Top Mistakes to Avoid When Considering Divorce or Separation
January 8, 2016
North Conway, NH – Happy New Year! Or is it? With the dawn of the New Year and the passing of the holiday season, January often brings thoughts of divorce or separation. The family law attorneys at Cooper Cargill Chant share the top mistakes to avoid if you’re in this situation:
- Taking less than you are entitled to in an effort to “get out” quickly. Often, one or both parties have decided they simply “want out” and will take anything- even much less than they are entitled to – in order to finalize a divorce quickly. Then, months or even years later, that person will realize they compromised too much, and agreed to far less than they were entitled to.
- Using the kids as leverage for financial advantages. Divorcing spouses often fall into the trap of utilizing the children as bargaining chips when contemplating financial separation- “I’ll give you more time with the kids if you give me more of the equity in the house”; “I will fight for custody of the kids unless you agree to pay me alimony” or similar proposals. Using your kids in this way minimizes the relationship each parent has with their children and will only likely lead to resentment down the road.
- Bringing fault grounds as a way to “punish” the other spouse. Sometimes, very rarely, divorces brought on fault grounds may be advantageous. However, in the vast majority of cases, bringing a divorce on fault grounds only results in making an already acrimonious proceeding even more acrimonious, and does not result in any benefit to either party. Focusing on “punishing” the other spouse does not promote settlement but rather encourages litigation.
- Drafting final Parenting Plans and Decrees with confusing language. Often, if parties in a divorce opt not to have lawyers represent them, they draft their own final documents for submission to Court. Using unclear language (“as the parties agree”) or undefined terms (“upon the sale of the home”) often lead to more Court involvement down the road, which could be avoided with properly drafted settlement language the first time around.
- Not hiring a lawyer to, at the very least, review and draft agreements before they are submitted to the Court. Yes, lawyers can be expensive. And yes, you might not always like what they have to say. But lawyers know the intricacies of how the Court system works and how to draft and complete agreements which will accurately reflect the compromises made and withstand the test of time. Paying for an attorney at the beginning will likely save more in dollars and headaches down the road.
- Not considering alternatives to a full divorce hearing, including mediation or arbitration. Often, parties find that they can work collaboratively to reach an agreement on many issues if they hire a neutral third party to help keep them on task and focused on resolution. This is often far less acrimonious and expensive than traditional litigation.
Want to avoid these mistakes? Be sure to consult with an experienced Family Law attorney. Cooper Cargill Chant, the North Country’s largest law firm with offices in North Conway and Berlin, NH, can provide solid legal advice from award-winning attorneys. Two lawyers at the firm who accept Family Law cases are Charles Greenhalgh, Partner, and Leslie Leonard, Associate.
Charles has assisted clients in hidden or misrepresented assets and income and evaluating various options for child support and alimony in high asset cases. He has received awards for pro bono service, distinguished public service and representing victims of domestic violence.
Charles regularly represents client in complex divorce matters which required comprehensive knowledge of division of closely held businesses, financing property division and valuation of large assets such as business and extensive real estate holdings.
New Hampshire native Leslie Leonard began her career as a paralegal in Boulder, Colorado after graduating cum laude from the University of New Hampshire. During her years as a paralegal, she gained significant experience in the areas of personal injury and family law matters. Upon graduation from UNH School of Law, Leslie commenced a two-year Superior Court Clerkship, in the Southern Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua.
Leslie’s practice focuses on family law, employment law, personal injury, social security disability and worker’s compensation. Leslie is also often appointed by the Court to take on Abuse & Neglect cases and frequently represents both victims and accused abusers in domestic violence proceedings. She was named a 2015 Super Lawyers New England Rising Star and a Top 40 Under 40 National Trial Lawyer.
Charles L. Greenhalgh focuses his Domestic Relations practice on advising families and individuals in transition, including divorce, custody, child support, guardianship and adoption matters.
Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Their lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work.
Cooper Cargill Chant is the largest law firm north of the lakes region in New Hampshire. With its main office in North Conway, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant lawyers have over 150 years of experience. Cooper Cargill Chant attorneys are recognized leaders of the New Hampshire Bar Association, have chaired the Boards of the New Hampshire Bar Association, the New Hampshire Association for Justice, and the New Hampshire Bar Foundation. Lawyers have won numerous awards for their representation of clients throughout New Hampshire, including awards for legal service to the poor, for work in domestic violence cases, in helping form and develop businesses, and in personal injury work. With offices located in North Conway and Berlin, New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant is counsel to hundreds of small businesses and associations, and thousands of individual clients throughout northern NH and western Maine.
Resolve Now to Get Your Will and Other Key Documents Updated Now For 2016
December 15, 2015
NORTH CONWAY, NH – How much money you have does not matter. Everyone needs an estate plan, for two reasons.
First, you need to choose who is going to take care of you and your assets during any time in which you cannot care for yourself. Look around – how many people do you know in their 80s, 90s, even 100s ? That could be you. Plan for it.
Second, you need to organize your assets so that the people who inherit your property won’t be overwhelmed by the details. No matter the means, most people treasure their belongings to some extent and don’t necessarily think of their material culture as “stuff” or a mess. It will be easier for you to organize your things than it will be for them. Just do it.
Start by making lists. Who are the people you can count on to be helpful? Look in your own generation, and in the next younger generation. Come up with at least two names. These two names are one of the most important parts of the estate plan. Complete the plan to give these people the legal power they need to carry out the plan.
List your key advisors – doctors, dentist, accountant, financial planner, lawyer. Also make the kind of list you might make when you go on vacation: plumber, electrician, pet sitter, whoever knows the details of your life. Include contact information.
Then list your assets, carefully noting whether each is owned by you individually, jointly with another person, and whether or not there is a beneficiary designation in place. Call insurance, annuity, and brokerage firms and find out who they think is your primary beneficiary, and your contingent beneficiary. You may be surprised by the answers.
List which assets you would expect to sell first if you needed cash for a medical expense, or to hire a caregiver in your home. Think about a time when you can’t physically or financially stay where you are now – where would you want to go?
With those lists, go see a lawyer. You could get the key document forms online – even lawyers start with forms. A seamstress starts with a form, or pattern, too. But like a seamstress, the lawyer’s skill involves getting the right information about you to know which form is best for you, and to then customize that form for your situation.
Every estate plan should include powers of attorney for financial matters and for health care. These give your agents (those two people you are going to choose), the power to manage your life for you if you can’t do it.
A power of attorney for finances can be very narrow – only allowing your agent to perform a limited number of tasks, and only if your doctor finds you incompetent. Typically, powers of attorney are much more broadly drafted, because we don’t know what problems your agent will face on your behalf, and we want that agent to have all the power that is needed.
Of course, this gives your agent the ability to do things you might not want done. So choose your agents carefully.
In New Hampshire, a power of attorney for health care is called an Advance Directive. Many people call it a health care proxy. You can get a good form – free – at Memorial Hospital in North Conway (www.memorialhospitalnh.org). Most lawyers include this form in the flat fee for an estate planning package.
No matter where you get the Advance Directive, the most important decision is who to name as the primary, and then alternate agent. The basic form comes with instructions, and if you have just spent months at the hospital helping a relative or friend through the process of dying, you may be able to complete this form on your own.
If you don’t have that recent knowledge of the dying process, take advantage of one of the free local seminars on completing this form. Or plan to talk it through with your lawyer.
Another key part of your estate plan is a Will. After you die, the Will is taken to the probate court and the court supervises the person you have named as an executor in the process of collecting assets, paying bills, and distributing what is left.
All of our NH state courts are underfunded, understaffed, and unable to move your file as quickly as you would want it moved. Right now, in Carroll County, NH, we only have a judge on Mondays – and not even every Monday. The court personnel are wonderfully helpful, but there aren’t enough of them.
Minimizing the amount of assets that need to flow through that process is therefore a really good idea. That means planning ahead.
Trusts are a more sophisticated way to manage some or all of your assets. Again, you need to carefully choose the list of people who could serve as the trustee, and you need to think carefully about how the trustee will manage your assets, and for whom.
Many people think that trusts are only for the rich – and trusts are certainly very helpful to people who have real estate in more than one state, complicated assets, or just plain lots of assets.
But a trust can minimize probate, and also, if you have a beneficiary with special needs, or substance abuse issues, or spending issues, a trust may be a necessary part of your estate plan. These trusts save the beneficiaries money in the long run.
Set aside time to make your lists, locate your important documents, and think about how your own disability and death might play out. What a great task for the long winter nights ahead.
Deborah Fauver is an attorney at Cooper Cargill Chant PA. She focuses her practice on estate planning, probate and trust administration, and related real estate transactions. For more information, go to www.coopercargillchant.com or call 603-356-5439.
NH’s Top Attorneys – Paul Chant
April 8, 2015
Business NH Magazine recently named Paul Chant its top personal injury attorney for 2015. The attorneys featured in this article were chosen by their peers for being the best in their field of practice. To identify these 17 attorneys in 15 specialty areas, Business NH Magazine sent surveys to attorneys across the state asking who they would want representing them or who they wouldn’t want to see across the table as opposing counsel. Attorneys who nominated colleagues at their own firm were required to nominate an equal number of lawyers outside their firm, with external nominations given more weight. Nominations were received from more than 250 attorneys. Cooper Cargill Chant congratulates Paul for being recognized as top in his field.
Ray Joins Leadership Program
January 22, 2015
Attorney Tyler Ray attended the Mount Washington Valley Leadership kickoff event on Tuesday Jan. 13th. Tyler is the 3rd member of the Cooper Cargill Chant team to go through the leadership program including Chris Meier who was a member of the inaugural class in 2008.
CCC Supports White Mountain Board of Realtors
January 22, 2015
The firm co-sponsored (along with Northway Bank) the White Mountain Board of Realtors January monthly meeting and holiday party. Cooper Cargill Chant Attorneys and staff were in attendance.
Attorney Tyler Ray Joins Cooper Cargill Chant as Associate
January 15, 2015
NORTH CONWAY & BERLIN, NH – Cooper Cargill Chant recently announced the addition of a new associate to their team, as Bridgton, Maine native Tyler T. Ray returns home to the North Country after a successful business law practice in Providence, Rhode Island. With expertise ranging from corporate law to employment law to protecting intellectual property, Tyler bolsters the considerable range of services provided by the North Conway and Berlin, NH based law firm.
While in Providence, Tyler was recognized by SuperLawyers as a “Rising Star” and was a recipient of Providence Business News’ “Forty under 40” award for career accomplishments and community service.
“We are pleased to have Tyler Ray join the Cooper Cargill Chant team,” stated partner Ken Cargill, who leads the firm’s business law efforts. “I look forward to working with him on a broad spectrum of commercial matters. Having him on board will allow us to better serve businesses in northern New England while also supporting the intellectual property needs of our clients.”
Not only is Tyler’s legal expertise a great fit for Cooper Cargill Chant, so is his personal background and interests.
“I love the area, there’s no doubt about it,” stated Tyler soon after joining the firm.”The concept of ‘work where you play’ made a lot of sense to me. No longer did my wife and I want to be just visitors on the weekend.” Tyler and his wife Anne are avid outdoors enthusiasts who love to bike, hike and ski. Tyler also graduated from Lake Region High School in 1996.
When Tyler learned of the position at Cooper Cargill Chant, he was eager for the move. “It was a unique opportunity to pursue my legal career while also being able to return home to raise my family in a place loaded with history, heritage and culture,” he shared.
Tyler looks forward to raising 15-month-old son Nelson near where he grew up and to take part in all the outdoor activities that abound here. He is a backcountry skier and triathlete, recently completing an Ironman competition last year in Lake Placid, NY.
Tyler is no stranger to hard work both in the outdoors and in the board room. He has a broad-based corporate practice advising clients in all stages of business helping them to form, grow and sell their business. He comes to Cooper Cargill Chant with 5 years of private practice experience at a top-tier business firm in Providence. Prior to that, Tyler spent 5 years as in-house counsel to a multinational corporation based out of the UK and listed on the London Stock Exchange.
In the area of intellectual property, Tyler has substantial trademark law experience prosecuting trademark applications for domestic and international clients. He has crafted legal branding strategies to match clients’ business and marketing goals and provides advice in conjunction with business transactions and in-licensing opportunities, including due diligence reviews and portfolio landscape analysis. He believes this expertise is unique for a firm in northern New Hampshire, and predicts businesses will find this service to be a powerful asset to have available locally.
Tyler is a welcome addition to the employment law practice law area joining Charles Greenhalgh, Leslie Leonard and Paul Chant. Tyler’s employment law background includes offering preventative counseling to human resource and business professionals addressing contemporary workplace issues such as discrimination, termination, non-compete and wage-and-hour disputes as well as employment agreements. Tyler has also completed over two dozen employee handbooks for clients of all shapes and sizes.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, Tyler has been very much involved in his community, including forming Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a non-profit founded to connect farms to schools and other organizations.
For more information on Tyler Ray and Cooper Cargill Chant, call them at 603-356-5439 or visit them online at www.coopercargillchant.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coopercargillchant.
Cooper Cargill Chant Sponsors HR North March Workshop: “Motivating and Retaining Your Top Talent”
March 4, 2014
Cooper Cargill Chant Attorneys at Law has announced that the firm is sponsoring HR North’s March workshop, which will be held at the Red Jacket Mountain View Resort on March 19.
The keynote speaker will be Bob Faw, positive change consultant and author of Energize: Ignite Passion and Performance with User-Friendly Brain Tools. Faw will address the group on “Motivating and Retaining Your Top Talent.”
Faw, who has specialized in guiding positive change since 1988, uses his outgoing, comedic style to engage audiences and includes active learning activities to enhance comprehension and build new skills. Faw will discuss concepts from his latest book that will help businesses motivate their teams, involve people in meaningful ways, and inspire needed action.
According to Cooper Cargill Chant partner, Charles Greenhalgh, “We’re pleased to support this program and HR North. HR North is a group of human resource managers, employment lawyers and businesspeople in Grafton, Carroll and Coos County who meet regularly to keep up-to-date on laws, policy and trends in HR management. Here in northern New Hampshire, where we mostly have small businesses, business owners have unique challenges. They wear so many hats; it’s hard for them to keep up on the nuances of the law. Having the resources of the larger group like HR North becomes invaluable to business owners and managers.”
Greenhalgh continued, “As the largest firm in northern New Hampshire, Cooper Cargill Chant has an employment law group and is committed to helping businesses, nonprofits and public entities with employment matters. As members of HR North, we get to know the HR managers in the region; and we help each other by sharing information and insights.”
The registration and breakfast for workshop begins at 8:30am on Wednesday, March 19, with the program being held from 9am to 11:30am. Cost is $20 for members and $40 for non-members.
HR North aspires to be a strong and diverse group, reflective of the unique North Country character and challenges. The group is dedicated to strengthening North Country businesses, organizations, and communities and to fostering professional growth. For more information about HR North and the workshop, visit hra-gc.org/hrnorth.