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divorce ratesThere are many studies examining the factors impacting divorce rates. Researchers can tell you, for example, that you age at the time of marriage, location, and even your parents’ marriage can all impact your chances of divorce. They can tell you that couples with lower incomes have higher divorce rates than those with more money. So, how do those facts relate to education levels and specific professions? Not surprisingly, jobs that require no education beyond a high school diploma correlate to more than double the divorce rate as jobs that require at least a four-year degree. So which jobs are connected to the highest and lowest divorce rates?

High Divorce Rates

The profession linked to the highest divorce rate is gaming managers, with a rate of nearly 53%, closely followed by bartenders and flight attendants. Other occupations in the top 10 include employees in the gaming field, machine workers, switchboard operators, telemarketers, and textile workers. The median salary for most of these occupations is right around $35,000. Let’s contrast that with the median income of professions least likely to experience divorce.

Low Divorce Rates

The profession with the lowest divorce rate is actuaries. They divorce at a rate of just 17%.  Divorcing at a rate of nearly 19 % are scientists, followed by clergy at nearly 20%. Included on the list of professions with the lowest divorce rates are software developers, physical therapists, optometrists, chemical engineers, and doctors, who wrap up the top-10 most marriage-friendly professions with a divorce rate of 21.8%. The median income for these professions is $75,000.

What Does it Mean?

What conclusions can be drawn from this information? Should singles who hope to marry avoid bartenders and aim instead for insurance actuaries? Surely your chosen profession cannot be a direct cause for divorce, can it? Researchers are quick to point out that while a correlation between particular occupations and divorce rates is unquestionable, there is absolutely no research proving that a given profession causes divorce. Interestingly, the nature of the occupation seems to be less of a factor than the actual income associated with it.

Other Divorce Rates Factors of Note

Another fact that stood out in the research links job instability to divorce. When workers face lay-offs, or shrinking opportunity, it can lead to increased credit card debt, higher health care costs, and all of the associated stresses of financial insecurity. The compounding emotional costs can be onerous. Continue reading →

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infidelityThe infidelity statistics in this country are astounding. If you are married to someone who does not know the meaning of fidelity, you are not alone. If you are married to a serial cheater, you have probably considered divorce. Should you get to the point that the relationship is just not worth it anymore, an experienced divorce attorney can help.

Infidelity by the Numbers

More people surveyed reported infidelity than many of us would imagine. Consider the 2017 statistics:

  • One or both partners report to infidelity in over 30% of marriages;
  • Nearly ¼ of men admit to infidelity;
  • Women confess to cheating at a rate of 14%;
  • More than one-third of cheaters say the affair was with someone at work;
  • Almost one-fifth of cheaters say it happened with an in-law;
  • Over one-third of cheating occurs on business trips;
  • One in 10 affairs start with an online experience;
  • Women report revenge as a motive for affairs 14% of the time.
  • After cheating once, cheaters are 350% more likely to indulge again than those who have never cheated;
  • Affairs most often occur two years into a marriage.

How to Get Out of the Marriage

Experts have several suggestions as to how to proceed once you have made up your mind to leave your cheating spouse. Consider the following:

  • Make a confidential appointment with a divorce attorney, and keep it to yourself. If your spouse suspects that you are considering divorce, it may prompt some scurrying to hide evidence of the affair or of assets. Keep your plans close to the vest.
  • Do not fool yourself into believing your spouse will be fair and rational in this process. Protect yourself, your assets, your children, and everything else. Assume the worst. It will will be much better to be pleasantly surprised than to be devastatingly betrayed.
  • Move your half of any liquid assets into your own private account. California is a community property state, meaning that you are entitled to your half. Cheaters generally have secret money hidden somewhere, so do some sleuthing or hire someone to do it for you.
  • Do not allow yourself to be manipulated. If you have decided to split, you have some good reasons, right? There is no point in complaining about how hurt you are and giving your spouse the chance to make promises that will not be kept. Your spouse does not care about you, clearly.  Do not present any opportunities for your soon-to-be ex to exploit any feelings you may have.
  • Believe in yourself and stay focused on getting the life you deserve. You did not come to this decision easily, did you? Things will be tough, but never forget that you deserve a satisfying life. Fight for it.

Continue reading →

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legal separationIf your marriage just is not working, perhaps it has crossed your mind for your and your spouse to take a break from one another. Many couples feel unease about the finality of a complete split and opt for a legal separation in lieu of a divorce. Knowledge about the process and legalities of legal separation can help couples to make informed, well-reasoned decisions.

What is a Legal Separation?

The truth is, a legal separation gives couples the chance to divide their assets and debts and live separate lives if they choose, without completely terminating the marriage. The process is similar to that of divorce, with one person filing for the separation, and the other responding. Assets must be declared, custody arrangements must be made if minor children are involved, and support payments must be agreed upon. Ultimately, the couple becomes two separate entities, while retaining their legal marital status.

Some Legal Terminology to Know

Those entering such an agreement may be unfamiliar with some key terminology that will be applicable to their circumstances:

  • Date of Separation: This is the date that reflects the intent of the couple to separate, and is the date around which community property determinations are made. Any assets and debts accrued before this date will be split evenly between the parties, whereas anything attained after this day will belong to the individual who acquired it.
  • Judgment of Legal Separation: This is a document addressing the agreements upon the attainment of legal separation. It includes financial matters, custody issues, and support arrangements.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Legal Separation?

There is no waiting period for a legal separation to go into effect, assuming both parties agree to the stipulations in the Judgment of Legal Separation, nor are there residency requirements associated with legal separation in California. Once that document is signed, the final Judgment may be entered and the separation is legit. So, as soon as the paperwork is complete, couples can become legally separated.

Benefits

Couples have many reasons to consider legal separation rather than severing the marriage altogether. Some common factors include:

  • Indecision as to the desired outcomes;
  • Health insurance issues;
  • Immigration concerns;
  • Religious beliefs forbidding divorce.

Tax Implications

Your marital status is important to consider as you file with the IRS. You are allowed to file as Single, and may claim Head of Household if you keep a household for a minor child. Likewise, you could choose to file as Married, or as Married filing separately. Continue reading →

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living togetherLiving together? Research has long indicated that couples who wed at a young age are more likely to divorce than their older counterparts. What about couples who choose to move in together before tying the knot?

Living Together – What the Numbers Reveal

Studies suggest that couples who live together actually experience more stress than those who are married. In fact, nearly half of cohabiting couples choose not to get married at all. Of those who do eventually tie the knot, the risk of divorce is higher than for couples who never lived together. However, if those couples make it past seven years in a marriage, the chance for divorce drops off to be equal to the rate for couples who did not cohabitate prior to marriage.  Here are some other facts of note:

  • Couples who live together separate five times more often than married couples do, and reconcile one-third as often.
  • Infidelity is a more likely occurrence for cohabitating couples than for married ones;
  • Domestic violence rates are higher among couples who lived together prior to marriage;
  • Couples who live together before marriage typically earn less than their married counterparts throughout life.
  • Depression and substance abuse levels are higher among couples who cohabitate than for married couples.

Living Together and Commitment Theory

Some research indicates that couples who marry after living together tend to simply slide into the greater commitment of marriage because it seems a logical next step, whereas couples who actually choose to move from single life to marriage make a committed decision. The theory is that couples living together do not weigh the love factor as heavily as those who do not cohabitate.

Age is Still the Key Determining Factor of Marriage Success

On the other hand, according to one researcher, the age at which couples commit is the issue, whether it involves formal I do’s or not. The decision to live together or to get married right out of high school has statistically shaky results. So, how old is old enough?

Studies indicate that by age 23, when most individuals have had the opportunity to graduate from college and achieve financial independence, they are more successful in committed relationships.

Living Together – Erroneous Assumptions

Whether couples decide that cohabitation is a good step for their relationship or not, they should not misconstrue the difference between cohabitation and marriage. Cohabitation is necessarily more ambiguous than marriage, often with lesser commitment and/or responsibility. Many couples view it as a bit of a test, providing an easier way out if circumstances dictate. Continue reading →

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divorce courtNobody loves divorce court, despite the fact that roughly half of couples will spend some time there. If you are on your way to see the judge, you may not know what to expect or how to prepare for the big day. Your divorce attorney can give you an idea of the physical structure of the room and the basics of what to anticipate. Here are some other things to keep in mind.

Promptness Counts in Divorce Court

It should go without saying, but by all means, be on time to court. In fact, be early.  If you are late or do not show up at all, it gives the court a bad impression. Beyond that, you are giving your ex the opportunity to put his or her version of things into the court record without any opportunity to refute it. This is a big day: Be on time.

What to Say in Divorce Court

You will be asked questions. When that happens, answer them with as little fanfare as possible.  Stick to the facts directly related to the actual question, not the back-story or related events. You do not want to waste the judge’s time and wear his or her patience. Whatever you do, do not speak out of turn or interrupt. Treat everyone in the room, including your ex, with respect.  Listen carefully, and provide considered responses.

What Not to Say in Divorce Court

It should be obvious, but bears pointing out: Do not use expletives or colorful language that is offensive. Avoid any displays of agitation or skepticism, from eye rolling to facial expressions revealing disgust. No pounding the table, gasps, sighs, or headshakes. You want to maintain a respectful demeanor from beginning to end.

What to Wear to Divorce Court

When you are headed to court to end your marriage, you will not have control of the proceedings or what your soon-to-be ex has to say. What you will have control of  is yourself. So, putting some thought into what to wear and the image you wish to present is worth considering.  Choosing precisely the right attire for court can be tricky. Here are some basic tips to consider while eyeing your own wardrobe:

  • Whatever your station in life, pull yourself together into a neat, clean package. Demonstrate self-respect, organization, and stability.
  • Choose classic, yet elegant styles. It demonstrates that you are used to quality and that you are upstanding and respectable.
  • Avoid anything that is ostentatious or suggestive. You do not want to look like a gold-digger.

Here is is how a few celebrities addressed the issue of what to wear in court:

  • In her divorce from Matthew Mellon, Tamara Mellon chose a grey pencil skirt and cardigan to project a look of confidence and control.
  • Nigella Lawson, in her divorce from Charles Saatchi, showed up to court in a black tailored suit, demonstrating that she was well put together and self-assured.
  • Natasha Ramlogan always wore modest black dresses and heels for court appearances, creating a look of simple feminine elegance.

Continue reading →

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family petCustody of the family pet as a negotiation tool in a divorce? Divorce can involve much more than property disputes and ways to carve up assets and debts. If you are concerned about what is going to happen to Fido when the split occurs, you are not alone. After all, about half of marriages in this country wind up in divorce, and over 60% of households have a pet. So, when the marriage comes to an end, where do the cuddly creatures wind up?

It can be a Battle if You Both Love the Family Pet

If you are a pet owner, you may not find it hard to believe that many individuals cannot imagine life without coming home to a wagging tail or a purring pet. Many people have extremely tight connections with their family pet. Particularly when they have been in a loveless marriage, people tend to look for affection and comfort from the non-judgmental, unfiltered adoration of their pets.  When both partners have that kind of bond with a pet, there is a good possibility that neither will feel good about losing that connection, and the courts may have to intervene.

Using a Family Pet as Leverage in a Divorce

Sometimes only one partner is particularly attached to the family pet, and the other partner knows it and uses that information as a weapon in the divorce.  Nasty divorces are certainly not the exception. If you cherish your pet, do not be surprised if your vengeful spouse uses it as a negotiation tool. The threat to gain custody in order to get you to give up something of financial value is not unheard of. Do not give in to extortion. California is a community property state.  The pet is worth a certain dollar amount, in many cases not more than the value of your patio furniture. Do not be bullied into giving up the equity in your home to keep your furry friend.

Keeping Your Family Pet

If it comes down to a judicial decision, several factors will come into play in determining pet custody. In many ways, the court considers what is in the best interest of the pet:

  • Is there a prenuptial agreement dealing with custody? If so, that may solve the problem.
  • Did one of you own the pet prior to getting married? If so, that person may have a stronger claim to the pet.
  • Who is the pet’s primary caregiver? The feeding, medical care, and cleanup responsibilities may indicate that one person is a better or more consistent caregiver. You could get evidence of this, such as letters from neighbors attesting to the fact that you regularly walk the pooch, or a note from the vet extolling your fantastic pet-parenting skills. Even receipts from the pet store showing that you made pet purchases, or the pet license with your signature on it are indicators that you are the primary individual who cares for your pet.
  • Whose life is best equipped to handle a pet? Where you live, the hours away from home, and the travel schedule you keep are all under consideration in a contested pet-custody case.

Continue reading →

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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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marriage bluesDo you have a case of marriage blues? Is the spontaneity missing from your marriage? Is your routine so predictable that you feel like you are sleepwalking through your relationship? If so, you are one of many couples who feel marriage is not nearly the paradise you were hoping for when you tied the knot.

Marriage Blues – Underlying Problems

Frequently, when relationships start to become stale, there are stresses on the couple that may wear on the energy and enthusiasm partners bring to their interactions. Some common stressors include:

  • Finances;
  • Long work hours;
  • Health issues;
  • Demands from the kids;
  • Lack of intimacy.

When there is a cloud over all of a couple’s interactions, individuals may begin to feel unhappy, to blame one another, or to start drifting apart.

Defeating the Marriage Blues – Connection

Partners who make an effort to connect with one another in small ways experience more fulfilling relationships that tend to last. In one study of couples’ connections, those who connected only 33% of the time were divorced within six years, whereas those who connected 87% of the time were still married six years later.

Shared Time

If you are not prioritizing time with each other, you can not really expect a fruitful outcome. So, if your partner truly is important, do not wait to express it. Sit down together often just to share your thoughts, enjoy a moment, or hold hands.

Date Night

Some couples try to keep their marriage alive by going on regular date nights. One psychology professor who studied such couples found that repeating the same date over and over is actually less satisfying than you might think. Instead, he suggests mixing it up, and having more exciting dates that are out of the norm. Instead of dinner and a movie, choose a community play or a day at the beach. Challenge one another to do something new and different.

Negative Thinking

For some, it is going to take more than a few fun outings to spice up the marriage. What if when one person makes an effort to do something nice, the other partner becomes full of suspicion rather than gratitude? Clearly, there are underlying issues in such a relationship, and both people need to be ready and willing to get to the bottom of it. One person cannot save a marriage independent of the other. Continue reading →

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prenuptial agreementIf you are considering getting married, you may be tossing around the idea of having a prenuptial agreement (prenup) made. What exactly are these documents, and is such an agreement the right thing for you? If you are not sure, an experienced family law attorney can answer your questions.

Prenuptial Agreement – The Basics

In California, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act defines prenups, otherwise referred to as premarital agreements. Essentially, they are documents (never simply oral agreements) that take effect once the couple is married. They contain a broad definition of property (basically anything of value), and lay out financial guidelines for the couple. In the event of a divorce, a prenup may spell out requirements for spousal support, but these specifications may not play out as expected.

Spousal Support

Although a couple may agree to the particulars of spousal support when they are engaged, circumstances may be quite different at the time of a divorce. Therefore, these provisions may not be followed as written. Factors impacting the enforceability of spousal support provisions include:

  • Whether or not the recipient of spousal support had independent counsel at the time the agreement was drafted;
  • Whether the financial status of the person expected to pay spousal support is significantly higher or lower than it was at the time the document was drafted.

What is NOT in a Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements are not intended to deal with the responsibilities of the parties during the marriage. You will not find expectations related to household duties or sexual activity in these documents. Nor can parties spell out consequences for adultery. Furthermore, prenuptial agreements may not address issues related to children such as custody, visitation, or child support following the dissolution of a marriage.

Common Prenuptial Agreement Mistakes Couples Make

Couples dealing with premarital agreements frequently make a number of easily avoidable mistakes. You can avoid headaches by circumventing the problems that sink some couples who are investigating such a contract:

  • Refusing to discuss having a prenup because it is awkward: Get used to facing difficult conversations now. Talking about it is the only way to come to consensus;
  • Sharing an attorney: Each person should have his or her own representation in these situations;
  • Giving in to concessions that make you uncomfortable: Do not drop an issue just because you want to get the whole thing over with. Stick to your guns and make sure the agreement reflects your wishes.
  • Letting emotions dictate your behavior: This is a business transaction like any other. Think it through, and make logical, calm decisions.

Continue reading →

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child supportChild support. Raising children is expensive. When a couple chooses not to raise their child together, it does not absolve either parent of the financial responsibilities associated with raising that child. From a legal standpoint, some amount of child support is mandatory from both parents, and failing to provide that support could result in civil and/or criminal consequences. If you are concerned about child-support calculations, a good family law attorney may be helpful.

Obtaining Child Support

There are several circumstances wherein a court may order child support. They include:

  • Divorce;
  • Legal separation;
  • Paternity cases.

Income Considered in Child Support Determinations

Net disposable incomes of both parents are examined when making child support determinations.  The mathematical calculation used to determine the amount of support ordered by the court considers any and all income, including:

  • Salary, wages or earnings from self-employment;
  • Commission;
  • Tips;
  • Benefits from unemployment;
  • Workers’ compensation benefits;
  • Disability benefits;
  • Social security benefits;
  • Pension payouts;
  • Interest or dividend payments;
  • Lottery or other winnings.

Once the gross income is determined for each parent, the net disposable income is calculated by subtracting costs such as:

  • Taxes;
  • Mandatory union dues;
  • Health care premiums;
  • Required contributions to retirement accounts;
  • Costs associated with raising children from other relationships.

Other Considerations

The court will consider other factors, including childcare costs, school expenses, health care costs, and costs associated with visitation when parents live far apart. Some of these expenses are considered add-ons and may be divided equally between parents, or contributions may be based on each person’s disposable income. Additionally, children with special needs may incur further expenses to be considered by the court.

Once the final income calculations have been made, a child support payment is calculated based on the percentage of time the child spends with each parent.

Documentation Needed for Child Support

In order to make the most accurate calculations, parents will be asked to provide a number of documents, including:

  • Tax returns for the past year or two;
  • Paystubs from the past few months;
  • Insurance premium documentation;
  • Certification of mandatory retirement contributions;
  • Child support and spousal support information for other relationships;
  • Receipts for child care costs;
  • Other costs related to extraordinary circumstances.
What Happens to Parents Who do Not Pay Child Support?

Payment of child support is a serious business. When child support payments are not made, the consequences can be embarrassing and troublesome. Wages may be garnished, credit ratings may be impacted, and liens may be placed on property. There are additional consequences that many people do not know about: Passports may not be issued or renewed, and driver’s licenses could be revoked or suspended. The IRS could capture past due funds from tax refunds, and other government funds such as unemployment or workers’ compensation may be taken. Ultimately, criminal charges may be filed with associated fines and jail time. Continue reading →

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