The Most Important Person in Your Corner

Life is quite a ride, isn’t it? When we find ourselves at all-time lows, we must rely on the people around us to help. We go to doctors for medical crises. We have lawyers for legal problems. There are counselors for mental health emergencies. The list goes on. It is easy for you to think that your supportive best friend or the professional charging you a fortune is the most important person in your corner.

I’m here to tell you that you are wrong.

Meet Ria*

I started my career as an advocate for victims of domestic violence. Ria was one of my first clients. From our first conversation, Ria identified with me. She openly said that she wished she had the confidence, knowledge, and professional potential that I had. She longed to be free of her abusive partner and make something of herself. As a young professional in my early 20’s, I felt had little to offer Ria. I encouraged her to focus on herself, realize her potential, and think beyond the confines of her abusive marriage.

I spent a summer talking to Ria on a weekly basis. She had a lot of legal issues to work through that I simply could not help her with. At the time I was just an advocate, I did not have a law degree. I did everything I could to help Ria with social services. Then, it was time for her to get legal help. I did some investigating and found Ria an excellent lawyer, someone who I myself admired and aspired to be like.

I spoke with Ria and told her that she needed to get a lawyer. She yelled, cried, and accused me of abandoning her. She was confident that she could not get through her life without me. She needed me to be there with her, to help her, to hold her hand. Ria was certain she could not move forward without having me there in her corner.

Of course, there was nothing more I could do. Even if I wanted to help her, I could not. With the help of my supervisor, I learned how to give Ria the referral and encouraged her to take the next step. Then I bowed gracefully out of her life. She told me that I was giving her a death sentence. A part of me was afraid she was right.

Here’s The Truth

Several years later, after I became a lawyer and started working with survivors of abuse on a regular basis, I came to terms with reality. I had not abandoned Ria. In fact, I did the opposite of that by referring her to a lawyer who could actually help her. Had I stuck around and pretended to help, I would have only held Ria back from her potential. That was the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.

I met a coach who taught me a lesson that was invaluable in helping me put this into words for my clients:

Put the process on the pedestal, not the person.

The only thing that actually works is the actual process you are working within. The people there beside you are your allies, they are not your solution, and they are certainly not your success.

When you go in for surgery, you are counting on the surgical procedure to heal you, not the surgeon performing it.

When you bake a cake, you are counting on the accuracy of the recipe, not the hands of the baker.

Similarly, when you have a legal problem, you rely on the word of the law, not the lawyer you hired.

Does this mean that you go with any joe-schmoe on the street corner? Absolutely not. The person you choose to help you through the process is an extremely important part of your success. You need allies who have the wisdom, experience, and finesse to help you get through as well as possible.

What this means is that you trust yourself enough to find the people you need to get you through the next step in your journey to success. Once you have accomplished that step, you stop and re-evaluate who you need in your corner to take the next step. And if that next step involves different people than the last step did, you value yourself enough to seek out the people you need to move forward, even if it’s uncomfortable.

I do not know what happened to Ria. At this point I have moved states, changed my name, and honestly don’t even remember Ria’s real full name. Chances are I will never actually know what happened to her. But what I do know is that I left her with the process. She had her social services lined up, she knew what she needed to do next, and she had a phone number to call. As the main person in her corner at the time, that was the best I could have possibly done for her.

If the people in your life truly care about your success, they will give you everything they can, then let you go gracefully so you can continue your journey to success.

The One Who Matters

So, if the people in your life come and go, then who is the single most important person in your corner?

It’s the one who is there with you from start to finish, no matter what.

The person who always has your back, regardless of how awful things may get.

It’s the person who forgives your mistakes, shakes off the dirt, and keeps going with you until you reach the end.

The most important person on your journey is the one and only person who is 100% invested in your success, who shares your failures, and who straps on the gloves to fight when life gets you down.

The most important person in your corner is…you.

Family court in Missouri can be long, and it is natural for you to have some life transformations along the way. If you feel your lawyer is no longer a good fit for you, you can schedule a Family Court coaching session to review your case with our attorney and determine if switching to a new lawyer is right for you.

*Names are changed to protect confidentiality

Getting Divorced Without A Fight

You go through enough just making the decision to get divorced. By the time you get there, the last thing you need is another huge fight. And a fight that could last for a year or more? No, thank you. The good news is that there is no part of getting divorced that actually requires you to fight. Even if efforts to mediate have failed, you can still get divorced quickly, quietly, and calmly. Many people can even do it in a way that lets them stay on cordial terms with their ex after it’s over. So, what’s the secret to getting divorced without a fight?

It can all be summed up into 3 simple steps, which come together to form a great mantra:
Be prepared, stay focused, and check yourself.

Step 1: Be Prepared

Divorce is a legal proceeding. Divorce, in its nature, is not designed to be emotional, spiritual, or anything other than one contract trumping an older contract. You made a contract when you got married. Now, you are making a new contract to get divorced. This new contract will address everything that was touched by your marriage contract – kids, money, and property.

To be prepared for divorce, do the following things:

  • Kids. Know your kids schedules, their needs, and any special considerations that are crucial to their wellbeing. Have these written out, and even have some ideas to keep those needs met when the household splits into two.
  • Money. Know where your money is, how much is where, and how it all works. You should know how to trace any significant amounts of money that you brought into the marriage and all the money that has come in since you got married. Understand how your different accounts work, how to access them, and exactly how they are titled.
  • Property. Gather all the deeds, titles, and other important documents for your assets. This includes real property (house, land, etc.) and personal property (automobiles, jewelry, etc.). If you have appraisals for any of the property then make sure you get all that together, too.

Being prepared is largely about knowing what’s going on and having all the paperwork together to prove it. This step is the one that saves my clients the most time and mental energy.

Step 2: Stay Focused

When you decide to get divorced, you should have clear goals. That is the first thing I work on with every single one of my clients. Going into a divorce without a goal is like setting out on a roadtrip without a destination. You need to know what you want out of this whole experience.

Once you know your goals, stay focused on them. The divorce process will make flips and turns along the way. You and your current spouse will butt heads because you value different things. Your job is to stay focused on what you want to achieve and let your team help you get there. People who stay focused on their goals are much more likely to settle a case out of court and avoid the fight that happens at trial.

Step 3: Check Yourself

There is one thing that causes more doubt, pain, and grief for my clients than anything else: losing control of your feelings.

The moment you lose sight of your goals and let your emotions take over, you will quickly find yourself lost in the hustle of family court. It is important that you check yourself regularly. Whatever you need to do to make important decisions in a calm and rational manner, do it. For example, I have some clients who need to think for at least 24 hours before making important decisions. This allows their emotional reaction to come out before they think through a situation logically. You want the logic to control how your case proceeds.

How you check yourself is up to you. Some people need friends they can talk to and bounce ideas off of. Others need a therapist who can help them process those deep emotions. Others still need quiet time to work through it on their own. Whatever it is you need, have those systems established and in place before you start. It will serve you well.

If you need help preparing for a divorce, you can book a Divorce Prep coaching session with an experienced Missouri family law attorney.

What To Tell Your Ex About Your New Relationship

You will be hard-pressed to find a woman who has not started a new relationship and wondered, “should I tell my ex?” This moral dilemma troubles everyone from adolescent girls around a lunch table to women sipping wine in their golden years. If your past relationships ended with any kind of court involvement, then this question becomes even more complex. I have had this question time and time again, both from friends and from clients. I have found that the response I give depends greatly on what their goals are. Here is my practical advice for what to tell your ex about your new relationship.

Goal: Co-Parenting

If you share a child with your ex, it is in the best interests of everyone that you maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship. This means that you need to think about it from a co-parenting perspective.

If you are dating someone with no intention of them meeting your kids in the near future, then say nothing. You have no co-parenting reason to share the information with your ex. Any information that does not relate to co-parenting can be easily misconstrued and result in drama. In my world, drama means that you could end up back in court for no good reason at all.

If you have a new significant other who is going to be involved in your child’s life, then you should discuss that with your ex. Tell them about this new person, the nature of your relationship (dating, engaged, etc.), and how you expect your kids to be involved with them. Be honest, frank, and stick to the point. Other than the nature of your relationship with them, keep everything else focused on the kids and not on yourself.

Keep in mind that when a potential step-parent comes on the scene, tensions are inevitable. What causes the tension – jealousy, grief, anger at losing you – is way beyond my pay grade. All I know is that your ex is likely to have some kind of reaction. Do not let your own emotions get caught up in their reaction, especially their initial reaction. Remember that you do not need their permission to see or marry someone else.

Many women get caught up in new relationships with people who they think will be better parents than their ex. This may or may not be true. Remember, though, that no matter who comes into your life, you and your ex are the only parents of your child, and those boundaries cannot get blurred no matter how much happier you are with someone new.

When talking to your ex, address issues regarding parenting and nothing else. Give them the courtesy of being involved with this new person in your child’s life. Think about how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed, and do that.

Goal: Friendship

If you want to stay friends with your ex, then just follow your gut when it comes to telling them about someone new.

Interact with your ex like you would any of your other friends. If you want to tell them, then go for it. If you want to keep it private, then that’s okay, too. Someone who is a friend, and only a friend, should be happy when you share your happiness with them.

Goal: Jealousy

Many women have come to me with a new relationship wanting to make their ex jealous. This concerns me when it happens while that woman is still in court getting divorced from her ex. It is not a healthy attitude to have, and while I understand how good it may feel to give them the emotional jab, it really does not end well for anyone – in or out of the courtroom.

My honest lawyer friend answer is this: don’t do it.

If jealousy is your only motive, then take a deep look into the mirror at the person you are, and ask if that is the person you truly want to be.

About Social Media…

What’s interesting from where I sit is the controversy around learning things on social media. This is how a lot of people communicate, and yet also how a lot of people expect not to connect with an ex.

I have had women come to me upset that their ex told them something privately saying, “he was clearly rubbing it in my face.”

Other times, they are upset because they learned something from a social media post and said, “he was clearly rubbing it in my face.”

When it comes to social media, I think we all need to dial it back a notch and loosen up. It is clear that everyone sees social media differently. If following your ex on social media is going to get you riled up, then you can stop checking in on them that way.

When YOU are the one with news to share, make sure you act in accordance with your goals. If you do that, then how they react has nothing to do with you.

Navigating a relationship with your ex can be hard, especially after a divorce or custody dispute. To talk with a lawyer in Missouri about what to tell your ex, click here to book a coaching session with Rachna Lien at The Lien Law Firm, LLC.

How to Change Your Name

The process for how to change your name is simple: get legal documentation of the change, then get all your important documents re-issued in your new name. Skipping either of these steps can cause headaches, hassles, and legal issues when you least expect them.

Step 1: Get Legal Documentation of the Name Change

Your name is given to you legally. For most people, their name is registered in the state they were born. This registration is usually done by the hospital or other entity that oversees the birth. Once they register your name and your existence, the state issues you a birth certificate with your legal name.

To change your name, you need a follow-up legal document that changes your name from the one on your birth certificate to something else. In Missouri, this must be done in court. For a child, both parents generally have to consent and/or be formally notified about the change before the court will hear the case. For an adult, the change must be published in a legal newspaper so creditors can be notified of the change.

Once a judge issues an order, you will receive a document that clearly states your new name and the date it is effective. You can proceed with using your new name from that point forward.

Step 2: Get Important Documents Re-Issued

You should stop using your old name and update your important documents as soon as practicable. This will help with a clean transition from one name to the next. Below is a convenient checklist of the documents you need to get re-issued.

You should note that you cannot truly change your birth certificate. If your state does change your birth certificat, that does not mean that your previous name is eradicated from all systems and records. Your name at birth will always be on file with the state. For adults, I have found little to no value in trying to change your birth certificate. For kids, a birth certificate with a new name helps them live without having to explain the change every time they undergo a life transition.

Frequently Asked Questions about Changing Your Name

Q: If I get married, can I change my name without going to court?
A: This depends on the state where you get married and what they include on your marriage license. If you are in a state where your marriage license includes a specific designation of what your new full name will be, then you should not need to go to court to change your name. You should check with a lawyer licensed in your state to be sure. In Missouri and some other states, the marriage license makes no mention of either spouse changing their name. In that case, the only way to legally change your name is by going to court.

Q: Social Security will change my name without a court order. Do I still need to go to court?
A: Yes. Many people are able to go to the Social Security Administration and change the name on their Social Security card without any documented proof. This is very common in states that allow a woman to use a marriage license as proof that they want to take their husband’s last name. With a new Social Security card, you can then get a new driver’s license, passport, and other important documents issued in a new name. The problem with this is that it skips Step 1, so you have no actual documentation of your name before and after the change. This means there is no way to prove that your old name and your new name belong to the same person. This has caused issues for several of my clients when providing documents and identity verifications for things like credit card fraud, adoption (especially international adoption), and claiming retirement/survivor/etc. benefits.

Need help with a name change in Missouri? Call The Lien Law Firm at 314-722-8557 or follow this link to schedule a complimentary case review. If you live outside the State of Missouri, contact an attorney in your current state of residence.

The 3 Types of Lawyers

At least once a week, someone calls my office looking for a new lawyer. Their current lawyer, for some reason, is not meeting their needs. As a client, you have every right to switch lawyers so the right person is advocating for you. But if you do not understand the different types of lawyers, your new lawyer may not be any more helpful than the old one.

A conversation like this happens all the time in my world….
Client: I hired a top lawyer, and they screwed up my case.
Me: Why did you hire them?
Client: Because they are the best.
Me: Did you talk to different types of lawyers before deciding they were the right one for you?
Client: Well…..no. I just needed a lawyer.

A dentist may be a phenomenal dentist, but would you go to them for brain surgery?
A banker is great with money, but would you have them do your taxes?

It is possible the lawyer you hired really is great. They may have been great for the person who referred them to you. They are just not the right type of lawyer for you.

So the question is, what kind of lawyer do you need?

When it comes to family law attorneys, I can generally narrow them down into 3 different categories based on what I have observed and what my clients have told me. When looking for a lawyer, it is important to know which of these types you want working for you.

The Shark

You have probably heard of lawyers referred to as “sharks” or “bulldogs.” They are the punch line in most lawyer jokes.

Sharks will squeeze the legal system for every single thing you can possibly do. They file lots of motions, set lots of hearings, and do a lot of discovery. Sharks are rarely interested in settling a case that can be litigated at trial. They focus on what aspects of your story can be used to trigger legal action.

A Shark will make sure that you have done everything you can possibly do within the legal system – filed the motions, done the depositions, and subpoenaed the records. Because of this, they tend to be very expensive with varying returns. If you have enough money, then you may be able to dominate their time and attention. Running out of money during your case may leave you representing yourself in a very litigious situation.

If your case is highly contested and you want to give the other side a real run for their money, then you want a Shark representing you. Sharks also tend to play well with each other, so they work best when both sides have the same type of lawyer. Sharks will see your case as a “win” or a “loss” depending on the outcome.

I have noticed that clients complain the most about sharks for being impersonal. If you are looking for a shark, then I will openly admit that I am not the lawyer for you.

The Facilitator

A lawyer’s job is to answer questions and provide guidance while leaving the ultimate decisions in the hands of the client. The Facilitator focuses on this role and personalizes their legal knowledge to your life circumstances.

Facilitators will focus first and foremost on your goals. Once they know what you want to achieve and accomplish in family court, they will use the tools of the legal system to help you bring that about. Facilitators will take litigious action when necessary, but will focus on settling your case in a way that is conducive to your larger goals.

A Facilitator will give you the benefit of their guidance and experience, then leave all the major decisions up to you. They take charge of doing the legal work to act on your decisions. People describe the Facilitator’s fees as being reasonable. The biggest complaint I have heard about Facilitators is that they are too blunt when saying something that you might not want to hear. They work best with clients who appreciate honesty.

If you have larger goals than just getting through a divorce or custody battle, then a Facilitator may be the lawyer for you. Like Sharks, Facilitators tend to play well together, so it helps if the lawyers on both sides are motivated to reach a settlement.

I take on the role of a Facilitator when clients retain me for legal representation.

The Coach

At its core, the legal system is designed for everyone with or without professional help. The Coach helps you represent yourself in court when you just need a little bit of guidance along the way.

A Coach is only as involved in your case as you want them to be. You may meet with them just once or you may choose to coach with them regularly. Coaches tend to play well with Facilitators since clients who choose a Coach are generally looking for amicable resolutions.

A Coach will do things like review documents, develop strategy, and talk you through courtroom procedure. They seek to empower you to be your own best advocate without missing little details that only a lawyer would otherwise know to look for. Coaching is by far the least expensive option for legal help. People benefit from coaching when they are ready and willing to take full responsibility for where they are and plow forward to where they want to go. Critics of coaching get overwhelmed by the amount of action they need to take on their own. Clients who need someone else to blame when things don’t go their way will not work well with a Coach.

This is perhaps my favorite role because of the extraordinary results I see in clients who choose legal coaching.

The Right Lawyer for You

Remember: not all lawyers are created equal.

Finding the right lawyer is like finding the right doctor or counselor. You want someone who practices the area of law you need help with and someone who works the way you need them to. There are lots of very good lawyers out there, but that does not necessarily make them the best lawyer for you.

What you need may change over time, and if that is the case, then there is nothing wrong with switching to a different type of lawyer. This kind of shift happens all the time, especially if your goals for the case change over time. The most important thing is finding a lawyer who will help you the way you need to be helped.

To talk with Rachna one-on-one to see if she is the right lawyer for you, follow this link to schedule a complimentary case review call. You can learn more about The Lien Law Firm, LLC online at www.LienLawFirm.com.

The Single Most Important Thing I Learned in Law School

I’m a lawyer. I spent 4 years in college and then 3 years in law school getting the fancy degrees and titles. And in all that stuff, there were a few gems. Those gems fueled me to be here today, passionate about helping you overcome the challenges that are staring you in the face.

I am going to share the rarest, most valuable of those gems with you today.

You are a woman. You are a dazzling compilation of mind, body, and spirit that has the power to do extraordinary things. You have the potential for the greatest sense of greatness you can ever imagine.

I know this because I see you.
I see the woman in the grocery store trying to nourish her family while juggling a small child who is ready for a nap.
I see you in corporate America, working to support your lifestyle and make the most of your skills and talents.
I see you at the gym making yourself and your health a priority.

I also see you when you reach out for help, because you were served with divorce papers that you were not expecting.
I see you panicking when someone who betrayed your trust is now demanding sole custody of your children.
I see you feeling helpless when someone you love (maybe yourself) is raped or experiences domestic violence.

I am a woman, too, and I see you.

Regardless of how you feel, what you are going through, or even what you did wrong, here is the lesson I want to share with you: You are a woman, and for that, you must stop apologizing.

My Story

I was raised in an environment similar to most kids: I had parents, I went to school, I learned things, and I liked to play. I learned to be kind, to share, and to say “I’m sorry.” All good things to do and good skills to have.

I noticed that there were differences in how boys and girls were treated, but there was nothing I could do about it. I felt like the world got to control and I just had to live in it. The world was bigger than me, so it must be right, and I must be wrong.

And that, right there, was my downfall. Because as we were taught, the result of being wrong was one thing: saying “I’m sorry.”

So I started apologizing for everything that made anyone else feel bad, everything that might make them feel bad, and everything that should make them feel bad.

I apologized for asking questions.
I apologized for needing help.
I apologized for delivering the truth when it was not what the receiver wanted to hear.
I apologized so much that, eventually, I started apologizing for apologizing.

And do you want to know what the worst part was? It was so habitual that I literally had no idea I was doing it.

The Gem

I’ll be honest with you here: there was very little I enjoyed about law school. The one part that I did enjoy was connecting with the few professors who wanted to be more than just classroom instructors, they stepped up to be my mentors.

My professor in the clinic had a jar on her desk labeled “sorry jar.” Any time her students apologized, she made us put a dollar in the jar. At first we all thought it was a joke, but she was completely serious.

Every time I lost a dollar to that jar, my professor would tell me, “be unapologetic.”

I heard it when writing briefs, preparing oral arguments, and asking questions in class. She eventually stopped waiting for me to apologize. Every time I saw her around the school, she would tell me, “be unapologetic.”

I started noticing how often I was apologizing. Most of the time, I was doing it because I thought I was being nice. I also noticed that while all the girls were going broke putting money in that jar, the boys were not. When the girls started to really see the value in the lesson, the boys still thought it was a joke.

That was when it hit me.

I was training to enter a profession that is dominated by men. I was entering a world where perception mattered, where power was something to win, and where the wage gap and glass ceiling were very real. Men were taught to embrace that environment. Women were taught to apologize for disrupting it.

As a woman, I was taught to apologize for being a woman. For being myself. Looking back now, of course I apologized for every single thing I said and did. And if that was the attitude I wanted to keep, I would never achieve the success I knew I was capable of achieving. I would always be broke.

I realized that the life I was living was my own and no one else’s.

Even in situations that involved other people, I was responsible for myself and no one else.

I had to decide if I wanted to move forward as a strong, capable woman, or as a girl who would always feel guilty and ashamed.

So, I became unapologetic.

I stopped apologizing when I asked a question. Want to know what happened? I got more fruitful answers.

I stopped apologizing when I interrupted someone who was talking. I saved time on irrelevant conversation and also became a better listener.

I stopped apologizing when telling someone something they didn’t want to hear. People started to trust that I would always tell the truth.

And as I stopped apologizing to others, I also stopped apologizing to myself. Instead of feeling guilt or shame, I focused on what I could do better and how I could grow. For the first time ever I could feel my inner potential, and it fueled me into a life I never could have imagined.

Why Am I Telling You This?

I just work in the legal system. If you come to me for help, then your life as you know it depends on this system. Good arguments, solid strategies, and “lawyer tricks” will only get you so far. If you are not confident enough to be you, just as you are, then you will not feel successful in family court.

I want to make something clear here: I am not saying that you should not apologize when you legitimately mess up. If you did something wrong to someone else, then you absolutely should apologize for it.

You should stop apologizing for who you are as a person.
Stop apologizing for demanding what you need from life.
And stop apologizing for being a woman.

If someone does not like you, that is their problem. If someone thinks you should be living your life differently, that’s their opinion to keep. If anyone thinks, feels, or does anything to imply that you are not worthy of greatness, then you do not need that person in your life.

If you apologize because you were taught to be sorry for being you, then it’s time to break that habit and present yourself to the world as the strong woman that you are.

If you truly feel like you should apologize for seeking what you need, then turn inward. Ask yourself where you learned to be sorry for being yourself. Look around and see if the people you depend on are going to lift you up and applaud your success. Are you really in the environment that is going to love you just for being you?

If not, then make a change.

When you are ready to move forward, be the woman you were born to be, and be unapologetic.

At The Lien Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you be the woman you truly are, even in the midst of a family court battle. Learn more at www.LawyerForWoman.com.

If you want to talk with Rachna one-on-one about your legal issue, simply click here to schedule a complimentary consultation & case review call. Please note, we are only licensed to talk about legal matters in the State of Missouri.

A New Way to Pay

Something has become painfully obvious: you need a new way to pay legal fees.

I have worked in family court with clients from all walks of life – different ages, income levels, and life goals.

  • Some were ready and able to pay retainers in cash, while others have struggled to make ends meet.
  • Many came to me desperate for immediate help, while others just needed some paperwork pushed through the system.
  • Some stayed closely involved with their cases, and some did not follow my advice at all.

I’ve had the honor of working with a true spectrum of people at the most difficult times in their lives. Despite all the differences, though, one thing has been consistent in almost everyone I have represented in family court: frustration about money.

  • One month, we are drafting documents and paying filing fees, so legal fees are high.
  • If we have a month of waiting for service and responsive pleadings, fees may be lower.
  • There is no telling how much time your lawyer will spend on emails, phone calls, and facilitating settlement negotiations. You quite literally give your lawyer a blank check to work your case.
  • If a testimony hearing or trial comes up, then you may need to pay large lump sums immediately. Asking to delay things while you save up the money could impact the overall outcome of your case.

If you feel anxiety about your case, you may need to get your lawyer on the phone regularly just to make sure everything is going smoothly. This can make your bill can skyrocket in no time, even if there is no movement in court.

Combined with the normal ups and downs of family court, it’s no mystery why you are so frustrated with legal fees. Even if you chose the right lawyer, you have no idea how much your case is going to cost out-of-pocket before you have a resolution.

Let’s fix this

As a lawyer, I will tell you this: it is hard to break the mold. When all of our colleagues bill a certain way and the competition is based on an hourly rate, it is common to go with the norm so that clients can compare apples to apples when choosing a lawyer.

While it may be common, I do not think it is the best way to operate.
And according to a poll I recently did on Facebook, you made it clear that you need another way.

So, I am giving you a new way to pay.

For the month of March 2021, when you retain legal services at The Lien Law Firm, you will have a choice of how you are billed.

Option #1: Put down a retainer and pay an hourly rate, just like my profession has been doing for years.

Option #2: Pay a monthly subscription fee, where you will pay a consistent amount each month. You are guaranteed weekly check-ins with your lawyer about the progress of your case.

Regardless of which option you choose, I will work with you in the exact same way.

As your lawyer, it is my job to do everything I can to help you achieve success. I hate when you stress about legal fees because I know that you have enough other things to focus on. I hope that this new way to pay helps alleviate one area of stress so we can focus on your real goals in family court.

To speak with Rachna about your case and determine if you are a good fit for legal representation at The Lien Law Firm, LLC, please follow this link to schedule a complimentary case review call.

How Alimony Sets You Up To Fail (From the Heart)

Many women (maybe even most women) are financially inferior to their husbands. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and it’s not politically correct for me to say, but it is true. These women go into divorce looking for one thing: alimony.

Because the reason for the divorce is inevitably his fault. He owes it to you, right? You sacrificed the best years of your life for him only to be treated the way he has treated you, so he deserves to pay. He cannot expect you to go from being financially dependent to supporting yourself, so because you need it, he has to pay.

Here’s the problem: Women who depend on alimony are setting themselves up to fail.

No, I do not have any psychological studies to back me up on that claim. I do not even have formal statistics. What I have is 800+ clients under my belt as a family law attorney who works primarily with women, and I have noticed this trend time and time again. The women who come into my office desperate for their now or soon-to-be ex-spouse to continue supporting them financially continue to fail, both in court and in life.

Let me break it down for you

For whatever reason, your marriage is not working, and it is not going to make you happy for the rest of your life. The solution is that your partnership needs to end. That means that all the things you did as partners needs to stop and you need to design a new life. Maybe you will decide to stay single, or maybe you already have a new relationship waiting for you. Either way, your marriage, and your connection to your current spouse, needs to end. Chances are that you have already decided that on your own, and that is why you want to get divorced.

When severing that connection, you demand alimony. Not just what the court considers to be reasonable, but enough to pay your rent and other necessary expenses for a prolonged period of time. Without that money, you have no other way to make ends meet.

In severing the marital connection that is holding you back, you are creating a powerful financial dependence that makes you inferior in the relationship you are trying to leave. For many women, this can be just as bad, if not worse, than still being married.

Are you getting divorced to break free from a controlling spouse?
Just imagine the field day they can have with sending your payments late, sending only partial payments, or not sending payments at all. You may have legal recourse, but that will take time (and usually money) to initiate. In the meantime, you are the one left with unmet needs.

If you end up facing an eviction, collection agencies, or bankruptcy because you cannot pay your bills, that will be on your record, not on his.

Let me tell you the real root reason I think alimony sets you up to fail: It keeps you in a mindset of depending and relying on others instead of allowing you to grow into a strong, independent, self-sufficient woman after your divorce.

Alimony is not justice

Alimony certainly has a purpose. When two people with significant discrepancies in their incomes get divorced, alimony is meant to help ease the shift in economic disparities between the two. It is there to help you get on your feet and figure out a plan during the major life transition. That means that it does not last for very long and does not pay very much. It is there to soften the blow, and that’s all.

So many women I have met try to turn it into an issue of justice. They think he has to pay because of how rude, awful, and inconsiderate he is. The truth is, no amount of money is ever going to make you feel compensated for the emotional pain you have endured. If that is what you are expecting, then you will be sorely disappointed.

Even if you get an award of alimony in your divorce, I just described above some of the ways I have seen it used to exercise power and control over someone. If anything, this may fuel the injustice you feel rather than alleviating it.

How to Succeed

Let me be perfectly clear: I am not telling you to forego alimony in your divorce.

If you are entitled to it, and if you need it, then you should absolutely talk with your lawyer about it.

What I am saying is this: Do not rely on alimony to sustain your life after divorce.

Here is what I tell my clients who want to achieve success after divorce:

  • Budget as though he will not pay. When figuring out your post-divorce budget, do not factor in your alimony payments. Come up with a plan to make your expenses without that payment. That way if it does not come, you are no worse for the wear. If it does come, then you can put it into savings, use it to pay down a debt, or spend it on something extra. Either way, you are not dependent on it for your basic needs.
  • Plan for self-sufficiency. What are you going to do to meet your long-term income goals? Are you going back to school to start a new career? Are you going to start a business and be your own boss? Whatever it is, plan to be self-sufficient, without relying on alimony payments or any other financial support from anyone. This may be incredibly hard and may even seem impossible, but with the right attitude, it can be done.
  • Ask for the right kind of help. If you have a wealthy friend or family member, you can choose to approach them for help in one of two ways. You can ask them for money when you need help, or you can ask them how they achieved their wealth and if they can mentor you to achieve a similar result. One of these options puts strain on the relationship and only offers a temporary solution while the other builds long-term strength and success. Which will you choose?

Let me leave you with one last tidbit.

If you are going through a divorce, then you already know someone who has achieved a state of mind that generates success: your lawyer. Whether they work for a large firm or started their own, your lawyer has probably been through the financial ups and downs that come with getting to where they are now. If you are one of my clients, then helping you be successful is quite literally the reason I am here. I already know all of your personal business, too. I will happily give you my advice if you ask, and I will even turn off the time clock while we talk about it.

The Lien Law Firm’s “From the Heart” blog series focuses on our lawyer’s true feelings about family law issues based on personal experience and perception. You can read more at www.lienlawfirm.com. Want to talk to a lawyer who gets that family court is an emotional place? Call 314-722-8557 to speak with a friendly Missouri lawyer and get honest answers to your unique questions.

How to Background Check Your Date

As a divorce lawyer, I work with a lot of women who are stepping into a new found freedom. As soon as they are free of family court drama, they are eager to start their lives as single, independent women. Some are ready to start dating again while others are already looking at a new long-term relationship. I give every single one of them a crucial piece of advice: Background check every single person you date.

Did you chuckle at that? It’s okay if you did, because it may sound a bit ridiculous.
Many women hear that and say something like, “maybe some people need to do that, but I’m very careful about who I date.” To these women, I say one thing:

Background check every single person you date.

Here’s the truth, ladies: In today’s day and age, you cannot trust anyone to be completely open and honest with you. You cannot expect that your intuition will tell you all you need to know. And, if you have been caught in a manipulative or abusive relationship once, then you are at risk of being sucked into another one, even if you are super careful. It does not hurt to check your date’s background before giving them your home address to come pick you up. If you don’t find anything, that’s wonderful! If you do, you’ll be so glad you looked.

Here are my top 3 free ways to check someone’s background before going on a date with them.

1. CaseNet

Checking someone’s history of court action is easy. CaseNet keeps a database of civil and criminal cases filed in the State of Missouri. Follow this link, click on “Litigant Name Search,” and type in their name. It will pull up a list of all the cases involving a person with that name. You’ll be able to see what kind of case it is, when it was filed, and in most cases you can look at the court’s docket to see who their attorney was and how the case was resolved. This is a great way to know if someone has a criminal history or if they have been through messy civil cases.

Be careful, though, because CaseNet is not fool proof. The information you find on there will be very reliable, but you won’t find absolutely everything. Cases that are closed to the public will not pop up on your search, like child abuse/neglect cases in juvenile court or certain orders of protection (aka “restraining orders”). If the person you search has a common name then you may also need to narrow it down by their birthday or where they live. CaseNet is also limited to cases in Missouri, so if your date has lived in any other state, you’ll want to see if that state has a similar database.

2. Missouri Sex Offender Registry

The sex offender registry gives you a listing of sex offenders by name or by address. You can even see a map of where registered offenders live. This allows you to check out not just the person you are considering dating, but also the areas you may be going with them. You want to make sure you are going to safe places, especially if you plan to spend the night. To search the registry, follow this link and then follow the prompts.

3. Google/Bing/[Insert Search Engine of Choice Here]

You will be amazed what you can learn about a person on the Internet. Search for their name, maybe throw in the city you live in, and see what you find. You’ll learn things about them (good or bad) that you can’t easily find through any of the more “official” checks, such as appearances in the press, personal websites, social media profiles, etc. This will not just give you background information, but it will give you general information on their character that you can use to lead into your dating relationship.

With the Internet at your fingertips, do not leave your safety to chance. Even if you just pick one of the methods above, be consistent about checking every person you date. While you’re at it, search yourself out on these databases as well and see what you find. And, of course, trust your gut – if someone seems unsafe, follow that intuition and be safe.

Press Release: Alarming drop in Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline calls

Department of Social Services stresses importance of reporting suspected child abuse and neglect concerns of children unsafe at home.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Since March 11, 2020 the Department of Social Services (DSS) has experienced an approximate 50 percent drop in Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline Calls. “As a law enforcement officer for more than 20 years, I understand when a household is unsafe how vulnerable children can be,” Governor Mike Parson said. “This dramatic drop in Hotline reports is truly alarming.  I know Missourians are very focused on COVID-19, but we must remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure every Missouri child remains safe from abuse and neglect.”

“This low number of calls is very abnormal for the Hotline and our worst fear is that children are unsafe while at home, said Jennifer Tidball, Acting Director, Department of Social Services. “Teachers and child care providers are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect and are often our state’s best radar on a child’s well being because children are in school or at child care each day.”  Educators and child care providers make the largest number of Hotline reports and without that daily contact with a child, a child’s safety could be seriously impacted. The Department of Social Services, Children’s Division is also very concerned that social isolation and the unprecedented pressures parents and families are experiencing are elevating the risk for child abuse or neglect. “If you are an educator, child care provider, or anyone who has concerns for a child you think may be at risk, please call the Hotline,” Tidball said. “Children’s Division workers are still out there connecting with families, providing assistance, and making sure kids are safe.  But we can’t help that child if we don’t get a report to the Hotline.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Social Services urges every Missourian to be especially attentive to the safety and wellbeing of children, and strongly encourages anyone who suspects child abuse or neglect to call our toll-free hotline at 1-800-392-3738. The Missouri Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline is answered 24-hours a day, every day, all year round. Callers can report anonymously.

The Department of Social Services is committed to serving the needs of Missouri citizens during COVID-19 pandemic.  Information regarding the department’s response to the pandemic is available online https://dss.mo.gov/covid-19.

The mission of the Department of Social Services is to empower Missourians to live safe, healthy, and productive lives.  Visit dss.mo.gov to learn more about the Department of Social Services and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.