Creating Lasting Divorce Settlements
Divorcing couples may assume that once a settlement is reached, that’s the end of it. Family law attorneys know that that isn’t always the case. Settlements in New Jersey are reached based on the evidence presented by the spouses on the Case Information Statement, and sometimes people lie.
The Problem of Partial Disclosure
In theory, divorce is supposed to be about equitable division of assets and fair spousal and child support. In reality, divorcing couples may go in with an attitude of “win at all costs”. Sometimes even honest people will lie under oath about the true state of their assets, just to keep money out of the hands of a soon-to-be-ex-spouse.
This is, of course, illegal but that’s doesn’t stop some people. The truth almost always comes out and that means the ex now has grounds to annul the settlement and negotiate a new one from scratch. Divorces can drag out for months or years as each side tries to hide assets, misrepresent income and otherwise skew the results. Attorneys must do all they can to document a client’s finances in case the settlement is challenged later.
Protecting Your Client
The latest generation of Case Information Statement software has made this process a lot easier for New Jersey lawyers than it used to be, starting with information gathering. Secure web portals allow clients to enter the information into a form that can be easily imported into the software, putting the burden of data collection on the client where it should be.
Rapid, centralized data collection makes it harder for either side to misrepresent the couple’s true financial state. Divorce software for attorneys produces reports quickly and the standardized presentation makes it easy to compare information from each spouse and investigate discrepancies. If you see a problem, especially one that disfavors your client, you can ask for proof of the other party’s statements so can hammer out a fair agreement up front.
Protection Goes Both Ways
You want the other attorney’s client to provide accurate and complete disclosure of assets up front so you can be sure your client gets an equitable settlement but there is another advantage to the audit trail provided by New Jersey family law software: it protects your clients from false accusations of non-disclosure.
By preparing a comprehensive financial statements backed by hard evidence, the other spouse is going to have a hard time challenging the agreement later. It’s going to be nearly impossible for the spouse to claim your client hasn’t been honest when you have the records to back up your client’s claims. It’s easy to keep comprehensive documents for a long time so you aren’t caught by surprised if the settlement is challenged even years down the road.
Modern legal practice management software improves your practice’s efficiency and profits, but it also helps your clients. You create an audit trail and documentation library that shows the settlement is fair and reasonable, sparing your client the pain of going through frivolous settlement challenges in the future.