Family Law - Divorce

Kacy Hagerty: Well, going through a divorce can be a very difficult time in your life, but it’s also a time when you need to be focus and prepared for when you meet with your lawyer for the first time. Here to walk us through the steps is Attorney Mary Frances Parker with The Higgins Firm. Mary, welcome to More at Midday.

Mary Frances Parker: Good morning.

Kacy Hagerty: Good morning, good to have you.

Mary Frances Parker: Thank you.

Kacy Hagerty: OK, we’re talking about a new law that was recently passed, can you tell us about it?

Mary Frances Parker: Yes, this new law was kind of an agreement rates between the father’s groups that were pushing for joint custody and pushing for that to be the beginning point in all custody cases. And, what the Governor recently enacted is a - is kind of a - it wasn’t what the fathers wanted but it wasn’t what the other side wanted either.

Kacy Hagerty: OK, so what does it say?

Mary Frances Parker: It’s kind of a middle ground. What it says is that it calls for maximum participation. Those are the new words you’re going to hear all the lawyers using.

Kacy Hagerty: OK.

Mary Frances Parker: Maximum participation by both parents.

Kacy Hagerty: All right.

Mary Frances Parker: So, it’s going to enable the child courts to give joint custody as a beginning point if they want to. Now, if judges don’t believe that’s in the best interest of the child, they don’t have to do joint custody. But it is going to be kind of a starting point and you’re going to hear the lawyers using that language.

Kacy Hagerty: OK, and is this something that people are glad about or not?

Mary Frances Parker: Yes, the fathers’ groups in which I’m a part of, I mostly present father and I do fathers’ rights custody and divorces. We feel like that didn’t quite go far enough. It didn’t get us what we really wanted but it’s better than what we had.

Kacy Hagerty: OK.

Mary Frances Parker: So, yes and no. And, as far as mothers go, a lot of mothers aren’t getting full custody now, so it really benefits them also. It really just calls for maximum participation by both parents.

Kacy Hagerty: Got you.

Mary Frances Parker: It’s yet to be seen what that really means, so we’re all waiting to see.

Kacy Hagerty: Waiting see.

Mary Frances Parker: Yes.

Kacy Hagerty: All right, now, let’s talk about their first appointment with your divorce attorney, what should people know? Do they - is there things they need to bring, things they need to know, what should it be?

Mary Frances Parker: Yes, any time that you have been served with a divorce complaint and you are going to see your attorney in order to answer that complaint. You always want to bring any paperwork that you’ve already been served with. In addition to that, I tell my clients, and I like to have them bring, “Go ahead and do a schedule of what you’re assets and debts are for me.” You don’t have to list absolutely everything you have, but it does help me to kind of look down at that and go over it and be able to tell you in terms of alimony and child support, if I have your income in front of me, and what’s your debts and assets are, that’s really going to help me.

Kacy Hagerty: OK. So, there - are those ways you can help cut down cost?

Mary Frances Parker: Absolutely. Anything you can do list-wise to bring to your attorney, so I always like to also have things that we’re going to rely on in court. If you’ve got Facebook or Myspace [00:02:49] printed off of your spouse or your child’s other parent, if you got those things that we’re going to rely on, print those off and bring them to my office. That’ll cut down on answers I have to give to discovery and questions that I have to call my clients back and ask. So, that’s always helpful to have.

Kacy Hagerty: And, also a good reminder to actually save those things, right?

Mary Frances Parker: Absolutely. You want to save anything that you’ve going to my office and say, “The other party did A, B, and C.” Anything that I have tangible in order to support that, save those, bring them to me; cards, letters, things on the internet, text messages. Print those out in written form so that I have easy access to them, and it will cut down on your cost.

Kacy Hagerty: Yes, it helps and saves money for you in the future.

Mary Frances Parker: It does.

Kacy Hagerty: Great information, thank you so much for stopping by.

Mary Frances Parker: Yes, you’re welcome.

Kacy Hagerty: Good to have you.

Mary Frances Parker: Thanks for having me.

Kacy Hagerty: You can reach the Higgins Law Firm by calling 615-353-0930 or log on to the More at Midday section of for link to their website.