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The emotions you feel when you know that your marriage is ending can be complicated and overwhelming. Money may be the last thing on your mind when you are going through something so traumatic. However, you must not delay taking steps to protect your financial interests when you are sure that your marriage is coming to an end. Here are ten steps to take when preparing for divorce.

  1. Talk to an Attorney

The first thing that you should do is talk to an attorney. You may feel that legal advice will not be necessary because you believe that you and your spouse can sort things out between yourselves. However, a divorce can become acrimonious once the process has begun. So, it will be better to have an impartial adviser on your side to explain your rights and obligations.

  1. Open a New Bank Account

If you have a joint account with your spouse, you should open a bank account in your sole name as soon as possible. Closing joint accounts may not be possible immediately because you will likely have regular payments that will still need to be met. Even so, joint accounts and joint credit cards should be closed as soon as practicably possible. Keeping joint accounts open may lead to your spouse running up debts for which you will both be liable. Continue Reading →

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Divorce or separation creates a new family dynamic that every member of the family has to adjust to.  This new situation can be especially difficult for children.  Thankfully, successful co-parenting can help children adjust to their new situation.  Here are five tips to help you successfully co-parent.

  1. Focus on what you can agree on and the rest will take care of itself over time

It may sound difficult, but it is possible to find something to agree on with your ex when it comes to your children.  It does not matter how basic the issue or fact is that you can agree on; it’s just important to find something you agree on and use that as a starting point for conversations about your child.  If you can agree on one thing, that can lead to fruitful discussions about other topics.  For example, most parents can agree that it’s important for their child to be healthy. If you’re having a hard time thinking of a topic you can agree on with your ex, think of a topic or issue that you know your ex thinks is important.  If you can concede his/her point or you don’t feel strongly one way or another about an issue, use that topic or issue as a conversation starter.  Once you can build some common ground by agreeing on an issue, you can, over time, work up to discussing more difficult topics and work on resolutions.

  1. Accept that you can’t control everything when you co-parent

You may hate the amount of screen time your child has when he is at your ex’s house.  Unless screen time becomes extremely detrimental to your child’s health, education, or welfare, the amount of screen time your child has is probably not an issue worth fighting over.  You will have to accept that your ex will likely run his/her household differently than you will and unless a child’s safety is at issue, you have no say in what happens at your ex’s house.  What you can control, however, is what happens at your house and how you react to different situations.  You can gain a great deal of peace if you learn to accept what you can and can’t control.  If you worry and fret and try to argue with someone over what you can’t control, you will drive yourself crazy and create unnecessary conflict.  Continue Reading →

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Going through a divorce can be one of the most difficult things that you will ever experience in life. In addition to being consumed by feelings of anger, disbelief, and/or sadness, you must go through the stressful process of breaking up your marriage, family, and assets. While some couples can face divorce with civility and maturity, unfortunately that is not often the case. However, the most important thing for you is to face the divorce process with confidence to make sure that you come out on the other side a better, stronger person.

Understand Your Legal Rights

Facing the divorce process with confidence starts by understanding your rights. For example, your ex-spouse might want everything: the house, full custody of the kids, and more than their fair share of support. However, just because your ex wants those things, it does not mean that you are legally required to agree to all those terms. The best way to fully understand your rights, as well as your state’s divorce laws, is to consult with a divorce attorney.

Don’t Fall into Despair

While some marriages end amicably, most divorces are very painful. In addition to the couple splitting up, it can be quite painful for kids and other family members too. If your marriage ended unexpectedly, you might go through stages of denial and disbelief. Anger and guilt are other common feelings that people experience during a divorce as well. Even though these are normal feelings to have after a broken marriage, you want to make sure that your life does not fall into despair. Just because your marriage ends, does not mean that is the end of your life and happiness. Therefore, no matter how bad you feel, no matter how much you might feel like giving up, you must find reasons to live. If you have children, think about them. You can also look at your divorce to start over in life with a fresh perspective on things. Nothing will hurt your confidence worse than allowing yourself to fall into despair. Continue Reading →

 

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Since the early 1980s, the divorce rate in the U.S. has steadily declined. The long-held belief that at least 50% of marriages end in divorce is no longer true. Divorce Statistics collected in recent years by census reports, government and private studies and university research paint an interesting portrait of marriage and divorce in the United States.

Many states now have no-fault divorce laws. Spouses do not have to allege a specific reason for wanting a divorce other than having irreconcilable differences or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. However, some of the most common reasons that marriages fail include infidelity, addiction and abuse.

A majority of Americans claim that they would end their marriage if they discovered their spouse had cheated on them. Yet research shows that 50-60% of couples who have dealt with infidelity in their marriage found ways to overcome the issue and stay together.

Addictions may include, drugs, alcohol, porn, and gambling. A University of Buffalo study revealed that nearly 50% of couples divorced when only one partner drank heavily. Where partners had similar drinking habits, the divorce rate during the same period was 30%. Other research shows that if only one spouse smokes, a couple is 75-91% more likely to divorce. Continue Reading →

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Stay-at-home orders, job losses and strained finances resulting from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have increased the stress on marriages across the globe. While one might think that increased time together would have been welcomed by partners whose busy lives kept them apart much of the time, just the opposite is proving true. Rising divorce rates and coronavirus limitations appear to be directly related in countries that are now easing restrictions.

Several cities in China reported a surge in divorce filings once government-ordered lockdowns were lifted. A lawyer in Turkey claims divorce filings increased fourfold in that country following the imposition of quarantine restrictions. Many U.S. family therapists and attorneys expect the same trend to occur in this country.

Marriage counselors commonly encourage spouses to allow each other the freedom to socialize with separate friends and pursue favorite personal activities. For example, one spouse may enjoy jogging with a small group of long-time friends while the other may look forward to weekend golf with buddies from the office. Being involved at work or school, enjoying a favored activity and maintaining casual relationships outside of marriage are important to a person’s mental and physical health. Continue Reading →

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With businesses across the country shutting down and millions of people being furloughed from their jobs, the economic pressures resulting from the coronavirus pandemic are increasing. For parents who either pay or receive child support, financial anxieties may be even greater. Many support recipients will likely be paid less, at least in the short term, if the paying parent has lost a job.

If the recipient has also been laid off from work, that person’s ability to provide adequate care, food and shelter for children may be seriously jeopardized. Recipients of child support may be forced to rely upon social services and community organizations such as food banks to get through the crisis.

The worries for parents who have experienced an income drop and remain obligated to pay support are also increasing. Support payments are not suspended or eliminated by the pandemic. Falling behind in support will create a greater debt to be made up in the future. Many states have laws that result in the suspension of driving and professional licenses if a parent’s support payments fall too far behind.

Failure to pay child support also may result in defending yourself at a contempt proceeding in court. Courts can impose a variety of sanctions for failure to pay support, including mandatory wage garnishment, imposition of fines and costs and jail time. Continue Reading →

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The normal routines of daily life continue to be upended by the coronavirus, and uncertainty exists about how long businesses and schools will remain closed. For divorced parents, dealing with child visitation and the coronavirus can create increased anxiety and conflict. As the situation and resulting government orders may change rapidly, the best co-parenting will result from cooperation and flexibility.

Most stay-at-home orders across the country do not take priority over court-ordered visitation provisions. The stay-at-home order issued by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy specifically provides an exception allowing travel for family visits. Other states have taken a similar approach. Orders enacted in California and Illinois included language that specifically allow travel for custody exchanges between parents. Massachusetts officials have also stated that the virus does not provide a legal basis to disobey visitation orders.

The general guideline in virtually every state is that, at a minimum, court-ordered visitation schedules should continue to be followed unless there is some specific and provable reason to restrict contact such as either a parent or child contracting the disease. Denying visitation based on a generalized fear that a child may be exposed to the virus is insufficient. Continue Reading →

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Domestic violence (DV) occurs far too frequently in marriages, among family members and between people in dating relationships.  Lawmakers in many states have increased criminal penalties for DV offenses. Special courts have been established to handle DV-related cases. Judges often receive specialized training to better understand the dynamics of domestic violence and to learn about sentencing options that may prove most effective to reduce the chance of recurrence.

The term “domestic violence” by itself does not describe a crime. The term is a designation attached to a variety of crimes indicating that the relationship between the alleged victim and perpetrator is such that a repeat incident is far more likely to occur than a similar incident between strangers. Relationships which trigger the DV label include spouses, people in dating relationships, family members, relatives, roommates and civil union partners. Even if the incident involves a relationship that no longer exists, such as an incident involving former spouses, the DV tag may apply.

DV crimes include a broad spectrum of behavior that results in physical or emotional harm. Actions that can be labeled as domestic violence range from assaults, stalking and harassment to making threats, intimidation and sexual assault. One of the tools available for victims of domestic violence in every state is a protection or restraining order. Some may question how a piece of paper will make them safer, as there have been news reports of people being hurt or killed by a restrained person after a protection order was obtained. However, in the vast majority of cases protection orders serve their purpose and can help to reduce the fear of possibly experiencing a repeat occurrence. Continue Reading →

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Domestic violence (DV) is a serious problem. Every state has a procedure in place that allows persons to obtain protection or restraining orders intended to prevent contact from alleged abusers. The process to initially obtain a protection order is fairly quick and simple. A person can usually go to a county courthouse, write out a short statement explaining what happened and why an order is necessary, present the paperwork to a judge and obtain a temporary order within a few hours .In some jurisdictions if the incident just happen a person can start the process by calling the police department.

The restraining order is usually served by law enforcement on the person being restrained. Temporary orders are typically effective for 10-14 days at which time a formal court hearing takes place giving the restrained person an opportunity to respond, present evidence and contest the order. After hearing arguments from both sides, a judge will either dismiss the case or sign an order which can last for an indefinite period.

While the system is designed to provide quick assistance to victims of domestic violence, this process can easily be abused by making false accusations that can result in devastating results for the person accused. Since it only takes one person’s statement without any supporting evidence to get a temporary restraining order, the target of that order may immediately lose access to a home, property and children and suffer damage to his or her reputation. Continue Reading →

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Divorced Parents may want nothing to do with each other following a difficult divorce, but when minor children are involved, the necessity of exchanging children to comply with court-ordered custody and visitation plans usually requires some degree of interaction. Ideally, contact between ex-spouses during an exchange should extend just long enough to safely accomplish delivery of the children. However, if grudges are held or conflict exists regarding parenting styles or issues, the event of exchanging the children carries the potential for emotionally harmful and even violent behavior.

Spouses may fall out of love with each other, but children will still love each parent and hope to have a strong bond with each parent. Children who witness divorced parents arguing or threatening each other generally experience stress and often blame themselves for parental problems. Such stress can lead to depression, poor school performance, negative social interaction and even physical health problems.

When children are present, communication between hostile ex-spouses should be kept to a minimum. Issues involving child support or parenting differences should be addressed by e-mail, phone calls or by communication via attorneys. Continued conflict experienced during custody exchanges can make a child fearful and resistant to comply with the visitation schedule simply to avoid the negative feelings which routinely accompany the exchange.  Continue Reading →

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