Articles Posted in Divorce

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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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divorceAll marriages experience ups and downs, but when are things serious enough to consider a divorce? Research indicates common themes in the literature predictive of divorce:

Feelings of Contempt: If you or your spouse resorts to contemptuous feelings and behaviors when dealing with problems, the marriage may be at risk. Regardless of the issue at hand, eye rolling, sarcasm, berating, and name-calling lead to a feeling of helplessness. Problems cannot be solved in this environment.  Passive-aggressive statements are yet another symptom of contempt.  Instead, couples should address complaints without blame or criticisms.

Scorekeeping: When one spouse is more focused on keeping score in a marriage than on building a loving relationship, it can spell disaster. Successful marriages cannot be centered on winning and losing. Spouses should instead consider strong communication, love, and forgiveness a win-win.

Differing Goals: Does one of you want a big family and the other hate the idea of kids?  Does one want to party whenever possible, and the other prefer cozy nights at home? Is traveling the globe the ultimate dream for one of you, while the other is completely comfortable planted in the neighborhood in which you have always lived? When couples have huge differences in the things they want from life, if can make for a challenging marriage.

One Person does all the Compromising: Does one person always hold out to get the final say on the tv shows you watch or the restaurants you go to? Does one spouse feel disappointment that the other shows minimal interest in his or her needs on a day-to-day basis? Compromise is a key factor in successful marriages, but when one spouse is constantly expected to give in to the other’s desires, it can lead to feelings of resentment. It makes one wonder about the motivations for staying with someone who is not concerned about who you are or what you need.

Bad Views Rule: Research indicates that couples who remember the sweet, tender beginnings of their relationship, even when going through tough times, are more likely to survive. Alternately, if the focus is on the shortfalls of the other spouse and the mutual admiration and respect has dissipated, the marriage is in trouble.

Debt: One of the biggest stressors to any marriage is money trouble, particularly if one spouse is a big spender and the other is not. In that circumstance, the risk for divorce is 45% more likely. Setting and living within a budget can save unnecessary arguments and harrowing stress.

A Lousy Sex Life: When antagonism, or a simple lack of interest in your spouse, results in a limited or nonexistent sex life, the marriage is in trouble. Healthy communication and the ability to enjoy one another intimately can build a bond that helps couples through challenging times.

You do Not Spend Time Together: Couples who do not share hobbies and interests, as well as other friendships, are at greater risk of divorce. Particularly, when one spouse purposefully becomes detached, the relationship should be evaluated.

Stonewalling: Spouses who evade one another or punish with the cold shoulder are avoiding solving their issues. Instead of open and clear dialogue, problems become swept under the rug, where they fester until they have to be addressed—usually with anger.

Wedding Planning Issues: Beware if planning the wedding became more important than the relationship between the couple. Continue reading →

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Substance Abuse and DivorceAre you considering divorcing a spouse who has trouble with substance abuse? Anyone experiencing a divorce can tell you that there are all kinds of mitigating factors that may impact divorce proceedings and outcomes. One particular issue that can have a substantial bearing on your divorce agreement is addiction. When one or both partners suffer from drug or alcohol issues, matters may become more complex than ever. A good divorce attorney is your best bet when facing these issues.

Marriages Ruined by Substance Abuse

The statistics on marriages when substance abuse is involved are not encouraging:

  • Close to 30 million people are married to an alcoholic or drug addict.
  • Nearly 10% of divorces are related to substance abuse;

Is Divorce the Right Choice for You?

Experts advise considering divorce under certain key circumstances involving addiction:

  • Married life is substantially impacted due to substance abuse;
  • Self destructive behavior has long-term or severe impacts on you and your family;
  • Your spouse refuses to participate in counseling sessions, or attends sessions with negligible outcomes;
  • Your spouse lies, hides things, fails drug tests, and/or is responsible for “disappearing” money;
  • Your spouse engages in dangerous behaviors while under the influence of prescription drugs, illegal substances, or alcohol;
  • Cheating, beating, or other irresponsible behavior accompanies substance abuse;
  • You find yourself embarrassed and unwilling to face your family and friends due to symptoms and events related to addiction;
  • You make excuses for your spouse’s addiction and related behaviors on a regular basis.

Before Filing for Divorce

As you embark on this difficult period of your life, try to establish a strong support network of family, friends, and professionals. Groups like Al-anon, Nar-Anon, and Families Anonymous can help you through the tough days ahead. In addition, some practical things you should consider include:

  • Securing your finances;
  • Helping your spouse to find professional services;
  • Documenting any issues connected to the addiction;
  • Finding support for your children as they experience the divorce;
  • Hiring a responsive attorney.
Your Divorce Agreement

In addition to the typical separation of property and debt issues that all couples face in divorce, (California is a Community Property state) when you divorce an addict, additional measures must be taken, especially when dependent children are involved. It is essential that your divorce agreement include required participation in a reliable drug- and/or alcohol-testing program.  Visitation must be contingent on clean reports, or must be supervised.

Furthermore, you should consider the possibility that the mention of divorce may result in more extensive drug or alcohol abuse. This, in turn, may lead to anger and potential violence. Be sure to secure a safe place to stay for yourself and your children. Continue reading →

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Divorcing missing spouseDivorcing a spouse that is missing? Is it possible to divorce your spouse when you have no idea where he or she is? The short answer is yes, but you will have to go through some extra work, wait about six months, and you may not get a final court order on the division of resources, child custody issues, and child support. In this situation, hiring an experienced divorce attorney is a must.

Divorcing by Publication

When a spouse disappears with no forwarding address, divorce may be obtained by publication. The Petitioner (the person seeking a divorce) must demonstrate that a diligent search has been conducted and the missing spouse was unable to be located. Therefore, that spouse cannot be served, nor can the divorce papers be delivered by certified mail.

Divorcing a Missing Spouse? What is a Diligent Search?

The courts expect that a sincere effort to locate the missing partner has occurred. Thus, a number of steps must be taken:

  • A thorough search of phone books and directory assistance in the area where the Petitioner lives and where the missing spouse was known to have lived last;
  • Talking to friends and relatives who might have knowledge of the missing spouse’s whereabouts;
  • Contacting the post office in the area where the missing spouse lived to ask for a forwarding address;
  • Investigating tax and property records to see if the absent spouse owns any property;
  • Communicating with previous landlords and employers about the location of the missing spouse;
  • Checking voter registration records;
  • Hiring a private investigator to try to find the missing spouse.

If, after completing these steps, your spouse still cannot be found, you may submit an Affidavit of Diligent Search to the court. This documents any and all steps you have taken to locate your spouse.

Filing for Divorce

At this stage, you must complete an Ex Parte (Without Notice) Application for Publication of Summons and several other legal documents in order for the court to issue an Order of Publication. The Order allows for the publication of the summons in the newspaper, and it must be published weekly for a total of four consecutive weeks. There must be a minimum of five days between each publication.

Your Spouse’s Rights

Following the four weeks of Publication of Summons plus 28 days, your spouse has another 30 days in which to file a response. Barring any response, you may file a Request to Enter Default Dissolution of Marriage. The divorce will become final six months from the date of the first publication of summons. Continue reading →

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long-term marriageDealing with a divorce can be especially difficult for someone in a long-term marriage . Studies show that men over 65 are divorcing at double the rate of the 1980s and women are divorcing at triple their former rate. In fact, 5% of all divorces in this country are “gray divorces.” Along with the usual splitting of assets that all divorcing couples face, older couples have some unique challenges.

Why Divorce After Decades Together in a Long-Term Marriage?

Older couples have often experienced many significant events together. Some couples grow closer through these life milestones, while others drift apart. With a longer life expectancy, a person in his or her mid-sixties most likely has at least a couple of decades ahead. That can be a long time if an individual is dissatisfied with his or her marriage.

Leaving a Long-Term Marriage

Alimony agreements are frequently short-term for young divorcees who agree that financial support is necessary while one spouse gets an education or a firm footing in the working world.  For older divorcees, alimony may be awarded for life. Another significant factor to consider is that retirement funds and pensions will likely be evenly divided. The marriage home may be sold and the money split between partners, or one partner may retain the home and give up something else. California is a community property state, so any assets accrued during the marriage will be split equally.

Another important consideration is health insurance. If one partner is covered by the other’s health insurance, it is critical that no gaps in coverage occur. When the divorce is finalized, your spouse’s employer can no longer cover you, even if minor children are covered. Luckily, COBRA coverage may be available if your spouse works for an employer with 20 or more employees. Eligibility depends on notification within 60 days of the divorce, so it is critical that you contact the provider quickly. This coverage lasts only 36 months, so it is important to become familiar with other options if necessary. If a spouse worked for a smaller company, Cal-Cobra is available. Although slightly more expensive and available for just 18 months, it is an option for some former dependent spouses.

Because men often earn much more money during the course of a career, social security benefits may be based on the man’s earnings rather than the woman’s work record. When a marriage has lasted at least 10 years, a woman may be able to enjoy benefits from her former spouse’s work record. The benefits end upon remarriage. If a person is at least 62 years old and is remarried, and the second spouse dies, that person may claim benefits from the first spouse (if the marriage lasted 10 years or more) or from the second spouse (if the marriage lasted 9 months or more prior to the death). Continue reading →

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abusive marriageAre you trapped in an abusive marriage? If you want to get out of the relationship, but have fears about how your spouse will react, you are not alone. Studies show that roughly 40% of women in California suffer from physical violence with an intimate partner at some time in their lives. If you find yourself in such a situation, an experienced, discreet attorney may be able to help.

Facts About Abusive Marriages and Domestic Violence

  • Women aged 18-24 are 11% more likely to have experienced physical violence in the past year than their older counterparts;
  • Women who were pregnant in the past five years are 12% more likely to experience violence than those who have not been pregnant;
  • Three-fourths of women who live in violent homes have minor children living in the home;
  • 5% of homicides statewide were related to domestic violence in 2008, with a total of 113 fatalities;
  • Of those fatalities, 88% were women.

Divorcing an Abusive Spouse – What You Need to Know

If you wish to extricate yourself from and abusive marriage, you may face an angry spouse who threatens your safety and that of your children. Be aware of several key points:

  • A contested divorce will take at least six months;
  • Courts are more likely to consider physical and/or sexual abuse than emotional abuse, which is an issue when seeking Abuse Prevention Orders;
  • The court can impound your address, meaning it will be blacked out in all court documents so your spouse will not know where you live;
  • Restraining/protective orders can be issued requiring your spouse to stay away from you and your children;
  • If there is not documentation of your injuries, you may be regarded as hysterical, or worse, vengeful in your pursuit to defame your spouse;
  • You may be asked to go through mediation prior to getting your divorce granted;
  • Your abuser will likely have some form of visitation rights with your children, meaning you may be in contact for years to come.

Protect Yourself Right Now

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799 SAFE. They can tell you about resources and local agencies that are set up to help women and children who need protection from abusers.  In the meanwhile, here are some things you should be doing:

  • Keep your plans hidden. Do not keep phone numbers, filers or other information related to domestic violence in the home where your abuser may find them;
  • Have an emergency plan to escape during an violent emergency; keep an overnight bag with prescriptions and other essentials ready to go if you can safely hide one;
  • Make your plans to leave permanently during an open window of time when your abuser will not be around to stop you;
  • Try to hide some money or get your own credit card, but make sure you have a PO Box to receive mail;
  • Find out about shelters that could accept you and your children;
  • Leave your cell phone behind so your abuser cannot track you;
  • Keep a journal, pictures, medical bills, and any other documentation if you can do so safely;
  • Keep online information safe;
  • File formal charges and get a protective order.

Continue reading →

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MarriageThere are no doubt people in this country who believe the institution of marriage is dead and should now be buried, that there is no longer a need or a use for marriage as it use to be described in our society.  Marriage has traditionally been the bulwark, the foundation upon which the family unit was built. Marriage vows were usually taken in a religious ceremony where the couples vowed their commitment to each other “until death.” That was until society “came of age” so to speak. To some it seems that marriage no longer takes the place of importance it use to have in our society. Whether you believe this to be a good thing or a bad thing, it is a reality.

Divorce is on the Rise

We now live in a society where people change their spouses often. It seems like it was an exception to talk to a person who has been married two, three, or four times. As in many jurisdictions, divorce in California has been made quite simple. California is a “no-fault” divorce state. Prior to the 1970s, in order to get a divorce in California, and many other jurisdictions, one spouse had to plead and prove that they were entitled to a divorce because of the actions or misdeeds of the other spouse. They had to prove that there were “grounds” for the divorce. One of those “grounds” would be infidelity (adultery) or cruelty.

Fast forward to today, when adultery within a marriage seems to some to be more of the norm instead of the exception. It appears to be as inevitable as “death and taxes.” Perhaps it is the result of the advances made by social media and Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Perhaps it is as a result of the ease with which couples can get married and the ease with which they can get a divorce. Whatever the reason marriage vows are taken so lightly, it has had an acute effect on how society looks at the “institution” of marriage. Since there are no grounds to be proven in a divorce proceeding, evidence of adultery is no longer relevant.

Society used to view marriage as the first step in starting a family. Today, you can start a family, including having children without a marriage. Couples seem to be in agreement that marriage is archaic in the sense that no one marries anymore and if they do get married, they do not stay married for very long.

Marriage, Commitment, and a Safe Place to Raise a Family

There are some good things about a family unit that are missing from today’s view on marriage and relationships, and that is “commitment” to the family unit. Humans are gregarious by nature. Families that commit to the well-being of each other are important for the advancement of our species. With that said, it is important to choose your life partner carefully. However, when you make a misstep and find yourself in a relationship that is not conducive to the making of a strong family unit, divorce is the best option.

When Divorce is the Best and Only Option

The family unit cannot always withstand the onslaught of infidelity and cruelty from either spouse, especially when children are involved. Sometimes, the protection of the family unit requires that a “cancerous” portion of that unit be incised so that the family can be restored to a productive and committed whole. Divorce then becomes the process by which this is done. Continue reading →

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file for divorce, californiaWhere should I file for divorce? When contemplating a divorce, there are many things to consider, both practical and emotional. Taking on the financial and logistical aspects of a divorce alone can be an enormous burden. Issues such as child custody and division of possessions are hard enough, but one must also consider alimony, paperwork, fees, and everything else that comes with taking apart a marriage. The good news is that seeking help from a qualified attorney can make the process much easier.

All states have their own regulations as to what is required in order to get a divorce in their jurisdiction so one of the the first things to evaluate is where to file the divorce paperwork.

File for Divorce In California

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