8 Things No One Ever Tells You about Divorce

divorce

divorce

 Source: Divorce 360  8 Things No One Ever Tells You about Divorce

      When you decide to divorce, it’s almost as if you’ve entered a club with a super-secret handshake…only no one is quite certain how to do it. So we asked the divorce360.com community what  they wished they had known before they decided to file for divorce. From the emotional breakup of their marriage to the financial one, here are some of the best tips from people who have through the real life turmoil of uncoupling.

 

1. If You Are Parents, You Have a Relationship with your Ex Forever….But It’s very Different
First, you and your spouse go from being best friends to enemies almost overnight, said community members “Banshee1,” a 30-something dad who is getting divorced. The difference is: “He doesn’t have to listen anymore. He doesn’t have to work out problems,” said “Paula1,” a single mom who was married for four years to a man who cheated. To make matters worse, “Your ex will not cooperate…they want to stick it to your for whatever they think you did. They will not be fair at all or logical…,” wrote Georgia resident “Rebec311.”He or she will “always be lingering in the background waiting for you to slip up so they can pounce on you again through the legal system because now they have a new life and no longer want to be responsible for their first life,” wrote “Eve31,” a single mother whose spouse has refused to mediate their divorce.

What’s tough is “how the little questions from the kids like, ‘Why do we have two houses?’ will drive you…nuts…” she said. If you’re angry with your former spouse for driving those questions, your children can sense it: “Don’t even think bad thoughts about their dad when they are within five miles of you,” community member “timless” said. 

The best advice, said Maryland salesman “wave” whose wife left him after 30 years is “Keep your children first, always.” 

2. Divorce Starts after You’ve Signed the Papers.
You can got to Las Vegas and get married in 30 minutes, according to “Eve31,” but getting a divorce takes a lot longer. “Purebredinip,” a California woman whose husband told her he “wasn’t happy”, said: “They should make divorcing easier, but getting married difficult.”

What no one tells you, said “Eve31,” is “what it’s really going to cost you to be divorced… your youth, your sanity, your faith, your trust, your ability to wake in the morning with hope.” You now second-guess all your decisions: “Your ex destroys your trust but also your ability to sometimes trust yourself,” she said.

The real pain starts after you sign the divorce decree, “Paula1” said: “Every fight can now lead to court, which costs you money. Every disagreement now leads to heated arguments where nobody wins. Every new life stage (dating spouses, remarriages, kids asking more questions, kids suffering with divorce) equals more pain.”

3. If You’re the Custodial Parent, Every Other Weekend is a Blessing.
Essentially, you are raising your children alone — even if your former spouse has them for a few days a week or every other weekend. If you have young children, it will be a long time before you can take a shower that’s longer than three minutes. “You’ll fight it during the divorce proceedings, but will count down the hours for his weekend after,” “Paula1” wrote.

And if you’re ex has found a new partner, “…You spend all your  time raising the kids, through sickness, surgeries and through all the heartache and picking up all the broken pieces that the divorce has caused,” said community member “Paris299.”

Work becomes a refuge. “Taking care of kids all weekend without any help is hard and exhausting. Monday mornings now become something you look forward to,” “Paula1” wrote. 

4. You Lose a Lot of Friends and Family in Divorce.
“Girl70” said her husband filed for divorce after having an affair. His family sided with him: “I was with him for 22 years. It is like I didn’t exist. It’s as if I was the one who had the affair. I …truly cared for my father in law and stepmother-in-law. I miss them the most.”

The reaction from friends can also be tough: “Some people will treat you like divorce is catching…like leprosy,” said “Tracy74” of Michigan, whose husband fell in love with another woman. “Your married friends will fear you being around their husbands/wives,” said community member “kdb,” a 50-something mother of three whose husband told her he wasn’t “in love” anymore.

Community member “Banshee1,” felt a sense of being “completely alone” and “misunderstood by my married friends” who took sides during the breakup. “You will lose a lot of friends/people that you like a lot because of your soon-to-be ex,” said “Rebec311.” agreed. “The friends you keep will either…love you more and be there more or have no clue how to talk to you.”

What’s more, “You think they are all a bunch of whiny children, since you’re doing it all alone now, and they have husbands to help,” said “Paula1.” 

5. The Courts Do Not Care.
You will waste money if you treat your divorce attorney as a therapist. “Timless” said “…that’s what your girlfriends and personal therapy is for. If you don’t have them, get them before you start the process,” she said.

The court system is “cold,” said “Rebec311,” and its participants “don’t care about your feelings.” “It’s treated as a business,” she said.” “Are your kids sick and is your ex clueless about how to take care of them? The courts don’t care. He still gets them,” said “Paula1.” “Is your ex-spouse not paying child support because he’s unemployed again? The courts don’t care. Visitation and support are not tied. Is your ex-spouse living with a drug addict with nose rings? The courts don’t care. As long as he is a good parent and doesn’t abuse them, he still gets them and can have anyone around that he wants.” 

Maryland salesman “wave,” whose wife left him after almost 30 years of marriage, was surprised that the courts didn’t take into account who was at fault in the break up. “She turns 49, her mother dies, she got her inheritance, and two months later, she wants out. I have no drug or alcohol problems, no money problems, no abuse, no womanizing, but I lose half, plus I pay her child support…and she keeps the inheritance…The courts don’t care about right or wrong.”

6. Money Is Always an Issue.
“You don’t just worry about money. You obsess over it,” wrote “Kitty7470,” a 40-something mom from Ohio whose husband had an affair after 20 years of marriage.

“If you had a traditional marriage in which both parents were working, etc., get used to living on half. Child support, if paid, does not cover much. It’s not as much as you think it will be (which is another ridiculous tragedy by the courts), and your savings is probably wiped out by divorce costs,” said “Paula1.” 

A New York executive, “Banshee1,” doesn’t feel his financial settlement was fair. “…It was tough for me to give up everything and move into an apartment that’s about a quarter of the size of my house — taking almost nothing,” he wrote. Plus, as the breadwinner in his family, “I will be taking the majority of the debt load, taking on losses due to the sale of our marital residence and providing significant child support payments to my soon-to-be ex.”

However, “there is hope for recovery,”  he said. He’s slowly “rebuilding and making a home” for his children. He believes he’s better off today. “(My ex) and I had very different views on money, and now that I’m on my own…, I can save the way I feel most comfortable.”

For “Soon2Bfine,” a 40-something administrative assistant whose husband cheated on her, said money wasn’t her biggest financial problem. When her spouse stopped paying the credit card debt after their divorce, he ruined both their credit ratings. “Having a great job means the money is there to make the payments, but good luck getting a loan for anything,” she wrote.

7. Your Ex — and You — Have Personal Lives.
Building a new life doesn’t include whining about your ex. “Learn to deal with it and not hold on to it,” “timless” advised. That can be difficult if your ex finds a new partner, “Kitty7470” said.  “…They now have a say in your entire life, because your ex lets them.”

“Banshee1” said he’s surprised at how bitter people can be. “I’ve talked to so many people that get upset because they believe their ex is doing better than they are or are suffering less. My feeling is — focus on you and your life… You can spend the rest of your life comparing to your ex-spouse and miss out on opportunities that are right in front of you.”

Advice from the trenches: “Your ex has a life and so do you ……..don’t share,” said “timless.” “I’ve learned to keep things focused on my daughter and vague pleasantries. Any unnecessary details come back to bite me in the butt.”

8. You Will Get a Second Wind.
When you think it won’t get any better, just keep moving forward. “The train wreck that was your life during the divorce suddenly gets a makeover as soon as your divorce is final,” “timless” said. “Somewhere near the end you have one final cry and then get a second wind… This is your saving grace, your reward for the pain and suffering.”

Unhappily married to her high school sweetheart for 15 years before she finally asked for a divorce, “Wow65” agreed, saying when the divorce was final she realized “I could do what I wanted with my life and have a great time doing it.” 

“Now is the time to focus on you,” “Banshee1” advised. “Look at divorce as a chance to rebuild, to start fresh. Yes, there will be hurt, loneliness, frustration — but that’s life, isn’t it? For me, I’m taking the experiences that I’ve had has a husband and turning them into a guideline for how I want to live my life as a man. I will always and forever be a father to my children — and my focus is 150 percent on them. But, to be the best father that I can be I must learn to take care of myself, too. I’m learning to pursue my dreams, and through that inspire my children (and possibly others) along the way. My legacy to my children will be strength and perserverance even when the chips are down.”

Divorce coach Annie O”Neill added: “You have your whole life ahead of you to do what you want to do. It is a chance to reinvent yourself, a new chapter of your life. You have to put your marriage behind you and decide to move on.”

Five New School Year Tips For Divorced Parents

divorce child

school custodyThe end of summer can be sad, especially for children. It often brings cooler weather, earlier bed times, and of course, school. A new school year brings about a lot of changes that can be both exciting and scary. A new classroom, new friends, new teachers, and even an entirely new school can make even the bravest kids feel nervous.

While the prospect of a new school year may feel daunting to a lot of kids, parents are also experiencing similar feelings of anxiety. However, parents who went through a separation or divorce during the summer may be feeling even more anxious about this new school year. After a tough summer for their family, children face new difficulties that they may not be sure how to handle. At the same time, this is the first school year that the parents will have to navigate post-divorce or separation, and this can be quite a challenge if they don’t prepare for it. In this situation, parents should employ strategies to help make the transition into this new school year as smooth as possible for everyone involved. To prepare for the new academic year, here are five new school year tips for divorced or separated parents.

Talk To The Teachers

Children often learn who their new teachers will be a few weeks before the new school year begins. These teachers don’t know anything about what is going on in your child’s life, and you can’t assume for them to understand without having a little knowledge of the situation. Talk to each of your child’s teachers to let them know what has been going on with your family. Let the teachers know how your child has been dealing with it throughout the summer; this is especially important if your child has had a difficult time emotionally. Passing along this knowledge before school starts will help the teacher get to know your child better, to know where any issues may stem from, and to offer better support throughout the school year.

Coordinate Shopping Plans

custodyShopping before a new school year is a tradition for so many families. Beyond just buying new crayons and notebooks, some parents buy their children new backpacks, clothing, shoes, and many other things each year. For separated or divorced parents, it’s often important to coordinate how you will share the responsibility of shopping for school supplies. Instead of one parent being dealt the entire responsibility of school supply shopping, consider dividing the shopping between both parents. One parent can shop with their child for the supplies they need for school, while the other parent could cover the cost of new school clothes. Also, it might be a good idea to buy a few supplies to each have at each home like extra crayons, pencils, and socks. These little items can be easily misplaced and aren’t worth arguing over with the other parent over, so having extras may come in handy.

Get On Top Of The Schedule

calendar
calendar

Even for young kids, school schedules can get busy very quickly. On top of simply getting your kids to and from school, parents need to plan for how to deal with extracurricular activities, how to attend functions like school fairs and plays, and more. As soon as you start to learn about what’s on your child’s agenda for the school year, get it written down. Using a shared online calendar, both parents can be sure that they are keeping up with the same agenda. This will also give you a chance to see how your child’s school schedule will work into your established parenting schedule. The OurFamilyWizard calendar has tools to keep both parents updated on their child’s throughout the entire school year. It even has a space for parents to input the details of their child’s class schedule as well as upload copies of homework, permission slips, report cards, and anything else related to school. These tools help keep parents connected about what their child is studying and how they are performing this school year.

Prepare Your Kids Together

paternityFor a lot of kids, a new school year isn’t something they can just fall into without need time to prepare beforehand. Each parent should do their part in preparing their children for the year ahead. Commit to getting your child to wake up and go to bed a bit earlier each day starting a few weeks before the new school year. Set aside time for your child to read and brush up on the things they learned the year before; this will help to get them ready for the academic challenges they face this year. On top of preparing them for the new school and studies, the way that parents talk to their child about school can also help to prepare them. Always keep the topic of school a positive one. If your child starts to feel down about going back, let them know it’s okay to be scared and assure them that it will be a good experience.

Open Lines Of Communication

divorce attorneyThere’s a lot that parents will need to discuss as their child heads into a new school year. Discussing each of the aforementioned points is valuable in order to make the school prep process run as smoothly as possible. As the school year gets going, it will also be important for parents to remain in contact in order to stay updated on their child’s progress. For parents already using OurFamilyWizard to coordinate the school schedule and share information, they can continue to use these tools to stay connected. Parents can share journal entries to document the details of any incidents that take place at school, note what their child ate at school each day, and more. As field trips and other school events come up that include a cost, parents can use the expense tracking tools in their account to record each cost and request reimbursements between each other, if necessary. All in all, having a means of communication that keeps your school-related conversations and other information available to each parent is invaluable for separated or divorced parents.

Getting children ready for a new school year shouldn’t be made any more complicated or difficult due to parental conflict or poor communication. Making a commitment to stay connected with your child’s other parent and to work together to make this process as smooth as possible can make all the difference for you both and your child.

Source: Five New School Year Tips For Divorced Parents | Our Family Wizard

40 Secrets Only Divorce Attorneys Know

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divorce process

The Divorce process is a stressful process that can easily bring out the worst in people. Some people even see divorce as a way to seek revenge on a spouse by seizing money and assets.

Although divorce can get you out of an unhappy marriage, it can also milk you for all you are worth if you don’t know your rights. Check out these 40 secrets from top divorce attorneys to help you protect your assets and stay on the winning side.

1. Don’t Let Emotions Lead Your Financial Decisions

People often want to take out their hurt feelings on their exes; however, it’s important not to let emotions interfere with the business at hand. In the long run, being spiteful could harm your own finances.

“Asking your lawyer to write a letter to your ex over who gets the $50 coffee table book is kind of nonsensical,” said Brendan Lyle, a former divorce attorney and CEO at BBL Churchill, a divorce finance firm. He went on to reveal that a short letter could cost you $500 in attorney fees.

2. Everything Is Divisible and Is Fair Game

Individuals often make the mistake of assuming that assets that are in their names can’t be claimed by spouses in a divorce. However, divorce experts caution that the opposite is true.

“Practically everything is divisible, including frequent flyer air miles or royalties from a book you wrote,” said Ann Narris, a Massachusetts attorney with the Narris Law Office & Family Mediation Partners.

Because the same holds true for liabilities like debt and credit cards, couples should be sure to consider all factors when doing their financial planning.

3. Make Big Purchases Before Filing for Divorce

Have a big purchase in mind, such as a new car?

“Most states issue automatic financial restraining orders prohibiting people from making big purchases or liquidating assets after the divorce is filed, absent a court order or an agreement,” said Narris.

In her practice, she advises those considering divorce to buy big items before filing.

4. Keep Track of Your Spouse’s Money

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce or legal separation, it’s a good idea to take a look at your spouse’s financial situation. According to Narris, spouses should start by tracking the partner’s new credit card and loan applications.

“People are more generous in their income reporting on credit or loan applications than they are in, say, their 1040,” said Narris, who went on to stress that loan applications could be crucial parts of a divorce discovery.

5. Gather Key Evidence Before Filing for Divorce

If you’re thinking of filing for divorce, it can be tough not to walk out the door when your spouse pushes your buttons. However, Narris recommended that individuals take time to collect evidence before a split. Along with taking pictures of assets, individuals should make copies of account statements and jot down any important numbers. Preparation is key if you hope to come out ahead in court.

6. Get Property Valued Before You Part Ways

When it comes to the divorce process, almost all property is fair game. However, spouses can’t hope to get their fair shares if they don’t know the value of assets.

“No sense in guessing on the worth of his baseball cards or your engagement ring — never mind a house or a business,” said Narris, who reminds couples that there are experts available who can appraise just about anything.

Doing your homework now is the best way to come out ahead down the line.

7. Don’t Hide Assetshiding-money

You can try to deceive your spouse by hiding or concealing assets, but don’t forget that you’re also messing with the law.  According to Narris, if what you’re hiding is discovered, you’ll lose your credibility in court. There could also be stiff penalties, including monetary sanctions. To protect yourself and your property during a divorce, it’s best to declare all assets upfront in the divorce process.

8. You Can Write Off Alimony Payments on Your Taxes

People who pay alimony are rarely grateful for the opportunity. Paying alimony can actually help you out come tax time, however. According to Narris, people who pay alimony to their exes can write it off as a tax deduction. On the other hand, those who receive alimony must report it as taxable income.

It’s important to note that alimony is different from child support, which is neither taxable nor deductible.

9. If Not Considered Alimony, the Income Is Not Taxable

If the transfer of money in a divorce is not considered alimony, the receiving spouse is in luck: These funds aren’t regarded as taxable income, according to Christian Denmon, founding partner of Denmon & Denmon, a personal injury, divorce and criminal defense law firm in Tampa, Fla.

Not so lucky is the payer, as there is no tax break for money transferred during the divorce process.

10. There Are Hidden Tax Implications to Watch Out Fortax

During a divorce, it’s important to stay alert to hidden tax obligations.

“A husband might have purchased stock for $50 during the marriage,” said Denmon. “The stock has gone up in value so that at the time of the divorce, the husband ends up transferring $75 to the wife. If not otherwise addressed in the divorce settlement, the husband will be on the hook to pay taxes on the $25 gain on the stock.”

According to Denmon, spouses who are receiving real estate, stocks or bonds need to understand that taxable gains can leave them vulnerable.

11. Get Job Training or Update Your Education Before Filing

If you are currently being supported by your spouse, you might want to consider taking the time to dust off your resume and freshen up your skill set before seeking a divorce.

“Even if you receive support, the courts can impute income and expect you to be working if your kids are school aged and you are not of retirement age or disabled,” said Narris, who cautioned against “depend[ing] too much on a hopeful spousal support award.”

Updating your education now can help protect you later if things don’t go your way in court.

12. Familiarize Yourself With Your Finances Before You Splittax return divorce

Normally, one person in a household manages the finances. However, this arrangement can create a “power imbalance when it comes time to negotiate settlements,” according to Narris. So what can you do to protect yourself?

Seek professional help to guide you in making more informed decisions about finances being filing for divorce. Doing this will help you come out swinging when you get your day in court.

13. Consider Mediating Your Divorce

It’s no secret that divorce can be expensive. In fact, according to Narris, the average cost of legal fees in a divorce is $15,000. One way to cut down on these expenses is to use a mediator.

A mediator doesn’t work on behalf of any one party, just facilitates agreements. If you want to keep your divorce details behind closed doors while cutting costs, a mediator might be the best bet for both you and your bank account.

14. Know What Is Your Biggest Asset

According to Narris, many people mistakenly believe that their house is their biggest asset when it is actually a retirement or pension account. Even if your retirement account is less than robust now, the court will likely consider its future value when dividing assets.

“There are many ways to divide your portion of your spouse’s retirement asset (called a qualified domestic relations order) so give that due consideration,” said Narris.

15. If Your Lawyer Recommends a PI or Forensic Accountant, Hire One

Many individuals are hesitant to shell out for a private investigator or forensic accountant when going through a divorce, but sometimes, these professionals’ services are necessary.

According to Eva Cockerham, an attorney with Burke Jaskot law firm in Baltimore, “Private investigators are useful for investigating people who own small businesses, as independent data about numbers of customers, employees and resources can give a much fuller picture of a person’s true finances.”

Likewise, Cockerham noted that forensic accountants can give “insight as to whether a person going through a divorce is getting accurate information from their soon to be ex-spouse.” By spending a little now, you might be able to save yourself a bundle in the future.

16. The Most Expensive Lawyer Isn’t Always the Best

Pick your divorce lawyer wisely because your choice could save your bottom line.divorce

“Find one that is experienced and knowledgeable but is also a good fit for you,” said Narris. “You have the power to set the tone for your divorce. The attorney should advise you but also respect your position on how to approach the negotiations.”

Just because an attorney has a high hourly rate doesn’t necessarily mean he or she will honor your wishes. For best results, go with your gut feeling.

17. Understand Debt Obligations

According to Heather Sunderman, a divorce attorney with Mirsky Policastri in the Washington, D.C. area, too many clients assume partners’ debts are joint when they’re not.

“Some states do not divide marital debt if it’s just in one person’s name, so if possible, during separation you may want to pay down that debt preferentially,” said Sunderman.

The last thing you want is to be on the hook for debts you didn’t accumulate.

18. Don’t Forget About Beneficiary Designations

Divorce attorneys note that many clients fail to remove former spouses from their beneficiary designations.

If you fail to remove these designations, “those amounts may end up being paid out to a former spouse,” said Sunderman. “Usually that’s not the result you want.”

For best results, handle beneficiary designations and other tedious paperwork as soon as possible.

19. Pay Court-Ordered Attorney Fees

Court-ordered attorney fees are no joke.

“The court can order one spouse to contribute to the other spouse’s attorney fees,” said Denmon, who went on to explain that this type of debt was treated in a special manner. When it comes to court-ordered attorney fees, the judge can throw the offending spouse in jail for failing to pay.

In light of these regulations, Denmon advises that spouses who are receiving financial help have language drafted into agreements clarifying how much money must be paid and by what date. Doing this gives spouses the ability “to enforce the agreement should the paying spouse fail to follow through with his agreement,” said Denmon.

20. Consider Your Income Before Asking for All the Deductible Items

Clients typically strive to get as much as possible in a divorce. However, according Russell Luna, a certified divorce financial analyst in Colorado, higher incomes can disqualify individuals from important tax deductions.

“If you file single and make more than $380,750, your personal exemption of $4,000 is not available,” said Luna.

In light of this fact, individuals might not want all the items they originally requested in a divorce. For best results, speak to a financial professional about your specific fiscal situation and options.

21. Take Advantage of Free Legal Advice

Most attorneys will offer free consultations, said Narris, who advises clients to “take advantage of that and get some basic information, see if the lawyer is the right fit.”

To ensure you make the right choice, be sure to consult with a few attorneys before coming to a hiring decision. After all, the outcome of your divorce depends in large part on the quality of your legal advice.

22. Be Mindful of the Date When Initiating Divorce

calendar
calendar

While you might be tempted to file as soon as possible, it’s important to note that property division is based on the date of marriage separation in some states. Typically, the court uses a formal date of separation (DOS) to determine property division and the value of certain assets.

“If you are expecting a large increase in the value of a major asset upon a certain occasion, be mindful of that when you decide to initiate the divorce,” said Narris.

23. Design a Joint Parenting Arrangement Wisely

Unlike claiming a child as a tax dependent, claiming head of household is not assignable, said Narris, who went on to explain that individuals either met the criteria or did not.

If you’re negotiating who will claim a child as a dependent, Narris said, “You can include a provision that the right to claim the child is dependent on the parent being up to date on their support obligation.”

24. Plan Finances for After the Divorce

Clients often neglect to consider how their financial planning can change after a divorce.

“Your risk aversion may be very different than your former spouse[‘s] and you do not need to keep the same investment trajectory you had before the divorce,” said Narris.

If you don’t know where to begin, you might want to hire a financial advisor. Remember to think long term when planning finances after divorce.

25. Have a Paper Trail

While most assets are divisible in divorce, there are some exceptions to the rule. Documents can help preserve what you believe to be separate property when it comes to divorce proceedings and should be collected beforehand.

“Too many times the necessary documents seem to disappear after a divorce starts, so to the highest degree possible, gather those documents before you start the divorce,” said Jeff Anderson, a Dallas family law attorney.

26. The Division of Property Can Be Complex

Dividing assets and properties isn’t always a simple numerical transaction.

“Negotiating the division of property is an art form all its own,” said Keith Nelson, a family law attorney with Orsinger, Nelson, Downing and Anderson, LLP in Dallas. “It’s a three-step process: Characterize the asset, value it, divide it.”

After the asset is identified as community property, separate property or both, figuring out the value can be tricky. “For instance, a bank account with cash in it is pretty easy to value — look at the balance,” said Nelson. “But a retirement account, a house or securities can have more complex issues.”

27. Retirement Accounts Are Not Worth the Statement Balancedivorce money

Just as it can be difficult to value assets, couples often struggle to determine the true value of their retirement accounts. One reason that retirement accounts pose problems is that deferred tax will have to be paid at some point. In light of this fact, Nelson cautions clients that retirement accounts might be worth even less than the balance minus tax.

“If one of the parties will be liquidating a retirement account early, then the highest marginal tax rate and the early withdrawal penalty might need to be subtracted from the value of the account,” said Nelson, who went on to explain that the value of these assets is often drastically reduced as a result.

According to Nelson, “Even if the account is not going to be liquidated, the taxes which will be paid on the money at the time of retirement can be considered and a reduction of the overall value of the asset might [be], and very often is, appropriate.”

28. ‘Division of Property’ Depends on Where You Live

When a divorcing couple heads to court for a property dispute, state law is used to divide the property using one of two classifications: community property or equitable distribution. With community property, both spouses own income and assets equally, and items can be divided evenly. Additionally, individuals can keep separate property.

According to NOLO, a legal advice website, community property applies to the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin as well as Puerto Rico. Every other state uses equitable distribution, which involves “fairly” divvying up assets and money accrued during marriage. Knowing the law of the land can help you avoid surprises during your divorce proceedings.

29. Some States Are Better for Getting a Divorce

According to the government research site InsideGov, the five states with the easiest and most lenient divorce laws are Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa and Washington. The ease of filing, fees and processing times are all considered as part of the rankings. If time and cost are of the essence, you might want to consider where you live before filing divorce papers.

30. Be Mindful of the Worst States for Divorce

Based off InsideGov’s data, the most difficult states to get a divorce include Arkansas, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Vermont. Arkansas takes the longest amount of time at 540 days. If you live in one of these states, you and your spouse might want to consider relocating to expedite the divorce process.

31. When in Doubt, Seek a Professional — Or It May Cost You

Todd Huettner, president of the residential and commercial real estate mortgage bank Huettner Capital and a financial analyst who has helped many individuals dealing with divorce, advises clients to seek professional help at all costs.

“A simple mistake that drops your credit score 40 points can cost you thousands on your next mortgage,” said Huettner. “Making a mistake separating accounts, renaming beneficiaries or not setting up life insurance properly can cost you hundreds of thousands and impact you for years.”

32. Make Sure You Actually Implement the Divorce

Despite their eagerness to be divorced, many people actually fail to complete all the steps needed to make their divorces legal, according to Huettner. For the best results, clients should make sure all their bases are covered and check up on spouses to ensure they have completed the necessary steps.

“You don’t want to find out that your ex-spouse never refinanced the house five years ago like he was supposed to and [it’s] now in foreclosure,” said Huettner. “By the time you find out about it, your credit will be destroyed for years.”

33. Compromise Could Help Youdivorce attorney

You win some, you lose some, right? Unfortunately, divorcing spouses often refrain from compromising out of spite.

While you might be tempted to fight every battle that comes your way, agreeing to compromises could save you a lot of headaches and money on legal fees when going through a divorce. As an added bonus, your decision to compromise could encourage your spouse to do the same.

34. Don’t Forget About Health Insurance

Although federal law might dictate that you have health insurance access under your former spouse, Narris cautions clients against relying on COBRA coverage long term due to the high cost.

Her advice: “Start doing legwork for available options that may be less expensive. Better yet, find a job for yourself that has benefits.”

35. Belts Are Always Tightened During a Divorce

While individuals tend to factor the price of getting divorced into their budgets, they don’t always consider other everyday expenses incurred during the process.

Narris recommends that clients carve out a little extra money to care for their personal needs during this difficult time. “Factor in a gym membership, therapy co-payments, massages,” said Narris. “You will want to be as healthy as you can to help your kids through the process, and you never know when you may have a bad day.”

36. Take Action but Be Wary

Savvy divorce attorneys advise their clients to be cautious when filing for divorce.

According to Luna, it’s important to make sure you have the current statement for your spouse’s brokerage account before announcing and filing for the divorce. After all, a deceitful spouse could very easily liquidate the account with no paper trail by neglecting to cash checks until later. The last thing you want is to find out your spouse set up a new account after the divorce settlement while leaving the current brokerage statement with a zero balance.

37. Avoid Underestimating Living Expenses

You need to know what your spouse earns monthly, as well as where the money goes. According to a Divorcenet.com article, when considering the cost of future living expenses, it’s important to take into account the effect of inflation.

Narris recommended keeping receipts so you have a good idea of what everything actually costs. Doing this will help you maintain quality of life after a divorce.

38. Don’t Let Emotions Get in the Way of Selling the Family Home

Whether you have an emotional attachment to your family home or are just being vindictive toward your former spouse, be sure you’re thinking wisely about your decisions with regard to shared property. You don’t want to discover later that you gave up other assets just to keep a home in which you can’t afford to live.

39. Know What You Valueqdro

When contemplating divorce, it’s important to consider what assets you value most and be prepared to let some things go.

“A major mistake in divorce that everyone can get trapped into is spending hundreds or thousands of dollars fighting for something that you don’t even want,” said Narris.

Take your time so you can make the most rational and intelligent decisions.

40. Dress Appropriately for Court

It might seem like a small matter, but buying nice clothes for court can boost one’s confidence.

“You will feel better and likely fair better with the judge,” said Narris.

Of course, clients should remember to keep it professional and avoid dressing in a manner that’s flashy or overly pompous. Play it safe by keeping clothing neutral and accessories to a minimum.

It’s important to remember that divorce law varies by state, and some of these tips might not be applicable in your region. Be sure to find a divorce attorney in your area to advise you on how to get a divorce. Doing this will help protect your assets and property while ensuring the divorce process goes as smoothly as it possibly can.

Source: 40 secrets only divorce attorneys know

Rules to make co-parenting after a divorce easier

custody relocation

Rules to make co-parenting after a divorce easier

 co-parenting

 Adjusting to co-parenting after a divorce can be challenging. Your relationship as a couple is over, but you have to find a way to continue your relationship as parents for the sake of your children. Creating some rules for your new relationship can give you structure and help you stay focused on what’s really important – your kids. Here are the kinds of guidelines you should establish to help you move forward as parenting partners.

Rules for your kids

Now that you have separate houses (assuming you haven’t set up a “bird’s nest”), you’re free to run your home the way you want, and the other parent doesn’t have to approve or agree. You might require your kids to make their beds although the other parent doesn’t, or maybe you object strongly to your ex’s lack of restrictions on screen time. Accepting and adjusting to those differences are part of the co-parenting process. Each of you will create house rules that work for you and your kids, and those rules won’t necessarily be the same at each house.

That being said, the best way to maintain a sense of normalcy for your kids as they adjust to life after divorce is to align the major rules at both parents’ homes. Having similar rules regarding bedtimes, curfews, and homework at both houses makes it easier for your child to transition back and forth and stay on an even keel.

Rules about stuff

Some of the biggest problems with co-parenting involve stuff. A common problem occurs when your kid leaves something at the other house he needs (for school, for sports, for life in general). Some parents agree that whoever has the child will drive him back to get the missing item. Other parents maintain that teens are old enough to take responsibility for their own belongings and will have to wait until their next time at that house to get the missing stuff.

Another common point of contention is laundry. Residential parents get upset when kids come home from the other house with a mountain of dirty laundry. Non-residential parents get annoyed when kids show up without enough clean clothes. Some families tackle this issue head on. Keeping some clothes at each house (with that parent being responsible for laundry) is one way to handle it. Putting older kids in charge of managing their own laundry is another solution.

Rules for watching your words

One of the most important ways to help your kids adjust is to shelter them from the conflict between you and your ex as much as possible. Many divorced parents work hard to avoid arguing in front of their children, but there are many ways your kids can get exposed to conflict without you realizing. They overhear you on the phone—arguing with each other or complaining about each other to friends. It’s also common for parents to say critical or derogatory things about each other to the children. One family started a comment jar (similar to a swear jar) where each parent had to put in a dollar for every time they started an argument in front of the children.

Rules about holidays

Holidays can be a challenging time to co-parent. Lots of families have found that instead of alternating holidays, it can be best to share them, particularly during the first years after divorce. So instead of the kids being with Mom on Thanksgiving and Dad on Christmas, the entire family (both parents and kids) spend the day together as a family. This helps the kids to feel secure and lets both parents enjoy the children on special days.

Of course, most of the rules outlined here assume a level of civility on the part of the parents which accommodates ongoing changes in your respective situations—along with the evolving wants and needs of your kids. Finding your way after divorce takes patience. A family lawyer can help you navigate custody challenges and create a co-parenting plan that works in everyone’s best interest.

Source: Rules to make co-parenting after a divorce easier – AvvoStories

8 Ways To Simplify Your Divorce, According To Attorneys

simple divorce

Divorce, by nature, isn’t easy. Luckily, there are some things you can do that will make the process just a little less difficult.simple divorce

Below, divorce lawyers share their little-known tips.

1. Open a bank account in your own name.

“Couples who share a joint bank account should know that either one of them can drain the entire account under the banking laws. They will eventually have to pay their spouse their share, but it can take a while to get to that point in a case where a judge is ordering repayment. That’s why I advise everyone to have a separate bank account in their own name, even if the account is a secret. Chances are if the account has to be kept secret, you need it even more than you realize.”

2.  If you plan on explaining your rationale for divorce in a letter to your spouse, have a lawyer approve it first.

“When you’re the one who wants the divorce, there is often a lot of guilt associated with that decision. Many people want to explain their decision to their spouse, and that often takes the form of a heartfelt letter. That’s a really decent thing to do, and it comes from the right place. The problem, however, is that in writing these types of letters, people tend to take more of the responsibility for the breakup to help soften the blow. Handing over a bunch of ‘it’s not you, it’s me’-type statements in written form is never a good idea. Letters like that can become ‘Exhibit A’ in your ex’s case against you.”

 

3. It’s always a good idea to get a second opinion.

“If you have any concerns at all about the advice you are getting, do not be afraid to get another opinion. Any good lawyer will be glad you are doing that and will accept any good suggestions a respected colleague may have. You only have one chance to handle your divorce well and you have a right to be confident in the advice you are receiving. And if the second opinion is that your case is being handled well, then the reassurance will be worth the consultation fee for that second opinion.”

4. Ask your lawyer to meet with your ex’s lawyer at the very beginning.

“A better practice is for lawyers to begin constructive communications right away. The vast majority of cases will settle, so begin the negotiation process now. Sometimes it is as simple as working together to lay out the rules of the road for the divorce process. Other times it is to solve little pesky problems that might blow up into big issues later. Sometimes the best thing your lawyer can do for you is to meet the other lawyer at the coffee house to explore win-win resolutions.”

5. Devote the time required to the divorce process. 

“Going through a divorce is like having a second job. You are going to spend an enormous amount of energy gathering documents, meeting with professionals, figuring out your finances and separating your stuff. You are going to have to work to make sure that your kids are okay, and that their transition to a totally different life is as smooth as possible. If you understand this from the beginning and find a way to devote the time and energy to your divorce that it requires, your divorce will go more smoothly than if you resent everything about your divorce and drag your heels doing what you need to do to put your divorce behind you.”

6. If you plan on filing a motion with the court asking for relief, wait until you have multiple things to address before doing so.divorce

“Judges get annoyed by parties who file a motion every other week for every little thing. You can ask for relief for more than one thing in a motion, so wait until you have a few items to address and then file. Also, don’t ask for 50 different things; focus on the major disputes so the court does the same.”

7. Know that the reasons for your divorce will likely have no impact on child custody proceedings.

“Custody in divorce is the most expensive to litigate and whether your partner cheated on you or gambled away your savings will probably have no impact on his or her ability to parent your kids.”

8. Pay attention to how you time your offer.

“Cases do not settle until both parties are ready to let go of the marriage. Therefore, the timing of your offer may be as important as the content. Do not make an offer too early to a party not ready to receive it. You will end up betting against yourself in the end.”

Try to simplify your divorce rather than make it a complicated divorce.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/8-ways-to-simplify-your-divorce-according-to-attorneys_us_574dc3c7e4b0757eaeb0b756

 

The Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Going Through a Divorce

easy divorce

divorcingAre you going through a divorce?  You should avoid these very common divorce mistakes which can have long-term effects on your family and financial future.

1. Getting legal advice from friends and family members

2. Interpreting what your divorce attorney tells you as a guarantee

3. Making threats to your spouse

4. Moving or hiding marital funds without the knowledge of your spouse

5. Speaking too soon or too openly to minor children about the separation and divorce

 divorce mistakesMistake #1 Getting legal advice from friends and family members.

Although they may mean well and want the best for you, advice from friends or family is almost always wrong. They can sometimes unintentionally lead you down the wrong path by offering you advice that is uninformed or does not apply to your particular situation. Is the person you are talking to a practicing divorce lawyer or someone that is already on your side?  You will often hear things like: “My friend got full custody of her children so you can too,” or “my cousin had a great attorney who got her 90% of the assets and alimony for the rest of her life, so you should be able to get the same thing.” Although this advice may sound good to you at first, you need to understand that there are no two divorce cases that are the same, so they cannot possibly be treated the same way by a court. There are many many factors that go into a court-ordered divorce settlement, such as:

1) The state law that applies to your particular set of facts;

2) The local court customs and practice in your particular county;

3) The effectiveness of your attorney, and:

4)  Since judges are human, the mindset of the particular judge or even the mood they are in on a given day.

In actuality, going to court is often a “roll of the dice” in which you might spend a lot of money in legal fees, only to get an end result that is radically different than what you were expecting. Therefore, when approaching your divorce, you should seek out the advice of an experienced and competent attorney first who will help you to sort out all your rights and options while helping you to develop some realistic expectations up front.

easy divorceMistake #2 Interpreting what your divorce attorney tells you as a guarantee.

Getting the advice of a good experienced attorney you can trust and get along with is always a wise choice and a good place to start. A divorce attorney will attempt to gather all the relevant facts as well as financial and other important information about your marriage. The attorney will usually give you a general assessment of the type of settlement you can expect, with a general idea of the outcome. However, do not rely on an attorney’s preliminary impressions as a guarantee of the exact outcome you can expect in your case.  Remember, an attorney’s advice will always be limited to what information you alone give them. That’s it. The attorney will not be aware of financial or other information your spouse may have in which you do not know.  And that could drastically change the attorney’s analysis of your case.  Moreover, because you may come to an attorney’s office feeling upset and angry at your spouse or otherwise emotionally distressed, you might have the tendency to hear only what you want to hear.  This can cause you to firmly dig in your heels without any compromise going forward. This can be the most costly mistake you make which can both deplete your finances and harm your family emotionally for years to come. This is true, especially if your spouse is already in a position to discuss a compromise in order to avoid costly and emotionally draining litigation.  Wait for a full analysis of all of the information that is relevant to your case and only then discuss  what a realistic outcome may be.

Mistake #3 Making threats to your spouse.divorce mistakes

Spouses commonly make empty threats and other nasty comments to one another.“I’ll get the meanest lawyer in town and destroy you,” or “After cheating on me, there is no way you will ever see your kids again, or “My lawyer said you’ll have to leave the home and pay me alimony for the rest of your life.” Such threats, although understandably borne out of anger, are really meaningless in the long run and have no effect either way on the outcome of your case. Remember that the way you act towards your spouse early on will not only set the tone for your entire divorce case, but also for years to come after it is all over. This, of course, becomes especially important if you have children to co-parent which you will be difficult to do in a way that is healthy for them if you carry hatred and resentment towards your spouse into your post-divorce lives.  Believe me, no matter how old your children are they will feel the hatred you have for one another even if you don’t argue in front of them.  Your children will greatly benefit if they see you and your spouse trying to “get along.”

Always take the high road in approaching your divorce. You don’t necessarily have to be best friends with your spouse through all this, just be willing to make an effort to communicate, cooperate and compromise with him or her as best you can, especially when children are involved.  Assure your spouse that you are not out to hurt him/her or the kids (if kids are involved), and that you have good faith intentions of reaching an amicable settlement as soon as is possible.  Just because your spouse may act like a jerk does not mean you are not a jerk if you respond in the same way.  Bad behavior does not justify bad behavior.

Your goal should be to achieve the best overall outcome you can.  Trying to “get even” with your spouse and arguing at every opportunity rarely ends up with your spouse giving in to your demands or suddenly admitting that they are wrong and you are right.  Keep in mind, the court doesn’t care who is the “bad” person or who is at fault.  There are no winners here and the court never declares to the world that it is all your spouses’ fault and you are the victim.  You should not argue over petty things simply because you are hurt or angry.  Is arguing over your old furniture or fighting to get an extra hour with your kids worth it?  Often this only leads to your spouse reacting by being just as stubborn.  You have to choose what is important and let go of what is not.  There is a middle ground between being a push-over and demanding that you get everything you want.  Compromise, you will feel better about yourself and hopefully your spouse will respond positively.

Mistake #4 Moving or hiding marital funds without the knowledge of your spouse.

Trying to hide assets so that they are not part of your divorce is a big mistake.  One big way to break any trust that exists is for one or both spouses to act underhandedly, especially with the marital finances. When a spouse decides they want a divorce, they will sometimes try to secretly transfer funds from a joint account into their own account or into someone a friend or family member’s account or even make significant withdrawals of cash from a joint account. When clients are asked why they do this, they typically say they feel threatened and need to act quickly in order to protect what is theirs or make up some other excuse.  Although it is understandable that such activity could occur in the heat of the moment when a spouse may perceive a sense of urgency and desperation for it, if these are marital funds that are being moved in and out of accounts, this activity will immediately be uncovered through the initial steps of the discovery process. This means generally that if marital monies were withdrawn from marital accounts, this will eventually come to light and they will have to be returned to the marital estate. If a spouse has since spent the funds away, they will be ultimately accountable for them as part of the divorce settlement. Therefore, if you and your spouse are contemplating a divorce, and you feel the need to move any funds from an existing marital account or redirect marital funds away from a marital account, discuss your intentions with your attorney and/or spouse first and make sure there is a good reason for doing this, and one that also makes sense to your spouse. This open disclosure early on help save you money in attorney’s fees in the long run and avoid the judge thinking that you are cheating or lying.

co-parentingPitfall #5 Speaking Too Soon or Too Openly to Minor Children about the Separation and Divorce.

Discussing your separation or divorce plans with your children is a very sensitive subject which must be approached very delicately. Without realizing it, many times people who decide to separate or divorce will use their children to vent all the frustration and confusion they are feeling at the moment. This is the worst thing you can do to your children during this time and can have very bad long-term effects on their emotional well-being. If you need to vent, find a friend, family member or therapist.  Although your own feelings and emotional well-being are important in a divorce, a healthy divorce means considering what’s best for your children first. Therefore, if you are getting a separation or divorce, try to make every effort to go about your business as quietly as possible without involving your children in any particular facts or even worse, trying to get them to pick sides.  This is not to say that children should be completely left in the dark either. Sooner or later, you will have to face these issues with them directly so that they can begin to emotionally prepare for what will be a very different life involving two separate households. Figuring out the ideal time and also the appropriate things to say to children is key.  Planning with your spouse in advance how to approach this, and also approaching the children together is the best way.  Family therapy with a licensed family therapist can also be very effective when working through these issues together as a family.  Believe it or not, a large majority of divorcing parents can amicably work out a compromise regarding child custody issues without legal assistance and only 6- 20% of all divorce cases involving children actually need the courts to intervene. Therefore, the odds are in your favor that your custody matter can be resolved amicably without court involvement if both parents are willing to work together and do what’s best for the children.

 

Social Media and Divorce

social media

Social Media and Divorce

social mediaAs a Pennsylvania Divorce Attorney I constantly come across the issue of social media and how it can and does play a part in divorces.  I advise all of my clients to be aware of what they put out there on the internet for everyone to see. This is because all to often pictures, status updates and videos are used against clients in trials. In our family law practice, divorce evidence derived from social media is becoming commonplace. What people don’t realize is that seemingly harmless party photos and location-based status updates can jeopardize a person’s divorce settlement, resulting in the loss of child custody, parenting time or even alimony.  The following advice applies to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Linkedin and even dating websites. Not surprisingly there have been numerous articles published on this topic. One of which can be found on The Huffington Post and is titled, “Don’t Let Social Media Sabotage Your Divorce.” The author of this article, Attorney Bari Zell Weinberger, Esq., lists three important steps that a divorcing party should take in order to avoid self sabotage.

1. “Think before you post.” Don’t post any pictures or comments that you know could come back to haunt you as evidence at a trial. Even if your posts are not used as evidence at trial, comments you make can often be used to anticipate your next move in court.

2. “Keep your social networking circles separate from your ex’s.” Keep your ex and his/her friends off of your personal site. You don’t want your ex or his/her friends to have the ability to gather any evidence that can be used against you.  This includes mutual friends who often just can’t keep their mouth shut!  Also, don’t “friend” anyone you don’t know.  We once had an ex make a phony Facebook profile and our careless client accepted the friend request not knowing who it was.

3. “Don’t reveal your location.” If you’re not where you are supposed to be do not announce to the internet world where you actually are at all times.

social media divorceEven if you follow all of the above precautions, remember, a judge could order you to provide all the information on your site to your ex.  That’s right, parties in a divorce get to exchange information, even private information, if it is relevant to the case.  Some judges are ordering that information and post on social media sites be provided to the other side. On the other hand, we tell our clients to check often the sites of their ex’s and friends.  Very often this leads to useful information which can dramatically change outcome of the case. Should you live in the Pittsburgh area and are contemplating divorce contact us today.  A Pittsburgh Divorce Attorney can assist you with tailoring your personal social media sites to ensure they cannot potentially harm your case.

5 Tips for Keeping the Peace When Sharing Custody of the Kids. After a Divorce

Custody

 

CustodyDivorce is tough on everyone, but children often pay the highest price when the fighting and anger continue even after the adults have gone their separate ways.Here are five tips for keeping the peace with your ex when sharing custody, for the children’s sake:

1. Don’t sweat the small stuff:

“If both parents can develop a level of trust in each other (admittedly a very difficult thing to do in the face of a divorce or the end of a relationship), then they can reduce resentments by having less inclination to micromanage what takes place in each other’s home. There is a difference between bad parenting and just different parenting styles. Differing parenting styles are not necessarily bad, but the more that parents can collaborate to create consistency between the parenting styles in their separate homes without imposing rigid requirements on each other, the less likely the children will view one home as ‘better’ or ‘more fun’ than the other.”

2. Remember the basics:

“The most important factor to consider in your custody schedule is your child’s best interests. The court is primarily concerned that your schedule provides the stability and security your child needs. Although we often think of parental visitation in terms of rights, visitation is also a parental obligation. As such, parental availability must be maximized when establishing your custody schedule.”

3. Let technology be your friend:

“Precedents are growing throughout the country for the inclusion or allowance of virtual visitation in a parenting plan… Technology is a boon to families who are not nearby and a skilled divorce lawyer can help you to arrange for virtual visitation. Email, texting, instant messaging and web cameras on phones or computers can strengthen the bond between parents and children.”

4. Don’t leave anyone out:

“Be sure that both of you have contacted the schools, coaches, doctors and anyone else who has contact with the kids on a regular basis, so that all of those folks have both parents’ contact information and know to call or email both of you. This saves one parent from feeling left out and one parent being put unfairly in an ‘assistant’ position. The information about activities, doctor’s appointments, etc. can all go into that mutual Internet calendar so all can see.”

5. Talk to your kids about what’s going on:

“Be prepared to have many conversations with your children about the divorce – they should be given many opportunities to communicate their thoughts and feelings, none of which should be dismissed. Read books about divorce to young children and encourage young children and teenagers to express themselves through art and music.”

Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

military deployment


servicemember's civil relief actThe Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) expanded and improved the former Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Civil Relief Act (SSCRA). The SCRA provides a wide range of protections for individuals entering, called to active duty in the military, or deployed servicemembers. It is intended to postpone or suspend certain civil obligations to enable service members to devote full attention to duty and relieve stress on the family members of those deployed servicemembers. A few examples of such obligations you may be protected against are:

  • Outstanding credit card debt
  • Mortgage payments
  • Pending trials
  • Taxes
  • Terminations of lease.

In addition the law:

  • Expands current law that protects servicemembers and their families from eviction from housing while on active duty due to nonpayment of rents that are $3,451.20 per month or less for 2016, this amount changes every year. 
  • Provides a servicemember who receives permanent change of station orders or who is deployed to a new location for 90 days or more the right to terminate a housing lease.
  • Clarifies and restates existing law that limits to 6 percent interest on credit obligations incurred prior to military service or activation, including credit card debt, for active duty servicemembers. The SCRA unambiguously states that no interest above 6 percent can accrue for credit obligations (that were established prior to active duty or activation) while on active duty, nor can that excess interest become due once the servicemember leaves active duty – instead that portion above 6 percent is permanently forgiven.  Furthermore, the monthly payment must be reduced by the amount of interest saved during the covered period.Note: This law only covers debt incurred prior to military service.
  • Allows you to terminate a cell phone contract if you relocate for at least 90 days to a location that does not support your cell phone service.
  • Allows you to terminate a vehicle lease you signed prior to joining the armed forces if you enter military service under a call to duty on orders of 180 days or more. You may also terminate a vehicle lease if you receive PCS orders to an OCONUS location or deploy OCONUS for at least 180 days.

SCRA Eligibility

The SCRA covers all Active Duty servicemembers, Reservists and the members of the National Guard while on active duty. The protection begins on the date of entering active duty and generally terminates within 30 to 90 days after the date of discharge from active duty.