate with your spouse at all, you should be able to resolve at least the minor issues that may arise, such as who is picking up your child from school, instead of trying to communicate through both of your lawyers. 

Though you may be upset with your spouse, try to be cautious of your tone and remain cordial in order to resolve one issue at a time. Avoid bringing up the past and focus only on the issues that need to be settled. Don’t bring up problems that will cause you and your spouse to start arguing. In most scenarios, how you come across is remembered more so than what you say during these conversations. 

Being careful about how you come across doesn’t just mean face-to-face, it means via email, phone call, text, or on social media. It may be a good idea to designate a daily cut-off time with your spouse so you can go about your day, or only contact one another without a lawyer present if there is a true emergency. 

Establish Clear Boundaries

As you try to navigate through this process, try to set clear boundaries with your spouse. Talk about meeting in person to talk about the issue at hand, decide to only speak with attorneys present, or discuss how you both prefer communicating such as speaking over the phone. 

If you must communicate through your attorney in order to reach your spouse, do so. Sometimes there are instances where your spouse may be bitter towards the divorce or hold resentment towards you if you try to communicate with him or her. Other situations like a restraining or protective order may prevent you from contacting your spouse. Discuss the best option with your divorce attorney before trying to reach out. 

Additionally, be sure to avoid recording any conversations you may have with your spouse without their knowledge. Individuals seeking a divorce sometimes want to save conversations they’ve had with their spouse for their records during a divorce proceeding, but this could get you in trouble with both state and federal laws. Discuss any actions that you plan to take with your divorce lawyer before acting on any of them. 

Contact a West Virginia Divorce Attorney

If you are considering a divorce or have just been served divorce papers, contact the attorneys at Hilliard and Swartz, LLP for legal consultation and representation. We are here for you and will be by your side throughout this entire process.

Summer vacation as a divorced family.

A car packed and ready to go facing an open road and a sunset.

Summer vacations can be the highlight of a kid’s year. School is out and they’re free from the classroom. Chances are that prior to relationship complications and divorce, you were probably in a bit of a routine when it came to keeping your kids occupied over summer break. Maybe you went away as a family. Maybe you’d engage in sports or other activities. This may all seem impossible now. But don’t worry. Circumstances may be different now, but everyone can still have a great time. Here are a few steps that you can take to guarantee this!

Communicate with your ex

If your ex partner is still a part of your children’s lives, you’re going to have to communicate for their sake. Make arrangements well in advance of summer vacation, so your kids know where they’ll be staying and when. This allows plans to be put in place and ensures your little ones have a fair amount of time with each parent.

Still make plans

You can still make plans for the break. If you usually go away, still do this. If you usually go to baseball matches, the theatre, or art galleries, still schedule these activities in. You can still do all of these things with your kids!

Make sure your kids get time with friends

A huge part of summer vacation for kids is spending time with friends. Sure, you may want them around a bit more during a divorce - this is a tough time for everyone involved - but it’s important to give them some space and freedom too.

Now go enjoy your summer!

How to Handle Vacation Planning

A trailer seen from across a body of water. Mountainous backdrop and camping gear all around.

The Divorced Family Edition

With Spring Break coming up, parents across the country are beginning to make plans. This can be a difficult time for children of divorce, though, as they often wind up missing out on fun family vacations and activities. The fact that a couple with children decide to get a divorce doesn't mean that their child has to miss out.



Plan in Advance

It may sound odd, but the best time to consider vacation planning is actually during the initial mediation phase of a divorce. Parents sometimes decide how to divide up vacation time with the help of a divorce lawyer in West Virginia so that they'll be able to make plans in advance. Others put it off until later but go back to add this information to their separation agreements.



Share Travel Information

Communication is key when it comes to planning for and executing vacations without the child's other parent. Many parents make stipulations such as requiring one parent to create a travel itinerary for the other in advance to make sure that the parent who is staying home won't be worried. Others come up with a check-in schedule to make co-parenting easier, calling every day or every week as agreed.


Restricted Travel

In some cases, a court may order travel restrictions. These often come in the form of a set distance that parents can take their children and are usually placed during the initial divorce process. It's important that divorced parents who are planning vacations abroad review their separation agreements to ensure that there are no regulations regarding how far they can take the child on a trip.

It's often possible to modify travel restrictions, although it does require going back to court. Even if the other parent isn't concerned about violations of travel restrictions, it's not worth risking the consequences of breaking a court order. Just have the agreement changed well in advance.



Be Flexible

Although it's a good idea to set up expectations for vacation schedules in advance before a divorce is even finalized, parents may also need to be a little bit flexible. It's not uncommon for divorcing parents to handle planning for vacations by mutual agreement instead of determining an exact schedule, which can be helpful for those who work demanding jobs or have other responsibilities.

As the Spring holidays approach, though, it's important for parents to have both a plan A and a back-up plan in case they are unable to come to an agreement. This might mean staying at home and planning fun events around town or it might mean changing where one parent decides to go on vacation so that his or her child will be able to make it home in time to spend the other half with the other parent.



Prioritize the Child's Needs

It is essential that divorced parents prioritize their child or children's needs when planning for vacations. For example, if a mom really wants to head out on an elaborate road trip but her child wants to spend part of the vacation with the father, it might be better to plan a shorter trip or just stay home. Chances are, the trip won't be very enjoyable anyway if the child doesn't want to go.

Are You Planning a Divorce?

Black and white couple’s hands on the table with engagement ring between them.

Important Information on What to Do Next

Deciding to file for divorce is a huge decision. For most people, it is something they think about and go over and over before actually making a move. However, even when someone makes the decision that divorce is the best option, there are a few things they need to know before diving in. The first step is being informed, which can help to ensure a person knows how to prepare for a divorce.

Consider the Legal Options Available

Unless a person has been through the divorce process in the past, they may have unrealistic notions about what is going to be involved. Thoughts of how painful the process is going to be aren’t just going to come from friends and family, but also from the tabloids and movies that usually focus on unusual circumstances of the rich and famous.

While most divorces don’t experience these extraordinary factors, it’s still a good idea to hire a divorce lawyer in West Virginia. They can help ensure a person knows their rights and even negotiate with the other party to help diffuse and prevent serious conflicts.


Get to Know the Other Person’s Financial Details

One of the main aspects of every divorce is money.  Regardless of if it is for child support, spousal support, or the marital estate, it is imperative to know the true gross income of your spouse, his/her before and after-tax accounts, spending habits, where loans are held, credit card balances, etc.  Knowing too much is never a bad concept when it comes to knowing your spouse and his/her (your) financial situation.


Determine What Can be Earned After the Divorce

Depending on a person’s circumstances, he or she may have to obtain employment during or post-divorce. If an individual has been out of the job market for an extended period of time, then he or she may need to enhance his/her skills before doing this.

It’s important to figure out if this is going to be necessary before filing for divorce. This will help a person better plan for life after their divorce.


Fully Understand the Family’s Debts

In many cases, the allocation of debt is much harder to negotiate or prove than a couple’s division of assets. It’s important to figure out what debts the couple has and what type of debt they are. It’s also necessary to know how much has to be paid each month for all debts. This is something that is crucial to know if a person wants to ensure that everything is split fairly and evenly during the divorce proceedings.

When a person is planning to file for a divorce, there are more than a few things they need to do to prepare for the situation. Be sure to keep the few tips and information here in mind to ensure that the desired results from the divorce are achieved. In most cases, this is going to require the help of an attorney, who will understand the process. If you or someone you know is going through a divorce and requires the assistance of an attorney, contact Hilliard & Swartz today.

What to Do When an Ex-Spouse Refuses to Comply with a Custody Agreement During the Holidays

Angry young couple fighting on a park bench

Parenting after a divorce is hard at any time. When the holidays roll around, however, this task tends to become more challenging. Attorneys receive numerous calls in the week leading up to Christmas as spouses begin fighting over who will get the Children and when. Sadly, the kids are the ones caught in the middle through no fault of their own and the holidays may be ruined as a result of these disputes. How can parents resolve these issues so they don't crop up year after year?

Address Important Issues

One reason many couples divorce is they are tired of the constant conflict. As a result, they often avoid discussing topics that they know will lead to an argument. Add to this the fact that many people tend to procrastinate as a matter of course. As a result, they may not realize they have a problem with the Ex-spouse with regards to the holiday until just a few days in advance. Why is this a problem?

The Court System

Courts tend to move slow as couples should realize during the Divorce. In fact, the average dispute takes a month to resolve and only if everything goes smoothly. In many cases, the problem takes much longer to get settled. Once a motion is filed, weeks pass before it is heard. If there are any delays, it could actually be months before the matter is heard. What can a person do in this situation?

Orders to Show Cause

In the event a spouse refuses to abide by the custody agreement when it comes to the holidays, contact an attorney to file an Order to Show Cause. With this order, the judge quickly makes a decision regarding the matter. However, the judge may refuse to hear the case if he or she does not believe irreparable harm will be done. He or she takes into consideration whether this issue should have been resolved earlier. How can one avoid the need for this hearing?

Ensure the custody agreement outlines who gets the children when during the holidays. This helps to avoid disputes. If a parent fails to comply, the court then steps in and the parent being refused visitation as outlined has a stronger case. Keep this in mind when preparing the custody agreement, as less conflict is always best for all involved but especially the children.

Need Legal Help? Let’s Talk!

Reasons to Hire a Divorce Attorney

Sad woman curled up on couch while partner faces her.

Going through a divorce, having to go to family court in West Virginia, and all that goes with it can be a difficult and emotional process for anyone. While there are some people who are convinced they can handle this legal process on their own, this isn’t always the case. In fact, there are several benefits offered when a person makes the decision to Hire A Divorce Attorney. Some of those benefits can be found here.

They Know the Law

One of the main reasons it is smart to hire a lawyer to help with divorce and other family law matters is that they have a full understanding of matrimonial law. This helps their clients because they are able to help them understand the law in a way that makes sense. This is extremely beneficial and will ensure that their client knows their rights, and what’s possible with their case.

They Can Help Provide an Objective View During an Emotional Time

Another benefit offered by hiring a divorce attorney to help with a case is that they can help their client see the situation objectively. The fact is, any case that involves a person’s family, or loved ones, is highly emotional. As a result, they may not be able to see the situation clearly. When this happens, they may make rash decisions that don’t really make sense. The attorney they hire can help them see things from a more objective, non-attached viewpoint.

They Handle the Paperwork

There is quite a bit of paperwork involved with any family law case. It can be overwhelming for someone who is already extremely emotional because of the situation they are facing. An attorney can handle most, if not all, of the paperwork on the behalf of their client, ensure it is filed properly and on time.

As anyone can see, hiring an attorney for any type of family law case is a smart move. They can provide the needed attention to the situation and help their client achieve the desired outcome. It is never a good idea to try and handle these cases alone, as the outcome may not be what the client had hoped for.

Allyson Hilliard Achieves Board Certification by The National Board Of Trial Advocacy

National Board of Trial Advocacy Emblem. NBTA established 1977.

Charleston, WV -The National Board of Trial Advocacy (NBTA) is pleased to announce that Allyson Hilliard of the law firm, Hilliard & Swartz has successfully achieved Board Certification as a family trial advocate. The NBTA was formed out of a strong conviction that both the law profession and its clients would benefit from an organization designed specifically to create an objective set of standards illustrating an attorney's experience and expertise in the practice of trial law.

Allyson Hilliard, joins a growing number of trial attorneys that have illustrated their commitment to bettering the legal profession by successfully completing a rigorous application process and providing the consumer of legal services with an objective measure by which to choose qualified and experienced legal counsel.

The elaborate screening of credentials that all NBTA board certified attorneys must successfully complete includes: demonstration of substantial trial experience, submission of judicial and peer references to attest to their competency, attendance of continuing legal education courses, submission of legal writing documents, proof of good standing and passing of an examination.

Board Certification is the highest, most stringent, and most reliable honor an attorney can achieve. Board certifications are the only distinctions awarded by non-profit organizations. The NBTA as well as all board certifying organizations are committed to safeguarding the public’s ability to choose a good attorney.

Allyson Hilliard is licensed to practice in West Virginia. Approximately three percent of American lawyers are board certified, and Mrs. Hilliard is a member of a very select group who has taken the time to prove competence in her specialty area and earn board certification.

For more information on Attorney Allyson Hilliard, please visit: www.wvdivorce.com and www.nbtalawyers.org

Building A Team For Your Divorce

When it comes to preparing for divorce, it’s about more than just getting your finances and properties in order. Choosing the right lawyer is crucial, not only because they’ll be representing your interests, but they can also help you pull together an invaluable divorce team. Divorces are rarely ever straightforward; they often require support from other professionals. Real estate agents, financial advisors, accountants, mediators, and parenting experts can make an enormous difference in the success of your case. When you choose a divorce attorney, make sure you understand the importance of putting together a divorce team who can provide you with the resources and guidance you require.

The Importance Of A Divorce Team

A divorce team should be composed of individuals who can help you during the difficult times to come. Divorce is often a very emotional, expensive, stressful, and frustrating process. At times it can be confusing and overwhelming, which is why it is crucial that you surround yourself with people who can support you and provide you with the advice and information you need.

Potential Members Of A Divorce Team

Ideally, a divorce team will support not only your legal objectives, but also your financial limits, parenting goals, and personal wishes. Here’s a brief list of some of the professionals who can help you with your divorce:

  • A divorce attorney and their team, which may include a paralegal or a support attorney

  • Mediators, parenting evaluators, counselors/therapists

  • Financial advisors, accountants, appraisers, tax professionals, real estate agents

  • Private investigators

Some of the people in your divorce team should be personally enriching, like trusted friends, family members, religious leaders of your faith, or therapists who can talk to both you and your children. For your children, this might also mean finding support from their teachers, family members, nanny, and so on. Parenting experts could also help weigh in on your situation, helping you find creative custody solutions if necessary.

The divorce process is often expensive. Even if your divorce is pretty straightforward, the process of regaining your independence can still be costly. To help prepare for these financial changes, legal expenses, and to protect your financial future, it could benefit you greatly to work with accountants, financial advisors, and tax professionals. Property division in divorces of couples with substantial or complex assets often require a team of financial experts.

Finding other experts for legal support besides your divorce attorney can further support your legal goals, help you avoid problems, and defend your assets. For example, if you suspect your spouse may be hiding assets from you, a forensic accountant or private investigator could help find those hidden accounts or assets. Business attorneys, real estate attorneys, and real estate agents can also help with the property division process, appraising your assets and the assets shared in your marriage.

How To Build A Divorce Team

When you choose to work with an experienced, knowledgeable divorce attorney from Hilliard & Swartz, our team will help assemble the right divorce team for your unique situation. This can make a big difference in helping you be prepared for the divorce process and in meeting your goals, especially if you have children, own a business, or have assets that you wish to protect.

Useful Apps to Help with Co-Parenting

There’s an app for everything nowadays, but some may be surprised to learn that there are several applications designed to help with co-parenting. Parenting alongside your ex is not without challenges, so anything you can do to make the situation easier can be an enormous help. There are several applications out there that could make sharing custody or arranging visitation easier for you and your ex.

Whether you’re looking for something specific or are simply interested in any new tech-savvy parenting method, these apps could help your family work together more easily.

Scheduling And Info-Sharing Apps

There are a variety of calendaring and scheduling apps out there for families, with some are designed specifically for co-parents. Here are some of the most population options:

Our Family Wizard

Our Family Wizard began as a website geared towards helping parents deal with the complications that come with sharing custody or visitation. Recently, the company created an app for iPhone users that addresses a variety of common co-parenting issues. The main thing this app helps with is scheduling. It includes a color-coded custody calendar where you can keep track of your parenting schedule, including pick-up and drop-off times. The app also has a journal entry feature and allows parents to send and receive messages to one another. There’s also a handy storage feature that allows parents to keep track of shared expenses, child immunization records, emergency contacts, and more.

Cozi Family Organizer

While Cozi Family Organizer isn’t specifically geared towards co-parenting, it is immensely popular as a general family planner. The New York TimesWall Street JournalParents Magazine, and USA Today are just a few of the news sources to praise this handy digital helper. Parents can use Cozi to create a calendar with color-coordinated schedules to distinguish each child’s activities or to designate separate parenting times. You can also share this calendar with your co-parent and send reminders or agenda emails for your convenience. The app includes a to-do list section, family journal, and an area to store shopping lists and favorite recipes. Best of all, this app is free!

Fayr

Fayr is another application specifically engineered with co-parenting in mind. It has a simplistic design and includes many useful features for the practical-minded parent. The app features a shared calendar that both parents can access, complete with a geo location log. In other words, if you are taking the kids to the beach for the day, you can check-in at your location on the app via GPS, so your co-parent knows where your children are. Parents can also message via the app and track expenses. Plus, all expense reports can be exported as time-stamped PDF for efficient record-keeping.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is a standard go-to for parents who love to keep things neat and organized. The app is easy to navigate and has a very pleasing look that pulls pictures and maps to make the scheduling experience even easier. Any events you discuss via email, including digital ticket receipts, flights, or hotel confirmations, will be added to your calendar for a smooth, effortless integration. You can also share events with your ex, which can make it easier for both of you to sync your parenting schedules, make changes, and keep track of big events in your kids’ lives.

2houses

The 2houses app is designed specifically for separated and divorced families. The system includes a shared calendar for easy scheduling and a detailed expense report to keep track of anything purchased for the child. Additionally, the app has a file sharing feature that allows parents to share things like report cards, medical information, and release forms.

AppClose

Another app designed specifically for co-parenting, AppClose offers several convenient features with no subscription fees or monthly charges. Parents can share a calendar, message one another, track expenses, and store important documents. The app also features a handy “request” section that allows parents to officially request and approve things like reimbursements for child-related expenses, changes in drop-off times, and so on.

Other co-parenting scheduling and calendar apps to consider include: Custody ConnectionParentshipSharedCareCoparentlyKidganizerSkedi.

Online Safety

Keeping tabs on your child’s screen time, online activity, and social media is a big job for any parent and can be especially challenging to manage when your child is with their other parent. Apps that provide parental controls for your child’s digital devices can help you protect your child online when they aren’t physically with you.

Qustodio

Qustodio is a parental control app that allows parents to supervise and manage their child’s electronic device. It works on several different types of devices and systems, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Kindle, and Nook. Parents can keep track of, and limit, screen time, and they can also see what their child did on their device at what time. The app can block inappropriate content, watch social media activity, track calls and location, and set time limits for specific apps.

Kaspersky Safe Kids

Much like Qustodio, Kaspersky Safe Kids is an app designed to help parents monitor and control their children’s digital usage. It allows for location tracking, manages screen usage time, and protects your child from exposure to inappropriate online content. As a bonus, the app also includes expert advice from psychologists that can help parents explain online security and safety to their children.

Precious Keepsakes

Artkive

Children produce a lot of artwork, and as a parent, you are probably tempted to keep every doodle and drawing they throw your way. However, these boxes of art projects can be difficult to share with your co-parent. With Artkive, you can store all your kids’ artwork digitally, or create a keepsake book. All you do is send in a box of your child’s artwork and the Artkive staff will have each piece professionally photographed for you. All photos will then be stored in the Artkive app for easy access anywhere. Plus, if you want a more concrete keepsake, you can have images printed into hardcover books.

Can You Use Witnesses in a Divorce Trial?

When it comes to building your divorce case, there are several methods and resources you can use to gather evidence of your good character. If you are a parent, using a character witness can be especially beneficial when it comes to proving your ability to care for your child. In any case, choosing reliable character witnesses can be challenging, especially if you aren’t sure what role a witness plays in a divorce case.

In order to improve the outcome of your family law trial, make sure you know what a character witness does, whether or not you need one, and who you should choose.

The Role Of A Witness

When you go through a divorce, a character witness is someone who testifies about your moral character, responsibility, and other personal qualities. The court will rely on this person’s word, so the witness must know the person who they are testifying for very well.

If you do choose to use a witness, or multiple witnesses, your attorney will ask the witness questions before the court. After your attorney has asked all their questions, your spouse’s attorney will have an opportunity to ask any questions they deem fit. Before the witness can leave, your attorney will have a second, and final, opportunity to ask any remaining questions.

Who Needs A Witness?

Anyone going through a divorce, child custody issue, or family law modification could benefit from a strong character witness. However, a witness becomes absolutely necessary in cases where your character and responsibility are put to question. Additionally, if your divorce case involves children, or if you are dealing with a child custody issue, you will certainly benefit from proving your good qualities as a parent.

Not all cases require the good word of character witnesses, especially if you are going through a more amicable divorce or working towards a settlement agreement that you are happy with.

How To Choose A Witness

Some courts do not allow family members to act as witnesses because of certain biases, so it’s usually safer to use a trusted friend, colleague, or someone else you spend a good deal of time with. Choosing someone close to you is always best because they will have first-hand accounts of your behavior and that of your spouse. For example, if you are trying to prove abuse, your best friend may have seen your spouse hit you, whereas your colleague might have only seen the evidence of the abuse.

In some cases, couples may call forth a witness who can speak to both sides. For example, a nanny or babysitter might have firsthand experience watching each spouse with their children and will be instrumental in speaking to the abilities of either parent. If the couple shared a business, they might have a business partner who can explain who was more involved or attest to how each person contributed to the growth of the business.

Each divorce case has its own unique set of challenges, and when it comes to deciding whether you need a character witness, its best to consult with your divorce attorney. Our family lawyers at Hilliard & Swartz can evaluate your situation and determine the best legal methods to employ to protect your interests.