8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Divorce Without A Lawyer

8 reasons you shouldnt divorce without a lawyer

According to the U.S. Census, around 41% of marriages end in divorce.

But despite the prevalence of divorce cases, each situation is unique and often difficult to navigate.

Doing a DIY divorce may seem like the way to save some money and reduce stress. But there are some very important reasons that you shouldn’t divorce without a lawyer.

Let’s explore 8 of them.

You Don’t Know the Laws

That’s not an insult. What you don’t know regarding divorce law can really hurt you.

Your friend who went through a divorce might give you advice. You might do some extensive research on the Internet.

But this isn’t a substitute for legal advice. Laws change. Something very small could make or break your case.

Divorce without a lawyer is like having surgery without a doctor. It’s just not in your best interest to try to tackle this alone.

You Despise Paperwork

Getting a divorce without a lawyer means you get to do all the paperwork. And it can feel like Mt. Everest sometimes.

You’ll need to read and understand some very complex agreements before signing. Some of it takes meticulous review and response. There will be tasks to complete before you ever see a judge.

Paperwork is just part of the deal. We don’t like it either. But we do it because we want the best outcomes for our clients.

You Don’t Like Disorganization

You may be great at real estate, healthcare, teaching, roofing or whatever your profession is. But trying to do something that you’ve never done before can create a lot of extra work for yourself.

You’ll be trying to learn new things. At the same time, you’re expected to put them into practice.

But you don’t have to go through a divorce without a lawyer. A lawyer will simplify the process, reducing stress on you, your children and everyone involved.

What Seems Equal May Not Always Be Equal

You want a very amicable divorce. We commend you for trying to work things out in an agreeable way. What may seem to be a 50/50 split at first glance, may put you at a great disadvantage financially later.

A few years after a divorce without a lawyer, this may be very clear to you. But at that point, it’s already done.

A lawyer will factor in everything. They’ll run the numbers. And they consider the less obvious but important variables. They then work to reach a fair division based upon the circumstances of the individual case.

Divorce Can Be an Emotional Roller Coaster

A lawyer isn’t a replacement for a therapist. But they can help you through the emotional ups and downs.

Some divorces can inflict a lot of trauma on a person. Anger, shame, resentment, sadness, jealousy; we’ve seen it all.

A lawyer will help you manage this emotional battery by giving you the confidence you need to get through the tough times.

You Want What’s Best for Your Children

Children can be severely traumatized by divorce cases.

Children of divorce are more likely to:

  • Get lower grades
  • Suffer from health conditions
  • Attempt suicide
  • Have lower paying jobs
  • Have psychological problems

Much of this is the result of messy divorce battles that place children in a tug-o-war.

One parent may try to get full custody while the other feels that he/she has no recourse. Children might be asked to testify.

Barring some severe extenuating circumstances, you have a right be in your children’s lives. If you need to take on most or all of the responsibility for some reason, you have a right to be appropriately compensated by the other parent.

Children should be protected as much as possible during a divorce to reduce this trauma.

A divorce lawyer will help you evaluate the situation and make your case in order to improve the outcome for your children.

You Need to Present Your Case in the Best Light

We’ve all done things that we’re not proud of. We’ve hurt people. Or didn’t do something we know we should have done. We all have things we wish we’d done better.

It doesn’t mean we’re bad people or that we should lose everything because of a mistake.

That’s why regardless of what you may have done or not done, it needs to be put into perspective.

The court system can be ruthless. A lawyer on the other side can take something small and blow it out of proportion.

Because of guilt that you do feel, it may be hard to defend yourself against these coordinated attacks when you go through a divorce without a lawyer.

Your lawyer will be objective about the facts. He/she’ll find a way to show you in the best light. They’ll help you stand up to people who try to tarnish your reputation and make mountains out of molehills.

You Might Not Have to Go to Court at All

A divorce without a lawyer almost always ends up in court. That’s where most of the stress on you and your children happens.

Costs can skyrocket.

But a great lawyer will always try to settle out of court when it’s in your best interest. Chances are you’re not trying to take your spouse to the cleaners. You don’t want to hurt them, yourself or your children.

A lawyer will work with your spouse’s lawyer, discuss concerns and demands and try to reach a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Divorce Without a Lawyer

If you’re considering a divorce without a lawyer, it may be time to reconsider. A divorce requires a person to the law and fill out a lot of paperwork. It can be hard to figure out what’s fair and children often get caught in the middle.

But a divorce lawyer can help guide you through the process, perhaps even keeping you and your children out of court. They will be a trusted resource who’s working for you to achieve the best outcome.

Still not sure? We can help. Call for a free telephone consultation.

Joint Custody: How To Talk With Your Kids About Divorce

joint custody how to talk with your kids about divorce

There’s an oft-cited claim that half of all marriages end in divorce.

That’s not strictly true. The divorce rate peaked at over 45% in the 1980s but has been falling ever since.

No matter what the statistics say, divorce is still difficult for the whole family. It’s especially hard for the children. You know what life was like before your partner and can probably imagine life without them.

Your children don’t have that benefit of experience. Even joint custody poses problems due to the change and upheaval it entails.

Financially planning for a divorce is one thing. Emotionally preparing your children is another. This guide will help you to plan how you will discuss the situation with your family.

Set Ground Rules with Your Partner Before the Conversation

Telling your children that you’re getting divorced is a difficult conversation. You don’t want to make things worse by the discussion turning into an argument.

Before you talk to them, set ground rules with your partner. Work out how you’re going to break the news and agree what you’ll say.

You need to avoid assigning blame and you don’t want the children to feel pressured into choosing sides. It’s best to block out time for the conversation so it doesn’t feel rushed.

Have a plan for care arrangements in place before you have the discussion. That will help you answer the question ‘What will happen to me/us?’ It’ll show your children that you’re still putting their needs first.

Don’t Rush the Conversation or Pretend Everything Is Fine

The children need time to process the news and ask questions. Let them express themselves, even if they get angry or upset with you.

It’s best if you can have the discussion together. This will reinforce for the children that you’re still capable of a ‘united front’. It’ll show them you can still talk to one another and you’re both there for them.

Try reading our guide to an amicable divorce if you want to relieve some of the stress.

If being in the same room as your partner is too difficult, ask a neutral third party to be present. Or have two conversations and agree on a set script.

Planning on joint custody means putting in a joint effort.

Put Yourself in Your Children’s Shoes

You’re an adult so you process information in a different way to your children. You know what divorce means and how it can affect your life.

But they don’t. They may be scared they won’t see one of you again, even if you’re working on joint custody. They may even blame themselves for the split. Work out how you’ll reassure them that it’s not their fault.

Try to use their language to help them see that both of you still love them, even if you can’t work things out with each other.

Keeping things simple and factual helps you to avoid toxic conversations or passive aggression. Children will pick up on these cues.

At worst, if they think you’re angry or upset, then they should be angry or upset. A calm and straightforward approach is best.

Establish a Support System

Maintaining a routine is a good way to help them process the news. If they see that core parts of their life won’t change, they’ll be better equipped to deal with the upheaval.

Take it in turns to take them to school, keep up with their after-school activities, and so on.

Inform the teachers at their school that you’ll be sharing joint custody. It’ll help staff monitor their behavior and notify you if they act out or become withdrawn.

It’s advisable to tell the teachers the day before you tell your children. That helps the teaching staff to prepare for potential problems.

If necessary, let the parents of their friends know. That’s important if you normally pick them up from play dates, and your partner will now be sharing the responsibility.

Wherever Possible, Minimize the Amount of Change in the Their Lives

Once you establish separate households, continue following their routine. It can be tempting to allow your children more free rein so they see you as ‘the fun parent’.

Don’t fall for it. You and your partner need to maintain consistency. If you continue to set the same rules, it’ll reinforce for your child that not much has changed.

This will help your child feel more secure. The children also need to feel they’re still allowed to love both of you without being disloyal to one parent.

Stress the Positives of Joint Custody

Divorce doesn’t fall out of thin air. Your children will have noticed the tension between you. They may have heard you fighting.

Your discussion is the perfect place to reassure them that divorce actually means less fighting. If you’re lucky, you and your partner can still work as friends, if not as a couple.

Divorce may be the end of you as a couple but your children need to see it’s just the next chapter in your life as a family. Joint custody means you’ll still be a family – just in a different way.

Studies show that children in a joint custody arrangement fare better than those in other arrangements. Your children will benefit from your shared decision-making and responsibilities – just as if you were still together.

If necessary, let them talk to their friends if they come from a divorced family. Their friends will be able to come up with positives that your children will understand.

Allow the Children to Be Involved in Decisions

One of you will leave the family home. If you haven’t already done so, then you can ask your children if they’d like to help you choose a new home.

After all, they’ll be spending half of their time there too. It’ll help them to feel like they’re still part of the family. They’ll also feel like you still respect their input.

If they’re not interested, don’t force the issue. But try to choose somewhere that will be a safe place for them too.

Make the Divorce As Smooth As Possible

We’ve discussed how you can be there for your child. But you need someone to be there for you too.

Being prepared and armed with solid advice is the best way to answer their questions and feel secure in yourself.

Contact us if you need divorce advice. We want to make the painful process as smooth as possible.

An Essential Guide to Financially Preparing for Divorce

an essential guide to financially preparing for divorce

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were 813,862 divorces in 2016. While divorce may be common, it doesn’t make the process any easier. Divorce is stressful, but proper preparation and financially preparing for divorce can help ease the situation.

Getting ready for a divorce is multi-faceted. Not only do you need to prepare mentally and emotionally, but also financially.

Divorce isn’t an easy situation for either party, but preparing yourself financially for the divorce can save you from future money issues.

Being ready financially can help minimize financial issues during the divorce proceedings. In the event of alimony or child support issues, you’ll want to be financially prepared.

Here are 7 tips to get you on the right path:

7 Tips For Financially Preparing For Divorce

1. Inventory Your Assets

Assets can be sticklers during divorce cases. Who gets the house and car? Who keeps the wedding rings?

One of the first steps is to take an inventory of all of your assets.

You’ll first want to take note of separate property. This includes anything that you owned before your marriage. Separate property also includes inheritances and gifts.

Items acquired during the marriage are considered marital property. Who gets which items is often determined in court.

When taking your inventory, be sure to:

  • Create a typed list of inventoried items
  • Take pictures of each item, with a time stamp
  • Upload these picture to avoid data loss

Knowing which assets you have is important. You want to be able to account for all items so that you have what is rightfully yours once the divorce is finalized.

2. Locate and Store Your Financial Records

Having your financial records available during a divorce can make the process much faster. Once you and your ex-partner have decided to move forward with a divorce, ensure you have access to your financial records.

You should have at least five years’ worth of documents. The further back your documents date, the better.

When collecting financial records, be sure that you have:

  • Bank statements
  • Benefits and beneficiary information
  • Property information
  • Investment accounts
  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs

Once you have located these documents, make copies of each one. You will want to keep the originals in a safe location, such as a deposit box.

3. Open Individual Accounts

Many married couples have joint bank accounts. If you have automatic deposits into a joint account, you’ll want to stop them immediately.

You will also want to remove your ex-partner’s name from any of your accounts. This will ensure that only you have access to them.

As soon as you know that the divorce will proceed, open your own personal accounts. You may want to use an entirely new bank as well, to avoid potential confusion.

Open a checking as well as a savings account in just your name.

Want to build your personal credit? Open a credit card with a small line of credit. This will allow you to strengthen your credit history.

4. Create a New Budget

Unless you and your ex-partner will maintain the financial status quo, your household income will decrease. Living on just one salary can be eye-opening.

Another piece of financially preparing for a divorce is to create a new budget.

When creating your budget:

  • Write down your monthly income
  • Notate your monthly bills
  • Account for money sent to retirement and/or savings accounts

After crunching the numbers, ensure that you are able to cover your expenses. If you are coming up short, now is the time to cut expenses where possible.

You will also want to work on building your emergency fund. Divorce attorneys and court fees can be expensive. Ensure you are financially sound enough to cover any divorce-related costs.

5. Update Beneficiaries

Updating your beneficiaries is an important part of financially preparing for divorce. It is so easy to forget about a beneficiary form that you filled out years ago.

During a divorce, you will want to remove your ex-partners name as the listed beneficiary. You may find it ideal to list your parent or a close family member instead.

When updating your beneficiaries, you may have to do so in several locations, including:

  • Insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts
  • Your will
  • Medical proxy

6. Keep an Eye on Your Credit Report

Your credit report will give you a clear picture of your current financial position. With your credit report, you will want to notate any outstanding debts. Also, take note of your credit score.

Also, take note of your credit score.

Are you a cosigner for your partner’s loan? Do you both have access to a credit card with an unpaid balance?

These could be potential issues during the divorce. Your ex-partner could decide to run up the credit card even more. This makes for a messy financial situation.

Be aware of your debts and carefully monitor them throughout the divorce.

There’s nothing worse than a dropping credit score because of your ex-partner. Keep tabs on your debt amounts and ensure they don’t increase.

7. Financially Preparing for Divorce With a Financial Adviser

Chances are that you and your ex-partner shared financial responsibilities. With the potential of only one income now, it’s important to get a big picture of your finances.

Will you be able to pay all of your bills? Can you live comfortably on your salary alone?

A financial adviser can help determine your financial situation.

Meeting with a financial adviser is useful for financially preparing for divorce. An adviser will be able to assist you with:

  • Determining your monthly income
  • Creating a new budget
  • Finding potential income shortfalls
  • Ensuring your financial success during the divorce
  • Current and future tax situation

A Family Law Attorney You Can Depend On

The idea of a divorce is stressful enough. Going through a divorce on your own can make the process that much harder.

Want a quick and easy divorce? If so, you’ll want legal help and representation.

A qualified family law attorney can work with you to make the process much easier.

At the Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone, we specialize in divorce cases. You can count on us to get you through this difficult process. Contact us today to get started.

Divorce Advice: 7 Tips for a Successful Divorce

divorce advice 7 tips for a successful divorce

At their wedding, couples promise to stay together for better or for worse.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. In fact, experts indicate that as many as 50% of marriages end in divorce.

In spite of how common it is, divorce is often very difficult. The process is especially challenging because most people involved in divorces have never been through the process before.

So even couples who mutually agree to separate can experience ugly divorce proceedings. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Here’s our best divorce advice to help you get through the process as painlessly as possible.

Get divorce advice from a good lawyer

Sometimes, parties involved in a divorce are reluctant to hire a divorce lawyer. If they have an amicable relationship with their spouse, they may fear that getting an attorney involved can make things contentious.

Just because you hire a lawyer, though, doesn’t mean that you can’t have an amicable divorce.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Hiring a lawyer is simply taking an important step towards understanding the divorce process. A lawyer will help you learn the language of divorce, and will ensure that your rights are protected.

Do your research

That said, sometimes people getting divorced make the opposite mistake. They hire a lawyer and expect that their legal counsel will handle everything.

Yes, it is your lawyer’s job to help you through the divorce proceedings, but it is your job to learn about the process.

Educating yourself will help you to better communicate your needs to your lawyer.

Additionally, apart from the custody of children, division of shared property is the most difficult aspect of divorce. Gaining a better understanding of your finances will help you navigate this process.

Have realistic expectations

Often, divorce battles drag on because one or both spouses have unrealistic expectations about how much many they should get, or how much they can pay.

The process will go a lot more smoothly if you go in understanding your rights and responsibilities.

At the end of the day, unless you had a prenuptial agreement, the spouse who makes more money will likely have to pay alimony. The sooner you accept this piece of divorce advice, the easier it will be to negotiate a reasonable number.

That said, if you are the spouse who makes less money, understand that you probably won’t get as much support as you think you deserve.

Unfortunately, one of the hard truths about divorce is that you will likely have to make adjustments to your lifestyle. This is simply what happens when you take one household and break it off into two separate ones.

Pick your battles

Once you accept that your life will change after divorce, it will be easier to set your priorities.

A good piece of divorce advice is to remember that the most important things are the items that money can’t buy. Things like family heirlooms, photo albums, and keepsakes are important to get a hold of.

Additionally, you can’t put a price on your personal health and mental well-being. While it is important to fight for a fair settlement, at a certain point it’s just not worth squabbling over pennies.

On the same note, don’t get greedy. Sometimes, spouses going through a divorce try to hide money in secret accounts or to sell off assets.

In the long run, moves like these will end up making you look bad in court, and can do more harm than good.

Put your kids’ needs first

When two adults go through a divorce proceeding, it can be easy to forget about the people caught in the middle: the children.

If you have young children, keep in mind that the divorce will likely be just as challenging for them as it is for you. In some cases, it can be even more difficult for them.

That said, don’t fall into the trap of believing that divorcing makes you a bad parent. Many couples try to keep the marriage together for the kids. This is probably why couples with children are less likely to divorce than couples without kids.

But staying in a bad marriage can be even more damaging to children than a divorce.

The key is to keep your children’s needs a priority throughout the divorce proceedings.

One way to do this is to avoid using your children as gambling chips with your spouse. Remember, your children are not assets to be won. They are people whose lives are being affected.

Unless you are leaving an abusive situation, it is likely in your children’s best interest that they have contact with both of their parents. Working to achieve a custody agreement that meets these needs is crucial to your children’s health.

Try to settle out of court

When divorce proceedings go to court, they tend to get more complicated. A judge with little knowledge of the situation ends up making decisions about who gets what property, and where the children will live.

Settling matters through a legal mediation is often a better approach.

Hiring a dedicated mediator can help ease negotiations between both parties.This process can often conclude much more quickly than a lengthy court battle. Not to mention, settling out of court is much less expensive.

Take healthy steps for self-care

When discussing divorce, it is easy to get wrapped up talking about shared assets, custody, and living arrangements. These are all only business aspects of a divorce.

It’s important to remember, however, that divorce has many emotional components. No matter how sour your marriage has gone, in most cases, you started out wanting to be married to the other person. This can make divorce very painful.

Additionally, this emotional trauma can have negative health effects.

So, as you go through the process, be sure to take steps to care for yourself. Seeing a therapist can be a great way to talk through your feelings, and come to terms with the end of your marriage.

If your need divorce advice, contact us. We’ll put you in touch with a lawyer who can help you with your unique situation.

10 Tips For An Amicable Divorce

10 tips for an amicable divorce

Divorce is an unfortunate fact of life. Circumstances change, and people grow apart. But your divorce does not need to be acrimonious.

An amicable divorce is easier on all parties. And why shouldn’t it be easy? A divorce is a major life event but the process can be smooth.

Once you and your partner have made the difficult decision to separate you can still remain on civil terms. The ending of a marriage is the end of a contract. Contracts can be finalized in a way which benefits both parties.

So what are the tips for an amicable divorce?

Don’t Rush the Process of Friendship

Of course, it would be wonderful if every divorce ended with a hug and handshake and the couple remained firm friends for life. This can happen, but it is not a good idea to try and be friends too soon.

A divorce is a painful and disruptive event. You both need time and space to think through your feelings and adjust to the changes in your lives.

Remain professional and courteous, but don’t try and hasten a friendship. Let everything evolve in its own time.

Write it Down

Trust is important during a divorce agreement, but this is a challenging time for everyone. There is a lot to be talked about. Words are spoken, and sometimes words are forgotten or recanted.

If you reach an agreement on assets or other components of the divorce make sure you take a note. This way, if anything changes, you have a record of the agreement.

Issues of money and parenting are emotional topics. Keep a record and be precise with the details.

Create a Parenting Plan

When there are children involved in a separation emotions can become heated. Try and work as a team with your ex. Keep everyone’s best interests at the forefront.

A parenting plan should clearly outline the expectations and guidelines of your continued co-parenting after the divorce is complete. The plan should cover where the children will live, weekend arrangements, holiday arrangements, and other key issues.

Remember to keep sight of the fact that your children are involved in a divorce regardless of their age. A divorce affects the entire family. Ensure they don’t become a bargaining tool.

Consider Mediation

Sometimes, regardless of the best intent, you and your ex can reach an impasse. Perhaps there is a point or two which you just cannot agree on. This may be the time to enlist the help of a mediator.

Mediation is a popular way to settle family legal disputes. The mediator can offer an unbiased point of view and work with both parties to educate and instruct.

A mediator who is also a lawyer has the experience and legal knowledge to help couples reach an agreement.

Establish Clear Rules and Consequences

A divorce is a stressful time and humans can sometimes act badly under stress. Each of you may be determined to have an amicable divorce but there can be moments when the end result is lost in the heat of the process.

It can be helpful to define a set of rules along with consequences should the rules be broken. This will allow both you and your ex to feel secure if one of you strays from the agreement.

In effect, you are establishing the rules for your new post-divorce relationship.

Leave Old Habits Behind

Once you and your ex-partner have decided to divorce you are removing yourself from the relationship of marriage. A marriage provides a couple with a support person to prop them up through life’s challenges. A divorce releases you from this requirement.

Resist the urge to be there for your ex’s difficulties whether they be emotions, work, or family. You can still show concern, of course, but it is not healthy to continue to be the key support once you have made the decision to divorce.

Make a reasonable gap between the two of you and let go of your requirement to support your ex through their troubles. Concentrate on developing positive new habits for your life without your ex.

Allow Relationship Transformation

You have both decided on an amicable divorce but what happens next? How do you adjust to the relationship post-marriage?

Your new relationship with your ex will be different. It has to be. A marriage partnership needs to evolve after a divorce.

Don’t rush it. Allow your new relationship to transform and grow and release your expectations of what it should be.

Accept Support When Offered

A divorce is tough, regardless of how smooth the process is. You can’t do it alone. If friends or family offer their help, take it.

Sometimes all you need is a friendly ear and a willingness to listen. A divorce can be an isolating time. A frank conversation with someone who cares can be all you need to reclaim the feeling that you are not alone.

Don’t try and do this by yourself. Others may have experiences that they can share which will help with some of your questions. Ease your pathway and accept support.

Don’t Lay Blame If You Want An Amicable Divorce

It can be tempting to blame your ex for the marriage breakdown. It may be their fault but laying blame does not help anyone. Accept the marriage dissolution and go forward peacefully.

It is all too easy for a divorce to become messy and confrontational. Removing blame from any interactions with your ex will make your discussions flow more smoothly and increase the chances of reaching an agreement.

A pointed YOU said (did, had, etc) immediately puts the other party on the defensive. Bypass the blame game.

Select a Divorce Option

There are many ways to complete the divorce process. You can choose to go to battle or you can choose a more peaceful approach. An amicable divorce is more likely if you take the peaceful route.

Talk with the professionals. Find out what your options are. You can choose litigation, collaboration, or mediation.

A good divorce attorney will lead you through the dispute and resolution process and out the other side with your sanity intact.

How To Choose The Best Divorce Attorney

how to choose the best divorce attorneyNo one expects a divorce to happen to them, but according to the statistics, the likelihood of getting a divorce is over 40 percent.

Going through a divorce can be a difficult situation, financially and emotionally. But with the best divorce attorney, you can be that much closer to a path of healing and restoring your life.

If you’re considering a divorce, the following guide will help you find the best divorce attorney for your situation.

Tips for Choosing the Best Divorce Attorney

Divorce Mediation

Before you look for a divorce attorney, consider opting for divorce mediation. Mediators are ideal in situations where the divorce is amicable and you want to avoid court proceedings.

In this case, a mediator can help with producing a division of assets agreement that’s suitable for both you and your spouse.

After everything has been divided and agreed upon, you can go ahead and file for divorce without representation by an attorney.

Consider Your Needs

When approaching divorce, everyone has different needs, so you want to find the best divorce attorney to handle your unique circumstances.

For example, there are some divorce attorneys who specialize in dealing with high-net-worth individuals, while there are others who only represent wives or husbands.

Depending on your situation, you might need someone who is well-versed in finance or property laws. Ultimately, the best divorce attorney for you will be someone who best understands the intricacies of your situation and needs.

Family and Friends

Chances are you have a friend or family member who’s been through a divorce. Sometimes, the easiest way to find the best divorce attorney is by a word-of-mouth referral.

Talk to your friends or family members about their experiences, and see if they have any personal recommendations.

This way, you don’t have to do the vetting yourself, and you can get an inside look at the divorce process, including the real costs and fees, what to expect, and what to avoid.

Local Bar Association

If you’re not having luck getting referrals from friends or family, your local bar association is always an excellent option. The American Bar Association has local chapters across the U.S.

You can either get in touch through their website or phone number, and they’ll provide you with qualified divorce attorneys in your area.

Likewise, some states require specific certification programs for family law attorneys, so you can search for the best divorce attorney in your area that has all of the necessary qualifications.

Consider Your Budget

Before searching for a divorce attorney, you’ll need to consider your budget. Depending on how complex your situation is, you might need to adjust your budget expectations, but it will definitely be worth it in the end.

Likewise, if your divorce cannot be resolved in mediation and will need to proceed to trial, keep in mind that litigation can be more costly.

That said, it’s best to have a frank discussion with your potential divorce attorney about a budget. This will give both of you a more realistic idea of what you can achieve during the divorce process, and whether or not it’s a good fit.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Once you have a few consultations lined up, be prepared with a list of questions. If you really want to find the best divorce attorney, be sure to ask how long they’ve been practicing, what type of clients they typically deal with, what the expected costs will be, etc.

This will help you make a better-informed decision when the time comes, and it will allow your attorney to have a better idea of what they’re working with.

Likewise, this can be an incredibly stressful time in your life, especially since the divorce process can seem so complex. But when you’re more informed, you’ll find it’s not so intimidating.

Late-Life Divorce

When you get divorced at a later age, the process can be much more complex. At this age, you and your spouse likely own property together.

You will need to consult with a divorce attorney who specializes in property laws since all of this can affect things like alimony payments.

Similarly, retirement benefits, estate planning, and health insurance are also at stake during late-life divorces.

These are serious issues that you’ll need to consider with your spouse, and the best divorce attorney for this kind of situation will be the one who is well-versed in these matters.

Children and Your Financial Future

When you get married, you’re taking a leap of faith that your spouse has your best interests at heart, even if it means sacrificing your career for raising children. And after a divorce, the last thing you’ll want to do is start over again financially. But for some people, this is a reality.

In order to maintain an acceptable standard of living for you and your children and secure your financial future, you’ll need to consult with an attorney who specializes in child support and alimony. This will ensure you’ll receive adequate support after the divorce, so you and your family don’t have to worry.

Divorce is a stressful time for everyone involved, not just the adults. In fact, medical research has found that one of the most common causes of depression and anxiety in adolescents is divorce. But with the best divorce attorney, you and your family can focus on healing instead of stressing about finances.

Personality

Besides adequate qualifications and experience, personality is an important part of finding the best divorce attorney. If your spouse is combative, then you might need an attorney who isn’t afraid to take on the challenge.

But if your attorney is so aggressive that you have trouble voicing your opinion, it might be good to look elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to “shop around” when you’re looking for an attorney.

And during consultations, be mindful of how their personalities mesh with yours. Often, a good attorney-client relationship will yield the best outcome.

Divorce can be emotionally taxing, but with the right attorney, you’ll soon be able to focus on the future. If you’re going through a difficult divorce, feel free to check out some of the divorce resources available online.

How Divorce Can Negatively Affect Your Health

divorce can negatively affect your healthDivorce can oftentimes be very hard on your finances, but did you also know that it can take a toll on your health? Knowing these potential health-related problems can help you to stay healthier while getting your divorce.

Anxiety/Depression

If you are feeling more insecure and stressed, these could be signs of anxiety. Conversely, if you are feeling a bit down, having a difficult time getting out of bed, and feeling hopeless and alone, these could be signs of mild depression. Given the many unanswered questions that attend divorce discussions, and perhaps the worry about the future, anxiety or depression are real possible health risks.

Weight Changes

If you are anxious, or perhaps a bit blue, you could see drastic weight changes – either up or down. Weight fluctuations can be a problem when you are constantly upset or worried and paying less attention to eating complete meals or relying too much on take out.

Heart Disease

Middle-aged men and women are both at higher risk for heart disease when they are going through a divorce, for a variety of reasons. The usual culprit is the combination of high-stress levels that last for a very long time, especially for women.

For women, the inflammation caused be stress tends to last longer, even after the divorce, because they are more likely to suffer more financially, have less emotional support, and to live alone longer post-divorce. For women, the risks are significant: one study showed that for women who have experienced divorce are 24% more likely to experience a heart attack; women with more than one divorce, the increased risk is 77%.

Sleep Issues

Perhaps one of the most common health-related problems during a divorce is sleep issues, which can be difficulty falling asleep, or difficulty staying asleep, or both. Sleep difficulties can be a cause of sadness and other symptoms related to depression, so working on getting a good night’s sleep through stress reduction and exercise is critical to your health.

Chronic Conditions and Mobility

Studies show that people going through a divorce or more at risk for chronic conditions, like heart disease and diabetes, but mobility can become a problem, too. Even simple tasks like walking or climbing stairs can become a problem.

Stress and Immune System Fatigue

With stress comes a weakened immune system, which means that you can get more colds, the flu will stick around longer, and it can contribute to all the feelings that come with depression. When there is stress, your risk for autoimmune diseases, where your own immune system turns on itself, are much higher.

Problems with Digestion

Sometimes a stomach ache can be a symptom of a problem that is caused by high stress and anxiety. If you do not manage these mild symptoms, however, it can lead to further digestive tract systems, like heartburn and indigestion, or even irritable bowel syndrome.

If you are experiencing any of these health-related problems, studies show that devoting time each day solely to taking care of your physical and mental health can help, considerably. Even a quick daily walk and some deep breathing can help to improve your health during a divorce.

Top 10 Reasons People Divorce

reasons people divorceThere are many reasons people divorce. With as many as fifty percent of first marriages ending in divorce and sixty percent of second marriages succumbing to the same fate, it is important to understand exactly what issues couples feel can not be resolved. While nobody could effectively predict, let alone list, all the reasons that have been given for divorcing, here are the top ten reasons people divorce.

1. Lack of communication – Too often people keep little annoyances inside and allow them to build into large problems. The people in the marriage many times expect their partner to know what they need or want without being told.

2. Money – Lack of money creates stress in the best of situations. When one partner is a free spender and the other a saver, this can create additional stress and blame for financial problems.

3. Sexual incompatibility – Two people who do not think of sex the same way in terms of what and how often soon find this a major roadblock.

4. Lack of trust – Before an infidelity even occurs, there is often a lack of trust in at least one partner. This can make the other partner feel trapped. A lack of trust always indicates a lack of love.

5. Unfulfilled needs – This goes back to a lack of communication. Too often we expect our partner to know and fulfill all our needs but that is too much to expect from one other person. The pressure can become too much.

6. Personal growth – This happens most often when the couple marries young. As we age, some people grow emotionally. Some people find they want a different direction in life. When one partner grows and the other doesn’t, or they grow in different directions, the marriage falls apart.

7. Family interference – Many couples spend too much time involving friends and family in their disagreements. Instead of working on things themselves, they allow family and friends to exert too much influence on their decisions.

8. Lifestyle differences – This often happens when there is an addiction involved. One partner may be a heavy drinker and the other doesn’t drink. One may become addicted to either prescription or illegal drugs and the other partner can no longer deal with the fallout.

9. Arguing – Some couples thrive on arguing constantly, but most get to a point where they don’t want the constant drama and upset. When every little thing sets off an argument, life becomes unhappy and divorce normally follows.

10. Abuse – This can be either psychological verbal or physical abuse. Either partner can be the abuser. As more people are becoming aware of what abuse can do even generations later, couples are splitting up and the abused partner getting to safety sooner.

Regardless of the reason given for divorcing, many boil down to not really knowing the person you are marrying. The ease of divorce makes it easier to jump into marriage. Taking the time to really know the person you are seeking to spend a lifetime with will help make that lifetime not only possible but also enjoyable.

Pets In Divorce Settlements

pets in divorce settlementsDivorce is a difficult time for everyone involved. When it comes to splitting up a household, it can be difficult to decide who keeps what. Even harder is the decision on who gets custody of the kids. Recently, family courts are getting more divorce cases where there’s a question of who gets the pets in divorce settlements. This is making it necessary to take a harder look at the role pets play in a family and how the pet’s best interest can be served during this difficult time.

Pets In Divorce Settlements: Pets As Property

Traditionally, the court system has looked at pets as property. When the question of who gets the family pet comes up, the court will put a dollar value on the pet. This often results in one person getting awarded the family pet and the other partner getting something of equal monetary value.

The “value” of the pet is determined by:

  • Who can prove they paid vet bills.
  • Which name is on the license.
  • Who takes care of the pet most often.

As the world becomes more aware of the importance of animals, some courts are starting to change their views somewhat, but there are some things that a couple can do to help make the process easier fro everyone.

Changing Views

As more courts start considering pets as family members, some of the same things that determine child custody are being used to determine pet custody. The judge may take into consideration such factors as who brought the pet into the family, who is able to give it more time and attention and who the pet is most attached to. In essence, he will try to determine the best interest of the pet, but this is also a situation that may not be easy to determine.

Legal Agreements

Couples who are considering a divorce often take the time to sit down with a lawyer and discuss things. If an agreement can be reached between the two people involved, custody issues may be resolved without the case having to go to court.

Let’s look at what can be included in a divorce agreement:

  • Basic custody of pets – Will it be best for your pet to have the consistency of staying in one home and having visitation from the non-custodial person? Would shared custody be better? Set forth who gets what time with the pet. Having it in writing will make it more enforceable if there ends up being conflict.
  • Finances – How will vet bills be paid? Will one partner have sole responsibility or will you share the cost? Is there a way you can arrange some kind of pet fund that will make it easier to pay vet bills if the other partner is unavailable?
  • Attachment – Did one partner bring the pet into the marriage, to begin with? Is there one partner who benefits psychologically from having the pet around? Does the pet prefer one partner over the other? All these answers can determine who has the greatest psychological investment and this is something that needs to be considered in who gets the pets in divorce settlements.

Any custody arrangement works best when two partners can come to an agreement that is best for the children. This holds true for pets as well. Until such a time when the courts fully embrace the concept of pets as part of a family, sitting with a lawyer to discuss custody arrangements for your family pet is the next best thing.

Who Gets What After The Divorce?

who-gets-what-after-the-divorceDivorce is frequently, but not always, a fraught topic for many couples. The reason is that divorces bring into play a number of complicated issues like child custody and visitation rights, potential alimony payments, and often the division of assets and debts post-divorce.

So, how exactly does the court view property within the context of marriage and divorce? Just considering some of the things involved and how those, even theoretically, should be divvied up can be daunting. How does someone get half of a car, for instance, or how should pensions and stock options be handled and equitably divided?

Those are great questions, but first, let’s consider what assets are typically involved in divorce proceedings. One of the most common material assets brought up within the context of family law is physical property like homes as well as rental properties and vehicles. Financial assets like stock options, retirement plans and pensions, certain businesses and brokerage accounts might also come into play.

Equitable Distribution and Community Property 

The law in some states maintains that all property acquired after a marriage should be split 50-50 following a divorce (community property state) whereas other states say that the division doesn’t need to be a 50-50 split but merely equitable.

California – along with states like Arizona, New Mexico, and Washington -are community property states where any property that is acquired after your marriage date is divided equally following a divorce. Believe it or not, though, California is one of the exceptions and not the rule in America since most other states are equitable distribution (a.k.a., common law property) states in which judges have more latitude in how they divvy up property.

The interesting thing is that in community property states like California both spouses are said to have equal rights to all material and financial assets acquired after the marriage date. This means that if for instance, only one spouse had steady employment throughout the marriage or earned considerable more than the other spouse, assets are divided up equally between spouses in a divorce proceeding in states like California.

The flip side is that both spouses are considered liable for debts in the same 50-50 manner. In equitable distribution states family law judges would have the legal latitude to give the higher earning spouse more of the debt burden during divorce proceedings, but in a community property state like California, the judge should be applying the “equal ownership” concept to assets and debts alike. This includes credit card debt, interest, car loans and even home mortgages you might be struggling to pay down.

Are There Limits to Community Property? 

Simply put, yes. These limits are dictated by one overriding factor: time. Assets acquired before the marriage and/or after couples have separated with the intention of terminating the marriage are considered separate property owned by each individual spouse. The title to a home or title to a car, as well as other physical property, owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, should be owned by that same spouse post-divorce.

The interesting wrinkle to all this is that sometimes individual property and community property mix during the course of a marriage.

What happens then? If one spouse works at a high-income job throughout the marriage and uses that income to purchase a car or home, then in a community property state like California that car (or more likely, it’s blue book value) would be split post-divorce between spouses. Value appraisals for other material assets like homes, antiques or even retirement assets will typically be valued by relevant authorities like accountants, financial experts and judges themselves.