I am now in my third year of practice and I have been doing family law for all of that time. While I thought I was well equipped from my law school days to practice in this area, there are a number of things that I quickly learned I had no clue about. For me, they were new learning opportunities and challenges; however, these new experiences often made me think, I wish I learned this in my Introduction to Family Law class. Here are the top three things law school did not prepare me for in my practice of family law.
1. There is a lot of math
When spouses are separating, a significant amount of time is spent exchanging disclosure and dividing assets. Clients have to prepare a Financial Statement, which requires calculating monthly expenses both from paystubs and household amounts, and tallying up a list of their assets and debts at three dates: the date of marriage, the date of separation, and present day values. Values for all of these have to be included, which might mean appraisals and valuations need to be completed. Taxes may have to be calculated, or adjustments for things like real estate commissions might have to be made. Depending on who is keeping what, a large amount of time is spent lining up and updating the numbers.
On the support side of things, maybe a party made a partial payment, but now their portion of a child’s activities is piling up, which needs to be tallied. For spousal support, maybe the parties do not want to have monthly payments, but instead would rather have a one-time, lump-sum payment made. Number-crunching is critical here.
Tip: Get a good software program, like DivorceMate, to help you with these calculations and a good scientific calculator.