- Get legal advice – know your rights – do not use them to fight.
- Negotiate/mediate the deal with a well-qualified neutral party – get it papered properly by your Lawyers and move on.
- Cut the emotional crap out of negotiations and check them in at your counselors.
- Start approaching your divorce like the CEO of your finite wealth and maybe just maybe – we can start to change the costly negative effects of divorce on our bank accounts and society as a whole.
The answer is YES!!!
Oprah said on one of her recent radio shows that there is a correlation between the length and regularity of the kiss (10 seconds per day) and your chances of getting a divorce. Well I am here to tell you she is right.
I have dealt with thousands of couples that are divorcing. I always ask the “why” and “how come” questions before we start so that I have some context with regards to the reason it ended. I have never heard “we have a great sex life” and we are getting divorced. But I have heard “we communicate well” but we have no intimacy.
I am here to tell you ladies (yes you may pump your chests gentlemen) that sex is more important or at least just as important as communication for the well being of your marriage. While we are so caught up in our civilized western world of wealth accumulation and keeping up with the Jones’, our Egos seem to forget that we are relatively young in the course of mankind history. Really, we only have a short time beyond our barbarian ancestors. I am a woman, so I certainly understand the importance of communication and sharing however the only way that communication can be truly intimate is if it is supported by a healthy sex life.
While aging may change what the bedroom scene looks like – the opportunity to be creative and have fun is not restricted by our libido or age. I have often been heard saying “ if you are not having sex with your husband — then someone is”. I have had friends who squirm at that statement and brush me off and then only a few years later are calling me for divorce advice. While you may think this is a bit exaggerated – I think it is certainly one way to check in with regards to the health of your marriage. Men by nature need to be needed and adored physically. Women by nature need to feel taken care of both emotionally and physically. Yes even self-made bread winning women.
So lets just call it like it is.
If your marriage is in trouble – buy the best sex book you can find and try that before you spend thousands on therapy “talking” about your problems. That can come after you have a strong base to build on. I can assure you that with a strong physical connection the chances of successful marriage therapy, is much higher.
Take life less seriously and have fun enjoying both the physical and emotional sides of your partner.
After having published Divorce Magzine for the past 17 years, we decided to give it away free online for every one to read it.
The most current issue of Divorce Magazine is available for free downoad on our website www.DivorceMag.com.
Just click here: http://www.divorcemag.com/findprofessional.php, and choose the province or state you are in and you will be able to download the entire magazine at no cost.
This issue of Divorce Magazine features the following articles:
* Coping with an Emotional Divorce
* FAQs on Pensions and QDROs
* Surviving Divorce
* How to tell the children
We hope these articles help you with this difficult time. Let us know what you think of this offer or our magazine. Please pass on this free offer to anyone you know who may need it. Thanks.
Martha Chan is the co-owner and V.P. Marketing of Divorce Marketing Group , Family Lawyer Magazine and Divorce Magazine. She is responsible for all online and offline initiatives of the company. She is married to Dan Couvrette and is a step mother of two sons. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter and Facebook. She can be reached at (866) 803-6667 x 136 firstname.lastname@example.org. MarthaChan.com.
In certain cases, the court will determine that the minor should have his or her own attorney, and can appoint an attorney to represent the child’s best interest. California Family Code §3151 provides the authority for this appointment and makes it clear that Minor’s Counsel is charged with the representation of the child’s best interest. Sometimes the minor’s wishes and the minor’s best interest are in conflict. In this case, Minor’s Counsel must advocate for the child’s best interest.
The role of Minor’s Counsel is to gather and present to the court, all evidence that bears on the best interests of the child. Often times, minor’s counsel will prepare a written statement of issues and contentions for the court. If the child desires, Minor’s Ccounsel must present the child’s wishes to the court. Generally, Minor’s Counsel’s duties include: interviewing the child; reviewing the court files and all accessible relevant records available to both parties; and making any further investigations counsel considers necessary to ascertain evidence relevant to the custody or visitation hearings. Such documents that may be reviewed include the child’s medical, dental, mental health and other health care records, school and educational records. In addition, Minor’s Counsel may contact and interview school personnel, caretakers, health care provider, etc.
It is important to know that once Minor’s Counsel is appointed by the court, he or she is entitled to any and all medical records regarding the child. Minor’s Counsel does not need authorization from either parent.
Minor’s Counsel may also request that the court authorize the release of all relevant reports concerning the child from child protective services. If this request is granted, the court will review the reports in order to determine whether they are relevant to custody or visitation prior to releasing such records to minor’s counsel.
In terms of cost, if the court appoints Minor’s Counsel, it is likely the parties will pay Minor’s Counsel’s fees. The court will determine a reasonable sum for compensation and expenses, and will likely order that this fee be paid by the parties in the proportions the court deems just. If the parties together are not able to pay for all, or part of the costs, the Family Code says that the county will pay. Unfortunately, this is not possible in many counties, due to the lack of funding available to the courts at this time.
Janet E. Dockstader, is a partner with Brandmeyer Gilligan & Dockstader, LLP. She has more than a decade of experience negotiating marital settlement agreements and litigating Long Beach family law matters, including property issues, spousal support, child support and child custody.
The decision to keep or sell the family home during divorce can become an emotional power struggle and an ongoing source of conflicts and negotiations between a husband, wife and their mediator or attorneys during the long path through divorce.
Since divorce causes many disruptions to all the parts of a person’s life, it’s not surprising that most people want to stay in their current home for security, continuity and practical reasons and to keep their children’s lives as stable as possible during this challenging time.
Reaching a joint decision about whether to keep the family house or sell it is a huge decision that leads to emotional, financial and tax consequences so it’s wise to consider the overall situation and consult with any experts you may need who can provide you with objective advice about what the financial and tax consequences will be.
In some situations, there is no choice about whether to sell the home or not. During my own divorce, a family court judge I’d never seen issued a written order that we list our marital home for sale within 30 days just 3 months into our lengthy divorce because my husband’s income had decreased due to a lay-off and his insistence that he wanted to start a new business, rather than look for another job position.
I suddenly found myself having to find a rental home right away for myself, 3 kids and a big dog that was also within my children’s school district and on their bus routes. This move ended up costing me just as much in monthly rent payments as our much larger marital home payments had cost per month even though the rental home was much smaller.
If you are faced with the decision about whether to keep or sell the family home due to divorce, here are 5 questions to ask that can help you decide:
- What are your housing options where you live? Will the cost of the house payments be about the same, more or less than a similar place for rent when you figure in the tax deductions for mortgage loan interest? Are there rentals available where you live that meet your needs and are in the same school district? Can you afford the costs associated with moving and/or storing items if you move into a smaller home?
- Do you know what your house is worth in your current real estate market? Are you under water when it comes to equity or can you afford to pay off all of the mortgage loans on your home plus cover the costs of selling it and moving? After finding out how much you still owe on your home loans, consider consulting with some real estate agents to find out what some comparable homes are currently selling for near your home and hiring a real estate appraiser for some outside opinions to find out for sure.
- Can you really afford the house on your own when the divorce is over? Deliberating over this can truly be painful. No matter how much you may WANT to stay in the home, your financial situation will likely become much tighter following divorce. Do you know if you’ll be able to qualify on your own income to refinance the mortgage into your own name ? Rising real estate taxes, utility bills, home repairs, maintenance and landscaping can chip away at your new single person budget, making it harder to save for other things as you start your new life.
- Could you be better off taking other assets in exchange for your share of the family home? The tax man cometh and the tax man taketh away when it comes to selling or dividing equity in homes, retirement funds, stocks and other assets. If you decide to keep the house now and later sell it on your own, you could end up with a hefty capital gains tax bill depending on how much your home sells for at that later time. It’s smart to meet with a tax accountant or Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) to figure out the various tax consequences that could result from selling or trading both assets and liabilities during divorce.
- Consider the many benefits of making a clean break by selling the marital home. There won’t be any worry about whether or not either person can qualify on their own income to refinance it into their own name. You can use your share of the profit from the home sale to prioritize your new financial goals. You won’t find yourself in an upsetting flashback in the kitchen one night, remembering that terrible fight you had right near the sink. There won’t be any reason to worry about your former spouse inviting his new love interest into the home you had previously shared together. Once you’re out from under the weighty constraints of that mortgage, you can downsize, re-size or move into a totally different place where you and only you now have the keys to unlock your new front door.
Several months ago, I was contacted by the Director of Development, Alumni Scholarships for the UCLA Alumni Association. She sought my advice regarding what could be done to re-bond UCLA Alumni with the University. I explained to her that she was seeking advice on the wrong issue because you cannot re-bond what had never before been bonded. I told her that things can be done to establish a bond in the first place, even at this late stage. However, that is far different and more difficult than re-bonding something, where a bond had existed at some point in the past. In other words, if you ask the wrong question, you get the wrong answer.
How does this relate to family law, you ask? This bonding issue applies equally to relationships of all types, whether between a parent/child, employer/employee, or university/alumni.
I am deeply concerned about the fact that Equal Parenting is gaining such momentum because it is the wrong answer to the wrong question. Equal Parenting means that both parents have equal parenting time with their children. This incorrectly assumes that quantity somehow equals quality. The elephant in the room that nobody cares to address relates to the parent/child bond or lack thereof. It should also be noted that it is much more difficult for parental alienation to occur if a strong parent/child bond had been formed in the first place.
I have known many people who were more bonded with a grandparent than they were with either parent. Interestingly enough, this was true even though such people grew up in intact households. In other words, both parents had equal access to their children. Furthermore, the fact that the grandparent did not live in close proximity and therefore did not see their grandchild as frequently as did their parents did not change this reality. While this may be a bitter pill for some parents to swallow, the truth is not always pretty.
A parent/child bond is initially formed when the parent cares for a newborn infant and young child. It is established by the parent feeding the child, changing the child’s diapers, putting the child to bed, and otherwise caring for the child. If parents were to separate prior to the child’s birth or shortly thereafter, is it appropriate for the mother and/or the legal system to deny the father the right to form such a bond with his child? No.
Does this mean that there should be 50/50 parenting? No. Again, how do you re-establish a bond that may never have existed? Do you do so by forcing the child to spend 50% of the time with a parent with whom the child is not bonded or not well-bonded? Does this have anything to do with fitness as a parent? No. Can a bond that was never established be formed? Yes. Does it occur by forcing the child to spend time with that parent? No. Does percentage timeshare equate to a strong parent/child bond? No. Can timeshare be increased as the bond is strengthened between the parent and child? Yes. If forced prematurely, however, the intended result will backfire.
People have the right to marry, although in many jurisdictions such a right is based upon the sexual orientation of those people. People have the right to procreate. People have the right to end their marriages or non-marital relationships. However, parental “rights” are a bit different. After all, parental “rights” involve minor children and dependent adult children. Therefore, when people refer to parental “rights,” they are referring to their “rights” with regard to human beings who lack legal capacity either because of their age or diminished mental capacity. Parents argue that they are somehow entitled to equal protection under the law as it pertains to their “rights” as parents. What about the children? What about their rights? The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “no state shall … deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Isn’t a child a person? According to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, 11th Edition, a person is a “human.” Isn’t a child a human? Yes. Don’t children have rights? Yes. Among other things, Equal Parenting completely ignores the rights of children; rather it focuses on parental “rights.”
Equal Parenting is the wrong answer to the wrong question. What makes anyone believe that Equal Parenting is the optimal timeshare arrangement? Remember, for every action, there is a reaction – cause and effect. Instead of focusing on Equal Parenting, we should be focusing on what can be done to improve the bond between parents and their children.
Anyone who truly believes that justice is dispensed in court is in the Twilight Zone.
Assuming they function properly, courts apply the law. Who makes the law they apply? Man! Who says the law is just? In fact, the law differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Which is just and to whom? Courts do NOT dispense justice.
I would suggest that you be cognizant of the fact that each state has different laws pertaining to spousal support, etc. Don’t make assumptions about the need for reform in a particular jurisdiction based upon your perception of the spousal support laws in your jurisdiction.
If the court must apply laws that YOU do not believe are just, how can courts dispense justice? I bet that some people believe that the laws in any given state are just and others believe quite the contrary. Perception is reality, isn’t it?
I can promise you that if I were murdered by someone, the legal system could not possibly provide “justice.” I can promise you that if I lost a limb in an accident and received monetary compensation, no amount of compensation would replace the lost limb. I really don’t think that the “scales of justice” appropriately describe the legal system. It is a false and misleading representation of an adversarial approach to dispute resolution. I will say it once again – perception is reality, isn’t it? We see what we want to see and we find what we want to find.
Even those who believe in God must recognize that God did not create the laws that are passed by the legislative branch of our government. Even those who believe in God must recognize that it is not God wearing the black robe and judging cases in court.
Justice is as unattainable as perfection. Perfectionists are always disappointed because perfection is unattainable. People would be much happier if they put things in proper perspective.
It is amazing how philosophical I have become over time. I believe that we cannot understand and appreciate philosophy until we have had life experiences. I was certainly unable to appreciate or comprehend philosophy when I was in law school and was required to take a course on Philosophy and the Law. Now, I am one of the most philosophical attorneys around — go figure!
Let me be very clear — Any attorneys who are taking money from their clients to fight for justice are stealing their clients’ money! For the reasons I set forth above, the courts do not and never have dispensed justice. As Abraham Lincoln said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Many of you may be fooling your clients and possibly because you are also fooling yourselves. However, nobody is fooling me on this reality of life.
Justice is a matter of perception. Interestingly enough, perception is relative and not absolute.
How do you re-establish a bond that never existed? You can’t!
You can attempt to establish a bond, but you cannot re-establish something that never existed in the first place. This is the elephant in the room!
A parent/child bond is initially formed when the parent cares for a newborn infant and young child. It is established by the parent feeding the child, changing the child’s diapers, putting the child to bed, and otherwise caring for the child. If parents separate prior to the child’s birth or shortly thereafter, is it appropriate for the mother and/or the legal system to deny the father the right to form such a bond with his child? No!
Does this mean that there should be 50/50 parenting? No! Again, how do you re-establish a bond that may never have existed? Do you do so by forcing the child to spend 50% of the time with a parent with whom the child is not bonded or not well-bonded? Does this have anything to do with fitness? No! Can a bond that was never established be formed? Yes! Does it occur by forcing the child to spend time with that parent? No! Does percentage timeshare equate to a strong parent/child bond? No! Can timeshare be increased as the bond is strengthened between the parent and child? Yes! If forced prematurely, however, the intended result will backfire!
Child custody can be much more complicated and expensive than either party recognizes. Before commencing litigation you should be clear as to what you can expect from the court system.
My clients often tell me that they desire 100% sole custody. In reality, most people mean they want the child to reside primarily in their home and desire the other parent to play a limited role in raising the child. Before proceeding to court, it is important to know exactly what you want. In deciding this, know that the issue of child custody is twofold – there is legal custody and there is physical custody.
Being awarded legal custody means you will have the ability to make legal decisions concerning the child. These decisions include medical and educational decisions, whether and when to obtain a passport for your child, and whether to allow your child to obtain a driver’s license at age 16, etc. Generally, the court will award joint legal custody unless the parties agree otherwise. Although I have been successful in arguing that my client should be awarded sole legal custody over the other parent’s objections, this is rare and, in most cases, you should be ready to agree to joint legal custody. Most of the time, you will only win this argument if the other parent is abusive or absent. If you have specific reasons as to why sole legal custody is important to you, then give some thought as to exactly what your issue, is and then make a request to solve that specific problem. For instance, recently, we have seen a number of children diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Often, one parent desires therapy and medication for the child, and the other parent would rather avoid medication and therapy. In such a situation, the best approach may be to request “joint legal custody” but to request that you have the sole decision making power as to any medical decisions. To be fair to the opposing side, you may want to stipulate that you will give the other side immediate notice in writing of any changes to your child’s treatment or medical providers. The court will appreciate the fact that you are recognizing the importance of keeping the other parent informed.
Being awarded physical custody actually refers to the child’s primary home. Some courts will routinely award joint or shared physical custody and will outline each parent’s custodial time with the child. The award of “joint” or “shared” physical custody, or “primary” physical custody is not too concerning. Your request to the court should focus on what custodial arrangement you would like and why you believe such a schedule is in the child’s best interest. Before proceeding to court, know that the courts are moving in a direction of more frequently awarding a 50/50 timeshare. If such a shared arrangement is in your child’s best interest then, before going to court, consider how you would like to exercise a 50/50 schedule. For example, you can alternate weeks and suggest that the exchange of the child be performed every Friday commencing with the retrieval of the child from school or perhaps every Sunday evening. If the alternating weeks is too long of a period of time for the child to go without seeing one parent, then in an alternate week schedule you can propose that every Wednesday (or some other weekday) the non-custodial parent have a dinner visit with the child. If an alternating week schedule does not work well for you, then consider a 2-2-5-5 plan. This basically means that one parent will have the child every Monday morning through Wednesday morning (drop off can be at school) and the other parent will have the child every Wednesday morning through Friday morning. The parents will alternate the weekends from Friday through Monday morning. If you map this schedule out on a calendar, you will see that one parent will have the child for 2 days, the other parent will have 2 days and each parent will have 5 days. In my opinion, the 2-2-5-5 schedule can provide great stability for the child because it allows the parents and child to know who will take the child to their extracurricular activities every Tuesday or who will help the child study for their Friday spelling test. In addition, if one parent is routinely late with taking the child to school or failing to assist the child with homework it is easy to identify the parent who is not fulfilling their responsibilities.
If a 50/50 plan is not what you desire, then explain to the court exactly what schedule you would like and why. Discuss how your schedule allows you to accomplish the scheduling you are proposing, and perhaps outline why the other parent’s schedule creates challenges for the schedule being proposed by the opposing party.
Janet E. Dockstader, is a partner with Brandmeyer Gilligan & Dockstader, LLP. She has more than a decade of experience negotiating marital settlement agreements and litigating Long Beach family law matters, including property issues, spousal support, child support and child custody.
Without question, the most important thing in divorce is to ensure that you minimize the carnage. This refers not only to our financial assets or our emotional wellbeing, but most of all helping children cope with divorce. So many couples struggle to find the right words and time to inform their children of their decision to end the marriage and therefore the family unit as it was.
While there are many decisions that we can make, and perhaps remake if we mess up, how we handle telling kids about divorce can either empower them or create victims. There is nothing positive about being a victim and while some may argue that events cause victimization, the truth of the matter is that our state of mind causes victimization regardless of the event. So with this in mind and knowing full well that you can either create or destroy based on how you handle things, there are a few to do’s and not to do’s listed below. Before these are laid out however the biggest not to do is to hire a divorce lawyer with the intention of proving your point or winning. Fighting this out in court is a zero sum game for you and your children.
What “to do” and “not to do” when talking to kids about divorce:
- Tell the children together (regardless of how hard that might be). If need be have a third party there to help.
- Remember to be age appropriate when you tell them about your decision to divorce and why you are getting a divorce.
- Know that there are 3 categories of children:
- Young – younger children tend to fair well with change as long as the “energy” is good and authentic. Listen to your gut for this. They need to know that they are not to blame, that they will be with both parents (even if you do not like or agree with each other) and that no matter what Mom and Dad are “ok”. Their sense of confidence comes from your sense of confidence. You must get your act together no matter how hard it may be.
- Teens - Please do not fight out your divorce with family lawyers —-please save your kids and your souls. Teens are so vulnerable they can go either way.
- Read up on the effects of divorce on children prior to having the conversation as you cannot get it wrong. Teenagers will make decisions with their feet.
- Asking what they want is dangerous as that is a burden their hormones cannot tolerate.
- Be straight and be honest without ever bad mouthing the other parent. This age group is particularly vulnerable to this area and will see one half of themselves a bad. You can destroy their self-esteem in a moment.
- Make sure you are mediating your divorce so that you can discuss parenting and money in a way that does not destroy parties resulting in harm to your kids.
- Watch them very carefully as they can head down the wrong path very quickly.
- Be patient as you have turned their world upside down. This is not a bad thing by the way, as they need to see healthy relationships to mimic versus unhealthy ones for their own future.
- If they seem to not really care – that is OK as they are so egocentric that they really may not care. Remember, they still love you but they are busy finding their own path.
- Adult Children – Interestingly enough, sometimes this age group take it the hardest and the affects of divorce on adult children is rarely discussed.
- With adult children they often feel that their entire life was a lie and now they have to redefine their roots.
- If they are young adults with perhaps a young marriage or children do not be surprised if their reaction is somewhat hard. Divorce can be hard for them to process. Give them time. Talk to them.
- Establish a new kind of relationship with them and discuss your dreams so they start to identify you in a positive way without their other parent.
- Have clear boundaries with them or you will send mixed messages to confuse them and loose their respect in the process. Remember they will see you through different eyes. Eyes that show you are human and a person with a new kind of future. This is good or it can be bad depending on how you frame things.
- Empower yourself first and they will come around. Show them that you are OK.
- Do not burden them with your issues. While they are adults they still need you as their parent.
There are many studies on the effects of divorce on children so educate yourself before telling your kids about your divorce. Before moving forward with your divorce process here are some general ground rules to follow that may help when divorcing with children:
- Do not go to court and fight out your divorce. Get over yourself and find an extremely well qualified mediator to assist you.
- Do consult with a lawyer who can tell you about the law – but ensure you get the whole picture not just the picture of what a win would look like for you. This is such an injustice for families so be careful.
- Do tell your children about the divorce once you make decisions – come to them with a plan
- If you need to engage them with questions about living arrangements etc. Do that in a way that they do not feel they have to choose.
- Get your children into counseling if they need it. There is no harm ever in this and yet if they need it and do not get it – the harm can be life long.
- Do not think that that they are overly attached to any material thing — that is not the case. They are attached to what is inside the 4 walls and that can be duplicated anywhere – even in a small cozy apartment. Note it is usually the parents who are attached to the “things” and projecting that onto the kids.
Just remember – you cannot make a mistake if you come at this event with love and understanding. Removing the ego is hard and our biggest barrier to peaceful resolution but you can do it.
Read the “The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom” by Don Miguel Ruiz so you understand the power your words can have. Keep it close to you throughout this journey and if you live by it – you and your kids will get through the separation and divorce with an entire platform for exciting new beginnings.