9 Common Divorce Mediation Myths Debunked

9 common divorce mediation myths debunked

By the time a couple decides to get a divorce, they’ve already been through an emotional cactus patch. The process of the divorce itself can be just as brutal. In fact, some couples put off a divorce too long for the simple reason that they hate the idea of litigation.

In many cases, mediation can be a great alternative than a battle of lawyers. The primary advantage most couples see in mediation is the lower price tag. In fact, it can cost less than one-tenth the price of divorce litigation.

So why do so many couples still choose litigation? There are plenty of divorce mediation myths floating around about mediation that turn off many great candidates. Today, our experts are setting the record straight.

Divorce Mediation Myths Debunked

Before you start shopping for a lawyer, make sure you know the truth behind these mediation myths.

You have to be friendly with your ex to mediate successfully

Plenty of people say, “I don’t get along well enough with my ex to have a productive division of assets.” These people often forget an important element to the mediation: the mediator.

A mediator has experience in the art of helping two conflicting parties find common ground. If they do their job well, they’ll keep your conversations on track and be a “referee” to help you come to agreements.

With that in mind, there are still some couples that can’t make mediation work. In cases of spousal abuse or if there’s a fear of physical violence, mediation may not be a good idea.

Lawyers recommend against mediation because you won’t get a good settlement

There are two misconceptions in that divorce mediation myth. First, many lawyers do recommend trying mediation before litigation. They’ve seen its benefits and how it can reduce the emotional damage of a divorce. They’ve also seen that it can provide just as fair of a settlement as litigation can.

If a lawyer recommends against mediation, it’s important to question why. Chances are that they’re trying to get more money out of you.

Mediation means giving up

To some couples, “I want to mediate” translates to “I’m not willing to fight for what I deserve.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, it’s a sign of maturity that you want to put yourself and your ex on a level playing field.

Mediation allows you just as much of an opportunity to stand up for what you deserve. In fact, 90% of divorce mediations are successful, so you have a great chance to reach a fair settlement.

Anyone can be a mediator, so there’s no way to tell the good from the bad

It’s true that there are plenty of unqualified people who sell themselves as mediators. However, it’s easier to find the good ones than you may think.

Look for a mediator with strong knowledge about your state’s divorce laws. For instance, find a lawyer who is also a mediator. Find out how much mediation training and experience your mediator has. Ask for references from past clients as well.

The mediator will rush me to make major decisions before giving me time to do research

Divorce mediation myths like this are common, but in reality, you’ll have just as much time to analyze and value your assets as you would with litigation. You can each take all the time you need to bring in appraisers and other experts who can evaluate your assets.

The one exception is if you think your ex is hiding assets or will try to hide assets. In this case, litigation may be best so your lawyer can investigate and find the hidden assets.

The mediator will try to pressure us to save the marriage

This all depends on what mediator you hire. Some “mediators” think of themselves more as marriage counselors who are trying to get you back together.

Be clear with your divorce mediator that reconciliation is not an option. If at any point they brag about how many couples have reconciled during mediation, run the other way.

I won’t have as much of an opportunity to fight for my kids in mediation

This is simply not true. In fact, mediation is one of the best things you can do for your kids. Court battles can be more painful for kids than parents realize.

In mediation, you’ll have plenty of time to come up with a custody agreement that works for everyone. For many exes, during the process, they come to respect the other person more as a responsible co-parent so they can remain more civil for their kids.

The exception to this is if you think your ex would provide an unsafe home for the kids. It’s rare that a couple agrees upon full custody for one parent in mediation.

Mediation will draw out the process longer

The opposite is actually true. If you compare how long mediation takes to how long litigation takes, mediation is almost always the faster course. If you want to settle the divorce and get on with your lives, mediation is probably the way to go.

Mediation Puts More Work on Your Shoulders

Some people see divorce mediation as putting the negotiating work on their shoulders rather than a lawyer’s shoulders. While that’s true to some degree, litigation doesn’t tend to save you much time in the process. Chances are that you’d spend as much time talking to your lawyer in litigation as you would spend at the mediation table.

In fact, many couples like the added control they have over the process when they mediate.

The Mediator Could Take My Ex’s Side, and Then I’m Stuck With Nothing

A mediator’s job is to remain neutral rather than fighting for one side or another. It’s important to recognize that the mediator doesn’t make any of the decisions: you do.

Even if you felt that a mediator was being unfair, it’s easy to fire your mediator and choose another mediator instead. If you choose, you and your ex can keep the agreements you’ve already made and pick up with the new mediator where you left off.

Choosing Between Divorce Mediation And Litigation

There’s no doubt about it: divorce is an uncomfortable and unpleasant process. For many couples, though, mediation can go a long way toward a more amicable process and a fair solution that leaves you with less emotional baggage. Now that you know the truth behind these divorce mediation myths, you can make an informed choice.

If you’re ready to start working through your divorce, reach out to our law offices and allow us to debunk all those divorce mediation myths.

Preparing And Organizing Your Divorce Mediation List

preparing and organizing your divorce mediation listYour marriage is over. Now what? You know you don’t want a nasty in-court divorce procedure, but what is divorce mediation really like?

In short, it’s the most amicable choice. You don’t have to be best friends with your soon-to-be ex during the mediation process, but you do have to be friendly.

Both parties need to agree to this method and willingly participate in the sessions.

Before you start making your divorce mediation list, talk to your partner about logistics. Who will pay the mediation fees? Will it be split it down the middle?

You could agree that the person who makes more pays or the person who asked for the divorce pays. It’s one hundred percent up to you and your personal situation.

Making Your Divorce Mediation List

Once you’ve found a mediator, figured out the fees, and glanced at the process, it’s time to start your divorce mediation list.

The Master List

While you’re together, make a list of your assets. Every single one! Don’t denote which asset belongs to who or who they’ll go to – just make a comprehensive list.

This doesn’t have to be everything you own, but it should be things you care about. Property, vehicles, bank accounts, credit cards, insurance policies, anything worth dividing up.

If you’ve collected an intensive DVD collection and it means a lot to you, count that. This major list of things you’ve collected during your lives together will save a lot of headaches.

Your mediator can help divide them up equally or come up with solutions you weren’t aware of. It cuts down on tension and makes the outlook of your divorce clear.

Records

Once you have your list of assets and property, move on to records. What proof is there of your life together?

We’re talking about proof of income, house titles, car titles, social security, joint accounts – anything and everything. What are your ongoing expenses? If you’re separated, look at the bills from the last time you weren’t.

What were you spending on bills, loans, insurance, gas, groceries, and the like? Having as much information as you can will help you fill out your financial affidavit with ease.

If you fill it out and a court finds you were trying to hide an asset, they’ll hold that against you. Remember, things you sign are legally binding documents.

You need to be forthright with the truth or it could halt your divorce process.

Make An Issues List

With the logistical stuff jotted down, you can approach some touchier issues. You don’t have to figure them out on your own, that’s what your mediator is for!

This issues list can hold a wide range of things. What are you concerned most about in the divorce? We’ll make a separate list for children later.

Are you concerned about living situations? Cost of living and alimony? What about holidays, relationships with in-laws, and extended family time.

Do you expect to have family events together? Is your ex invited to family reunions, if they attend with the kids? Does it feel fair to cut them off if you have a large extended family they’re close with?

Get all your deep dark fears out on the paper. They’re not doing you any good circling around your mind. You don’t even need them to be in question form.

If they’re not something you’re willing to discuss yet or don’t know how to approach, do this on your own. Write down, I’m scared that ___ will happen after we divorce.”

These are things you can address with your mediator, therapist, or partner one on one. Putting them down on paper helps them transfer from your emotional mind into your logical one.

It may not solve your worries, but it should start to make them easier to process.

The Kid List

If you have children or fur babies, you’re likely worried about how your divorce will affect them. That’s relevant and you’re a good, loving parent for wanting to make it easier on them.

Studies show that it’s better for children to see an amicable divorce than to continue to be in a high-conflict household. Hopefully, that makes you feel better about your choice.

Things to think about and put on this list are:

Custody Agreements

If you’re separating with kids, neither of you will have full custody, unless it’s a very bad situation. Even if someone has more time than the other, you’re still co-parents.

How will you address changes in home locations? Will you try to live close to each other so your move doesn’t affect zoning? What about neighborhood friends and afterschool activities?

Who will take who where and when?

If you decide to hire a nanny, is that a cost that you two split or is it up to the individual co-parent to pay the nanny on their time?

Holidays are another matter. Who gets Christmas and Thanksgiving? Birthdays? You can alternate, but make sure the system is in place.

Do not bring your kids into this discussion yet. If they’re old enough, you should involve them in the process, but not until you have a better grasp of what will happen.

The List of Lists

Along with the specific lists in this article, here is a general grouping of things you should discuss:

  • Legal Child Custody
  • Finances
  • Child-related finances
  • Pets
  • Property and money
  • Insurance
  • Group debt
  • Guardianship and Wills
  • Alimony or Support
  • Housing Situations
  • Medical expenses
  • A list of non-negotiables

Make a list of things neither of you is willing to give up. Each person should make their divorce mediation list alone and then you can discuss them together.

If you have clashing non-negotiables, bring this up with your mediator. They’ll help you find a solution.

Following Through

A divorce is a messy process. You can make a divorce mediation list, but the general task doesn’t get easier.

Trust that yourself and your partner are making the right decision to separate and try to be kind. You will get through this and you’ll adjust to your new realities.

If you have children, show them how to handle disagreements with love and understanding. It may not heal their hurt, but it’ll shape their expectations of love.

None of this is possible without a good mediator. You can’t do it all yourself, at least not without losing your mind. Our specialists have helped many families become separate units and we can help you too!

All you have to do is call us.

How Long Does It Take To Divorce Through Mediation?

how long does it take to divorce through mediationIf there is a divorce looming in your near future, you’re probably feeling a whole host of emotions. Sadness, fear, anxiety, and stress are just a few of the things on that list. And when the thought of all the necessary business of divorce hits you, you probably feel exhausted to boot.

But divorce doesn’t have to be a lengthy process. If you and your spouse are amenable, you can decide to mediate your way through this difficult time rather than go through painful litigation.

Exactly how long does divorce through mediation take? We’ll discuss that and more today.

What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a process of divorce that allows both parties to take control. Instead of leaving the decisions up to a judge, you will be able to make the choices for your own future.

This method is especially good for parents and people who will need to continue to co-exist despite the divorce.

In addition to being faster and easier than a traditional divorce, divorce through mediation has a higher rate of compliance because both parties came to terms on the agreement together.

How Does It Work?

A mediated divorce involves a person called a family law mediator. This is a person trained to help people resolve their divorce issues. They act as the communication between the couple.

The mediator’s job is to make sure that everyone has their chance to speak without being interrupted. He helps clarify the points that both parties make and asks questions to keep the conversation on track with clear communication.

The mediator will also give you information about how the legal system works and what alternatives you can take to avoid them.

In general, you, your ex, and the mediator will get together in a couple of sessions that range in length from one to two hours.

The first meeting is when you will point out the things that need to be talked about and how important they are. It’s also where you will find out all of the paperwork you will need to gather up in order to speed the process along.

From there on, you’ll use each meeting to talk about the different compromises you need to make in order to meet everyone’s needs. The mediator gives information about the legal system and helpful hints for how other people have handled similar problems.

Eventually, you will meet an agreement and the mediator writes it up for you and your lawyer to approve.

How Long Does It Take?

The answer to this question varies because every marriage and every divorce is different. If you have a lot of assets that you need to divide, or if you and your spouse have a hard time seeing eye to eye, it could take a lot longer.

However, if you can both come to terms pretty easily, you could be looking at a very short process.

One of the major benefits to divorce through mediation is the fact that you won’t have to appear in court. This cuts down on the length of time considerably.

In general, easier cases take about three or four two-hour sessions that the mediator spreads out over a course of a month or so.

Here are a few of things that impact the length of divorce through mediation.

Your Assets

If you have a lot of things that you need to divide, it could take a while. There are more decisions to make.

Likewise, if you’ve come to an agreement on pretty much everything and just have one or two things to work out, the process could go smoothly.

Children

There’s no nice way to put it: children make divorce difficult. People are usually willing to compromise when it comes to financial matters. But when you add children to the mix, it gets sticky.

Expect to spend a while in mediation when it comes to the custody of your kids. But it’s worth it, you want something that’s going to work for all the parties involved.

Willingness to Compromise

Your mediator can’t tell you what you have to do. They don’t make the choices or give orders. They’re only there to help you compromise and meet a mutual agreement.

If you and your spouse aren’t willing to meet in the middle on some things, it’s going to take forever.

Complications

There are a number of complications that can make your mediation go a little longer than average. However, that’s still a small price to pay when you consider the cost and time that goes into a traditional divorce.

It’s very rare for a divorcing couple to agree on everything. But even if you can’t agree on basically anything, there is still a purpose behind mediation.

Even taking one or two items off of the list of litigation can cut down the length of time you are in court.

In fact, even if you and your spouse can’t get along, there’s still reason to attempt mediation. Even though couples who are amicable usually choose this route, it doesn’t mean it’s a rule.

It’s part of the mediator’s job to help both parties communicate even when emotions run high. It is possible to get through mediation even in situations like these.

Managing Divorce through Mediation

Divorce is hard, that’s a simple fact. It’s exhausting and it can sometimes make you feel like you don’t want to even get out of bed in the morning. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can make divorce as painless as possible when you choose to settle divorce through mediation.

For more information getting divorced and what you need to do to protect yourself, visit us today!

The Truth About Divorce Mediation

the truth about divorce mediationDeciding to get a divorce seems bad enough, but going through all the details of it is even worse. It’s hard to change your life in such a drastic way, especially when you have children and certain assets to think about.

How are you supposed to get out of this sticky situation and move on with your life? Is there a way you can do what you need to and minimize others’ pain in the process?

Look into divorce mediation.

This is one of the most beneficial tools available to couples who have decided to go separate ways. But unfortunately, not everyone understands what mediation is.

Many couples have a knee-jerk reaction to take things to court or settle things their own way, without realizing what mediation services can do for them.

Here’s the truth about what the process looks like and how it can help you.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation is when two individuals who want a divorce go to the same professional for guidance. The mediator meets with them at the same time, helping each person voice their needs, concerns, and terms. Their role is to help the two individuals come to an agreement as smoothly as possible.

The mediator does not make decisions for either party and they do not speak on behalf of one spouse or another. This person can, however, help the two parties reach a mutual understanding regarding everything from child visitation/custody to financial assets and retirement distribution.

It’s a lot to talk over and there are many details to consider.

This is where divorces can “get ugly”, but with a mediator, things don’t have to necessarily be that way. The point of seeking this kind of help as opposed to an attorney is to settle things cordially in a way that’s mutually beneficial.

The Benefits Of Divorce Mediation Services

If the friendly nature of divorce mediation isn’t enough to convince you about these services, there are a few more benefits to consider. While this may be the end of the road for your marriage, it’s the start of your next chapter. Mediation can make the transition from one point in your life to the other much easier.

Here’s how:

It’s Easier To Stay On Good Terms

Say you want a divorce but you’d still like to have your ex-spouse in your life. Maybe you’ve realized there are better options out there or you’re simply committed to making a kind relationship work for the sake of the children.

Either way, a divorce battle is not a great way to start your new friendship. Having a mediator present for the divorce process, though, does salvage the good that’s left and help you both start anew.

The Decisions Made Are Fair And Productive

Before you can focus on moving on, you have to make sense of what’s left of your marriage. There’s more to separating and starting over than packing up your clothes and finding a new place to live.

Actually, who is going to get the house? Who will have the cars, the furniture, the nice dishes, and so on? These can seem like tough decisions to make but they don’t have to be.

Your mediator can help you decide everything step-by-step. They will keep you and your spouse focused on the practical matters rather than letting your emotions get the best of you.

A Court Battle Is Avoided

There are divorced couples who can stay cool and collected, and then there are those who can’t stand to be in the same room. The latter is typically what leads to court battles and family drama, which can drag out the divorce process.

A mediator helps you avoid all of that. Even if you’re not on the best of terms with your soon-to-be ex right now, the right professional can bring you both back to a common ground.

They bring you to your senses and make you focus on the matter at hand rather than holding onto past wounds or playing the blame game. This is a much more productive approach, and it tends to work out better for all involved.

Mediation Makes The Future More Secure

Whichever way you handle your divorce, you have the whole future ahead of you. But, the decisions you make right now will affect the way of life you live later.

Mediation creates a contract that thinks ahead. It sets rules and guidelines for both parties involved in case certain circumstances change.

Plus, the experience of divorce mediators helps them bring creative solutions to the table. They show you and your spouse different ways to think about what you want/need from the divorce.

The Myths Of Mediation

It’s good to know what to expect from divorce mediation services, but it’s also in your best interest to beware of mediation myths. You’ve likely heard a few exaggerations about this divorce solution.

Things like:

It’s Better To Fight For What You Want

Some people will encourage you to take things to court rather than try to talk it out. They may want you to get that “big divorce check” out of compassion for you or think they know how it goes from headlines and TV shows.

Either way, more often than not, the best way to really get what you want is to go through mediation. This solves things from a rational perspective rather than putting you and your ex at each other’s throats.

You Risk Settling For Less

What if the settlement process is easier, but you don’t get everything you wanted? This is another fear that leads people to court or other divorce solutions.

Again, mediation is all about creating a fair deal. It helps you get what you need out of the divorce while giving your spouse enough to move forward with, too. Most importantly, it’s a clean way to get things settled without putting children or other loved ones in the middle.

Mediation Is Always The Answer

As beneficial as divorce mediation can be, it’s not right for everyone. If you feel like your spouse is hiding important details from you, or if they’re a struggling addict or have some other sort of condition that may affect their thoughts/behavior, think twice before going to mediation.

The former may keep you from getting the fair deal you should have because you can’t discuss things you don’t know about. The latter isn’t fair for anyone because addiction and mental illness keep the person affected from thinking straight.

Deciding If Divorce Mediation Is Right For You

Are you sure divorce is the answer to your marital problems? Are you ready to move on, but feel wary about a possible court battle?

There’s a better answer to your problems. In fact, divorce mediation can help you and your spouse find all the divorce answers you’ve been looking for. To get the process started, contact us today.

What To Ask Before Signing Your Divorce Decree

what to ask before signing your divorce decree

Getting a divorce may seem like the start of a new life, but it’s important you consider every angle before signing the final divorce decree.

The last thing you want is to end up in a more difficult situation than you’re in with your husband or wife. Sometimes getting out of a marriage turns out to be the wrong decision. In fact, one study showed that 22% of divorcees regretted their decision.

In addition to ensuring this is the best move for your relationship, you also need to make sure all the terms of your divorce are reasonable. A divorce decree isn’t an open and shut deal. There are many components you need to consider.

To help you out, we’re going over some common questions you need to ask before signing your divorce decree. These questions will help bring some clarity to the situation.

Is the Marriage Really Over?

The most important question to ask is if the marriage has truly run its course. Sometimes couples divorce as a result of years of struggle and emotional separation. They feel divorcing is their only option.

It’s important you and your spouse discuss this thoroughly. You have to be open about your feelings in order to avoid going through with the divorce only to regret it.

If you’ve hit a rough patch you can’t seem to get over, have you considered couples therapy? You may be able to resolve some of the issues you’ve been having and get things back on track again.

Divorce is a major life change. There will be financial hurdles, emotional hardships and learning how to live on your own again. It’s important you and your spouse are 100% certain that the relationship needs to end before signing the divorce decree.

Are You or Your Spouse Only Threatening Divorce?

Sometimes a person threatens separation or divorce out of anger or emotional pain. They may even use the threat as a tactic to get what they want.

This threat is also used to exert dominance over the other spouse or as an attempt to be taken seriously.

For whatever reason, this not the correct course of action. A marriage should end because both parties know in their hearts it shouldn’t go on.

Ask yourself if you genuinely want a divorce or are just threatening it to get what you want. Or, do you feel your spouse is doing this?

If the answer is yes, you should first look into marriage counseling. You may find more healthy ways to resolve your issues.

Are the Division of Assets Fair?

Before signing a divorce decree, you need to make sure all assets are divided equally and to your satisfaction.

This is something that many couples run into problems with. If the division of assets aren’t nailed down before the divorce gets finalized, there could be trouble down the road.

You’ll want to make sure your divorce attorney gets involved in the separation of assets to ensure you’re not getting taken advantage of. Each state has different laws regarding this. However, laws that apply to the distribution of marital assets don’t always garner a fair outcome.

Vehicles and property are two items that typically cause the most problems. If possible, try to come to an amicable decision regarding these assets and make sure the terms are clearly written into the divorce agreement.

Once you sign the decree, the terms are difficult to change.

Are Our Children’s Best Interest’s in Mind?

One of the most sensitive aspects of a divorce involves children. Depending on their age, this could be a very confusing time for your kids. You need to make sure you have their best interests in mind.

Unfortunately, sometimes couples are so angry with each other, they forget how impactful this time is for the children.

If you and your spouse are sharing custody of your kids, make sure the terms make it easy on them. They need to have ample time with each of you, so make sure your decree sets a fair and logical schedule.

You also need to nail down the financial obligations now so that no conflicts happen in the future.

It’s important you also work around you and your spouse’s work schedules so that the practice of joint custody goes as smoothly as possible. Not only will your children benefit, you’ll make it easier on yourself as well.

Are Your Finances In Good Shape?

At the beginning of a divorce proceeding, the judge will likely prohibit both of you from selling the marital property. You also can’t use joint bank accounts or credit cards for major purchases.

Judges do this so that one spouse won’t take advantage of money or assets that are still jointly owned.

If you or your spouse have any major purchases or legitimate financial transactions to complete, you’ll need to do this before the divorce happens.

It’s best to go over all these things with your spouse and come to an agreement on all financial matters. Once you both sign the divorce decree, you can then split your finances, meaning all checking and savings accounts and any credit cards you have together.

You’ll also need to agree upon the resolution of any debt you’ve acquired together.

What Will Your Living Situation Be?

It’s important you decide what the initial living situation will be before signing the decree.

Who’s staying in the house? Who’s moving out and where are they moving?

You need to make sure the decree is fair to both parties. The person who must move needs to be able to afford a new residence. This is especially important if children are involved.

Making sure this all gets squared away before signing the decree ensures you avoid a messy situation and potential conflict.

Don’t Sign A Divorce Decree Until You’re Ready

If you’ve come to the conclusion that divorce is the only option, it’s imperative you understand the terms of the decree. You also need to ensure they are fair and balanced.

Signing the decree hastily could mean serious issues down the road.

If you need a qualified divorce lawyer to help you through the process, we can help. Contact us today.

Keeping it Together at Work When Your Marriage is Falling Apart

keeping it together at work when your marriage is falling apart

Is your marriage falling apart?

Sometimes, when a relationship is on the rocks, it can seem like everything else in your life is about to fall apart, too. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. If you keep it together in other areas of your life, such as at work, you’ll be much better at the end of everything.

Even if you can’t save your marriage, you can save your career and your pride. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to keep it together at work, even when your marriage is falling apart.

7 Ways To Keep It Together At Work

Let your supervisor know

Without going into dramatic details, it’s a good idea to alert your supervisor to the fact that you’re splitting up with your partner.

Before you start the conversation, decide exactly what needs to be said, and leave the rest out. The less you say, the better. Just give the basic information so they know what you’re going through.

If your job offers a benefits package to employees, you could also ask your supervisor or an HR representative about any support services that may be offered, or about an Employee Assistance Program. Sometimes, these benefits can help you through difficult times.

Keep things discreet

There might be a few close coworkers who you’ll also want to alert to the change in your relationship. However, for the most part, less talk is more. Avoid dishing the details about how your marriage is falling apart during water-cooler conversations.

Be selective with the details you tell about the situation. Being too open at work can come back to haunt you – people might stop trusting your credibility, or be reluctant to give you future opportunities at work.

If a coworker who you don’t know well asks you how things are going with the divorce, say something short and general, so you won’t accidentally spill too much. It’s a good idea to decide what you can say before they ask. For example, stick to a script like, “I’m still figuring things out, but thank you for asking.”

Remember that you can always choose to give them more information later on. However, once something’s been said, there’s no way to take it back.

Use your non-work support system

It’s important to have a good support system you can rely on outside of work, so you won’t start searching for a support system at the job instead.

Even if you’re close with some of your coworkers, try not to rely on them as your sole source of support. Spend more time with your non-work friends, and give them the details that aren’t appropriate to share with coworkers.

You might occasionally vent to your close work friends, too, but keep this to a minimum. People quickly get overwhelmed if they both have to work with you and support you outside of work, and this can damage those friendships.

Have a backup plan for hard days

Most days, you should be able to power through your normal work responsibilities. However, there will be those days when the stress and emotions feel like too much to handle.

If you feel overwhelmed at the moment, try to channel that energy in a non-destructive way at work. Try taking a quick break if you can. Take a brisk walk, get some coffee for energy, or step into the bathroom for some private deep breathing.

Once you feel like you’ve calmed down, get back to work and finish your tasks for the day.

If you get overwhelmed at a time when you can’t realistically take a break, try to compartmentalize the situation in your mind for the moment. If you can, take out a notepad and write down a few words about how you feel, then fold it up and make the choice to deal with those feelings when you have time.

Reduce communication with your former spouse

When your marriage is falling apart, the last thing you need is calls, texts, and emails about it at work. It’s important to cut off communications with your former partner as much as possible during work hours.

You need to be as free from distractions as possible while you’re working. Avoid any unscheduled conversations with your ex, including even short text messages.

A seemingly harmless conversation can quickly derail you if you aren’t careful. Limit communications to emergencies only, such as a situation involving your children.

If you get a message from your ex, take control by telling them that you can’t give them your attention right now, but you can talk about it later. Suggest a time that would be better for the two of you to talk.

If you have to respond right away, plan out what you’re going to say before you say it. You might even want to write down key points of the conversation to keep it from getting derailed.

Don’t use work to escape

Sometimes, work is a welcome distraction from the stress and emotions that come when your marriage is falling apart. To an extent, it can be helpful to use work as a form of escape. However, avoid using work as a way to completely avoid your emotions or block our the experience.

At some point, you’ll have to face those feelings, and the longer you wait the harder it will be. Find positive, beneficial ways to deal with your emotions now so they don’t come back to haunt you later.

Build a helpful environment

You’ll be more successful if you work to build a work environment that can help you stay focused and positive.

When your marriage is falling apart, it can feel like your life is spinning out of control. You’ll need to manage your work environment so you have the best chance at success. Use notes, reminders, apps, and whatever it takes to help you stay focused and think positively.

When your marriage is falling apart

If you’re thinking about divorce or starting the process, you don’t have to do it alone. You’ll be better equipped to stay focused on work if you have a great attorney by your side.

Ready to talk to a divorce attorney? Contact us now to get started.

Divorce vs Separation vs Annulment: What’s the Different?

divorce vs separation vs annulment whats the differenceMaking the decision to end a marriage can be one of the most difficult times of a person’s life. It can also be one of the most confusing.

From the legal jargon to the paperwork, there are myriad responsibilities you’ll be tasked with navigating. Unless you’re aware of the intricacies, what should be a relatively straightforward procedure could become vastly more complicated.

One of the points of contention might be understanding your options. You may be wondering what the difference is between divorce vs separation vs annulment.

Ending a marriage is ending a marriage, right? Why so many terms for it?

Today, we’re breaking down a few key characteristics of each of those options, so you can better classify which one your case falls into.

Ready to learn more? Let’s go!

Divorce vs Separation: What’s the Difference?

Let’s start simple. A divorce is the legal dissolution of marriage.

Your legal duties to your spouse will be either terminated or reorganized depending on your situation. When the process is complete, both parties are free to remarry.

There are two basic types of divorce. They include:

No-Fault Divorce

This occurs when the spouse filing for the divorce does so without blaming the other person for any specific wrongdoing. Rather, they simply claim one of these three grounds:

  • Irremediable breakdown
  • Irreconcilable differences
  • Loss of affection

Fault-Based Divorce

Allowed by some states, this occurs when there is a specific reason prompting the divorce. These reasons could include:

  • Adultery
  • Abuse or domestic violence
  • Abandonment
  • Substance abuse

Before filing for divorce, some married couples might opt to undergo a trial separation first. There are two types of separations:

Separation by Agreement

When it comes to divorce vs separation, it’s important to understand that separation does not legally end a marriage. Rather, it just means that you and your spouse do not live together for a period of time.

This is commonly referred to as “separation by agreement.”

You’re not required by law to even live with your spouse under the same roof in the first place, so you don’t need to file with the court system to begin a separation. You will, however, need to work out any child care, bill payments, and other support issues beforehand so all parties know what’s expected of them. A family practice lawyer or mediator can help you work through these issues to make sure everything is covered.

In many cases, a trial separation period is the first step toward pursuing a divorce, though this is not always the case.

Legal Separation

Some states allow you to take your separation a step farther and apply for legal, or judicial separation.

If you’re ready for your separation to result in a major change to your marital status, you’ll need to file for a legal separation. You can do so by petitioning to a lawyer at your local Superior or Family Division Court.

During this period, you’ll live apart from your spouse on a separate property. Living under the same roof while sleeping in separate beds is not permissible.

A legal separation can last as long as a divorce (around 8 to 10 months), so be sure to plan accordingly. During this time, you and your spouse will be prohibited from marrying or beginning a domestic partnership with anyone else. Wives cannot resume their maiden names yet.

If you have minor children, you’ll iron out details around final custody and visitation rights as required. Alimony orders can come into play at this time as well.

With so much to deal with, you may question why anyone would go through the hassle of filing a legal separation over just going ahead and filing for divorce. This is because some religious or moral beliefs might make couples eschew the legal dissolution of their marriage. Thus, divorce vs separation becomes an even more conflicting and polarizing discussion in these cases.

How Does Annulment Fit In?

Let’s add another term to the mix. You may associate “annulment” with those flash-in-the-pan, 15-minute celebrity marriages, but it’s a relatively common process.

Unlike a divorce, which recognizes that a marriage occurred and then nullifies it, an annulment essentially treats the union like it never existed in the first place. Once the process is complete, each party is free to marry someone else.

The court system will determine how an annulment affects child custody, child support, matrimony, and asset division.

A couple has grounds for filing for an annulment if the marriage was:

  • Incestuous
  • Bigamous
  • The result of force or fraudulent pretenses
  • Occurred as a result of physical or mental incapacity
  • Inclusive of at least one underage party
  • Entered into while one spouse was already in a marriage or registered domestic partnership
  • Entered into while under the influence

Annulments are usually administered to couples who haven’t been married for too long (think just weeks or months). This helps reduce the headache of dividing assets and figuring up child support.

Making Sense of the Journey Apart

Working through these issues with your significant other can be a difficult time. You’re likely feeling a ton of emotions, from grief to anxiety and everything in between.

This is where we come in.

We’re a family law practice skilled in helping people just like you understand their legal rights and make sense of the road ahead of them. From helping you understand divorce vs separation vs annulment and every legal decision in between, we’re your go-to resource.

The journey doesn’t have to be complicated, confusing or chaotic. Contact us today and let’s take that important first step together.

Your Guide To Dividing Assets In A Divorce Settlement

your guide to dividing assets in a divorce settlementA divorce settlement is often a scary thing. Your life is taking a turn you never really expected, with major consequences.

You’re not alone — especially if you’re older. Among Americans 50 and older, divorce rates have almost doubled since the 1990s.

Divorce is intimidating, but there are ways to make everything easier. Keep reading to find out what happens when you divide your assets, and the best way to go about it.

What Happens?

First things first: what happens in a divorce settlement?

The long and the short of it is that “ours” transitions slowly (and not always easily) to “yours” and “mine”.

But it’s not like when you were kids and fighting over a shirt.

What happens to your property after divorce is a legal process that decides who has legal ownership of your property. And it can have a major bearing on your financial future.

Preparing to Divide Your Assets

It’s not as simple as eeny-meeny-miny-moe. When divorces happen, it’s a big change from the future you thought you were going to have when you got married.

And not just growing old together. You had certain ideas about financial security, where you were going to live, etc.

Now, you’re faced with dividing assets that were intended to be shared when you acquired them.

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who can sort through a divorce amicably without tears, frustration, or arguments (chances are, you’re not) then you need to be prepared for what happens next to make the process as smooth and painless as possible.

Here are five things to keep in mind before you jump down the rabbit hole and start divvying up your assets.

Know Your State Laws

Dividing assets in a divorce settlement aren’t just about dividing up the pots and pans. It’s about dividing assets with one eye on your short-term and long-term financial security in mind.

This is where state laws come into play.

But they also vary widely from state to state, so it’s important to know your state’s exact laws on assets in a divorce.

All states have adopted laws relating to the fair distribution of marital property, but fair isn’t the same thing as equal. And that’s where you run into problems because both parties want to get their share.

Know What’s Separate vs Marital Property

Part of state laws deals with separate property versus marital property and how the two are handled in divorce.

If you don’t know what those are, it’s time to brush up.

Separate property is any property acquired before marriage, after divorce, by gift or inheritance during a marriage, or via separate property funds during a marriage.

Marital property refers to property acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. Generally, any property acquired during a marriage is considered marital property regardless of whose name the property is under or how it’s titled.

Generally, the two don’t mix. But, separate property can lose its status as separate property if you comingle. For example, if you own an apartment as separate property but add your spouse, it’s no longer separate property.

The separate property that was yours before remains yours. But marital property, even if it wasn’t in your name (like a house or a 401k) is fair game.

Get an Attorney

Let’s be honest. If you’re getting divorced, you need to have a divorce attorney.

Even if you had what seemed like the best relationship with your spouse, the truth is, if you’re getting divorced, things went sour somewhere.

And while there are divorces that proceed amicably, that usually isn’t the case.

In most cases, you need a mediator. They’ll make sure that an equal split is actually an equal split.

There’s also the laws — whatever research you can do, a trained lawyer knows the laws better than you.

Make a List, Check it Twice

Before you ever start a discussion over who gets what, you should know what you’re dealing with.

Make a list of all the assets you have. This should include things like joint property, securities, bank accounts, all vehicles, household items, valuable collectibles and retirement plans. And by everything, we mean everything.

The easiest way to do this is for spouses to make the list together that is honest and fair. It will also save you a lot of trouble later.

What happens after that can get messy, especially if you’re trying to determine who will keep the house. Often, if you have children, it will go to the parent with primary custody, but it’s not a guarantee.

If you don’t have children, well, things are both a lot less messy and a lot messier.

Choose an Asset Valuation Date

This is an important step in the divorce settlement process and one you can’t afford to overlook.

Once you’ve listed out all the property you have between you, you’ll need to choose an asset valuation date. Basically, this is the date when you and your spouse agree to fix the value of your property (an important step with volatile assets like investment accounts).

Since the value of the assets can change day-to-day or week-to-week, the valuation date sets a hard value on the assets being divided, even if the value changes since the assessment.

Play Nice

And above all, when you can manage it, try to play nice.

It isn’t just for the sanity of all involved parties (including your children). Making a divorce settlement as amicable as possible is the easiest way to make sure a divorce doesn’t turn into a long, expensive process where courts determine the value of your assets and who gets what.

The most efficient and painless way to handle a divorce is through property division agreements without trial. But the only way for that option to work is if everyone agrees to get along as well as possible.

Making Sense of a Divorce Settlement

Divorce can be a scary thing. But it can be a lot easier with the right advice from the right divorce lawyer.

Check out our blog for tips on how to best handle divorce, like these tips for co-parenting after divorce.

But if what you really need is sound legal counsel, then it’s time to use a trusted local divorce attorney.

We offer free phone consultations. Head to our contact page to get started.

Divorce After 50: What You Should Know

divorce after 50 what you should know

Divorce after 50 is becoming such a common trend that it’s now dubbed “gray divorce.” Some of the topics we’ll be covering may seem common sense, while others may not be. Afterall, divorce is tricky at any age.

That’s why we’re here to guide you through it. Here’s everything you need to know about getting divorced after 50.

Think Of The Kids

By 50, most kids will be thriving out of the nest. But no matter how mature or dependent your kids may be, divorce is heavy for everyone involved.

If you do have kids, be sure to check in on them throughout the divorce process to make sure they’re okay. And while it may seem easy to go to them with your stress, don’t. You could be putting children in the middle of the divorce, and adding an extra burden to their lives.

I say this because a friend of mine is currently buckling under the stress of her parent’s divorce. She’s in her 20’s and successful, but the strain of the divorce is so great that she’s had to seek counseling. Both her parents unintentionally used her as leverage at the expense of her own mental health.

Even if you can’t go to your kids with your divorce woes, there are still plenty of people you can go to for help…

Focus On Financial Stability

There’s a good chance you’re losing something in a divorce. If your partner was the breadwinner, that leaves you in a bind on how to make and manage money, even if you do win a chunk of money in the divorce. Don’t rely on your partner to hold your hand after the divorce.

This is your time to be selfish. Make sure that you’re set up financially. Don’t sign anything until you know you’ll be taken care of.

Make sure that everything is divided fairly and put in your name, especially as they pertain to joint accounts. We’ll get into keeping track of your assets later. If you have a will, alter it so that it reflects who your desired beneficiaries are.

Career

If your partner was the breadwinner, you may be looking for employment for the first time in a long time. Don’t be discouraged.

Rely on any friends and networks you’ve nurtured over the years. You never know when someone you know has a job opportunity that offers a great 401(k) match.

And don’t forget to put any volunteer experience on your resume. Not only does it show initiative, it also demonstrates your skills in a wide range of scenarios.

Retirement

If you’re getting divorced closer to retirement, or working isn’t an option, you need to ensure that your 401(k) plan can take care of you.

This may mean making a few sacrifices. If money is going to be tight, you can consider moving into a smaller home or lowering your standard of living.

I know a lot of this doesn’t sound appealing, but the goal is to make sure you’re set up for the long term.

Your Assets

A large part of finding your footing and financial stability is making an inventory of what you and your partner shared. This goes beyond the physical property.

Make sure you have a good idea of what’s in your bank accounts, personal and shared. Also be aware of any investments, retirement accounts, pensions, and life insurance policies.

Create a list for yourself of what you own, what your partner owns, and what you share. Make sure you know what’s on the list, so you don’t get blindsided in the divorce.

Betrayal

Divorces aren’t usually pretty sights. Yeah, there are stories of people settling amicably and with little cost to either party, but those cases are rare. If a divorce was sprung upon you, you may be in for a rude awakening.

A divorce doesn’t spring up out of nowhere. Usually, they result from years of pent-up and unexpressed emotions. Don’t be surprised when your former significant other shows a side of themselves that you’ve never seen before.

They may try to be seeking revenge for something from the marriage. Again, this is a time for you to be selfish. Lawyer up, find your center and keep moving forward.

Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out

As mentioned, this divorce after 50 is a growing trend. This isn’t to say that what you may be feeling is any less real, but there is help out there if you need it.

From counseling to friends, don’t be afraid to reach out. Whether you like it or not, this is a time for change; don’t wall yourself in. Sometimes all you need is an open ear and supportive shoulder.

Also, take some time to step back from the situation and reevaluate your life. Get a life coach if you need to, but try to find out what you truly want out of life.

A New Beginning

No matter how the divorce turns out, this is your time to reassess your life and goals. What do you want? You can go back to school, travel, or pursue artistic goals.

If you view the time after your divorce as saddening then that’s exactly what it’s going to be. This is a time to reinvent and challenge yourself. This is a new beginning.

Hope During Divorce After 50

Like any kind of divorce, divorce after 50 can be a painful and confusing time. You may not have the life you had before, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is a time to explore who you are, secure your future, and defend yourself if need be.

If you or someone you know find yourselves facing divorce after 50, please contact us at the Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone, Attorney At Law. It is our pleasure to serve the central Bay Area. We are here for anyone going through the financial and emotional difficulties that divorce presents.

Divorce can be a tumultuous and challenging experience, but it doesn’t have to be experienced alone. There’s always help, and there’s always hope for the future and the joys that it will bring.

5 Common Reasons For Divorce

5 common reasons for divorce

The divorce rate in the United States reached a 40-year low in 2015. Divorce is still quite common throughout the country, though.

If you’re currently going through or considering a divorce, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone.

It’s true that every divorce is different. But, many of them stem from similar causes. Understanding the most common reasons for divorce can help you feel less alone during this difficult process.

Read on to learn more about the main reasons couples choose to end their marriages.

1. Infidelity Is One of the Top Reasons for Divorce

In the United States, approximately 17 percent of couples cite adultery (by one or both parties) as the reason for their divorce.

Men and women both commit adultery for a variety of reasons, and infidelity can occur at any point during a relationship. The likelihood that at least one partner will be unfaithful increases during the following periods:

  • After the first year of marriage, when the “honeymoon period” ends
  • After the first child is born
  • During the 5th to 7th year of marriage
  • During middle age when children are grown

Infidelity rates are currently on the rise. This is due in part to the fact that the internet and social media have made it easier to connect and form relationships.

2. Money

Differing financial goals are another one of the main reasons for divorce. In fact, a lack of financial compatibility is a greater contributor to divorce than a lack of money.

40 percent of divorced couples say that incompatible financial views were the main cause of their divorce. If one partner is frugal and the other enjoys spending, it’s highly likely that a couple will experience problems.

That being said, financial stress can still contribute to marital problems and divorce. This is especially true is the husband is unemployed. According to a report published in the American Journal of Sociology, men who are unemployed are more likely than women to leave the relationship.

3. Lack of Communication

Many couples begin their marriage with good communication skills. But, over time, they get busy, grow apart, and don’t know how to talk to their partner.

recent study surveyed 886 individual divorcing parents. Of this group, 55 percent cited “growing apart” as the reason for their divorce, and 53 percent said that they were “not able to talk together.”

An inability to communicate can take various forms. Some couples will notice that they’re arguing more frequently, while others will simply not speak at all.

4. Addiction

Addiction puts a lot of financial and emotional strain on a relationship. Individuals with addictions are more likely to participate in other problematic behaviors, including lying, stealing, and adultery.

As a result, 7.3 percent of marriages end in divorce because of drug or alcohol addiction.

Even after seeking help from rehab programs or support groups, many couples are unable to reconcile if one partner struggles with addiction.

5. Lack of intimacy

A lack of intimacy is another common contributor to divorce. In addition to a decrease in sexual intimacy, many couples also cite a lack of general physical contact (hugs, kisses, holding hands, etc.) as a reason for choosing to end their marriage.

Couples see the intimacy in their relationship wane for several reasons, including the births of their children and mental health issues.

75 percent of survey respondents who described their marriage as lacking intimacy said that they’re unhappy about the current situation. 50 percent also said that they wouldn’t have married their partner if they knew that intimacy would decline over time.

However, only 33 percent said they consider leaving their marriage because of a lack of intimacy.

It may not be the biggest reason on its own, but a decrease in intimacy could lead to adultery or other problems that rank higher on the list of reasons for divorce.

Tips for Making It Through the Divorce Process

No matter what a couple’s reasons for divorce are, the process is almost always stressful. But, you can significantly mitigate that stress and have a smooth divorce by taking the following steps:

Consider Mediation

Legal mediation is often preferable to going through a court case. It is less stressful, make negotiations easier, and is faster and less expensive than going to court.

Mediation is especially easier for couples who have children and want to make the process easier for them.

Know When to Let Go

It’s important for both parties to pick their battles when going through a divorce. They should work to establish a fair settlement. But, both partners should avoid getting hung up on “winning” and fighting over small amounts of money.

Hiding money in secret accounts or selling off assets is especially problematic and will just make the divorce harder for everyone involved.

It’s also essential for both parties to manage their expectations around things like division of property and custody.

It’s unlikely that everyone will be totally satisfied with the outcome of these aspects of the divorce. But, knowing when to concede and move forward will help everyone — especially children — get through the process easier.

Find a Qualified Attorney

Choosing a qualified divorce attorney can make the process much easier. Take your time interviewing attorneys and look for one who communicates and well and seems to have your best interests in mind.

Some other things to keep in mind when making your decision include:

  • Experience and specialization
  • Type of client they typically represent
  • Hourly rate and retainer
  • Access to resources like parenting coordinators and financial experts
  • Trial record and court success history

When you’re meeting with potential divorce attorneys, you should also be on the lookout for red flags. Some common ones include sharing confidential information about other cases or appearing distracted by phone calls and emails.

Looking for a Divorce Lawyer?

If you live in or around the San Rafael, CA, and are considering a divorce, contact us at the Law Offices of Gerard A. Falzone today. We offer a free phone consultation, and we’ll help you as you go through the challenges of a divorce.