1. What are the benefits of choosing Pingel Family Law for your case?
Answer: We are a full service Family Law firm with experience. Mandee is an experienced negotiator and litigator. We are knowledgeable in all areas of practice from parenting arrangements to financial issues. As a parent of three children herself, Mandee works to incorporate the considerations, needs of children and best interests of children in all of the parenting considerations and advice that she provides to client.
We understand the effects of a separation on parties and/or the stress of going through other types of family law litigation and work with our clients and their professionals (or a resource of professionals we can provide and refer you to) to find the best resolution for your individual case and the needs of your children children through the most appropriate resolution process available, regardless of whether your case calls for litigation or settlement or resolution.
In addition, because all that we do is Family Law, we have developed a resource of documents that may help reduce our client’s fees. We are committed to working with our clients and to being available – and responsive – when they need us. We understand that every family law situation is unique and that it is a difficult and emotional time. Clients are generally placing everything that matters most to them, their financial future/well-being and/or the custody and parenting time rights with their children in our hands. This is an honor and a privilege that we don’t take lightly and our goal is to walk with you, support you and create strategies for success every step of the way!
2. What is the role of my lawyer in litigation and why do I need a lawyer?
a. Answer: you are not required to have a lawyer in litigation. However, when you do not elect to have a lawyer represent you, you are held by the court to the standards of a practicing lawyer. In the same way that most people would not perform their own medical procedures, it is often difficult to successfully navigate yourself through the rules and requirements of litigation without an experienced legal professional.
As your lawyer, we help clients navigate the litigation process by providing legal advice. We will provide advice on the process, steps, options, risks and benefits, as well as options to minimize or reduce risks, dangers or potential negative outcomes. It is also our job to explain the options, risks and benefits to you and when needed, give you advice and input about how particular actions you may choose to engage in will negatively or positively affect the potential outcome of your case.
In order for our attorney-client relationship to be effective, we rely on clients to provide accurate, timely ongoing information. Our goal is to provide a client their options, an educated understanding of those options, as well as the risks and benefits of various courses of action and when appropriate, make recommendations. From there, a client will give his or her direction about the steps that should proceed in a client’s case.
We want to empower clients to make informed and educated decisions. At times, a lawyer also has an ethical duty to honestly share with a client if it appears a course of conduct a client wants to take will be unlikely to result in success or a positive outcome. In any litigation, success cannot be guaranteed.
3. If I go through a divorce process, what are the issues that my spouse and I will have to work through to resolve the case?
a. Answer: In a general, broad sense the issues are parenting of the children (i.e. the time that the children spend with each parent), child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, payment of attorney fees and expenses, if requested by one of the parties and finally, the status of dissolving the marriage.
4. My spouse and I generally agree to terms of our divorce, can we use the same lawyer?
a. Answer; No: Both parties need to use an independent lawyer. If your spouse does not desire to retain his or her own lawyer, our office can represent ONE of you, prepare documents and the other party can review them, sign them and they can be filed/entered with the court. However, one lawyer cannot represent the interest of, and give advice to two different parties (you and your spouse). Each client having his or her own lawyer ensures that each party is able to obtain independent legal advice that serves his or her individual best interests.
5. Do we have to go to court? Can we just settle?
a. Answer: Most cases are able to be settled and resolved without the requirements of a contested court process. However, some courts, even with a written settlement agreement require one or both parties to come to court for a final settlement hearing. There are lots of tools and opportunities, prior to scheduling a contested trial date, to try to resolve the disputes and disagreements, before determining a trial is necessary. Our lawyers can help you understand those tools and determine what tools may be effective for your case.
6. Are we separated if we have not signed a separation agreement?
a. Answer: Yes! Your status as being a separated spouse does not require you to have a signed separation agreement. You do not need a document saying you are legally separated. You and your spouse are separated when you stop living with one another and begin living apart. Often times this means one or both of you have also made a permanent decision to not resume your life together with one another as a married couple. You do not need permission or legal approval to live separate and apart from one another. In fact, there are occasions when parties are still living in the same house, but they are separated for purposes of ending their marriage.
7. What is involved in obtaining a divorce?
a. Answer: If an agreement is signed, generally the process for finalizing the divorce can be expedited. There are one or more financial forms, an affidavit has to be signed, a proposed judgment prepared and then some courts require a personal appearance, whereas other courts allow the appearance to be by video conference or they will allow all of the paperwork to be submitted without a court hearing. When you discuss your case and situation with one of our lawyers, they can help explain the anticipated process for your case based on where your case will be filed.
8. Are there tax advantages to having a separation agreement prepared in the correct way?
a. Answer: in many cases there can be significant advantages. These advantages can, at times, concern spousal support, property division, dependency deductions/exemptions, considerations of children’s expenses such as daycare, educational and college expenses, among other areas. It is important to work with a family law attorney who can help you understand the impact of your settlement on taxation issues. Of course our family law attorneys cannot give you tax advice, but they can give you input, recommendations and refer you to a tax advisor if needed.
9. What are the different ways that a family law case can be resolved?
a. Answer: family law cases can generally be resolved through settlement (which can occur through negotiations direct between the parties, through counsel/lawyer involvement or through a mediation process), through trial/litigation or the case can be terminated through dismissal. In discussing the best strategy for your case and situation, your lawyer will determine an individualized approach that meets your case needs and attempts to maximize the opportunity for success in meeting your stated goals.
10. My spouse is secretive about finances. How will I know how much money my spouse earns or what assets we have?
a. Answer: an experienced family law attorney can provide you with many options in ensuring a full and complete financial disclosure of information. The court has formal processes for obtaining information, through discovery. In addition to the discovery items obtained, our firm is adept at reviewing financial documents such as bank records, bank statements, tax returns, employment records and other similar items to ensure that all assets are disclosed.
11. What kind of custody will the court award?
a. Every family and situation is unique! Generally, the court has to make determinations about three things for children: their legal custody (the decision-making rights and responsibilities for the children’s needs), their physical custody (where they spend their time) as well as their residential custody or designation (the home that they attend school from and use for their address for mailing and educational purposes. Our attorneys can discuss your individual situation and desires to help you determine the arrangements that might serve the best interests of your children in your individual family situation.