Articles Posted in Divorce

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Unhappy CoupleHow do I deal with a toxic ex-spouse? Some divorces are amicable. Some are not. You may be surprised to find that your divorce has turned your one-time sweetheart into a ball of angry, vengeful, spite. How do you deal with an ex-spouse who seems to go out of his or her way to make you miserable? Following are some tips.

Don’t fuel the fire - For some ex-spouses, the practice of inflicting emotional harm on you is a game that they have to “win.” As such, they take each perceived slight, each harmful mistake you make, and throw it back at you with twice the fury. In this situation, it is often best to take the high road. Let your ex-spouse know that you will not play the game. When protecting yourself against a malicious ex, do not give them anything that can incite their rage or that can be used against you.

Protect your digital self – Many couples share information about their online selves with each other. This information often includes passwords, usernames, profile information, and the like. When your relationship goes south it is a good idea to change that information. Be sure your ex cannot have access to email accounts, private bank accounts, social media profiles, or other important online accounts associated with your name. The last thing you want is your toxic ex reading through your emails.

Set and follow boundaries - It may be likely that your ex-spouse is having a difficult time moving on from the relationship. He or she may still want to be emotionally involved and know the ins and outs of your new life. Do not be afraid to set boundaries. Let them know that you no longer feel obligated to tell them everything that is happening in your personal or professional life. Your ex does not have a de facto right to know about the new promotion or the person you are now dating if you do not feel inclined to share such information.

Involve your friends and family – It may be helpful to keep your friends and family in the loop about your relationship with your ex. Although there is no need to share details, your friends and family can benefit from knowing the degree of separation between you and your ex-spouse. This is particularly helpful when the two of you share a group of common friends. You can communicate the status of your relationship without asking your friends and family to take sides. Often, such communication invokes the social support you need to get through this difficult time.

Show empathy - Although hard at times, it is important to show your ex-spouse that you understand what they are feeling. Letting him or her know that you, too, are struggling with your changed lifestyle can go a long way to diffusing any anger or vengeance your ex-spouse feels toward you.

Getting Legal Help in Santa Rosa California

If you are facing a divorce and have questions about decoupling from your ex-spouse, Beck Law P.C. can help you. The family law attorneys at Beck Law P.C. can answer you questions and help you determine the best method of obtaining a divorce given your unique circumstances. For a free consultation regarding mediation or divorce, contact Beck Law P.C. at 707-576-7175 or visit us online.

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Divorce is almost never an enjoyable proposition. Once a relationship gets to the point where one or more spouses want to end their marriage, odds are that they have already experienced years of problems. To make matters worse, the divorce itself can be expensive, combative, and emotionally draining. It is imperative that anyone contemplating a divorce find a highly competent divorce attorney to represent their interests and guide them through a difficult process.

ThinkerWhat to Look for in a Good Divorce Attorney

Here are some qualities you may want to look for when you search for a good divorce attorney:

1. Find an attorney with experience handling divorce cases: It is important to hire not only a family law attorney, but one who specifically handles divorces. Ask your potential attorney how many divorce cases he has handled, or what percentage of his (or his firm’s) hours are devoted to divorces. Even if you already retain an attorney for other personal matters (such as your finances), it is a good idea to find a different attorney to handle your divorce. This is especially true since your personal attorney may also represent your wife, and therefore would have a conflict of interest in relation to your divorce case.

2. If you have children with your spouse, find an attorney with experience in child custody disputesChild custody and visitation disputes tend to pop up during and after divorce proceedings. You will want to anticipate these conflicts and be prepared to present your side of the case forcefully. You probably want to see as much of your kids as you can, and a good attorney can help make that happen.

3. Ask your potential attorney how long the divorce proceedings will last: This will give you an idea of how long the process will take, so that you can plan accordingly. It will also help you discern how honest and competent your potential attorney is. It is important that you are aware of any deadlines and waiting periods that you can expect before you initiate the divorce.

4. Ask your potential attorney how much the divorce will cost you: This is another way to figure out if your attorney is a good choice or not. He should be able to give you a rough estimate of the total costs of the divorce, including court fees, attorney’s fees, and potential costs of mediation. This will also help you to plan financially for what lies ahead.

5. Talk with your potential attorney about what outcomes you can expect from the divorce: Your attorney should be able to give you a range of possible resolutions you can expect from your case. The more experience he has, and the more honest he is, the better he will be able to predict the outcome, allowing you to formulate a plan.

What to Do if You Are Planning to Get Divorced

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classroomIn 1994 Utah became the first state to require that divorcing couples complete a seminar before a court would finalize their divorce. Utah is known as one of the more conservative states in the country when it comes to traditional family values and back in 1994, requiring divorcing couples to attend a seminar was certainly in keeping with that image. According to an article in The New York Times, 48 states now offer some form of classes for divorcing couples. 27 of them require by statute that divorcing parents take the class, while others leave the decisions up to cities, counties, or individual judges.

Now, a Utah lawmaker is proposing a bill that would require couples to take at least part of the seminar earlier in the divorce process. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the rate of divorce among couples with children. The theory is that, if couples are counseled at an earlier date about divorce’s potential impact on their children, they will be more likely to reconsider and perhaps stay together. The bill, which is likely to pass, puts Utah back in the spotlight for an initiative that made it unique 20 years ago but which is commonplace today.

Divorcing Couples Classes Vary in Approach

The classes touch on a variety of subjects, and vary considerably from state to state. The Utah seminar lasts two hours and costs $55. Some states only mandate that parents attend a video session. Other classes feature roleplaying and information about how the divorce could affect the parents’ children. In general, the courses place a great amount of emphasis on protecting children and keeping them out of arguments. There is also some helpful advice about legal fees and finding divorce attorneys.

High Divorce Rates Are Concerning to Some Lawmakers

The Utah bill is not the only attempt by a state to address our country’s high divorce rate. Since California became the first state to allow no-fault divorces in 1969, divorce rates have generally been higher than many policymakers and commentators would like. There have been various attempts to decrease the divorce rate. A pending bill in Oklahoma would prolong the divorce waiting period to six months. In North Carolina, a similar bill would extend the waiting period to two years.

Utah’s divorce rate is slightly higher than the national average. It has decreased in recent years, as the marriage rate has also gone down. Opponents of the divorce seminar bill are skeptical that it would have any impact on the divorce rate. Even if the class were required at an earlier point in the process, once a couple starts taking positive steps toward divorce, it is very difficult to change their minds. More importantly, it is not clear that the state has any role or responsibility in discouraging divorce, and perhaps the resources used for these classes could be spent more effectively on other programs.

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My ex-spouse will not pay child support. Child support is not supposed to be a voluntary commitment for divorced parents. Courts often order one parent to make payments to the ex-spouse who is primarily raising their children, for the express purpose of supporting those children. However, sometimes the parent falls behind and does not meet their child support obligations. There are many reasons why this would happen, such as loss of employment, illness or injury, or simple laziness. But no matter the reason, the parent who should be on the receiving end of the child support will want to know how to get the money they are owed.

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How to Get an Ex-Spouse to Pay Child Support

There are a variety of ways a parent can go about compelling their ex-spouse to pay their court-ordered child support. Among the possible courses of action are the following:

1.    Enter into a private agreement with your ex-spouse: If your ex-spouse genuinely cannot make the court-mandated child support payments, whether due to lack of income, illness, or injury, you can always work out a private agreement that reduces or suspends the payments while your ex tries to get back on their feet. Family courts will generally allow these side agreements and will refrain from enforcing their own orders while the private contract is in effect. However, you should be clear with both your ex and the court that, if the ex does not resume making payments when they are supposed to, you will go back to court to force them to do so. You will probably want to hire a family law attorney to draft an agreement of this sort.

2.    Go to mediation: If you want to address the child support issue in a formal setting without actually going to court, mediation might be a good route. Mediation is less adversarial and less expensive than family court, which is why more and more couples are using this option. Agreements reached in mediation can be more flexible and creative than court-ordered remedies. There are probably a number of licensed mediators in your area, and you can usually get a list from your local court.

3.    Take your ex-spouse to court: This is the most drastic, but probably also the most effective, of your options. You can hire a lawyer and return to family court for a contempt proceeding against your ex-spouse. If you can show that your ex is not meeting their court-ordered obligations, the court will try to find a way to compel them to pay the child support. One way the court may do this is through wage garnishment, where a percentage of the person’s wages are automatically diverted to the court and then to you. Many divorced parents hesitate to take their ex-spouses to court any more often than they have to, but if the well-being of your children is at stake, it may be the only viable alternative.

What to Do if Your Ex-Spouse Will Not Pay Child Support

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The role of co-parenting after divorce. A divorce or separation can be extremely difficult on a couple’s children. All of a sudden, the kids go from living in a seemingly stable two-parent household to being caught in the middle of a bitter break-up. In particular, having to go back and forth between the father’s house and the mother’s house can be a traumatic change. There is no way to completely shield children from the negative effects of this process. However, by putting in place a good co-parenting plan, the separating couple can ease some of the difficulty for their children.

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Strategies for an Effective Co-Parenting Arrangement

Here are some suggestions for creating a co-parenting arrangement that works for everyone:

1.    Put your children first: Always remember that your children’s interests are the most important consideration. Their childhood experiences will shape them for the rest of their lives, so it is imperative that you protect them from conflict and negativity as much as possible.

2.    Get a court order: This will make your co-parenting plan legally enforceable, meaning you will have a remedy in the event that your ex violates the terms of the agreement.

3.    Live near your ex: Whenever possible, it is advisable for the two parents to live near each other, so that the children can regularly and easily spend time with both of them.

4.    Respect each other’s parenting style: While the couple’s parenting styles may differ significantly, it is desirable that they respect each other’s methods. Otherwise, they end up undermining each other and confusing their children when it comes to expectations and boundaries.

5.    Communicate with each other: Both parents need to be able to communicate regularly and effectively, so that you both know what is going on in your children’s lives. This will help avoid misunderstandings, both with each other and with your children.

6.    Stay involved in your children’s activities: Both parents should stay as involved as possible in their kids’ school and extracurricular activities. Even if the parents would prefer not to be near each other, it is important that they can be civil with each other when they are in public or with their children.

7.    Create a shared document that both parents can access:  You should develop a Google Doc or other cloud-based document that both parents can access and utilize to share information about their kids. You can use this document to, among other things, coordinate scheduling and maintain emergency contact numbers.

8.    Hire an attorney: Each parent should hire their own attorney who has experience drafting co-parenting plans. Having an attorney on retainer will come in especially handy if there are child support or custody issues involved in the divorce or separation.

What to Do if You Have Children and Are Separating from Your Spouse

If you have children and are going through a divorce or separation with your spouse, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and provide you with advice and guidance regarding your concerns.

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Same sex couple married in CA seeks same sex divorce in Mississippi. Simple? Not exactly.

Lauren Beth Czekala-Chatham asked a Mississippi court to recognize her same sex marriage, which took place in California, so that she could file for divorce within the State. Although the couple was married in California, they resided in Mississippi for the duration of their marriage. Czekala-Chatham could file for divorce in California because the State exempts same sex couples from residency requirements that ordinarily require at least one divorcing spouse to be a California resident for six months prior to filing. In part, this is so same sex couples who marry in California but reside in states where their marriage is not legally recognized do not have to face the burden of establishing residency before they can file for divorce. However, California courts will not always be able to issue significant rulings related to property ownership, debt, alimony, or children.
Because California cannot issue certain rulings regarding property ownership, debt, alimony, and children, it is not a viable option for some divorcing same sex couples.
In a telephone interview, Czekala-Chatham explained that failing to get divorced could have serious repercussions. Czekala-Chatham has children from a prior relationship and is concerned that her spouse could contest her will and take her children’s inheritance if they failed to get a divorce. According to court filings, Czekala-Chatham is seeking the couple’s marital home in Mississippi as well as, alimony in the divorce. Czekala-Catham says she will go all the way to the State’s Supreme Court in order to have her same sex marriage recognized because she doesn’t see another way out of the situation. If the State were to recognize her marriage, it would not permit same sex marriages in Mississippi, which remain banned under Mississippi law.

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Since the U.S. Supreme Court stuck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act, several states have faced similar requests.
Several other states which have bans on gay marriage have been faced with similar requests since the U.S. Supreme Court struck downs segments of the federal Defense of Marriage Act earlier this summer. For instance, the Texas Supreme Court is considering whether it has jurisdiction over same sex divorce cases, even though it does not allow same sex marriage. Oral arguments are scheduled for next month. At least two same sex couples have filed for divorce in the State.
However, Mississippi College constitutional law professor, Matt Steffey says the Mississippi case is a long shot because the right does not exist within Mississippi law. He believes the issue of same sex divorce will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Back in June of 2010, New York became the 50th and last state to pass some form of No-Fault Divorce Legislation, 40 years after that of California.  What with the recent debates over same-sex marriage and, now, polygamy have raised questions about the nature of marriage and how the institution of marriage has evolved over time. Progressives generally favor a more expansive and inclusive definition of marriage, with the institution adapting to changing social conditions. Conservatives warn that there could be negative and unforeseen consequences to these changes, and that therefore we should tread lightly when it comes to modifying such an esteemed human institution.

Ring in Book

However, it is possible that both sides are ignoring a much older and more consequential change to our marriage laws. Since 1969, all the states, one by one, have reformed their family law codes to allow for no-fault divorce. Traditionally, American courts would only grant a divorce after establishing that one party had committed a breach of the marital contract. No-fault divorce, in contrast, is dissolution of marriage that does not require a showing of wrongdoing by either party.

A Brief History of No-fault Divorce

The earliest known examples of no-fault divorces occurred in Russia shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution. The decrees providing for no-fault divorce were seen at the time as revolutionary attempts to deemphasize marriage in the Soviet Union. In the United States, the Sexual Revolution, feminist movement, and anti-establishment sentiment of the 1960s helped place the idea of no-fault divorce on the political agenda.

In 1967, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws was tasked with drafting a uniform marriage and divorce code for consideration by state legislatures. The various drafts of the NCCUSL’s uniform code all liberalized the current divorce laws on the books in most states. This code had no binding impact on state legislatures, but was deeply influential on family law statutes from the time it was first drafted.

Two years after the NCCUSL began meeting, the California state legislature passed the California Family Law Act of 1969. The Act was signed into law by Governor Ronald Reagan on January 1, 1970, and included a provision allowing for dissolution of marriage when one party cited irreconcilable differences. This effectively made California the first state to allow for no-fault divorce and as previously mentioned, 40 years later, in 2010, New York became the last state in the US to pass a no-fault divorce statute.

While there are still some who argue against no-fault divorce, it is now the law of the land in California and the rest of the country. There is no question that it has made divorce easier, particularly for those who lack power or control in their respective marriages. Continue reading →

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During the divorce process, it is common for one spouse to receive sole ownership of the marital home.

What happens to the marital home in a divorce when an agreement or judgment provides the one spouse is to receive sole ownership? When a couple divorces, one of the common provisions outlined in their marriage settlement agreement or the court’s judgment concerns the award of the family home to one spouse. In order for the spouse who is awarded the marital home to be able to sell, refinance, or borrow money against the property without their former partner’s consent, the spouse who is awarded the marital home must obtain documentation which shows that their former partner has transferred ownership of their interest in the property and that they are the sole owner of the property.

A deed is used to show the transfer of interest in a property from one party to another.

The legal document used to transfer interest in a property from one individual to another is called a deed. There are various types of deeds including: warranty, grant, and quit claim deeds. Warranty and grant deeds come with the transferor’s promise that the title to the property is without any incumbencies such as, another party’s ownership of the property or outstanding taxes or debts. A quit claim deed does not come with these specific promises and only conveys property on an “as is” basis. In most cases, after a divorce, an ownership interest in the marital home can be transferred from one spouse to another using a quit claim deed.

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Each county in California keeps a record of properties and owners within their jurisdiction. A couple that is transferring ownership interest in the marital home will need to conduct a title search in order to determine how the property is held and property’s legal description, prepare and sign the deed as well as, a Preliminary Change of Title Report, and record the documents with the appropriate land records office.

The transfer of ownership in property between spouses is exempt from certain taxes.

According to California law, the transfer of ownership in property from one spouse to another is exempt from transfer taxes. In addition, the transfer in ownership of property from one spouse to another is protected from property tax increases.

Conveying ownership through a deed does not change a spouse’s obligation on a loan. In order for a spouse to end their obligation on a loan, the loan must be paid off or refinanced. In some cases, this is done along with the transfer of ownership during the divorce process.

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The number of women committing adultery has increased significantly according to a recent survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center challenging the notion that men are more adulterous than their female counterparts. Bloomberg Businessweek published data from the survey. According to the survey, while the percentage of men admitting to infidelity has remained consistent at about 21 percent for the past several years, the number of women admitting to adultery has increased significantly. For example, between 2010 and 2013, the number of women who admitted to cheating on their partners went from almost 15 percent to nearly 40 percent.
Greater economic independence is one factor that has contributed to the rise in infidelity amongst women.
Pepper Schwartz, a sociologist at the University of Washington attributes the rise in the number of women who cheat on their partners to changes in the country’s cultural and economic climate. With higher incomes and greater job prospects than ever before, women can now afford the possible economic consequences of having an affair.
As infidelity becomes more prevalent, it is more likely to come up during divorce proceedings.
As infidelity becomes more common, there is a greater likelihood that former spouses will lodge allegations of adultery against one another during divorce proceedings. For this reason, it is important to understand how such allegations could impact a divorce hearing.

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California is a no fault divorce state.
Adultery was once a grounds for divorce under California law. However, the California Family Law Act of 1969 abolished the need to show fault in order to obtain a divorce. As such, the law moved California to no fault divorce proceedings based on irreconcilable differences or incurable insanity.
Allegations of adultery could still have an impact on the division of marital property as well as, custody arrangements.
However, there are some circumstances where a former spouse’s infidelity may become an issue that the court will want to delve into during a divorce proceeding. For example, if a spouse was using marital assets to carry out and support an extramarital relationship, their former partner may be able to claim reimbursement for those amounts when marital property is being divided. In addition, a spouse’s infidelity may be used to show that they are unfit to receive custody of the couple’s children. This may occur if the cheating spouse exposed their children to inappropriate situations during the course of their affair.
If you are considering filing for divorce you should contact an attorney immediately. This is especially true if infidelity is likely to come up as an allegation during divorce proceedings. An attorney will be able to review the circumstances of your case and provide you with advice and guidance that can help you reach a favorable outcome.
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In many relationships, one partner–often the higher earning husband, takes on the responsibility of handling the couple’s finances. The partner who does not participate in financial decision making may have a general idea of where the couple stands financially, but is usually unaware of the couple’s precise income and investments, or how to access the couple’s assets.

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Spouses who are do not have a clear picture of finances within their marriage may face financial difficulties during their separation.
While this type of arrangement may feel harmless or even efficient when the couple’s relationship is prospering, it can place the spouse who doesn’t have a clear picture of the couple’s finances in a difficult position should the couple decide to separate. A partner who has not been involved in the couple’s finances may not be able to easily determine how they will pay for living expenses. In addition, they may be at greater risk of entering a divorce settlement that does not reflect their fair share of the couple’s assets.
Separating spouses should be aware of their rights and entitlements with regard to joint accounts.
Individuals who are considering separating from their spouse should be aware of their rights and entitlements with regard to joint assets. One of the first questions that individuals who are in the process of separating often inquire about is how to handle funds that are kept in joint accounts.
A recent Forbes article written by Jeff Landers, President and Founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, which is a divorce financial strategy firm, provides some useful suggestions regarding how joint accounts should be handled during a separation.
Separating spouses should determine their immediate financial needs and consult with an attorney to determine whether it is appropriate to secure that amount from joint accounts.
Landers advises individuals who are either planning to file for divorce in the near future, or believe their partner may be doing the same to set aside funds from the couple’s joint account for their immediate needs. He acknowledged that when and how much an individual should withdraw is a complex question with legal implications.
For example, in many states, including California, spouses can freely transfer and withdraw funds prior to formally filing for divorce. However, once the divorce process has begun and a legal filing is submitted to the court, the couple’s assets are subject to certain restraining orders that may impact either spouses’ ability to access joint accounts.
Since spouses are generally entitled to half of the couples jointly titled assets during a divorce, they may consider withdrawing that amount from joint accounts prior to a formal divorce filing. However, if a spouse is aware of other accounts that are in the sole name of their partner, the individual may think about withdrawing more than half of the funds in the joint account in order to offset those amounts. However, partners who withdraw funds from joint accounts should consider how their actions may impact the way their spouse handles the divorce proceeding. In some circumstances, withdrawing funds prior to a divorce filing may cause the opposing spouse to become vindictive and uncooperative during the divorce process.

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