Category Archives: Divorce

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.

Tips For Co-Parenting After Divorce

tips for co-parenting after divorce

Last year, the divorce rate was at it’s highest this decade.

It’s a sad reality, but not all marriages manage to go the distance, and if there are children involved it can be all the more stressful, complicated and heartbreaking.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult to start co-parenting after divorce if you and your estranged spouse work on things calmly, sensibly and with the children at the forefront of the situation.

Here are some tips on how to do just that – and take care of yourself on the way…

Using Divorce As A Way to Thrive

Children are more than likely to be devastated and affected in the aftermath of a parental split, but it’s possible to co-parent in a way that teaches your child how to benefit being a product of divorce.

If you are able to provide routine, stability, a sense of security, and show them attentiveness throughout, this will shape them into more secure human beings.

How does this make them thrive? It’s teaching them a structure in the face of a trying circumstance and a ‘broken home’. In essence, co-parenting after divorce with fairness and a ‘game plan’ will provide your child with a thicker skin of sorts.

Communicate With Your Child Positively

If your child or children are having problems adjusting, simply talk to them and be that voice of reassurance.

If they become upset at the prospect of having to spend time with your ex away from you, tell them how much mommy/daddy is looking forward to seeing them and how they’ve got fun things planned for their time together.

If their upset is deeper than that, ask them what they want and what you or your ex can do about it.

Once you’ve got to the crux of the matter, communicate with your ex to resolve the situation – if it’s something you can both work on to resolve, do it. It’s to help your child after all.

Work With Your Ex

It’s likely that things aren’t rosy between you and your ex, but that’s for you two to iron out privately.

Put your children first and think about your ex as someone you have to get on with for the sake of those around you.

Treat them as an in-law you’re not keen on, or a family member you don’t care for. Or even a friend’s other half you must be cordial to. Or even as a colleague.

If there’s a big decision to be decided on, don’t text or email, where things can come across passive-aggressively. Meet in person – you’re going to have to cross paths whatever the situation. If you, for example, need to talk about an issue your child has at school, arrange to set time to talk about it when you or your ex drops your child off at your house.

Leave Competitive Parenting At The Door

It’s not a contest over who can clock up the most hours with your child.

Try not to get petty – avoid “well you had him the whole of last Saturday and you only want me to spend half of this Saturday with him” type conversations. It’s childish in itself.

Be fair with timings and don’t get possessive or greedy, and make sure the time you do spend with your child is quality time. This way, it doesn’t actually matter who saw them most that day/week/month.

If you can stomach still spending family time together – one meal a week, for example – then that might be nice for the child too.

Have Boundaries

If your child is off at an event with your ex (and a new partner potentially) leave them to it.

If they’re old enough to have a phone, don’t hammer them with texts or calls asking how they are or if they’re having fun. At a push, one little message might be okay but don’t behave like you’re checking up or spying on them.

Think about it – even if they’re enjoying their time with their mom/dad, if they feel like you’re a nag then they will be reluctant to come home knowing you were obsessing over it.

Double Up At Important Occasions

If you have the kind of relationship for this, then don’t segregate the time you spend with your child and your ex when it comes to special events.

School plays, graduations, birthday parties, parents’ evenings, swim meets – anything that is solely about that child should be an event you can both be at and celebrate together.

If you can go as a unit – even if there are new partners involved – then do it.

How Are You Feeling?

Divorce and spending time away from your child can be a lonely state of affairs.

So – use the time you have on your own to look after yourself – rest, read, tidy the house, exercise, watch that Netflix show you’ve been meaning to get into. Suddenly you have this extra time on your hands to do these things.

If you’re worried about loneliness, get out there and spend time with friends, family – or get back on to the dating scene.

By doing this, you’re not dwelling or festering and you’re taking steps to get yourself back on track which will make you happier, and in turn a better parent.

Co-parenting after divorce can also lead you to bitterness – but learn to tame this.

And disparaging your ex in front of your child isn’t a good idea either. You’re undermining their father or mother and this could get back to them via the child – leading to them undermining you.

Stay Positive When Co-parenting After Divorce

If the divorce process, the relationship with your ex or your child is finding things difficult, try to remain a beacon of calm amongst it all.

Don’t dismiss the idea of talking things through with your own parents, a counselor, or a trusted friend.

Filing for a divorce is a big change, and it’s okay to feel like a different person through the process.

Embrace the change and ride the wave of this new lifestyle – this will only benefit your children and teach them to do the same as their own lives are changed.

Life After Divorce

Along with the issue of marital status, the Court in a dissolution of marriage action can decide issues of child custody and visitation, child support, spousal support and paternity actions.

This can be a daunting time for anyone going through a split, and can add extra stress while co-parenting after divorce.

For friendly, professional advice, contact Gerard A Falzone for further information on how to get through your divorce in the most reasonable and productive way possible.

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.