MY FAMILY LAW PRACTICE
My family-law practice is a corollary to the estate-planning practice.
Many couples, whether or not contemplating marriage, may already own or expect to acquire or inherit homes, business interests, savings and investments, retirement accounts and other financial assets. They may desire to retain personal control over certain of these possessions while sharing other property and income with their partners.
A pre-marital agreement (also called pre-nuptial and ante-nuptial agreement), whether it is a limited version that carves out specific items (such as certain investments, family property, or anticipated inheritances) or one that establishes comprehensive financial arrangements for the couple, or something in between, can accomplish those goals for marrying couples. Entering into this type of agreement after thoughtful deliberations is also a way to offer reassurance to grown children of a previous marriage and to parents leaving substantial legacies.
Couples who are not married do not have the legal benefits of spouses. In fact, without legally sufficient documentation, a partner has no standing to participate in the other’s medical and financial arrangements, last rites, or to inherit property belonging to the other or even reside in the other’s home. But partners can achieve most of the desired results through domestic partnership or co-habitation agreements and various types of trusts, as well as Wills, powers of attorney and medical directives. Arrangements may range from relatively simple house-sharing agreements to long-range planning of the couple’s significant financial matters and contemplation of children and other family responsibilities.
The purpose-driven trust and dynasty trust have family-law as well as estate-planning aspects, as do various charitable trusts that may provide benefits to family members.
I also accept separation and divorce matters, with a focus upon those cases that are likely to be resolved on an uncontested basis by cooperative efforts of the parties. A formalized version of this approach is the collaborative law agreement.
Even though the great majority of divorce matters eventually settle, there often is a great waste of time and money on adversarial posturing instead of using those resources to arrive at financially beneficial and tax-advantaged solutions for both spouses. I am greatly sympathetic to the emotional and psychological turmoil suffered as a result of a breakup, but believe strongly that the interests of Clients are best served by preserving their valuable assets and, with my banking and finance background, helping them to enter the next phase of their lives in as solvent and organized a fashion as possible. I limit this caseload by not taking child-custody and child-support cases.