Articles Posted in Divorce

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spousal support for menSpousal support for men. Courts often award spousal support to lesser earning spouses following a divorce. While nearly half a million people in this country receive this maintenance support, only 3% of recipients are male. Why is that?

Why is Spousal Support for Men so Rare?

It seems crazy that such a small percentage of men receive spousal support when roughly 40% of females are the primary breadwinners in American homes. Family law attorneys speculate on key reasons for this imbalance:

  • Men consider it emasculating to require support, so they do not ask for it;
  • Men sometimes want a clean break with no attachments;
  • Some men wish to keep the peace to make co-parenting smoother;
  • Women fight bitterly to keep their hands on their earnings;
  • Judges in parts of the country have a difficult time accepting gender equality.

One San Francisco Bay area legal mind agrees, saying he encounters stereotypes regarding gender roles all the time. A recent divorcee compared palimony to hitting a girl – something no self-respecting man would ever do.

Are Gender Roles Shifting?

As much as gender roles have shifted in modern times, many men find the idea of receiving an allowance from their former spouse humiliating, and they are just not inclined to go through the battle to get it. Meanwhile, women’s attitudes toward paying their ex-husbands reinforce the idea that any man who can not support himself is a real loser. Forget the fact that stay-at-home dads gave up careers and educational opportunities while they ran the kids to soccer games and piano lessons for years. As enlightened as couples might have been when they made those parenting agreements earlier on, suddenly the old stereotypes crop up again when it comes to palimony.  

So, when higher-earning men face divorce, they go into it accepting the fact that alimony may likely be a part of the package. Higher earning women are much less inclined to be willing to let go of their earnings without a fight.

Spousal Support for Men Justified?

Regardless of gender, there are cases in which spousal support is clearly justified. Both partners presumably brought some level of value to the partnership, often at great financial cost to one person. Support is the logical outcome after a divorce.

Spousal Support for Men – California Law

In California, the court has many factors to consider when awarding spousal support, but gender is not one of them. More relevant to maintenance payments are the following issues:

  • Earning capacity of both parties;
  • Education and marketable skills of each party;
  • Earning levels of one party that were diminished due to domestic responsibilities;
  • The degree to which one party supported another in obtaining education or career opportunities;
  • Financial needs required to maintain the standard of living to which the couple has become accustomed;
  • Length of marriage;
  • Ability to pursue gainful employment in light of childcare responsibilities;
  • Age of each person;
  • Health of each party.

Continue reading →

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divorce attorneyIs there a divorce attorney in your future? If so, there is no doubt a number of emotions swirling through you right now. Whether you are initiating the proceedings or you are reacting to the demands of your spouse who’s hired a divorce attorney , the coming months will hold many challenges. Now, more than ever, it is essential that you keep a clear head and proceed with decorum and grace. And certainly, find a divorce attorney who connects with you.

Hiring a Divorce Attorney – Think Before You Act

Yes, you’re upset. Sure, you have valid reasons for feeling that way. Keep the end goal in mind as you maneuver through the coming days, weeks, and months. Ultimately, you want to get through this unscathed and emotionally healthy, so avoid some of the common pitfalls that befall vulnerable individuals facing stressful situations:

  • Avoid name-calling and derogatory remarks, particularly if you have children. Chances are that type of behavior will come back to bite you.
  • Be sensible with your social media accounts. Do not post nasty messages about your ex, ridiculous partying pics, or threats to “get even.”
  • Do not move out if you want custody of the kids. It could diminish your chances.
  • Do not rack up a bunch of debt on credit cards just to stick it to your ex. Judges see through that kind of childish behavior.
  • Start cataloging your possessions. California is a community property state. Anything accumulated during the course of the marriage will be evenly split.
  • Document concerns if you want to fight for custody. It could be a tough battle.
  • Be prepared for claims against you by being totally open with your attorney.
  • Make sure items of personal value to you are safe. You do not want an angry spouse destroying your heirlooms in an effort to get under your skin. By the same token, do not be a knucklehead yourself. Preserve items that are particularly meaningful to your spouse.
  • Make copies of important documents, account numbers, and tax information.
  • Focus on moving forward, not on injuring your ex;

After the Divorce

You might feel empty, bludgeoned, or angry after it is all over. Follow these tips to get emotionally and physically healthy after a divorce:

  • Give yourself time to mourn. You have lost something and it is ok to feel bad.
  • Work through emotions before you start a new relationship.
  • Focus on your own good qualities. You have a lot to offer.
  • Figure out what you like to do for fun, and do it.
  • Shake it up. Get out of old routines and create new ones.
  • Explore your town as a single person. Being alone does not have to mean being lonely.
  • Move forward. Your life is different, and so are you. Embrace it with gusto.

Continue reading →

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same-sex divorceSame-sex divorce. The convoluted history of same-sex marriage in California involves years of legal battles, which ultimately gave same-sex couples the definitive right to marriage. It follows, then, that same-sex divorce has become a part of the California legal scene. That being said, are divorces among same-sex couples more complicated than those between traditional couples? In some instances, the intricacies of the problem can, indeed, seem overwhelming. That is when a local divorce attorney can be a great asset.

Requirements for Every Divorce

When anyone wishes to dissolve a marriage in California, there are some basic requirements, regardless of the specifics of the case. For example, residency requirements must be met. Those requirements include:

  • At least one person must have lived in California for a minimum of six months prior to filing;
  • At least one of the spouses must have resided in the same county for three months or more prior to filing.

What if neither partner is a resident? They can simply file for a legal separation, and amend that when residency is established. If there are no children or significant assets involved, some couples may qualify for a summary dissolution.

Beyond residency, in most divorces there is some amount of wrangling over child custody, visitation, and support; asset and debt division; and payment costs associated with the divorce itself. These issues can be more complex for same-sex couples.

Same-Sex Divorce and Child Custody

Frequently, children in same-sex unions are connected biologically to only one parent. When the court is asked to make decisions related to custody and visitation, that biological information must be considered, along with caregiver roles and other issues related to the best interests of the child.

Same-Sex Divorce and Asset Division

When a couple divorces, assets accumulated during the course of the marriage are equally divided. In the case of same-sex couples, marriage has only been a legal option for a limited time period. What if they have been together for years prior to getting married? Should asset division include items accrued during those years? Arguably, because marriage was prohibited during those years, they worked as a couple to build a life together.

Same-Sex Divorce for Out of State Couples

Many same-sex couples who were married in California may now live elsewhere. If they live in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage and will not dissolve one, individuals may still dissolve the marriage by filing in the California County in which the marriage occurred.  However, if neither partner resides in California, there may be jurisdiction issues when it comes to deciding issues related to property division, assets and debts, and children. Continue reading →

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former spouseSay you’ve  split up, and really want to stick it to your former spouse. Here are some sure fire ways to throw a wrench into your former spouse’s life, and make your kids suffer at the same time:

  • Argue with your former spouse. Loudly. In front of the kids. Make it extra nasty by throwing in a few eye-rolls and dirty names. Kids need to know just how despicable their other parent is.
  • Talk badly about your former spouse around the kids. Make sure it is clear whose fault the split was, and clearly lay out every shortcoming he or she has on a regular basis.
  • Plan fun activities while your kids are supposed to be with their other parent so they will be reluctant to go with him or her. That will really prove who the better parent is.
  • Turn holidays and special events into a competition. Make sure you get the bigger, better presents every time. Then the kids will know who loves them the most.
  • Speaking of special occasions, stick to the visitation order without flexibility. Who cares if the kids have to miss something special with the other parent? They like you best anyway.
  • Make sure the other parent knows as little as possible about junior’s schedule. Having your ex show up to ball games, music programs, or parent teacher conferences would be a drag for everyone.
  • Discourage contact through email, text, and phone on any kind of a regular basis. You do not want your ex getting into your kids’ heads!
  • Eliminate any contact with the family of your ex. They have no legal rights to the kids, so do not complicate your lives with communications with them.
  • Make sure the kids know just how much of a struggle it can be since their other parent left. Your ex really made all of your lives more difficult, and the kids have a right to know what a selfish person he or she is.
  • When the kids do go for visits, have them spy on the other parent for you. What a great way to find out what he or she is up to nowadays!

Seriously, Folks, the Divorce is Between you and your Former Spouse

Hopefully you realize that your divorce is between you and your former spouse. Kids are kids, and deserve protection from as much of the cruddy parts of life as possible. Instead of making them pawns in your divorce and throughout the rest of their lives, try putting them first:

  • Keep disagreements between you and their other parent private;
  • Keep negative feelings about their other parent, his or her new partner, etc. to yourself;
  • Make visitation seamless and easy;
  • Discuss important matters, from health to upcoming events, with the kids’ other parent;
  • Include all grandparents in the kids’ lives if possible;
  • Let the kids enjoy their other parent without worrying about you.

These simple tips really can help your kids get through a potentially traumatic event in their lives with strong, positive relationships and a healthy future. You love your kids. Now, more than ever, is the time to show it by swallowing the urge to create dissonance between them and their other parent. Continue reading →

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Divorce WarsDivorce wars can happen when couples divorce. Frayed emotions and angry circumstances can combine to make it tempting to try to play dirty. The fact is, resorting to the nasty games of divorce wars make you look bad and does not necessarily improve the outcomes for you. Instead, go into your divorce with everything on the table. Although you want a divorce attorney who fights aggressively for your interests, underhanded tricks really do not pay off.

Being Open and Honest With Your Attorney and Avoid Divorce Wars

As you prepare for your divorce, it is essential that you are open and honest with your attorney.  Particularly when circumstances are strained, you can anticipate that your spouse will attempt to paint you in a bad light. If your lawyer knows everything, preparing for court becomes an exercise of skill. Do not let your attorney be surprised by bombshells lobbed by the other side.  Tell the truth about everything and act in a responsible manner:

  • If you have sent unpleasant texts or emails, do not fool yourself into thinking that just because you have deleted them, they no longer exist. There is every possibility that they will show up if your spouse thinks it will benefit his or her case.
  • If you have assets that you think no one knows about, be aware that the other side will likely have detectives snooping around to see what turns up.
  • If you are in possession of assets that you are pretty sure your spouse is going to request, do not sell those items in spite.
  • Children are people. Do not degrade your spouse in their presence or try to turn them against your spouse.
  • If you are thinking of charging up a load of debt to dump on your spouse, think again.
  • Although most people have social media accounts these days, be careful of what you post on yours. Avoid rash, emotional posts that could get you into trouble later.
  • If you have a new love interest, do not flaunt it. Keep that person away from your spouse, the courtroom, and any other place that might cause the situation to become enflamed.

After the Divorce

Once your divorce is finalized, make sure you follow the court’s orders. Particularly if there are children involved, remain poised to interact in a civil manner. Now, that may be difficult, especially if your former spouse is reading from a divorce wars playbook. Nonetheless, behave with dignity, and be smart:

  • Avoid interactions when you have been drinking or if you are upset.
  • Pay child support with a check so you have a record of the transaction.
  • Document any issues as they occur in case you wind up back in court at a later date.
  • Honor visitation rights, even if support payments are behind. You do not want to be in contempt.
  • Encourage kids to have a healthy relationship with your ex and the in-laws. There is no such thing as too much love for a kid.

Continue reading →

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Holiday SeasonNever do you feel the reality of divorce more than during the holiday season. While some people may experience relief to be away from an unhappy marriage, others will feel the sting of missed traditions, gatherings with in-laws, and even waking up without the patter of little feet and the accompanying excitement. So what can you do to make the most of your new life during the most festive time of the year?

Identify Your Biggest Holiday Season Concern

If you figure out what the scariest part of the upcoming holiday is, you have a better chance of addressing it and feeling like you are in control of your life.  No, things will not be the same.  Embrace that fact, and come up with a plan to alleviate the most critical issues.  Be flexible, and adjust to the situation with grace.

Start New Holiday Season Traditions

What puts you in the holiday mood? Shopping? Watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV? Going to church? Spend some time doing the things that bring you joy and fill you with holiday spirit. If you can’t bear doing those things without your former spouse, its time to look at ways to move forward in new and fulfilling ways.

Letting go of the old traditions that you can not access anymore will go much easier if you create new traditions to replace them. If you are used to putting on a huge family dinner on Christmas Day, consider hosting a brunch in mid-morning instead. If particular music brings home the holidays for you, branch out into a new genre. If you simply cannot bear the thought of the changes in your life, maybe it would be good for you to do some volunteer work this holiday season. Serving dinner to the disadvantaged, delivering meals to housebound individuals, or sponsoring a family with economic challenges could brighten the lives of others while providing you a sense of satisfaction. In any way that makes sense for you, create rituals with friends and family that will signify a step in a new direction.

Take Care of Yourself

Despite the stresses you are facing, it is important that you take time to pamper yourself. Get enough exercise and rest, and avoid overindulging in holiday food and drink. Find time to unwind with a good book, relaxing music, meditation, or conversation with a trusted friend or family member.

Holiday Season Gratitude

Even though this may be the toughest holiday on record, you still have a lot to be grateful for, right? Pay attention to the little things. Notice the glory of a sunrise, the scent of goodies baking in the oven, the sounds of carolers at the mall. Instead of counting up all the things that make you miserable, start counting the things that you appreciate. Continue reading →

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holiday season divorceA holiday season divorce? Is your marriage on the rocks? If it is, the holidays will not magically repair things. In fact, some studies indicate that the stress of holiday shopping, traffic, and family gatherings can put even more strain on relationships. One survey revealed the somewhat astonishing fact that over 8% of married individuals contemplate separation or divorce during the holiday season. The statistics for women are even higher; nearly 13% of them have divorce on the brain. The majority of respondents say they will wait until after the holidays to bring up the topic of a split, but about 30% report just wanting to “get it over with,” and will be presenting their plans to split before Christmas. Either way, an experienced divorce attorney can help get you through it.

Holiday Season Divorce – Think it Through

Obviously, ending a marriage is a huge decision. Before doing anything rash, spend some time really evaluating your situation. Is a holiday season divorce what you really want? Have you explored options to save the marriage? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the seasonal pressures, and reacting by trying to escape your life? Be sure divorce is not just a knee-jerk reaction to a particularly stressful time.  Once you broach the subject with your spouse, it may be difficult to turn back.

If A Holiday Season Divorce is What You Really Want, Give up the Guilt

If you have deliberated and come to the conclusion that there is no option but to divorce, then accept the decision and move forward. Many people who experience guilt feel horribly about the impact of this decision on the family, but if you truly believe it has to happen, it is probably best to just get it done. If, on the other hand, guilt is associated with the way you have handled yourself, you may need to do what you can to make amends and become a better version of yourself moving forward. Either way, extricate yourself from a relationship that has no chance with as much grace as possible.

Should You Wait Until After the Holidays?

When should you tell your partner how you are feeling? Every situation is different, of course. If you have concerns about the safety of yourself or your children, then by all means make a hasty departure. Otherwise, timing the discussion can be tricky. Splitting shortly before or during the holidays has the potential to stain future years with an unpleasant memory for you, your children, and your spouse. Is the desire to get out of your marriage so urgent that you would risk bringing back a flood of painful memories for everyone involved at this time of year? No one wants to associate the holidays with feelings of sadness. Would waiting a few weeks be worthwhile? Continue reading →

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Getting DivorcedIs getting divorced in your future? When couples say I Do, they are thinking of a happily ever after. No one imagines that the bliss of their wedding day will eventually fall to the depths of divorce. Yet statistics show that one in five couples experience marital disruption within the first five years of marriage. Over half of couples suffer a separation, divorce, or death after 20 years together. The question newlyweds all ask is, why? Why do feelings of devotion take a 180-degree turn for so many couples?

Getting Divorced. A Psychotherapist’s Explanation

Psychotherapist Esther Perel notes that all couples experience the same types of problems  The difference in successful marriages hinges on the ways in which partners communicate and relate to one another. Specifically, couples who overtly focus on interacting with kindness, empathy, and understanding seem to endure, while those who resort to blaming, ostracizing, and suspicion tend to have less happy unions.  That being said, what are the issues that couples of all stripes face, and that lead to divorce most often?

Problems that May Lead to Getting Divorced

  • Infidelity, whether physical or emotional, takes a serious toll on any relationship. Whether the betrayal involves a one-night-stand or a long-term relationship, recovering from a cheating episode is an extraordinary challenge.
  • Financial difficulties can cause serious stress for couples, especially if partners have different spending patterns, or if one partner’s earnings intimidate the other.
  • Death of a child or other extreme stresses can take a toll on even the strongest of relationships.  Dealing with serious illnesses, losses, or significant unexpected changes in life can devastate one or both partners, making teamwork and connection difficult, if not impossible.
  • Addictions can destroy families because one partner is unable to put the marriage and family before the addiction. While many people successfully overcome addictions and save their marriages, many simply do not.
  • Religious differences may not seem important on the wedding day, but down the road there may be some serious issues over how to raise the children. Maybe one spouse even wants the other to convert. Serious religious issues can be difficult areas in which to compromise.
  • Weight gain, though seemingly superficial, may lead to a dearth in intimacy and is often cited as a reason to call it quits.
  • Growing apart is often named as the reason for getting divorced. As the years progress, couples find they have different interests and passions, and simply do not share much anymore. Empty nesters, in particular, may feel the need to strike out on their own.

Continue reading →

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SpyingSpying on your spouse? Angry divorce proceedings often lead individuals to seek proof of wrongdoing. Sometimes the quest for this proof takes the form of spying in order to ascertain whether or not a spouse is cheating, to discover a secret cache hidden away somewhere, or to catch the unwitting spouse in the midst of other activities that might persuade a judge of massive personality flaws that might otherwise go unnoticed. While the temptation to hire a private eye or to actually perform your own sleuthing may be real, such actions are at best misguided, and at worst, illegal. Seeking local legal representation might be a wise choice.

Spying for Proof of Extramarital Affairs

Let us say that you have pictures or other irrefutable proof that your spouse has engaged in extramarital activities that are unseemly. Having this proof in hand will not help you in the divorce settlement. Why? California is a no-fault state, meaning punishments cannot be handed down from the bench for immoral behavior.  Property accumulated during the course of the marriage will be divided in compliance with California’s community property laws, regardless of tawdry behavior by your spouse. The only exception is when domestic violence is a factor in the divorce.

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smartphone evidenceSmartphone Evidence and your divorce case. Have you ever used your smart phone to send a nasty message? Have you ever sent that nasty message to your soon to be ex spouse? If you are heading into a divorce, or are in the middle of one right now, it would be foolish and costly to sabotage yourself with nasty messages using your smart phone. Unfortunately, in the heat of a dispute, that is exactly what many people do. If you wish to file for divorce and believe text messages or other postings may be used to impact the proceedings, an experienced divorce attorney can help.

Smartphone Evidence – The Problem

Nine out of 10 leading divorce lawyers report an uptick in the number of cases they have seen in the past three years in which smartphone evidence, particularly text messages and social media posts, have been used. The president of AAMI, a group of professionals who handle prenuptial agreements, separations, property divisions, and like matters calls the problem “spontaneous venting.” Many of the comments sent can lead to problems for the sender in a divorce proceeding.

While email typically gives the sender a bit more time to reflect before hitting the send button, it is one more way that people get themselves into trouble. When getting a divorce, remember:  Anything in writing might someday make its way before a judge. If you do not want the judge to read it, you probably should not be writing it in the first place.

How can Smartphone Evidence Hurt Your Situation?

Messages you have sent and pictures you have posted may be used to show your state of mind, to reveal who you may have communicated with with or where you may have been, or even to indicate contradictions in your disclosures to the court. Also, in California, child custody decisions are made with the best interests of the child in mind. If you have revealed yourself to be a crazy maniac, or, worse, a threatening and potentially violent individual, it will not bode well for you in front of a judge.

Is Smartphone Evidence an Invasion of Privacy?

You have sent the text message or posted the comments and photos. Now they are on someone else’s device. If it has hot been deleted, it may be printed out and submitted to the court. Even if deleted, it is possible to subpoena the cell phone company to preserve the content of cell phone messages using the Stored Communications Act in conjunction with state law. Continue reading →

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