Articles Tagged with divorce

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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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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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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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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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your marriageImproving your marriage in 2018. If you are half of one of the millions of couples who are in an unsatisfying marriage with your spouse, the New Year is here. For 2018, how about resolving to improve things at home?

Taking Steps to Improve Your Marriage

The problems in your marriage did not develop overnight and your marriage is  going to improve overnight, and it is not going to improve without specific, targeted changes. That being said, perhaps it is time to buckle down and get to work:

  • Get your head around the fact that you are going to have to make changes to improve yourself before you can improve your relationship with your spouse. Figure out what you need to do to become better, stronger, more flexible, happier, etc. How can you bring your A-game to your relationship?
  • Focus on one key thing you can do to make your partner happier. It does not have to be a huge thing; just something that will make it clear that you are tuned in to the relationship. Put down your phone during meals; quit commenting on bad driving; take out the trash before it is overflowing. Tiny adjustments can make a world of difference, so jump in!
  • Greet your partner with genuine affection. When you run into friends at the mall, you smile, make eye contact, and find out how they are doing. Why not do the same with your spouse?  That to-do list can wait until after you have asked about the workday and shared a few basic pleasantries.
  • Go to bed at the same time. Even if it is just to share a few moments talking, connect with your spouse at bedtime.
  • Avoid withholding feelings of dissatisfaction. Instead, discuss problems openly and honestly, with an eye toward creating mutually satisfying solutions.
  • Apologize when you are wrong. Whether you forgot something important to your spouse, overreacted to a silly event, or let unkind words slip out. Saying the words I’m sorry with sincerity always helps.
  • Connect. That’s right. It’s more than coordinating schedules or fulfilling your share of the household obligations. Connecting with your spouse is the single most important thing you can do to create a healthy relationship.

How can you do that? Here are some quick and easy tips:

  • Engage your spouse in a topic that he or she is passionate about.
  • Flirt a little.
  • Turn off the television.
  • Surprise him or her for no special occasion.
  • Do something together—take a walk, read a book, share a sundae…
  • Exercise together.

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 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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