Articles Posted in Divorce

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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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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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