What happens during a divorce when abuse is present? How do you safeguard yourself and those you love during those tough times? Divorce can be an incredibly difficult experience, and it gets even more complicated when abuse is involved. With the help of Susan and Tracy in this episode, you’ll learn how to safeguard yourself or your loved ones during these tough times. Knowing the signs of various forms of abuse could prove vital for protecting both yourself and those around you from further harm.
Representation in Divorces
What do you need to know about the different types of representation in divorces? Why should you always schedule a consultation with an attorney? Tracy and Susan dive into representation in divorces in this episode, from all the benefits to what you need to avoid doing to avoid major setbacks. Divorces are extremely difficult to manage because a person is often in a very vulnerable and sensitive state, which is exactly why having representation in divorces is so crucial.
Susan Reff: On today’s podcast, we are going to discuss the five different types of representation for divorces,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And at the end of the episode, we’re going to share some tips with you. Why you should always go with a consultation with lawyer over Googling the heck out of a topic because you’ll never find the answer on Google, but we’ll talk about that at the end.
Susan Reff: No DIY here
Tracy Hightower-Henne: We call that Home Depot, Home Depot or Menards, right? That’s where all the DIY stuff is.
Susan Reff: Etsy.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, there’s good stuff on Etsy, though. No, I love Etsy. So what’s new with you?
Susan Reff: We went to my niece’s daughter’s high school graduation this weekend, and it was like the first time being with other people and it was pretty cool, like being in public and not wearing a mask the whole time. But it was kind of strange too.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And it was nice outside.
Susan Reff: It was nice outside. We were in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which was actually quite a bit warmer than it was here. Oh, wow. So it was it was really good to see family and catch up. So what would you do anything fun?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: We installed some baby gates for our elderly dog so she doesn’t wander down the stairs when we’re home, not home, when we’re not home.
Susan Reff: That’s kind of weird, like baby gates for an elderly dog. Yeah. So they’re really like dog gates, right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And one of them, you know, we have a Great Dane and one of the baby gates, like is 18 inches off the ground and I’m like, Oh, well, she could jump over that, but she can’t jump, so that’s good.
Susan Reff: Could it really have been even shorter? Yes.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: One inch tall. And she would have gotten the clue. Don’t go down the stairs.
Susan Reff: Can your cats go over him?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. And I think the cat can kind of just squeeze through the side. Oh. So that’s what we did this weekend.
Susan Reff: A little home modification. I don’t know if that’s an improvement, really, but modification? Yeah. Do you use a drill?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: No, no drilling. No. It just like squeezes to the side.
Susan Reff: Oh, so it’s not permanent
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Negative, right? Not permanent.
Susan Reff: You know, I have a few of those, if you need more.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I know I should have asked, but then Amazon is so easy.
Susan Reff: Well, like, everybody has
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Those though prime it. And then it’s like here the next day, magically, right?
Susan Reff: Yeah, yeah. So you could also. Potentially use those I’m trying to think because you have a pool like to block kids from going outside, but you could have your door open.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: But we don’t have kids
Susan Reff: So well, but if somebody had a kid over, oh, you know,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Like, I don’t prefer that either.
Susan Reff: Well, geez, I’m trying to think of ways you can multi-use your things that you bought. So you see the then you can give them to somebody who’s having a baby.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right? Yeah, good. And there was a headline recent headline, too, that the Supreme Court’s going to hear an abortion case this fall.
Susan Reff: I did not hear that.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So we’ll have to watch that. Yeah. Watch and discuss.
Susan Reff: With. Amy Coney Barrett, I
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Think that’s
Susan Reff: Coney Comfy
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And Coney Coney Coney
Susan Reff: Like Coney Island. Yeah, yeah, OK, I’ll get it right.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Is that her middle name or is that a first last name?
Susan Reff: No, it’s like hyphenated, is it? Mm hmm. Hmm.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So she’s part of that cool club.
Susan Reff: It might not be hyphenated, but it’s two last names because I don’t think she was always Amy Coney Barrett.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So is Coney her maiden name, Coney? Yeah, that’s all. That’s OK. Couldn’t hear you. So we can’t. We can’t hear the MS in the ends, but we think it’s Coney.
Susan Reff: We’ll have to do some research before we can talk more about her and the case. So we’re prepared.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So stay tuned because we will talk about this case coming up.
Susan Reff: So in today’s topic, you know the five types of referendum representation for divorces. You know, I think what most people think about is everybody has a lawyer and you end up in court a lot and you’re fighting a lot, right? And that’s what we would call probably the traditional model of getting divorced, right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: That’s probably what the movies have sabotaged for us, right? They give us a bad name. The movies and the TV shows about divorce talk a lot about the cost and how expensive it can be and and typically movies and shows are always taking place in California and New York. And right, it’s not like expensive here.
Susan Reff: Kramer vs. Kramer Did you ever see that? No, you should see it. It’s like an 80s movie is a messy divorce. But I think the kids kid was very affected. So, yeah, that was a good one.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So that was a traditional type model where, yes, you just get get lawyers, you’re going to get divorced and you kind of just
Susan Reff: You stop talking to each other and you only talk to your lawyer about your divorce,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right? So zero communication, potentially with the other side. And I think when we talk about the traditional model, what typically happens is you kind of hope for the best right. You hire the lawyer that you feel good about you trust. Sometimes it happens on a whim and you need to make a decision quickly if there’s different scenarios that are happening in your life. And sometimes you have a little bit of time to interview a couple of lawyers and you pick your lawyer and you hope that they’re going to work well with the other lawyer and the judge. And then you trust that they. Know what routes to take and what things are in your best interest, right?
Susan Reff: Yeah, I I think it’s interesting when people hire a lawyer, they. I think it’s I think it’s changing, but when I first started practicing divorce law, people didn’t really shop for a lawyer, right? There was like no comparison. They just heard of one person and that was the person that they would go to. Whereas now I think more people are using the internet, talking to their friends who’ve been through it or asking people for recommendations. Because I used I used to hear so many people say how unhappy they were with their lawyer, and I said, well. Why didn’t you change your lawyer or whatever they were? I didn’t know I could change lawyers or. Well, that was who my sister used and you know, like people, people would shop more for a plumber than they would a lawyer. But I do think that’s changing now with lawyers doing more advertising and things like
Tracy Hightower-Henne: That and more online reviews to read, right?
Susan Reff: I think, you know, quite a few lawyers still don’t have an online presence at all. I mean, which is dumb, but I do think the ones you know, the ones that are doing it are doing a pretty good job. You know, they’re pretty smart about it, especially us. But, you know, we kind of set the tone for other lawyers in our area.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: We’re doing a banging job. Yep. Not biased at all. So the other type of representation, too, that’s kind of on the other end of the spectrum is. What’s called pro say, divorce and pro stays Latin for representing yourself or something like that, do you know the exact?
Susan Reff: I think it was something I think it has something to do with, with talking like some talking word.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I don’t know the name pro. You’re not going to be a professional right representing yourself, right?
Susan Reff: I’m not a pro lawyer if you represent yourself.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: There are some consultations that will do, though, that we will ultimately support someone representing themselves. I think that there’s a very small microcosm of the universe that is able to represent them, represent themselves. And there’s a whole. A whole host of forms on the Nebraska Supreme Court’s website that people can self-help themselves, right? It’s called the self-help website right.
Susan Reff: And if you formally enter into an agreement where you’re going to help somebody who is technically pro say it’s called limited scope, right? Where you just pick maybe certain parts of the case where you will actually enter an appearance for that person for a limited purpose, and you would have to define that for the court. So sometimes it’s just to draft like the initial pleadings or, you know, review the final documents and your whole role is just to do that one or two or three. However, many things you put in your limited scope agreement, right? And then the person is on their own for everything else.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. And that’s true that pro say litigants remain pro say, even if they have a limited scope attorney. So it’s all very confusing and technical. And these are the alternatives to what’s called a full scope representation, which is that traditional representation that we talked about at first. So oftentimes Pro say litigants are truly on their own, they’re going to court on their own, they’re doing negotiations on their own with opposing counsel. They are the only person then to communicate with their spouse. And oftentimes when people, you know, maybe it’s a short term marriage, they have no assets, they have no kids. There really isn’t anything to split up completely. Pro say divorce can be OK. And even the forms on the self-help website talk about these forms shouldn’t be used. If you have retirement accounts, display right if you own a house,
Susan Reff: I think the forms and the instructions that are available have. You know, obviously we’re developed by a practicing attorneys, but do caution, people. About times when they might need to seek the advice of an attorney. I’ll tell you a story I. Where we see problems is usually after people have done a pro, say divorce where they did it themselves and they come in and they didn’t end up with what they thought they were going to get or something like that. So I had a case where it was a gal came in. They were pro say they didn’t have any children. They had a, you know, agreed on how to split everything. But they didn’t put it in the decree, how they were splitting things, and it really only mattered when it came to the house. That they didn’t put in the decree anything about their house, did they use the forms? Yes, the self-help forms, yes.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Important to note, there is nothing in the forms that talks about houses, right?
Susan Reff: That would clue them in. So the house was their biggest asset. It was titled in both person, both husband and wife’s name. The mortgage was in both names. And after their divorce, this was like five years later, she their agreement was that she would have the house. Well, he ended up in jail and somehow was trying to secure a loan against the house to post his bond. And they, you know, had gone their separate ways, and I’m guessing part of why he they went their separate ways was his behavior and then he ends up in jail. And what we ended up doing was because the mortgage company was like, Well, we can give you a second mortgage or a line of credit or whatever it was, but you’re she still has to sign off on it. You two still own this property together. And she ended up agreeing to post his bond if he agreed to sign the house back over to her. So that’s where getting a getting a lawyer involved at that point really helped her, too. Because we came up with that idea, we were able to go into the jail and get him to sign all the paperwork and all of that.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I remember that you took the paperwork to the jail. Yeah, thinking, well, he may or may not sign this right, right?
Susan Reff: We may have had to take more than one trip, but ultimately he did it.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And they don’t let you bring your laptop in and make some edits and then like, print it there and the attorney? No, no,
Susan Reff: No, they don’t. But well, and he had no idea why we were visiting him at the jail. He’s like, Who are you? What is this all about? You’re not my lawyer.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And so was it a bail bondsman that was going to give him the loan on the house or just completely through a mortgage company?
Susan Reff: It was through the mortgage company. Wow. I mean, he had like friends and family who were helping him and. I don’t know all the details on how that was happening, but she was notified by a bank that he was trying to. Get more money out of the House to post his bond.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So another story that that we’ve had in our office is where the divorce decree noted that neither party is awarded the house and the house is to be sold. And this is like in nineteen ninety five.
Susan Reff: And this is pro-se, right?
Tracy Hightower-Henne: We don’t know.
Susan Reff: That was before computers.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: That was I think I was in sixth grade. So we definitely didn’t represent them. But we are presented with an estate planning question because the decree says the house is to be sold. The house was never sold. And actually, this couple remained living together because they were friends and they remain living together. And the ex-husband kept paying the mortgage payments, right? And then he died.
Susan Reff: Yes.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And they were divorced. And yeah, they
Susan Reff: Didn’t do what they
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Were supposed to. Now there’s a question of whether she’s entitled to some proceeds of the house and at what value, whether it was in nineteen ninety five or today’s value if the house is sold. So there’s a lot of different questions that can go into the decree that you need to have a lawyer do some forward thinking on of what happens. You know, if the house doesn’t ever get sold, should it be awarded to someone, right?
Susan Reff: Yeah, yeah. And even if people are getting along in everything, that house can be a tricky piece because it involves. Banks that may or may not do what everyone wants things to be done.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Well, it also involves a market, right, that I think in. We had the other case that in 2008, when the market was down and no one was buying houses, there was the decree that was written by other attorneys. And I think it was a one attorney model, which we’ll talk about too. But one attorney model writes a decree that states when the house is sold, the parties will split the proceeds. Well, guess what? The house got sold, but there weren’t proceeds. They had to come up with money to the table, right? And you know, you think about different market scenarios where right now the house is being sold and there is more likely proceeds.
Susan Reff: That was back when the divorce was all about. No, you take the house, you take the house. I don’t want the house. Should we burn it down,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Cut it in half.
Susan Reff: That was back when, yeah, there was nothing good could come of keeping the house right.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: The housing market was bad,
Susan Reff: But selling it also was a bad choice. There was no good choice. Yeah, so. So you mentioned one attorney model, and that’s a type of representation where there’s only one attorney involved. But but the attorney doesn’t represent both people, and I think that’s confusing for. People who think like, Oh, we’re getting along, we we’ve maybe already agreed on everything, we wrote it all down. We we signed it at the kitchen table. Can can you? You know, Hey, Tracy, can you just sign this for us or get it to the judge or, you know, so I think the idea they don’t understand that, you know, ethically, even though people are getting long, a divorce is still you versus them, you know, right? It’s like one against the other technically, even if they get along.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So we can still a lawsuit.
Susan Reff: Right? So we can’t represent both people. But in that situation, you know, we will meet with both people. We will only enter our appearance as a as an attorney for one of the people. We would communicate openly with both of them about the agreements that they’ve made. We would make sure they get noted correctly on all the court documents. Make sure things get filed correctly for them. You know, walk them through how to finalize, drafting final documents, getting signatures, getting it to the I mean, half of some of this for people is getting the documents to the right person in the right place, right? Absolutely. I mean, the courthouse is not an easy place to navigate.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And sometimes when someone calls in and asks for a mediated divorce, we often describe our one attorney model scenario as a mediated divorce. And while that’s slightly confusing, if you Google what mediated divorce means, there’s really not a whole lot of mediated divorce that happens in Nebraska. So in Nebraska, you use a mediator typically to help you mediate your parenting plan. And you can use a mediator to help you with the other aspects of your divorce, like the financial aspects, talking about child support, how to split accounts. But an attorney has to be a mediator. But then they also can’t wear the same hat as an attorney, so it’s slightly confusing, but often we find people who want to talk about a mediated divorce. A one attorney model can be a good approach for them. And so when they come in for the consultation, we will explain a one attorney model as an option, and we didn’t. Well, we just call it one attorney model. I was going to say we didn’t come up with the phrase, but I think we did. Other places call it a one attorney model, right? Or making?
Susan Reff: Yeah, I think some lawyers do use mediated divorce and one attorney model interchangeably, but I don’t think they’re exactly the same.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, they’re definitely not the same. You can’t as a mediator, you can’t also draft the legal documents. So then you still need another attorney person to draft the documents, which is where it becomes really confusing for the parties, the spouses. And it also walks a fine line of some ethical questions as well for the attorneys. So when we talk about a one attorney model in our office, we’re really clear that it means we are literally representing only one of you. But if the two of you have some pretty solid agreements on things, we can draft the documents that formulate your settlement ideas and that also comply with the law to make sure a judge will sign off on it. And if there’s a question or a roadblock that the two of you have on an idea that you can’t have an agreement on, we can provide some options and solutions. But one attorney model can work really well if there’s some kitchen table agreements that have been started.
Susan Reff: Yeah. Now have you ever I I have never had this happen to me, but I know it’s happened where people who are getting along. They go to a mediator like they go, they go to the mediator and they resolve everything and they have an agreement. They probably have signed paperwork, potentially notarized and then they go about their merry way. And then they find out later that they actually aren’t divorced. And some of those people have actually gotten remarried. I think I think that’s where they find that they are not actually divorced is maybe when they go apply for that marriage license
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Or they try to divorce the second person that they weren’t never they were never actually married to.
Susan Reff: Well, and when you when you apply for a marriage license, if you’ve been divorced, it says you have to list your ex spouse’s name and then the case number. So you would think that would clue that person in like, Oh, well, what’s my case number? I’ll go back and look at that paperwork and they look at that paperwork. They realize there’s no case number on it because the mediator just drafted an agreement, never got to the
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Judge and they never filed anything with the court
Susan Reff: House. So I would hope that a good mediator would let people know like, Hey, I’m just helping you draft an agreement. You’re going to have to take this to an attorney or attorneys to get it. You know, an enforceable order that then actually declares you divorced.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So the marriage license has a spot on it to ask if you’ve ever been divorced before? Yes. Or are there more than one lines?
Susan Reff: I just remember it did. It does ask for quite a bit of information, and I’m wondering if they do look to see if that case was finalized. Wow.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Probably.
Susan Reff: Yeah, I mean, we but we do have cases of of people who we find out they never got divorced before, right? Right. I mean, we could talk about that on another podcast. Those facts are really interesting because usually it’s decades later tip.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: You can’t get remarried in Nebraska until six months has passed after your divorce. You can get engaged because a lot of people will do that soon after their divorce. But you cannot get remarried until six months passes.
Susan Reff: There are two exceptions to that rule.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes, there are exceptions.
Susan Reff: One is you can remarry that person that you were divorcing. That’s right. And if that person dies, then you can remarry. So like if that person dies the day they signed the decree, they can the other spouse can get remarried right away.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Right? What was the purpose of the six month? Rule. Some sort of antiquated
Susan Reff: I
Tracy Hightower-Henne: They wanted people to be able to reconcile.
Susan Reff: You think,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Well, then we had the cooling off period. You you can’t finalize your divorce until 60 days has passed after you filed it. And that’s called the cooling off period. So they don’t want people to have an argument overnight and get divorced the next morning. You need 60 days to cool off from that fight.
Susan Reff: Yeah.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Also known as the waiting period,
Susan Reff: I saw some discussion amongst lawyers online about the waiting period in another state, and it was like nine days
Tracy Hightower-Henne: If they only need nine days to cool
Susan Reff: Off their argument. Why nine? I mean, like seven 10.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think by 60 days you’re pretty cooled off from that argument, right? Well, it depends,
Susan Reff: It depends,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Depends on the
Susan Reff: Topic, but that also means you have had to like, get something on file, take those steps, you know, all of it to to start the divorce process. Yeah, well, and we’ve seen people who close their divorce before the 60 days was over.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And then it’s not valid, right? Yeah. All sorts of problems. We once had a case where we had to literally count the days from the 60 days and the divorce ended up getting. The decree ended up getting filed on the 60th day. And I think like February was in there and no one really counted the twenty eight days of February. And so the judge found that the divorce was invalid, and this happened because the other side didn’t have an attorney. When we filed it, we filed it on the 60th day, and the judge later found when the say person wanted the decree set aside, the judge found that 60 days hadn’t passed. So you can’t file it until the sixty first day and then you need to count the days
Susan Reff: Instead of just the number of months, right? Yeah.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So the other speaking of that, you know, we have a fully processed divorce, which means neither party has an attorney or one or both has a limited scope attorney helping either in the background or drafting documents. And the attorney’s name is on those documents. But we also can have a one attorney model where not everything is in agreement. It’s just the other side hasn’t hired their own lawyer.
Susan Reff: Yeah, and those cases are tough because you think they’re going to start. Sometimes they’re going to be OK. And by, OK, I mean, like, it’ll go smooth. There won’t be any big snags. People will be able to come to agreements on everything.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I like how you use the word OK instead of normal, right? There’s no normal.
Susan Reff: Yeah, I don’t. I don’t. I don’t think I use the word normal. You know, like they say, you shouldn’t use words like that, like because there is no normal and you shouldn’t say things are crazy. I do say crazy a lot, though I shouldn’t, because that has stigma and I shouldn’t say that so rough and smooth or OK, maybe, but but nobody feels good in a divorce, so saying it’s OK, maybe isn’t even the right terminology.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: But so when we get hired by a client, we assume the majority of the time the other person is going to hire a lawyer. Right? And so what happens is in these situations is we are hired. We send out a notice and a document to the other person, the other spouse that says, Hey, we’ve been hired, we’re going to start this process. Here’s what’s been filed. And we usually give that other person about 10 days to tell us who you’re going to hire. And we assume we’re going to get some information or correspondence from another attorney. And oftentimes what happens is that person either is in denial. They don’t have money to hire a lawyer. They, for whatever reason, they don’t hire a lawyer and then they don’t communicate with us. And so we have to go through some procedures to get the divorce finalized in a way that’s called a default.
Susan Reff: You know, it’s those cases sometimes where you you just want that person to hire an attorney because the attorney knows the process. Now, maybe they’re not going to agree on everything. They’re going to fight over the toaster and the coffee pot. And every lawyers don’t like that. But at least there’s a lawyer on the other side that knows how things work.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: We’ve never had a fight over a toaster. We just say this often because it could be the most ridiculous fight. But on that note, we should brand toasters. And then here, here’s the toaster
Susan Reff: Is your parting gift from Hightower? Roughly, you get a toaster.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: But disclaimer We’ve never had a fight over a toaster.
Susan Reff: We should do a podcast over the things we have had fights over, because that’s pretty fun.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I already have a good story, so we’ll have that. So tune in.
Susan Reff: Yeah, we could really come up with some good stuff. The the cases where the person there’s one lawyer on one side and the other side does not have a lawyer is almost like the worst in my mind, the worst case unless the other person. Is really communicative, is acting professionally, but usually they aren’t usually there like I’m going to be a jerk and I’m either not going to respond or I’m going to respond with irrelevant things or be really unprofessional or file random stuff with the court because the judges give people that don’t have lawyers some leeway. Yes. So they could file. They could write a letter to the judge, and the judge then has to have a hearing on this letter when that’s not how it works.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: How about the pro, say parties on the other side of our cases that think they’re lawyers?
Susan Reff: Oh yeah.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Or they are lawyers, but they don’t practice family law.
Susan Reff: Yeah, that that’s a whole nother thing that we really didn’t put on our list for the five types of representation. That’s like a traditional divorce with a not a lawyer who doesn’t know what they’re doing.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I just I just finalized a case and the other party was pro say and is a lawyer not practicing not anywhere near family law, but just not practicing law in general. And so we finalized the decree well. We had a draft of what I thought should be the final version of the decree. And this person went through and Red Line some, you know, language in the decree and our paralegal came in and said, What does he think he’s a lawyer or something? And I said, Well, he actually is. So we ended up finalizing it. But it can become really tricky when you know, we’re representing clients in a very specialized area of law that has some kind of. Unwritten rules, right?
Susan Reff: Yeah, and like you and I don’t go out and try to sell commercial real estate or write commercial real estate contracts, and we don’t try to patent things because we know that we’re not experts in that area and, you know,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: So we don’t try to sell our own homes either. No, in general, right? So I mean, it’s that that’s the. The similar situation to a pro say, divorce, right, the for sale by owner, if you want an analogy.
Susan Reff: No divorce.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah. And it’s again, a lot of people can sell their, especially right now. You can sell your home for sale by owner and get a pretty sweet deal. Yeah. And it is OK in some situations for people to represent themselves in a in their own divorce.
Susan Reff: So another, I think the last area of or type of representation that we we do and you and I are both trained in collaborative divorce. And that’s where. The attorneys have to go through basically three levels of specialized training. The first level is a basic mediation that if you want to do any sort of mediation, you have to take a basic mediation training and it’s not just like a two or three hour long class.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I added it up one time it was 17 hours total across the three levels.
Susan Reff: I feel like it’s more
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Maybe more, you know, I’m bad at math, but
Susan Reff: Maybe it was I think there might be a seven in there, but I think that might be the first number.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: I think there are 70 plus hours where I felt like it.
Susan Reff: My basic mediation was for work days. You know, like eight to five with some breaks.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Ok, so maybe the 17 was just the collaborative, but yeah, regardless.
Susan Reff: Yes, you
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Do the 70, you’re
Susan Reff: Right. So you do the basic mediation training and then you have to do family law mediation training, which is where you learn the how to draft a parenting plan, which is required in Nebraska for anyone divorcing with children.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And I’m thankful for all of our parenting plan mediators because it’s not my desire.
Susan Reff: I think people either really like it or they don’t, you know, just like everything. And then you have to do a collaborative divorce training, which then you start doing role-playing and all of that. And it involves mental health practitioners and financial planners and all of that that all go into the collaborative divorce process. So people can say they’re collaborative. Meaning like I work well with other people, I get along with most people. I try my best to not, you know, fight with people. But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a collaborative attorney, trained, collaboratively trained right.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And so we will definitely do a podcast where we take a much deeper dive in the collaborative representation. But as part of one of the types of representation, it’s important to note that and we’ll talk about the pitfalls and the benefits and the risks and rewards of collaborative divorce in in a much deeper dive of that topic. But collaborative divorce is an is an appropriate representation for some people, but it also is not appropriate for some people. And we’ll talk about the reasons why, but basically. There needs to be a lot of people being on the same page before you can start the collaborative process.
Susan Reff: And I think a really important takeaway to know about collaborative divorce is you can only really do a traditional collaborative divorce, traditional meaning like in the box of collaborative if both lawyers are collaboratively trained right
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And the the gist of collaborative divorce is that there’s a team of professionals. So each person has a divorce coach that helps them. The lawyers are considered part of the team. If there’s children involved, you’re going to have a child specialist, which helps you with your parenting plan, and you may or may not have a financial specialist and all agreements and discussions take place outside of the courtroom. You never go to court. Judge never makes the decision. And all discussions happen in what we call four way meetings, sometimes a five way meeting if one of the other professionals is involved. So we will talk about collaborative divorce more in depth, but that is definitely one of the five options for divorce representation. Talking about all of these types of representation, I think we wanted to really end on the note that even if you think you want to do a pro, say divorce and all of these different types of representation, what do you think about doing a consultation?
Susan Reff: I think during a consultation would be the best time to talk with a lawyer and say, Give me some advice about what would work best for my situation. And maybe the answer from the lawyer is you could do a one attorney model or you could represent yourself or something like that. But. You know, do you buy a car without test driving it? It’s kind of it’s kind of the same thing. You know, do you buy a house without doing a walkthrough, right? Or it’s very similar and not to say that you necessarily even have to hire that lawyer that you consult with, but. I think the idea of having a consultation versus just trying to find information like on the internet or talking to friends because every case is so unique, what you’re going to find on Google is not necessarily what the law in Nebraska says or what we know our judges do.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yeah, you get smaller and smaller on Google, right? You’re basically getting all the information typically from the United States. And then that’s not going to apply because you’re not looking at Nebraska law if you live in Nebraska. So then you need to get smaller and find Nebraska law, which you might be able to do on the internet. Then you need to get even smaller and find what’s going to happen in your county with that particular judge. And in Douglas County, do we have 17 judges now, something
Susan Reff: It’s like a whole team now? I don’t know, like a football team or something.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Do you do you know how many people are in a football team?
Susan Reff: Well, one hundred and twenty, usually because half of them just stand on the sidelines. The whole,
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Ok. There aren’t a hundred and twenty judges in Douglas.
Susan Reff: No, but there’s a lot with all their own personalities.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: And the point is you’re never going to find information on Google about what each of those particular judges is likely to do. But you will, with an experienced attorney in a console and a good attorney is going to go through all these different types of representation with you and why some are OK for you and some are not. And even a good attorney is going to tell you you might be able to do this on your own if that’s a question.
Susan Reff: And Google, what what I’ve found about the law is when you Google, you might come up with a Wikipedia article, you might come up with an attorney blog. But there also are people who have gone through divorces that write blogs, and you have no idea where they’re coming from. If you’re reading their blog right? Unless you do some deep dive into who is writing this, you might you might not know they’re not a legal professional.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: You have to take what you read on the internet with a grain of salt as it relates to family law cases and casework, right? And then you also the information you can get from your family and friends who have gone through a divorce or know someone else has gone through a divorce because here’s what inevitably is happening. They’re not telling you warts and all. They are not telling you the bad thing. Yeah, right. There’s whole thing like. I accept your warts and all right. They’re just not telling you all the gross things that happened in their case because they want it to look flowery. And so if they’re telling you, well, in my situation, I got $2000 a month in child support and they have two kids. And you know, it seems similar, right? That doesn’t mean you’re getting $2000 a month in child support, right?
Susan Reff: Yeah, you have to remember that every case is different and there’s trends in the law, too. You know that change over time. So maybe that person’s case is exactly the same as yours, but it was 10 years ago. Yeah, it’s not going to be the same.
Tracy Hightower-Henne: Yes. So the value of a console and the other thing too, is you’ll find some attorneys, local attorneys that charge for consults and you’ll find attorneys that don’t charge for consoles. And just like a lot of things, there’s a value in what you pay for. So attorneys typically that charge for a consult are going to give you a good amount of information and direction and also make you feel comfortable or not with them and the attorneys that might advertise doing free consultations. It might not actually be a consultation
Susan Reff: And it might not be with a lawyer. You might be meeting with their paralegal or their legal assistant. Yes, and not getting actual legal advice. Do your research on the lawyer you’re doing your consult with to
Tracy Hightower-Henne: All of these different types of representation. We talked about the Pro, say one attorney model, sometimes also known as a mediated divorce, limited scope representation, full scope representation, which is sometimes known as the traditional model and then collaborative divorce, which we will talk much more about in upcoming podcast.
Susan Reff: And so until next time.
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