4 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Collaborative Divorce Attorney

Choosing a collaborative divorce attorney is one of the most significant decisions in your divorce process. Gathering information about your potential divorce attorney’s experience, how your case will be handled and the fees you may pay is key to knowing if that attorney is right for you.

Asking the right questions is extremely important to ensure you have the representation you need and are comfortable with. Check out the questions below, and when you’re ready, setup a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn more about how she can work with you in your situation.

1. How Much Of Your Practice Is Family Law?

Asking your collaborative divorce attorney this question allows you to understand how qualified they’ll be when working on your divorce. Divorce can get much more complicated than you might think, and where there are complexities you will want an attorney who works with those issues more often.

2. How Will You Involve Me In My Divorce?

Depending on your level of comfort, you may want a collaborative divorce attorney who will involve you in different ways. Typically, collaborative divorce requires heavy involvement from you, but of course there are variations within each divorce, and from attorney to attorney, which allow for your personal involvement needs to be met.

3. What Kind Of Experience Do You Have In Handling Cases Like Mine?

A question like this will give you a deeper look into both how well the collaborative divorce attorney has listened to what you have to say about your divorce thus far, as well as whether they’ve dealt with similar situations. You may have special circumstances, such as specific custody concerns, or a business or other large assets to split up.

4. What Is Your Retainer Fee And Hourly Billing Rate? What Does That Include?

It’s important that your collaborative divorce attorney be upfront about retainer fees and hourly billing rates, as well as what’s all included. Without upfront and honest communication, there can be confusion or negative feelings after the fact. Ask questions and be sure you understand the billing process and possible fees to expect.

How A Divorce In 2019 Could Cost You More Than Anytime Since The 1930s

The new federal tax law may have you paying more overall for spousal maintenance (also called spousal support or alimony) if your divorce is finalized in 2019 or later. Deductions in place since 1942 will be eliminated, affecting both the payor and recipient of spousal maintenance.

Let’s take a dive into the law and what it might mean for you. And when you’re ready for legal advice, contact Jennifer Nixon.

New Tax Law & Spousal Maintenance

With the new federal tax law, spouses paying alimony won’t be able to take a deduction while those receiving spousal maintenance will no longer have to report it as income. This is a change from the prior law, where spousal maintenance was deductible to the spouse who pays and considered income to the spouse receiving maintenance.

It’s important to remember, if you’re starting the divorce process now that this change won’t affect those who finalize their divorce before 2019.


Since there will be no tax savings after 2019 for those paying spousal maintenance, the spouse who would be paying maintenance may want to pay less overall because they can’t deduct the payment from their income. Also, since the payment cannot be deducted, the payor will remain in the same higher tax bracket they are in without the payment, boosting government revenue. This may greatly increase the disputes over maintenance.

If spousal maintenance is a consideration in your case, it’s important to be protected with the most up-to-date information. Work with a lawyer who’s aware of the stakes.

Contact Jennifer Nixon to learn more about how this new tax law could affect your bottom line.

3 Serious Reasons Not To Represent Yourself In A Divorce

While preparing for your divorce, you may have thought to yourself:

  • divorces are expensive;
  • lawyers are unnecessary; or
  • I can figure it out online.

These are all common thoughts someone might have when considering representing themselves in a divorce – known as pro se, Latin for “on behalf of themselves”. Just like any other legal matter, a divorce needs the attention of an experienced attorney. Here are some reasons not to represent yourself in a divorce.

1. Knowledge Of Rules & Procedures

Some may think if they represent themselves, the court may guide them through the process. The truth is, judges expect those who represent themselves to be just as knowledgeable as lawyers. Court rules can also vary from county to county, and especially from state to state, something to consider if your spouse lives in a different jurisdiction. If you choose pro se representation, you don’t know what you don’t know, or you could end up spending many dozens of hours in the local law library.

2. Court Orders Are Final

Once the two parties agree on the division of assets in a divorce, the court issues a final divorce settlement which is very difficult to change. It’s important to make sure your divorce settlement is absolutely correct, considers the difference between marital and non-marital assets, considers possible changes or disagreements in the future regarding custody or parenting time, addresses possible tax implications, and most importantly, is drafted in a way that a judge will actually sign it. Where spouses reach an agreement and ask a court to sign off on that agreement, if an issue is not addressed in the most beneficial way or in a way that makes sense for your family, it is often very difficult to change once that is realized.

3. True Money Savings

Many people try to represent themselves in a divorce to save money. However, this path can actually cost more in the end. Without an experienced lawyer and advocate, an individual may forget to cover certain issues or how to handle if things don’t work out exactly as planned. A couple may reach agreements easily during the divorce process, but disagreements may arise after the divorce is final. Without planning for those disagreements in the beginning, resolving them after the divorce is final could be very costly. Divorces aren’t meant to be “do it yourself”. Get in touch with a divorce lawyer like Jennifer Nixon to advise you on this process today.


5 Things To Look For To Find The Right Divorce Attorney

Choosing your divorce attorney is one of the first significant decisions in your divorce process, especially since this choice could affect your future relationship with your spouse and your children. Below are five things to take into account when choosing your divorce attorney.

When you’re ready, setup a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn more about how she can work with you in your situation.

1. Process

Before getting started, you’ll need to decide whether you want to use mediation, court-based divorce, collaborative divorce, or some other divorce process. Then you can start looking for a divorce lawyer who is experienced in using that divorce process. Jennifer Nixon focuses on both  collaborative divorce and traditional, court-based divorce.

2. Depth

Next, decide how much help you need. In a divorce, will you need help untangling personal assets, multiple homes, children, investments, or working around previous divorce agreements? Depending on your needs, different attorneys will have invested differing amounts of time working through similar cases.

3. Specific Experience

It’s also important to know exactly which services you need because one divorce attorney may be more experienced with prenuptial agreements or collaborative divorce, while another may have more experience with orders for protection or parenting time.

4. Respect

When you eventually meet with a lawyer, it’s important to see that they respect you. While you’re with them, they shouldn’t be fielding calls, texts or emails from other clients. If you can’t have their full attention during your introduction with them, that doesn’t bode well for the rest of your divorce.

5. Compatibility

Divorces are very personal, so you will want to find an attorney who you feel comfortable with. The best way to do this is to meet in person and ask them about your case, their approach to divorces and how they will work with you. If everything else lines up, their approach to your divorce should as well.

How To Maintain Communication With A Spouse After Divorce

Whether you’ve been divorced for some time or are just beginning the process, excellent communication is key. Divorce is fraught with emotion, and even face-to-face communication can be misconstrued, much less electronic communication or messages sent through attorneys or other third parties.

Whether you are communicating to share a vacation home or pet, or need to plan for and track the life of your child/children as they move between your homes, there are a few free and paid services which can help. We’ve compiled these below, along with a few tips for healthy communication during or after a divorce.

If you need a divorce attorney, setup a free initial consultation with Jennifer Nixon to learn more about how she can work with you in your situation.

Tips For Quality Communication & Reducing Misunderstandings


Communicating with maturity starts with listening. Even if you disagree, start by conveying that you’ve understood their point of view. Listening does not signify approval, so you won’t lose anything by allowing them to voice their opinions.

Use A Neutral Tone

Approach the relationship as a business partnership. Speak or write to them as you would a colleague – with cordiality, respect, and neutrality. Relax and talk (or write) slowly and calmly.

Make Requests

Instead of making statements, which can be misinterpreted as demands, try framing as much as you can as requests. Requests can begin “Would you be willing to…?” or “Can we try…?”


Keep conversations kid-focused. Never let a discussion digress into a conversation about your needs or your co-parent’s needs; it should always be about your child’s needs only.

Possible Tools To Enhance Communication*


OurFamilyWizard is a mobile app and website designed to “reduce the stress of managing communication and family plans across separate households.” OurFamilyWizard is a paid option, but it can be worth it if communication is difficult. OurFamilyWizard has the following optional tools:

  • Shared Parenting Calendar
  • Message Board
  • Tonemeter (identifies and flags emotionally charged sentences)
  • Contact Information Bank
  • Expense Log
  • Journal
  • Notifications


Google maintains a suite of mobile app and website tools which can be used for communication within or across households. Google is also free, and many people already use their email and other tools. Chief among those tools helpful in a divorce are:

  • Google Calendar (Shared or Private)
  • Google Drive (Document Storage)
  • Gmail & Google Hangouts (Email & Messaging)


Cozi is another solution for communication, helping keep everyone on the same page. It offers:

  • Shared Parenting Calendar
  • Family Journal (share photos, videos, stories)
  • To-Do Lists


2houses facilitates communication between family members, organizing schedules and reducing conflicts. 2houses is very similar to OurFamilyWizard, and is also a tool targeted specifically to co-parents. It offers:

  • Calendar
  • Financial Management
  • Family Journal (share photos, videos, stories)
  • Contact/Finance/Medical Information Bank

*Disclaimer:The Law Office Of Jennifer Nixon does not endorse any particular tool for maintaining communication through or after a divorce. These examples are merely a sampling of the hundreds of tools available for online communication in its various forms. Feature lists are not all-inclusive.

News & Events

[06-04-2018] 4 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Collaborative Divorce Attorney READ MORE [28-03-2018] How A Divorce In 2019 Could Cost You More Than Anytime Since The 1930s READ MORE [24-02-2018] 3 Serious Reasons Not To Represent Yourself In A Divorce READ MORE