Today’s millennials take a different view of marriage than those that came before them. They are waiting longer to get married. Some are deciding not to marry at all but to form a domestic partnership instead. In fact, some will prefer the word “partner” to “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” Quite a few married couples also prefer the term “partner” to “husband” or “wife.”
What’s in a Word?
You may ask yourself what the big deal is. Most millennials want to use terms free from stereotypes, and “partner” indicates a more even distribution of power. When you’re partners, you work together and divide things evenly. In past days, “partner” was used to mean someone you were in business with. Then, it became for people in a romantic relationship, usually younger people, refer to themselves as partners, whether married or not.
Making a Contract
What’s a partnership without a contract? Quite possibly because they have waited longer to get married, millennials have had plenty of time to think about what they want from a relationship and a partner. They feel like contracts increase clarity about their expectations, both from themselves and from their partner.
What Points are Outlined in a Domestic Relationship Contract?
No two relationship contracts are alike. They can cover everything… work responsibilities, domestic chores, custody of pets, even custody of frozen embryos. These contracts can cover everything that a millennial might list in a pre-nuptial agreement… Without the nuptials! They may indicate what happens if one of the partners is unfaithful. Who gets to stay in the apartment or house? What if one of the partner’s parents becomes ill and needs to move in? Who takes out the trash, and who does the laundry? How is income divided? How we divide the sofas, TVs , pots, pans, and utensils.
All these questions, and more, make up the topics that are likely to cause disagreement if the relationship is in trouble, and dissolving it seems the only course of action that makes sense.
Are Relationship Contracts New?
These relationship contracts have been around for years since the sixties. They are more popular than ever, and many millennials view these adult problems as a fact of life. We must remember that most of them witnessed firsthand what devastation a divorce or breakup can cause. Not only did they see their parents (and then their parent’s boyfriends and girlfriends) fight over how to divide monthly expenses, but also who gets the Kitchen Aide mixer, when a relationship fails.
Are Relationship Contracts Necessary?
The simple answer is yes. When people get divorced, there is a set of laws how to divide property as well as how to handle financial obligations and support. But for unmarried couples, the trickiest situations for me to handle are unmarried couples. These agreements set a framework for not only partners to know what to do, but more importantly for a Judge to know what to do.
Millennials understand the importance of thinking things through and gaining clarity in their relationships. Failure to sign an agreement before beginning a living arrangement may be a deal-breaker for one or both parties. One thing’s for sure, the conversations that take place while constructing a relationship contract can get quite lively! But the benefits to be gained by talking things out and planning intentionally may outweigh the disagreements that take place and help to form a more perfect… “partnership!”
At Mummert Law, we can help you define your relationship… on your terms! Not sure what to put into a relationship contract? Disagreeing over terms? These are situations where we can help mediate between the partners and help come to an agreeable solution.
If you’d like help to form a relationship contract with your partner, Mummert Law can assist you. Contact our office and make an appointment for a consultation.
Mediation services available in Baltimore can help you and your spouse avoid the expense and hassle of a lengthy trial. With the help of a neutral mediation lawyer, you and your spouse can review the marital assets and liabilities, and ideally, reach mutually agreeable decisions. To get the most out of each mediation session, you should arrive prepared with all of the necessary documents.
Set aside plenty of time to gather together financial documents. You will need statements of all of your accounts, including sole and joint accounts. These include statements for your checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, pension plans, Roth IRAs, and stock and bond investments. You’ll also need current balance statements for all accounts held for the children, such as CDs, money market accounts, and savings accounts. It may be necessary to hire a professional actuary to determine the present day value of certain accounts such as retirement funds.
After you have gathered together account statements, it’s time to print out balance statements for all of your credit cards, mortgages, lines of credit, and home equity loans. Student loans, motor vehicle loans, personal loans, and business loans also play a role in marital asset mediation. Additionally, you’ll need to bring information on any pending civil lawsuits in which either of you or both of you are named as defendants.
If your job offers benefits, you’ll need statements for each of them. These include incentives, stock options, and golden parachute plans.
You may need to hire a professional appraiser to obtain appraisal statements for personal property. The mediator will request evidence of the current market value of all tangible assets, including motor vehicles, artwork, jewelry, antiques, and all other valuables.
Bring copies of your state and federal tax returns for the past three years. Include copies of all 1099 and W-2 forms. If you or your spouse has a business, the past three years of corporate tax returns are also required. Additionally, you should expect to bring statements of your income for the past six months.
It isn’t always easy to make arrangements for your own future care. Many people avoid estate planning matters because they simply don’t want to think about dying or becoming incapacitated. Others may avoid visiting an estate lawyer in Baltimore because they feel they are too young to worry about that sort of matter. But the unfortunate truth is that accidents and illnesses can befall anyone at any time, regardless of age or current health. Talk to an estate planning attorney about creating an advanced medical directive.
You can rest assured knowing that you’ve made arrangements.
Certain estate planning documents, such as wills, need to be updated from time to time. Usually, an advanced medical directive only needs to be done once. After you’ve completed this document, you may feel some peace of mind knowing that this important estate planning task is finalized.
You will receive the medical care you want.
Advanced medical directives empower individuals to choose their own medical care, even after they become incapacitated. This document will specify exactly which type of care you do and don’t want to receive in the event you fall into a coma, require life support, or otherwise experience some sort of calamity. With this document, you can spell out your wishes pertaining to life support, end of life care, palliative care, and organ donation. You can also use this document to specify the types of care that you do not want administered to you.
Your relatives will be free of the burden of making decisions.
When a loved one becomes incapacitated, the burden of making decisions often falls to the closest family members. Deciding whether to keep a parent, sibling, or other loved one on life support or not can be an impossible choice to make. By establishing an advanced medical directive, your loved ones won’t be forced to make these difficult decisions and they won’t face the possibility of regret.
You will reduce the possibility of family conflicts.
It is not unheard of for a family to be torn apart over a disagreement about what an incapacitated loved one would have wanted in terms of life support or other medical care. You’ve spent a lifetime caring for and cherishing your family. You can preserve family bonds by spending a little time with an estate lawyer to create an advanced medical directive.
Resolving family law matters often involves litigation, but there may be a better solution for your case. Consider speaking with a mediation lawyer in Baltimore about divorce mediation. As you’ll learn when you watch this video, divorce mediation is a process that is facilitated by a neutral individual.
During a mediation session, the mediator guides each party in identifying the issues that need to be resolved, each party’s position on the issues, and possible solutions such as compromises. Through divorce mediation, you and your spouse may be able to agree on arrangements for property division, child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. Reaching agreements in mediation can help you and your spouse avoid the hassle and expense of going to trial.
Legal matters are often complex and confusing in the wake of a loved one’s death. It’s highly recommended that you consult an estate lawyer in Baltimore to guide you through the probate process. Probate is the process by which a will is legally recognized, an executor or personal representative is appointed, and the assets are distributed. In some cases, probate can be completed relatively easily and quickly. In other cases, such as when a will is contested, the matter can drag on for months.
After a person dies, a probate lawyer will ask that the court legally recognize the will and appoint the executor that the decedent named. If the person died without a will, then the judge can appoint someone. The executor is responsible for taking an inventory of the decedent’s assets and debts, and for identifying the beneficiaries. The executor will need to settle the decedent’s outstanding debts before distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in the manner specified in the will.
It should come as no surprise that alimony can be an extremely difficult part of divorce negotiations. However, some couples are able to minimize their conflict and come to an agreement over alimony in mediation. Mediation differs from court in that it is not about winners and losers. Instead, mediation focuses on helping both parties work together to come up with a viable solution that feels right to everyone. There are several reasons why choosing mediation in Baltimore over court can be beneficial.
One significant benefit of going to mediation for alimony is that it is less expensive and time-consuming. Courts have to consider a long list of factors before making a ruling on alimony, which can drag out this contentious issue and increase the stress surrounding the divorce. Settling alimony in mediation allows you to circumvent court-dictated alimony standards and come up with a better solution that meets everyone’s needs. Working together in mediation also sets the stage for cooperating on more issues in the divorce, so you can reduce the amount of stress associated with the process.
Sometimes, part of child support and child custody cases involves addressing the issue of paternity. This area of family law can be difficult for everyone involved, but it is necessary in some cases to take this important step before any decisions about child support are made or after child support is in place but one parent has a doubt about paternity. Although some paternity tests are ordering the courtroom, disputes about paternity can also be addressed during mediation. Going to mediation in Baltimore to deal with questions surrounding paternity and child support is similar to any other mediation experience. If you have a mediation session planned, here are some tips for preparing.
Consider Your Personal Statement
Most mediation sessions begin with each party making a brief statement about the issues you hope to resolve during mediation and how you view the dispute from your perspective. Although you will be allowed to speak without interruption while making your statement, keep in mind that the other party’s attorney may be present and could use information shared in mediation in court should the negotiation fail. Talk through your statement with your lawyer to avoid any issues. For instance, if your stance is that a paternity test should be required, avoid saying anything that suggests that you know the child is yours.
Prepare for Questions
The mediator will likely ask both sides questions to gather information that could be helpful during the negotiation. These questions help the mediator identify possible solutions that could work for both sides. Remember that mediators do not provide legal advice. Your lawyer should be present at all mediation sessions in case you have legal questions and to review any documents before you sign them.
Be Open to the Process
Mediation is designed for both sides to come away feeling satisfied with the agreement. One side does not win while the other loses. Your lawyer can help you understand the strategies the mediator may use to help you reach an agreement. Remember that your paternity dispute is not resolved until an agreement is signed, so you have nothing to lose by entering negotiations.
When most people begin the estate planning process, they have two goals: to protect their resources as much as possible and to make dealing with the estate less stressful on their loved ones. When you need help with estate planning in Baltimore, Timothy Mummert of Mummert Law can help. Watch this video to learn more.
Mummert Law is experienced in all aspects of estate planning, from last will and testament preparation, revocable and irrevocable trust planing, and more. The firm is also here to help your loved ones deal with the process of probate as quickly and efficiently as possible. Delaying estate planning can put your assets at risk, so make an appointment with our attorney today.