The office is normally open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If necessary, appointments can be arranged outside these hours. Except in an emergency, you should make an appointment during scheduled business hours. Our office is closed on all legal holidays.
Please call when you have a question or need advice concerning your case. Friends and relatives are great, but remember, you have retained the attorney to advise you. Your case is different from Aunt Jane’s, and what the judge did in Joe’s case may be totally different from your factual situation.
Please call if a question arises. Sometimes Michele might not be immediately available to speak with you. She spends time interviewing clients and must also spend substantial time preparing written materials and appearing in Court. You can be assured that your case will receive this same careful attention when needed.
If she cannot be reached, please feel free to speak with her paralegal, Dawn. If it is an urgent matter, she can sometimes arrange for a conference call so that your inquiry can be answered immediately. Please give Dawn the details of your inquiry and check with her on the following day. Dawn generally reviews such matters with Michele so that a response can be relayed to you.
If at any time you do not wish to leave a message, please make an appointment to meet and discuss your concerns.
Being married does not give a person the legal right to harass or assault their spouse.
If your spouse harms you or threatens you, call the police immediately.
In the event of a physical assault, you have a right to bring an action to pursue a domestic abuse protection order or to seek criminal prosecution for such assault by the County Attorney’s Office.
While you can obtain a similar protection order in your domestic relations case, you also have additional remedies for such assaults.
You also have the right to file a separate civil lawsuit to seek compensatory damages for such assault. Those separate lawsuits normally must be filed within two years of the incident or you lose the right to bring the lawsuit.
You also run the risk of waiving your right to a separate lawsuit when you settle a dissolution matter.
Please ask if you decide to pursue such separate actions or remedies.
You will be advised in advance of court dates, times and locations. Please arrive approximately 15-30 minutes before the scheduled time.
Please always call the day prior to your court date to insure your case will proceed, if we have not already communicated with you. The judges like to maintain a timely schedule and prefer a dignified courtroom atmosphere.
Appropriate dress and grooming will make a more favorable impression. You do not need to wear a suit, but please dress appropriately.
Iowa has a 90 day waiting period; Nebraska and South Dakota have 60 day waiting periods.
This means that your divorce cannot become final for a period of 60 or 90 days from the date service is obtained on the opposing party. (Example: If you file the petition, service must be obtained on your spouse and the proof of service must be filed with the Clerk of District Court. Once proof is filed with the Court, the waiting period commences).
There are exceptions to the 90 day waiting period and it can be waived if certain requirements are met (however, the waiting period may not be waived in South Dakota or Nebraska).
You may discuss this with Michele if you have any questions.
Iowa and Nebraska each require that parents involved in any dissolution, custody and visitation action attend a parenting class. Parents may attend together or separately. Child care is not provided and do not bring your children to the class.
There are various dates, times and locations for this class.
The class in Nebraska is taken either live or can be taken online. You may also take the class scheduled in Iowa to meet Nebraska requirements for parenting class.
The class in Iowa is a four-hour educational class designed to help minimize the negative impact of divorce on children.
Recognizing that their joint roles as parents will continue to exist, the class helps parents begin to restructure their relationship and make appropriate plans for their children.
You should have been provided a pamphlet for registration of the class. If you did not, please advise Dawn immediately and you will be provided with one.
ATTENDANCE IS MANDATORY.
The Court can decide not to finalize your case if you have not attended, or can preclude you from being able to pursue future claims.
Please provide the office with an email address for communications.
While email is a great way of communicating, remember that no one can guarantee the security of email communication, and any use of email is at your own risk.
Make every effort not to use your work email address, as there is no protection or confidentiality able to be used when using these accounts.
Do not rely upon email for urgent matters. Please call the office if you have urgent information to relay or if you have urgent questions.
Sometimes if Michele is in trial, emails may not be responded to for several days.
You are billed for attorney and/or paralegal time for reviewing and responding to emails.
During the course of this action, you will be required to submit complete and extensive information concerning your financial status to both this office and to the opposing party and/or their attorney.
The information to the other party has to be provided within the first 60 days of the case (in the state of Iowa), and within 30 days after the request in Nebraska and South Dakota. Other documents relating to the issue of custody will also need to be produced.
You should contact the necessary resources to obtain information and forward it to the office at your earliest convenience. All of these documents are necessary and are also used by Michele in preparing for your case.
If you have questions about obtaining information, please call the office.
The documents that need to be obtained are as follows:
• Paystubs and all documents showing income from all sources, tax deductions, health insurance premiums, union dues and mandatory pension withholdings for the past twelve months;
• Breakdown of cost between individual and family health insurance, specifically, to show the cost of health insurance for your children;
• Tax returns for the past 5 years, including all tax preparation documents and accounting records (i.e., Quickbooks or other program);
• Current financial statement (form will be provided to you) and all documents to support the values of the listed assets and debts on the financial statement. This would include current bank statements, 401(k) or other retirement statements, life insurance statements, real estate valuations, blue book values on vehicles, mortgage statements, credit card statements, medical bills, etc. (If your case is a modification or custody case and you are not married, you may not need to complete a financial statement);
• Declaration sheets for all insurances that you have, including life, real estate and vehicles.
• Documents relating to all premarital, inherited or separate property (including a premarital or antenuptial agreement, if you have one);
• The legal description of all real estate owned by you or your spouse (this will be found on the deed that was recorded when you purchased the property);
• All records relating to your business or corporation such as the corporate tax returns, profit and loss statements and valuations for the past five years;
• Photographs, text messages, emails, report cards, or other documents to support your position as relates to custody of your children;
• Your monthly budget.
Never talk badly about your spouse in front of your children.
Do not use your children as messengers between you and your spouse; talk to your spouse directly.
Reassure your children that they are loved and that the divorce is not their fault.
Encourage your children to see your spouse frequently.
At every step during your divorce, remind yourself that your children’s interests – not yours – are paramount, and act accordingly.
Your children may be tempted to act as your caretaker; resist the temptation to let them.
If you have a drinking or drug problem, get counseling right away.
If you are the non-custodial parent, pay your child support.
Neither parent should talk with the children about the support obligation, whether it be complaining that you have to pay it, or complaining that you do not receive it.
If at all possible, do not uproot your children from their current home.
Remember that no matter what you think of the other party – or what your family thinks of the other party – your children are one-half of you and your spouse. Remember that – because every time you tell your child what an “idiot” his father is, or what a “fool” his mother is, or what terrible things that person has done, you are telling the child that half of him is bad.
Think more about your children and less about yourselves.
Many persons do not like to talk with their spouse during the pendency of the case and refer everything to their lawyers. Obviously, bad feelings and emotions many times make this the only way to proceed.
However, much can be accomplished through a calm, objective discussion of the problem, whether it is property division, visitation, support or custody. When cases are resolved by written agreement without the necessity of trial, it is often because you and your spouse have been able to discuss at least some of the subjects in dispute.
Please try to keep the lines of communication open because you will be dealing with this person long after the lawyers are out of the picture. Your input and suggestions are welcomed and encouraged.
Good counselors are available if needed, and we will be happy to recommend a counselor for you or your children. If alcohol, drugs or gambling are a factor in your case, Jackson Recovery has a free program for families that is very good. If your spouse is abusive, CSADV has many resources for you to use and help understand your situation.
Remember to try to focus on solving problems rather than trying to “win a fight” with your spouse whenever there is a conflict. Fighting over a household item worth $25.00 could result in over $200.00 of attorney fees or more, so please keep that in mind. If you and your spouse have a partial agreement on issues, please bring that to Michele’s attention immediately.