February 2013

How Can I Reduce My Alimony Payments?

Alimony in divorces is, in theory, fair to both parties. However the amount calculated is based on a snapshot of both parties’ financial situation. Using a Case Information Statement, NJ courts look at the incomes and assets of the spouses to determine an alimony amount. What if circumstances change?

First of all, not just any change will lead to a modification of alimony. In the past New Jersey courts have reduce alimony in cases of decreased income, retirement, illness or the payee’s cohabitation with another partner. It has to be a life change that would affect either the payor’s ability to pay or the payee’s need for support. However listing a reduced income in a New Jersey CIS is only the start of the process.

Is the change permanent? Retirement is likely to be considered permanent as would some kind of long-term disability that affects the payor’s ability to work. Is unemployment? As a rule, no, you can find another job, but if the payor can demonstrate a permanent downturn in that person’s professional industry then it could be considered a permanent change. Even the term “permanent” is a relative phrase. After all marriage is considered permanent in the eyes of the law, but there are a lot of divorce attorneys out there who know permanent doesn’t always mean forever.

Is the change involuntary? Some payors will quit their jobs or under-employ themselves in hopes of reducing alimony only to find the judge rules against them. Judges know about these attempts to deliberately manipulate the system and will not rule in favor of an alimony change just because of a reduced salary on a Case Information Statement.

Has the payor made an attempt to remedy the situation? For example an out of work spouse must show evidence of an active job search. Sitting home and collecting unemployment while watching game shows on TV is not grounds to reduce alimony.

Alimony reduction is difficult. The burden of proof lies on the paying spouse and judges tend to need very strong evidence in addition to the New Jersey CIS form to grant the reduction.

New Jersey family law attorneys need every advantage to get an alimony reduction for a client, and that means using the latest generation of NJ family law software. Contact Easy Soft to find out more about how our products not only simplify your practice but give you the best chance to help your clients get what they deserve.

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Are All Assets In A Divorce Apples To Apples?

Property division in a divorce is difficult even under the best circumstances but is often complicated by the raw emotions brought out by dissolving a long-term relationship. Family law attorneys use divorce software to create an objective division of assets but often it’s not that simple.

One of the big questions is: who gets the house? When one spouse gets primary custody of the children, that parent usually gets the house as well but what if there are no kids or the custody is split 50/50? The house is not simply an asset with a price tag. It is a home, a place to live, a source of good and bad memories and so much more. Yet the attorneys have to objectively price the property in the divorce settlement agreement and compensate the other spouse with assets of equal value. Sometimes a spouse is even willing to give up more than the house is worth because of the sentimental attachment.

Another big sticking point in divorces is retirement. If one spouse worked and contributed to a 401(k) account, does that spouse get the full asset? A court might rule that the income was for the family rather than the individual so the retirement might be declared a joint asset. That could leave the working spouse, especially if nearing retirement age, without enough money to stop working. Family law attorneys need divorce settlement software capable of presenting various scenarios evaluating the house, retirement and other assets so they can quickly find the solution that satisfies both parties.

Today’s attorneys need even more flexibility than before. If they are tied to family law software installed back at the office then they aren’t in a position to negotiate on the fly. They can’t evaluate complex settlements including multiple assets when an offer is made, and can’t seize on opportunities that might arise during divorce negotiations.

Cloud versions of Easy Soft’s family law attorney practice management software can be used anywhere the lawyer can get internet access. The attorney has full access to a client’s files and can generate settlement offers at a moment’s notice. This provides a big edge during negotiations.

Find out more about how Easy Soft products automate your practice and give you the opportunity to practice law without the limitations of other software tools.

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Add Another Pair Of Eyes To Protect Your Practice From Ethics Violations

It is the appearance of misconduct rather actual misconduct that can sink a legal practice. Attorneys have to be very careful how they conduct business since an innocent blunder can trigger at best a bad public image and at worst criminal charges or disbarment. Dedicated legal billing and accounting software protects law offices against many of the errors that can lead to unintentional ethics violations.

If nothing else, legal billing software protects you from arithmetic errors. You can be sure clients are never accidentally overcharged because a bookkeeper made a simple math mistake when adding up the bill. Audits go more smoothly because all the numbers total correctly. Of course any basic business financial package can do this but that’s not the only function lawyers need from accounting software.

Specialized billing software for attorneys includes functions to handle trusts. You can be sure to keep funds separate so you don’t unintentionally “borrow” from one client’s funds to pay another client’s expenses. Trust administration is even more fraught with peril than other legal financial operations so that extra layer of verification and protection is necessary to avoid complications.

Another source of ethics charges against attorneys is conflict of interest. However the complex web of social and business relationships we all have means it is very difficult to track all of the possible conflicts until it is too late. This is why we included automatic conflict checking in our attorney time and billing software. With the click of a mouse you can check a new client’s relationships against all the other relationships in the database, uncovering potential conflicts before they threaten the integrity of your practice.

Easy TimeBill provides powerful protection against inadvertent ethics breaches but it does something else: it shows intent. Even if your practice should mistakenly cross a line, you can show a judge that you have made a strong effort to avoid ethics problems by using specialized law practice management software.

Explore our website to find out more about how Easy Soft’s attorney time and billing software doesn’t just simplify your practice–it also protects it.

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Software Flexibility Improves Law Office Productivity

Laptops were a huge boon to law firm productivity, allowing attorneys and other law firm staff to work from anywhere. It gave them the flexibility to adjust their work to their schedules now that they had access to attorney time and billing software places other than the office. However, today many attorneys find laptops to be limiting. Those computers that used to seem so light and small to use now appear cumbersome and awkward.

Cloud versions of law office billing software are taking the flexibility of a laptop to new levels. Legal staff is not only no longer chained to a desk but they aren’t even chained a specific computer.

Many attorneys like the option to do some work from home. They can do this by lugging a laptop back and forth, which is not only inconvenient but also makes them more likely to be crime victims. A laptop dangling from someone’s shoulder is a tempting target, and the thief not only gets valuable equipment but a copy of your company’s client information.

And alternative is to install attorney practice management software on a lawyer’s home computer. The problem is this means buying an additional license to the software and still limits the attorney to specific locations. It also can create problems with trying to keep multiple copies of the firm’s client database in sync.

The best option for today’s busy and mobile law practice is cloud-based software. Attorneys, paralegals and other authorized users have access to the firm’s software from anywhere with an internet connection, and from any computer without lengthy and confusing software installation or operating system limitations. Staff is able to see client information, record billable hours and expenses in the firm’s legal billing and accounting software, check calendars and to-do lists, and do pretty much anything that can be done in the office from any convenient location.

The more options an attorney has, the more productive that attorney can be. Give your staff more opportunities to work by using cloud versions of law billing software and other legal tools so they can decide when they are the most effective.

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Recover From Disaster With Hurricane-Proof Software

The New York area has seen numerous extreme weather events lately, events that have jeopardized, among other things, business databases. What would your practice do if you lost all of your client information? Arguably it’s possible to gather the data again but that’s a long process that is going to waste countless hours, and it doesn’t help if you have a New York State spousal support hearing later that the same day.

Manual backups are the most obvious protection. Backup utilities are easy to use and archive information from your practice’s NY family law software onto external media such as DVDs, flash drives or tapes. The problem is if you haven’t moved those archives to another location then the same disaster that claims your computers will destroy the backups as well. Shipping them to offsite storage is a bother and can be expensive.

A number of businesses are turning to online backup solutions. These utilities automatically back up your New York divorce software and other files over the internet to servers located far from your office. They use encrypted transmissions, leading edge data protection technology and redundant storage systems to ensure your data is completely safe from threats such as viruses, hackers and natural disasters. This is often a more flexible solution than manual backups but there is one problem: what if your office computers are destroyed?

In that case your data is safe and recoverable but you have no software to access the files themselves. You have to go through the process of buying new computers and re-installing the software–oh wait, the installation discs were destroyed as well. This takes time you and your clients don’t have.

Luckily there is now a third option: New York family law software such as EzSupport-NY can now be found in cloud versions. This means not only is your data stored safely online but so is the software itself.

In a worst-case scenario your entire office has been destroyed in a disaster. Your attorneys can continue practicing right from their home computers without a break in service. You could have a court date a few hours after a catastrophe and yet no one will even realize there was a problem. You will still have full access to client files while an opposing attorney recovering from the same city-wide disaster has to make excuses about not being ready.

Cloud versions of Easy Soft’s law practice management software protect you from more than just natural disasters. Fire or theft could also devastate your office, leaving you unable to work if you rely on traditional desktop-based tools. Protect your practice and your clients by moving your business into the cloud.

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Easy HUD: Not Just For Government Forms

Easy HUD automates real estate practices to allow agents and other professionals to focus on sales rather than paperwork. Although you may think the software is meant to only simplify the process of completing the HUD settlement statement form, the optional Real Estate Documents module lets you also produce hundreds of other documents too.

HUD 1 closing documents are not fun to fill out. They are long and tedious and can put even your average accountant to sleep. We automate the process so you have to enter only key information and let the software do the work of putting the right numbers in the right places, making sure everything adds up correctly, and producing a complete, accurate and professional-looking form.

Not to sound like a late night infomercial but wait! There’s more! The Real Estate Documents module turns this HUD settlement statement software into the comprehensive document production tool every real estate office needs.

Do you handle clients looking to rent properties? Quickly print off commercial and residential leases, rental agreements, subleases and personal guaranties. Do you focus on commercial clients? It includes documents for corporate sales and transfers.

Even if you handle just general home sales, purchases and refinances you know that HUD forms aren’t the only documents you produce. Easily generate letters about closing dates, surveyor payments, second mortgage payoffs and more. All documents pull client information from the same database as the HUD forms so you don’t have to worry about embarrassing mistakes like spelling a client’s name differently on each document.

A lot of modern real estate correspondence is digital and we’ve got you covered there as well. Any of our real estate documents can be saved as PDF or RTF files for easy transmission to clients, government offices or other recipients. If you use the cloud version of the software, you can generate documents from any location and any computer, emailing the electronic version immediately or waiting to print it out when you get back to the office.

Document generation is just one of the features included in Easy HUD. Find out more about our real estate application or any of our legal practice management software products by downloading a free demo today.

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