Most legal challenges naturally cause stress, but when children and families are involved, tensions run even higher. Adoption, divorce, custody, paternity, and other familial legal issues can put moms, dads, and sometimes even kids through difficult situations. And there are plenty of fears and uncertainties that come along when facing such daunting circumstances. But when tackling any challenge, knowledge is power. Knowing what you’re up against and what to look for can make a huge difference and provide peace of mind. Kisti Good Risse, BB&C family law attorney, sheds some light on common family law issues, as well as a bit of her background.
WHY PRACTICE FAMILY LAW?
I enjoy helping families. I’ve been an advocate of families, including my own, for as long as I can remember. I have previously served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer, giving children a voice in court. Now as a family law attorney, I’m often helping parents and couples navigate troublesome circumstances to find an agreeable outcome.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF WORKING WITH FAMILIES?
I love bringing order to chaos. When clients first come to me, they’re usually extremely stressed out and may feel like the sky is falling. Not only is their current world shaken up, but they have many fears about the future. I hear a lot of questions like: who will pay the bills during my divorce? Can I stay in my house? How long will this take? What will happen to my kids? These are big issues that are going to impact their lives forever.
I take the time to listen to their concerns, then together we make a legal plan to address the issues. Once the case is behind us, it’s so rewarding to see my clients much more at peace and ready to start a new chapter.
WHAT CHALLENGES FACE TODAY’S COUPLES GOING THROUGH DIVORCE?
Finances are often a huge concern for those facing divorce today. Many times one income becomes split between two, causing financial headaches. And when one residence becomes two, paying the bills for both can feel downright impossible for many people. Some couples even choose to live together until their divorce is finalized, to keep finances afloat. This, of course, brings other tensions to the surface. Part of my job is to help my clients wade through the financial and interpersonal struggles to find creative ways to ease their burdens.
Child custody is another critical issue for families in divorce situations. Couples often struggle to agree on a parenting plan early in the process, leading to a brutal tug of war over the kids. Other times a parent might move out, leaving the kids with a spouse who refuses to share parental rights. Custody battles can get ugly quickly, so I advise my clients on how to avoid costly court fees and added stress by working toward a parenting agreement early in the process.
Since I started practicing family law, I’ve also noticed a higher number of non-custodial parents trying to be more involved with their children. Specifically, dads often want more parenting time with the kids and more say in decision-making, which is usually a good thing. Children need to know that each parent loves them and they need quality time with both parents.
AFTER YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN THIS AREA, WHAT’S YOUR BEST ADVICE AROUND DIVORCE?
Stay aware during your marriage. No matter how much you trust your spouse and how happy you are today, sometimes the unthinkable happens. And it’s best to be prepared for any outcome. Specifically, know your finances—what assets you have, where they are located, how they are tilted, and whether or not you have an IRA, pension, stocks, or other retirement savings.
Be armed with knowledge about the law and your rights. Even if you’re only considering divorce and not yet pursuing one, it’s a good idea to sit down with a family law attorney to learn the process and what preparations you might make now. Gaining just a little extra knowledge can better equip you and help alleviate fears and uncertainties down the road.
Try to stay peaceful or civil at all costs. One spouse might want a divorce while the other doesn’t, causing much fighting and upheaval. Sometimes unpleasant events have sparked the divorce. If you’re in this position, you likely have all kinds of intense emotions playing out. But trust me when I say that hasty, angry, or spiteful behavior will likely make your situation worse, especially when children are involved. I know it’s a difficult place to be, but staying civil almost always pays off in the end.
Do not try to navigate this on your own. Divorce should not be a DIY endeavor. With so many nuances around parenting rights, custody, taxes, and finances, tackling a divorce without professional guidance can be a costly mistake. Essential details are easily overlooked, leading to less-than-desirable outcomes. Working with an experienced family law attorney will ensure you have your bases covered and an advocate on your side.
Facing a family legal struggle is difficult, but there is hope. At BB&C, we come alongside families like yours all the time, guiding Hoosiers through complex and delicate situations like these. Whether you’re in the middle of a legal battle now or need advice about your circumstances, we’re here to help. Reach out to Kisti Good Risse at (765) 637-9173.
The content of this blog is intended to be general and informational in nature. It is advertising material and is not intended to be, nor is it, legal advice to or for any particular person, case, or circumstance. Each situation is different, and you should consult an attorney if you have any questions about your situation.