Nebraska Attorney Darren J. Pekny Discusses Family Law Trends for 2014

Nebraska has a reputation as a “mother’s state” when it comes to deciding custody matters, says Darren J. Pekny of The Law Offices of Johnson & Pekny, LLC. Unless a mother has a serious legal issue, such as a drug problem, she usually gets physical custody of her children following a divorce or separation. Fathers usually get to visit their children every other weekend, one night per week, and every other holiday, making it difficult for some kids to build strong relationships with their dads.

Changing Custody Agreements

In the past, judges assumed mothers would have full physical custody, putting the burden on fathers to show why another arrangement would be better for the children. This trend is starting to change based on research showing that children benefit from shared custody arrangements. Several Nebraska judges have started approaching custody matters from a 50/50 or 60/40 perspective, according to Pekny. The opposing party then has the burden of proving why this type of custody arrangement is not appropriate. This trend is especially relevant to married couples who are in the process of going through a divorce. Pekny says things are different when the parents were never married.

Small Law Firms

Pekny and his partner, Gerald J. Johnson, operate The Law Offices of Johnson & Pekny, LLC. Pekny focuses on family law and criminal defense, but he also handles some personal injury and probate matters. Attorney Johnson focuses on family law issues, real estate matters, and bankruptcy cases. Both attorneys also handle general litigation matters. The law partners are members of the Omaha Bar Association and Nebraska Bar Association. Pekny is a member of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association. The firm’s main office is located in Plattsmouth, but there is also a satellite office in Omaha.

Their family law practice includes divorce cases, custody issues, juvenile law, and child support cases. Pekny emphasizes the importance of communicating with clients who are going through these issues. He says he will let a client know if it is a good idea to ask for full custody or agree to a joint-custody arrangement. Both attorneys are also committed to returning phone calls the same business day, if possible. If one of them is in court or busy with a deposition, someone will contact the client and find out if the matter is urgent. Working with a small law firm like The Law Offices of Johnson & Pekny, LLC gives clients direct access to both partners. In large and mid-size law firms, cases are often handled by associates.

Nebraska Family Law

Because Nebraska is a no-fault state, marital property is often divided equally. This means each person will receive half of the marital assets and be responsible for any joint debts. Divorce attorneys help their clients by negotiating fair property settlements and resolving issues related to custody and parenting. Family law attorneys also defend parents accused of child abuse and juveniles charged with crimes such as vandalism and drug possession.

Criminal Defense in Nebraska

Anyone charged with a criminal offense has the right to hire an attorney. Defense attorneys help people charged with drug possession, driving under the influence, domestic violence, assault, theft, sexual assault, and other crimes. In some cases, a defense attorney is able to negotiate a plea deal or convince the prosecutor to charge the client with a lesser offense. Every situation is different, so no two people will have the same experience in the criminal court system.

Nebraska Personal Injury Cases

Injuries cause pain and cost a significant amount of money. If an injury occurred because someone else was negligent, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim to recoup money for lost wages and lost medical bills. Many people are familiar with auto accidents, but there are many other types of personal injury cases. The Law Offices of Johnson & Pekny, LLC handles cases related to defective products, dog bites, auto accidents, slips and falls, and boating accidents. Medical malpractice may also cause significant injuries, such as brain or spinal cord injuries. If someone died as a result of someone else’s negligence, it is also possible to file a wrongful death suit against the negligent party.

Work-Related Injuries

Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees from work-related accidents. If an employer does not live up to this responsibility, serious injuries can occur. Negligent employers can be held responsible for accident-related medical bills as well as the pain caused by work-related injuries. If a work accident leaves an employee unable to work, the employer could also be held responsible for the worker’s future loss of earnings.

Bankruptcy Cases

Bankruptcy is a legal remedy available to people who are having trouble paying their bills. Anyone considering bankruptcy should hire an attorney to determine the best way to proceed. It may be possible to keep some of your property, but you must use Nebraska’s bankruptcy exemptions instead of the federal exemptions allowed by some states. An attorney will be able to determine whether it is best to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is ideal for people who make less than a certain amount of income. In this type of bankruptcy, unsecured debt is discharged. Unsecured debt is any type of debt that is not secured with collateral. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an option for people who make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7. People who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy must make monthly payments for three to five years. A trustee uses these payments to pay some of the outstanding debt. At the end of the payment plan, any remaining unsecured debt is discharged. Bankruptcy is a complex process, so it is important to work with an experienced attorney to determine if it is the right solution. Someone who does not qualify for bankruptcy may be better off trying debt consolidation or financial counseling.

Civil Litigation

Civil litigation differs from criminal law because it involves two parties seeking monetary damages instead of the state prosecuting a citizen. Civil disputes arise for many reasons, from someone breaking a contract to a construction company failing to complete a building project on time. An experienced attorney can handle civil matters such as construction disputes, property damage cases, tax disputes, and breach of contract cases. Civil litigation attorneys also handle commercial litigation, business litigation, premises liability, and products liability matters. It may be possible to reach a settlement out of court, but this does not happen in every case.

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