Louisville family law attorney Louis Winner is joined by Sidney Vieck, a Senior Associate practicing law as part of Louis’ firm. Both agree there is always an uptick in the post-holiday divorce filings. In this episode, they’ll explore why this may occur and how it impacts their family law practice, in Louisville, Kentucky.
The firm’s primary focus is family law. This includes divorce, custody, business valuations, alimony (referred to as “maintenance” in Kentucky) and high-income child support cases.
The Seasonal Impact
Louis has practiced for nearly 21 years. Generally, the phone calls and contacts from prospective clients slows from roughly Thanksgiving until Christmas. This would understandably make sense.
Sidney comments that the slowdown may have to do with financial considerations, as much or even more than the emotional ones. Holiday expenditures on presents and travel may limit the funds available for attorney retainers.
In January of 2023, the firm has experienced a rush of new client requests. Louis explains that sometimes, it’s the holidays that actually become the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It may have to do with the added stress of dealing with in-laws and the strain of holiday travel.
While travel should be a relatively simple experience, it often results in arguments and conflict. It may be related to the itinerary, driving in new or different surrounding and then there’s always the impact of switching time zones. All of these factors can easily spark whatever heat and tension was swirling just beneath the surface.
Airport travel can be extremely stressful. If the couple or family experiences any type of disruption to the flight schedule, it simply compounds the issue. Delays and missed flights are bad enough in normal circumstances. If you’re traveling with young children or teenagers, you can imagine how the tempers might flair.
Planning for a Divorce
As a small family law firm, Louis and Sidney understand the limits based on sheer caseload. At times, they’re not able to take on new clients. In this case, they may refer prospective clients to other attorneys or they can offer advice to help the individual begin planning for a divorce. As Louis explains, there are often steps a person can take in anticipation of filing. Here are some of those steps:
- Make a list of assets and debts
- Categorize and list your monthly expenses from the past year
- Research the cost of getting a health insurance policy
- Research options for a separate car insurance policy
Avoid doing “stupid” things leading up to the eventual filing
- This includes inappropriate social media posts and text messages
Interestingly, Louis reminds people that Kentucky is a 1-party consent state regarding recordings. Only one person needs to know a conversation is being recorded. You need to be very careful of what you say and how you communicate with your soon-to-be former spouse. Posts, texts and audio recordings can be introduced as evidence in trial.
Sidney comments that while filings increase after the holidays, she hasn’t noticed an increase in requests for post-nuptial agreements. These agreements are similar to what a couple might have in a pre-nuptial agreement, except this document is executed after the wedding has taken place.
Both attorneys assume most people are unaware this type of document can be created and later enforced. As Louis points out, a post-nuptial agreement doesn’t actually have to be related to a divorce. There are many reasons a couple might elect to have this agreement in place.
The requirements for a post-nuptial agreement are very similar for those required when drafting a pre-nuptial agreement:
- Both parties have to make a complete disclosure of assets
- The agreement cannot be unconscionable at the time of its signed and/or at the time its executed
- Post-nuptial agreements cannot involve child custody issues, because that remains the court’s jurisdiction under the” best interest” standard
DVOs and IPOs
Emotions can spill over during the holidays. If one of the two people in the relationship feels threatened, she or he can take out a Domestic Violence Order (assuming the two are married or cohabitating). If they are in a dating relationship, the Interpersonal Protection Order is applicable.
There is also an Ex-Parte Protective Order (EPO), which can be taken out without the other party having a chance to say anything about it. These are enforced for a limited period of time, before the court conducts a hearing to determine what happened and if there’s a likelihood of it occurring, again.
Louis comments the only substantive difference between the DVO and IPO he’s found, deals with a federal law mandating an individual may not own a firearm if a DVO is in effect against him or her. This doesn’t apply in the case of an IPO. However, Louis states that most judges will enforce a no-firearms restriction when an IPO is involved. The DVO and IPO are normally enforced for up to 3 years. The term can be extended.
Contempt of Court
As it relates to a violation of a DVO or IPO, an attorney may advise the client to pursue it either as a criminal court matter or through the family court as contempt of court. If the latter is pursued, the judge has a wide-range of discretion on how they can handle it. Often, the judge will levy a fine against the violating party and even require the payment of attorney fees to the other side. If it involves non-payment of support, the violating party could be placed in jail for a period of time. The maximum jail time for contempt of court in Kentucky is 180 days.
Louis and Sidney conclude this episode with an observation that domestic violence issues, unfortunately, tend to surface around the holidays, rather than lagging as do the divorce petitions.
For more information about Louis Winner and his family law practice, visit www.LouisvilleFamilyLaw.com.
The content provided in this podcast episode is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Louis’ primary office is located in Louisville, KY. This is an advertisement.