Kirkner Family Law Group, P.A. Receives Peer Review Rating™ for Kristin Kirkner from Martindale-Hubbell®

Legal Profession’s Most Prestigious Rating Service Recognizes Kirkner Family Law Group, P.A. Principal, Kristin Renee Hayes Kirkner with AV.

Tampa, FL – June 8, 2015 – Kirkner Family Law Group, P.A. today announced it has received notification from Martindale-Hubbell that Kristin Renee Hayes Kirkner has received a Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review RatingTM.

Martindale-Hubble Tampa Divorce Law Review of Kirkner Family LawKristin Kirkner was given an “AV” rating from her peers, which means that she was deemed to have very high professional ethics and preeminent legal ability. Only lawyers with the highest ethical standards and professional ability receive a Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Rating.

The Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings evaluates lawyers based on the anonymous opinions of members of the Bar and the Judiciary, including both those who are rated and those who are not. The first review to establish a lawyer’s rating usually occurs three years after her first admission to the Bar.

Martindale-Hubbell conducts secure online Peer Review Ratings surveys of lawyers across multiple jurisdictions and geographic locations such as Tampa, Florida, and in similar areas of practice such as divorce lawyers and family law practices. Reviewers are instructed to assess their colleagues’ general ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice.

The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ help buyers of legal services identify, evaluate and select the most appropriate lawyer for a specific task at hand. The confidentiality, objectivity and complete independence of the ratings and attorney reviews process are what have made the program a unique and credible evaluation tool for members of the legal profession.  The legal community values the accuracy of lawyer peer review ratings because they are determined by their peers – the people who are best suited to assess the legal ability and professional ethics of their colleagues.

The Ratings Explanation
Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. A threshold number of responses is required to achieve a rating.
The General Ethical Standards rating denotes adherence to professional standards of conduct and ethics, reliability, diligence and other criteria relevant to the discharge of professional responsibilities. Those lawyers who meet the “Very High” criteria of General Ethical Standards can proceed to the next step in the ratings process – Legal Ability.

Legal Ability ratings are based on performance in five key areas, rated on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest). These areas are:tampa divorce attorney reviews by peers

  • Legal Knowledge – Lawyer’s familiarity with the laws governing his/her specific area of practice(s)
  • Analytical Capabilities – Lawyer’s creativity in analyzing legal issues and applying technical knowledge
  • Judgment – Lawyer’s demonstration of the salient factors that drive the outcome of a given case or issue.
  • Communication Ability – Lawyer’s capability to communicate persuasively and credibly
  • Legal Experience – Lawyer’s degree of experience in his/her specific area of practice(s)

The numeric ratings range may coincide with the appropriate Certification Mark:

  • AV Preeminent® (4.5-5.0) – AV Preeminent® is a significant rating accomplishment – a testament to the fact that a lawyer’s peers rank him or her at the highest level of professional excellence.
  • BV Distinguished® (3.0-4.4) – BV Distinguished® is an excellent rating for a lawyer with some experience. A widely respected mark of achievement, it differentiates a lawyer from his or her competition.
  • Rated (1.0-2.9) – The Peer Review Rated designation demonstrates that the lawyer has met the very high criteria of General Ethical Standing.

Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review Ratings were created in 1887 as an objective tool that would attest to a lawyer’s ability and professional ethics, based on the confidential opinions of other lawyers and judges who have worked with the lawyers they are evaluating.

About Martindale-Hubbell

     Martindale-Hubbell’s (www.martindale.com) 140-year-plus history began in 1868, when lawyer and businessman James B. Martindale first published The Martindale Directory. Its stated purpose was “to furnish to lawyers, bankers, wholesale merchants, manufacturers, real estate agents, and all others…the address of one reliable law firm, one reliable bank, and one reliable real estate office in every city in the United States…”

By 1896, The Martindale Directory included the basic information that still appears in our lawyer and law firm Profiles, as well as ratings and a section on foreign lawyers and firms.

In 1930, the Martindale Company purchased the publishing rights to Hubbell’s Legal Directory, which contained a digest of state laws, court calendars and a selective list of lawyers and firms. The following year marked the first edition of the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory; a two volume set that combined the features of both predecessor publications.

Today, Martindale-Hubbell offers solutions for both professional and consumer markets. Our online destinations contain profiles for over one million lawyers and firms in the United States, Canada and 160 other countries, serving as a fundamental legal resource and marketing tool.

Schedule your consultation today with one of Tampa, Florida’s best family law attorneys! Fill out the form below or simply call our office to schedule your consultation.

If you’d like to read more, or write your own review of Tampa divorce attorney Kristin Kirkner, we invite you to do so at Google+ or Yelp.

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Sample Child Custody Schedule for a Shared Parenting Plan

Shared parenting can be difficult without an effective Timesharing Schedule.

Timesharing schedules, or more commonly called child custody schedules, can be challenging and time consuming to develop.  The schedule and exchanges must consider the communication between the parents, as well as the work schedules of each parent and the child’s school and extracurricular activities.  When I work with clients to develop a timesharing schedule, it sometimes helps to have examples of what other families have done so that we can use that as a starting point to develop a specific timesharing schedule to meet the needs of each individual client and their family.  I found the following article to be very thorough and it gives a great summation of each of the various options for timesharing.

Original Article 

What kind of custody schedule works best for a shared parenting plan? Well, the best custody schedule is one that will give both parents sufficient time to continue to nurture and develop their relationship with the child. There are many schedules that parents can choose that will allow them to do this, so a mother and father need to assess their situation and think about what will work for them and the child. Here are somesample child custody schedules that parents use in their shared parenting plans. You can choose any of these schedules for your plan, or you can modify and adapt them to meet your needs.

The Basic Weekend Schedule

For a shared parenting plan, most parents don’t think that the common weekend schedule (where one parent has the children every weekend or every other weekend) will work. However, many parents find that they can modify a weekend schedule so that the parent has additional time. Weekend schedules work well for children who are very involved in school during the week and when the parents don’t live very close to each other.

A common variation on the weekend schedule is to add evening or overnight visits during the week. So, a parent may have the children every other weekend, but also has an overnight visit every Wednesday. Or the parent has the children every weekend along with two evening visits during the week. Parents can add visits and time as it works for both parents and the children.

Another variation on the weekend schedule is to extend the weekends. This depends on the work and school schedules involved, but the weekend could start on Thursday evening or extend until Monday evening. This gives the parent more time.

The 2/2/5/5 or 3/3/4/4 Schedule

2-2-5-5 Custody Schedule

Many parents who want equal time with the children find that splitting the weeks in half work well. Common custody schedules for this arrangement are the 2/2/5/5 and 3/3/4/4 schedule. In these schedules, Parent A has the children for two or three days, Parent B has the children for two or three days, Parent A has the children for five or four days, and Parent B has the children for five or four days. Then the cycle repeats. This schedule ends up consistently splitting the week in half–as you can see in the picture.

Alternating Weeks

A common schedule for a shared parenting plan is when parents alternate weeks of custody. A mother and father can also adjust this schedule to meet their needs by adding evening and weekend visits to the parent who doesn’t have custody that week.

Other Options

When children have a rigid school schedule, or when parents do not live close to each other, they may need to be creative about how the parent will still have contact with the children. Parents can choose to have one custody schedule during the school year and then change it during vacations or school breaks to give the other parent more time. Parents can also have contact with the children through webcams, telephone, texting, email, instant messaging, etc.

Should you need assistance with a shared parenting Child Custody Schedule please call our office today. (813) 254-0156 or fill out the form below.

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Are Attorney Fees Tax Deductible?

It’s April 14th and if you haven’t yet filed your taxes, chances are you may still be looking for some final deductions. While we are not CPA’s–and would refer you to a  CPA for any real tax advice–we often are asked the question, “Are your fees tax deductible?”  Below is an article from Lawyers.com with general rules and deductions when it comes to attorney fees.

If you haven’t been there yet, and without jinxing your luck, the odds are good you’re going to need legal advice some day. Maybe you’re thinking about a divorce, or you need help writing a lease for the house you want to rent.

Regardless of why you need an attorney, you’re going to have to pay for?the lawyer’s legal services. Can you take a tax deduction for those attorney’s fees? Usually not, but there are some exceptions.

General Rules

The general rule is simple enough: You can deduct attorney’s fees you pay for:

  • Trying to produce or collect taxable income, or
  • To help in determining, collecting or getting a refund of any tax

In simple terms, you can take a deduction if you need an attorney’s help to make money you have to pay taxes on, or if an attorney helped you with a tax matter, like representing you in an IRS audit. If the legal fees are somehow connected to taxes or taxable income, you can take a deduction.

Is There a Deduction?

There are all kinds of situations that qualify for the tax deduction, such as fees you may pay for:

  • Tax advice you may get during a divorce case, such as how you and your ex-spouse will take deductions for home mortgage interest or child care, or whether alimony is tax deductible by the payor spouse or taxable income to the recipient spouse
  • Trying to get your ex-spouse to pay past-due alimony
  • Defending a lawsuit filed against you on work-related matter, such as an unlawful discrimination claim filed by a former employee that you fired
  • Receiving your share of a class action settlement in a lawsuit against your employer or former employer. For example, your former employer settles a class action claiming that it didn’t pay overtime wages. You get a $1,500 check for your share of the settlement, but $2,000 is reported to the IRS as income because you’re charged $500 as your share of attorney’s fees. Because the income is work-related, you can take a tax deduction for the $500 in fees

Generally, you can’t deduct fees paid for advice or help on personal matters or for things that don’t produce taxable income. For example, you can’t deduct fees for:

  • Filing and winning a personal injury lawsuit or wrongful death action – the money you win isn’t included in your gross income and so it’s not taxable
  • Settling a will or probate matter between your family members
  • Help in closing the purchase of your home
  • Defending you in a civil lawsuit or criminal case that’s not work-related, such as defending you on a drunk driving charge or against a neighbor’s claim that your dog bit and injured her child

How and How Much?

Generally, you deduct attorney’s fees as an itemized miscellaneous deduction on Schedule A of your Form 1040 tax return. You may not be able to deduct all of your fees, though. Miscellaneous deductions are limited by the two percent rule: You can deduct only the amount of your miscellaneous deductions that’s more than two percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) – the amount you entered on line 38 of your 1040.

Have a Business?

As a business owner, you can take a deduction for the same things discussed above. If you pay an attorney to prepare your taxes or to help the business make money, you can deduct the fees. For example, you can deduct fees paid for:

  • Collecting money that’s owed to you by a customer
  • Defending you or an employee in a lawsuit over a work-related claim, such as a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee
  • Negotiating or drafting contracts for the sale of your goods or services to customers

Also, you can usually deduct attorney fees you paid in connection with starting up your business or buying an existing business.

Generally, you deduct these business-related expenses the same way you deduct other ordinary and necessary business expenses. You need to file Schedule C with your 1040 tax return.

Again, we are not CPAs or Tax Attorneys but wanted to provide this information as a resource to our clients as questions about deductions and attorney fees often arise this time of year.

Need an expert in family law in the Tampa area? Please call our office to schedule your consultation today! (813) 254-0156 or fill out the form below.

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Must Read: What to Expect When Splitting From Your Spouse

Get ready to feel uncomfortable. Splitting from your spouse brings on a whole new set of emotions, discomfort and uncertainty.

tampa divorce attorney comfort zone

Once you’ve made the decision to separate from your spouse, get ready for your world to change. You may be over the fighting, and anger but the uncertainty and new situations you find yourself in during a divorce are enough to make the most secure person a bit uncomfortable. I thought this article was good to share because as a Family Law Attorney, we rarely spend time talking about the emotional part of divorce and for your benefit, focus on the facts.

 

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post by Martha for divorcedmoms.com.

About to separate or are recently separated? Here are eleven expectations to demystify the crazy train you are about to board and help you navigate the process. Good luck!

1. You will be so afraid of the unknown that you will reason with yourself that even though you are miserable, you at least are comfortable enough that you can endure your unhappy marriage. You will try to convince yourself of this, although in your heart of hearts you know that it isn’t true. You will tell yourself lies and convince yourself that you shouldn’t split — for the kids, for financial reasons, etc. You will bargain with yourself because you are scared. Know that this is normal.

2. The rollercoaster and complexity of emotions you will feel when the decision is made to separate is unlike anything you have ever experienced. The grief, the pain, the confusion, the fear, the desperation of wanting to be loved after your spouse is gone. But even though you don’t know it, there is a weight that will slowly start to ease from your shoulders — the same weight that you denied all this time when you told yourself nothing was wrong.

3. Your self-esteem may shatter, and you will be desperate for love and validation. You will think that nobody will ever love you or want you again, and you may be tempted to to date immediately and latch on to the first person who pays attention to you. Resist this urge to attach yourself, even if you have not had that romantic touch or intimacy for a long time. Trying to fill that void with another relationship robs you of the chance to heal.

4. Although you may tell yourself that you’re fine, you will need a support system: a therapist, a support group, good friends, the non-judgmental anonymity of online forums. Whatever combination of systems you choose should help you attain two objectives–creating a safe place for venting, while also helping you find constructive ways to cope with the divorce in a healthy manner.

5. Once you and your spouse decide to split, you will feel like you are getting sprayed with an industrial fire hose. The number of “to-do’s” and “should-do’s” regarding emotions, finances, legal issues, custody, and other logistics will come at you with incredible urgency; you will feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. Understand that splitting is a process. Like any process, there are things to address immediately (safety, shelter, income), things to address a little bit later (understanding legal and custody issues, finding an emotional support system) and there are things to address longer-term (ensuring your separation agreement is something you can live with, making sure you and your children are adjusting). You will need to remind yourself that divorce is like a marathon and it requires patience and persistence. Save yourself the stress by accepting that not everything has to be done right now.

6. You will have no control over your spouse’s behavior. For serious offenses (threatening harm, cleaning out your savings account or wracking up debt on a joint credit card), you will absolutely need to take action. But there will also be annoyances that may not endanger you, but will anger you. It may seem like they are trying to make your life as miserable as they possibly can, which could result in a long, drawn-out, expensive, soul-sucking divorce for you if you let it. You will need to remember that although you can’t control their behavior, you can control how you react to it. Your decision to take the high road despite how they act is entirely up to you. Like most things during the split, it will be easier said than done.

7. You will be tempted to make certain divorce decisions that are driven by emotion, rather than driven by logic and handled in a business-like manner. You will constantly forget that divorce, boiled down, is a business transaction — a splitting of assets and incomes. The logical part of you will understand this, but the part of you that is hurt may spend months fighting over things that have nothing to do with business at all. During the legal process of divorce, you will be forced to choose your battles. Choose wisely. You will need to learn when to fight for the things that are rightfully yours, but also when to let other things go. You will need to learn that nobody wins in divorce. Otherwise, you will find yourself robbed of years of your life fighting in court, having spent tens of thousands of dollars on legal fees that could have been put to better use in your post-divorce life, and so emotionally distraught that moving on will be extremely difficult.

8. You will find yourself in new situations that make you uncomfortable. There are too many to mention here. You may be re-entering the workforce. Your budget may be tight.

9. Your children could have trouble adjusting. If your social life revolved around other married couples, this dynamic may seem miserable for you. You may find friends treating you differently, thinking for some reason your split means that their relationship is in jeopardy. Understand that you are not alone in all of these struggles, and that whatever you need — career help, financial advice, counseling, new opportunities for socialization — are out there. You owe it to yourself to research those resources. Do not allow any of this discomfort to make you bitter, or drive you into hiding.

10. In your times of despair, you will wallow in self-pity. You will break down frequently at the most inconvenient times and say to yourself, “My life was not supposed to be like this. I thought my marriage was perfect and we’d be together forever.” You will feel ashamed and feel like you are a failure. This is part of the grieving process, and you will need to learn how to balance it all: accepting that your circumstances changed, learning how to deal with those changed circumstances, and also learning how to heal and move on. You will need to learn that you are not a prisoner to those circumstances, and it is you who has the power to come out of this whole ordeal a stronger person.

11. You will learn that the split with your spouse has presented you with a choice and it is your decision alone how you handle it. You can choose to look at this split as a trauma from which you will never recover, and to be guided by anger and fear and not knowing what to do, or you can choose the path that takes more work — the path where you ask for assistance, get the support you need, educate yourself about every aspect of the divorce (and there are many), and understand that you will have the power to get through it all. The choice is yours.

Looking for a divorce attorney in Tampa, FL? Give us a call or fill out the form below and we will contact you to schedule a consultation.

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Snapshot of the Military Lifestyle (Infographic)

There isn’t anyone out there who wouldn’t agree that military life is difficult. This survey details everyday stresses according to over 6,200 service members and spouses surveyed.

 

39% of military spouses feel stressed all the time; 30% of service members feel stressed all the time. With this much stress in the average service member’s life, marriage and relationships, it is not a surprise that a some military marriages end in divorce!

This infographic is an eye opener into what you and your spouse are experiencing, and will hopefully give you some insight as to what issues one another are dealing with. Understanding your spouse and their stresses can help keep your marriage together, even when it is at its most difficult time.

 

 

2014-military-family-lifestyle-survey-full

Source: https://www.bluestarfam.org/resources/2014-military-family-lifestyle-survey

If you are considering a divorce, and you are in the military please contact my office at 813-254-0156 to schedule your consultation. When dealing with the stresses of divorce the last thing you want to deal with is an attorney who is inexperienced with the nuances, and paperwork required with a military divorce.

 

Prenups and Child Support Obligations

Should I get a prenup to protect my income from being considered in my future spouse’s child support obligation?

 

Errantly, many single parents or significant others of single parents believe they need a prenuptial

agreement before moving on to marriage in order to protect themselves, and their significant other,

from an increase in court ordered child support.

 

For child support, the court only looks at the income of the parent/payor, and does not consider the

income of any other family or household members. If you only want a prenup to protect your income

from being considered for your spouse’s child support obligation for children from another relationship,

you do not need one.

 

There are many reasons why a prenup would be appropriate prior to entering into a marriage. Some of

the more common reasons to choose to do a prenup are to:

 

1. Limit exposure to alimony in the future, particularly when one spouse has substantial

income or assets;

2. Provide for children’s inheritance (particularly in second marriages); or

3. Maintain an asset as a separate asset, not subject to division in a dissolution, for

example if there was a business or a home that was owned prior to the marriage.

If you choose to do a prenup, each party will need to hire a separate attorney to guide them through the

process. If you are considering marriage and would like to protect your assets, please contact my office

at 813-254-0156 to schedule your consultation.