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Several divorce therapists and other experts have determined that there oftentimes are seven steps associated with grief and divorce. This is based on the long-used stages of grief and loss paradigm long used regarding death and dying and other losses. The seven steps or stages of grief and divorce are:

  • Denial
  • Pain
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Guilt
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Bear in mind that the seven stages of grief and divorce discussed here do not necessarily happen in the sequence in which they are presented in this article. In addition, there are instances in which a person may experience one of these states more than one time. It is also possible for a person to experience more than one of these stages simultaneously.

Denial

Typically, an initial stage experienced by some people (but not all) who face divorce is denial. A person in this stage cannot believe that his or her marriage is ending. Denial may be evident more often in the mind of the person who is being sued for divorce as opposed to the individual that filed the case. With that said, an individual who is the person who files a divorce complaint may also experience denial even if he or she initiated the marriage dissolution case in the first instance.

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One of the most challenging aspects of parents making the decision to end their marriage is finding the best way to tell their children of their intentions. Parents understandably want to limit the emotional impact divorce has on children whenever possible. Nonetheless, issues surrounding children and divorce are complex and fraught with the possibility for challenges. With all of this in mind, there are some tactics to consider employing when it comes to how you tell your children about your decision to divorce.

Establish a Unified Front as Parents

Co-parenting is word that you will hear or read with some regularity when it comes to a divorce involving children. You and your spouse need to find a way to co-parent going forward into the future in order to protect the best interests of your children.

An ideal time to begin the process of co-parenting is when you inform your children that you have made a decision to divorce. If at all possible, you and your spouse should discuss the decision to seek a marriage dissolution together. The wellbeing of your children is better served if both parents share in communicating the decision to divorcer with their offspring. Continue Reading →

High-asset or high net worth divorces have historically been those in which more than $1 million in liquid assets are involved. Given the skyrocketing values of property in recent years, simply owning a modest home in certain cities may be enough to technically qualify as a high-asset divorce. However, the typical high-asset divorce today involves multi-million-dollar property ownership.

The issues in a high-asset divorce are the same as in any divorce. Property and debts must be divided, alimony may be considered, and where children are involved, child support, custody, and visitation need to be addressed. The issue that usually makes high asset divorces more difficult, costly, and time-consuming is property division.

Spouses in high net worth divorces may own multiple properties or businesses, have investments, intellectual property, stocks, retirement accounts, and valuable items of personal property such as artwork, furniture, jewelry, and vehicles. There may be issues involving deferred compensation, stock voting rights, and real estate or business partnerships that can prove difficult to sort out. Continue Reading →

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Many people in the United States have general ideas of what is involved in divorce proceedings, even when they personally have not been involved in such cases themselves. Television shows and films regularly feature divorce cases and marriage dissolution proceedings as part of their productions. With that said, a most Americans likely are unfamiliar with a guardian ad litem and what such a person does in a divorce case.

There are three primary points of consideration when it comes to having a basic understanding of the functions of a guardian ad litem in a divorce case:

  • Definition of guardian ad litem
  • Types of domestic court or family court cases in which a guardian ad litem is appointed
  • Guardian ad litem and child custody and parenting time issues

Definition of a Guardian Ad Litem

The training and functions of individuals appointed by courts to serve as a guardian ad litem are based on the provisions of the laws of a particular state. There can be some fairly significant differences in the laws from one state to another.

With that said, the basic definition used across the country is a person appointed by a court to watch over or protect an individual during a judicial proceeding. At first blush, this may sound like the duties of an attorney representing a party to a case. In fact, in many jurisdictions, a guardian ad litem has a law degree and additional specialized training. Continue Reading →

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Many people are familiar with the most basic types of custody arrangements in divorce, separation, and paternity cases. They likely have some basic concept of joint custody, sole custody, and shared custody. What they probably are unfamiliar with is a fairly new custodial concept known as bird’s nest custody. With that in mind, there are some basic facts and factors important to understand about bird’s nest custody:

  • Basic definition of bird’s nest custody
  • Bird’s nest custody and the best interests of a child
  • Enhanced stability for a child
  • Challenges if a parent has a new relationship

Basic Definition of Bird’s Nest Custody

Bird’s nest custody is an arrangement in which the child or children always reside in the same residence during and after a divorce of legal separation. Each parent takes turns staying in that residence with the minor child, a process oftentimes referred to as “bird nesting.” Bird’s nest custody differs from more traditional schemes where the child shuttles back and forth between the two residences maintained by the parents. Continue Reading →

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Parenting time is the legal term of art applied to the time noncustodial parents spend with children in divorce, legal separation, and paternity actions. The phrase “parenting time” has been broadly adopted in the past generation as a replacement to “visitation,” the long-used term used to identify the time spent between noncustodial parents and children. Generally, parenting time should be regular and generous. The objective is to ensure that noncustodial parents and children develop meaningful relationships. Understanding this basic background, situations to arise when supervised parenting time or visitation becomes necessary.

A number of points warrant discussion when considering supervised parenting time. These include:

  • Overview of parenting time supervision
  • Situations that give rise to need for parenting time supervision
  • Termination of supervised parenting time
  • Suspension of parenting time

Overview of Parenting Time Supervision

When an issue arises as to whether parenting time should be supervised, a court applies a judicial standard that focuses on what is in the best interests of a child. Supervised parenting time is instituted when protecting and preserving the best interests of a child necessitates this step, a move that is considered drastic in the grand scheme of things. Continue Reading →

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In the United States, there are two different schemes through which a couple can obtain a divorced. These are a fault divorce and a no-fault divorce. A fault divorce requires a person seeking to end a marriage to demonstrate some type of “wrongdoing” (like adultery). A no-fault divorce doesn’t require a demonstration of wrongdoing. Rather, a person seeking a no-fault divorce typically must demonstrate irreconcilable differences, that the parties can no longer successfully live together as husband and wife. There are five important benefits associated with a no-fault divorce:

  • Designed to make divorce less emotionally charged
  • Crafted to be a faster way to pursue divorce
  • Intended to reduce costs associated with divorce
  • Enhances prospects for better communication between parties
  • Causes less stress for children

Designed to Make Divorce Less Emotionally Charged

Even a divorce considered “uncontested” has its share of emotions. When the need to prove some sort of fault in order to end a marriage is required, the level of emotions associated with a divorce naturally are apt to amp up.

One of the more important benefits associated with a no-fault divorce is that this type of marriage dissolution case has a greater possibility to be less emotionally charged. Ramped up emotions in a divorce case oftentimes results in parties making decisions based on their passions rather than reflective deliberation. In the end, intelligent, reflective, less emotional decision making in a divorce proceeding is to the ultimate benefit of both spouses. Continue Reading →

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During the early stages of a divorce case, the parties to a marriage dissolution are required by law and order of the court to provide a verified listing of assets and debts. The parties must provide their respective list to the “opposing side” and file a copy with the court as well. A verified listing of assets and debts means that it is filed with the court under penalty of perjury. In New Jersey, this list of assets and debts are included in a Case Information Statement that is required to be filed with the court.  Unfortunately, referenced to a perjury penalty sometimes is not sufficient to prevent a spouse in a divorce from filing an incomplete accounting of assets. There are five signs that your spouse may be hiding assets in a divorce case:

  • Spouse has a history of dishonesty when it comes to finances
  • Spouse has a history of keeping you in the dark regarding finances
  • Spouse owns a business
  • Spouse has made threats associated with property
  • Asset list provided by spouse appears incomplete

Spouse has a History of Dishonesty when it comes to Finances

You may be married to a person who has a history of being dishonest with you in regard to financial issues. The reality is that many divorces arise out of disputes associated with property and debts. If your spouse has an established track record of being less than transparent in regard to assets, you would be prudent to start from the position in your divorce case that your spouse’s asset disclosures are likely to be incomplete.

Spouse Has a History of Keeping You in the Dark Regarding Finances

In many marriages, one spouse plays a primary role in overseeing the couple’s finances. This may have been the proverbial natural state of your marriage. You were responsible for certain matters and your spouse for others, including finance management. Your spouse may not have been dishonest regarding finances in the past, you just were not fully involved with such matters. If your spouse kept you in the dark regarding financial matters during the marriage, that practice may carry forth into the divorce, when your spouse may have an eye on keeping a larger share of property than he or she is entitled. Continue Reading →

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Time and again in marriage dissolution proceedings and post-divorce cases, the most contentious matters center on child custody. A pervasive problem during and after divorce proceedings is a noncustodial parent interfering with a standing child custody order of the court. With this in mind, there are some more commonplace issues that arise in regard to interference with child custody. In each of the 50 states, there are some effective remedies in place to address interference with child custody.

Overview of Child Custody

The laws in the 50 states provide for two categories of child custody. These are legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is defined as the authority of a parent to make major life decisions on behalf of a minor child. Legal custody can be exercised by one parent or shared by both, depending on the agreement of the parties or order of the court. Matters that encompass major life decisions include those related to education, religion, and healthcare.

In very basic terms, physical custody involves with which parent a child resides during and after divorce proceeds. Physical custody is also known as residential custody in some jurisdictions. Continue Reading →

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A parenting time order establishes when a noncustodial parent will be with the child or children born in a partnership (or an order handed down in a paternity case). Parenting time historically had been known as visitation. The term has changed in most jurisdictions to reflect the fact that a noncustodial parent and a minor child should not be reduced to the position of being visitors in each other’s lives. Circumstances may arise when a desire arises to change a parenting time order. There are some facts and factors to bear in mind when it comes to the process to alter or amend a parenting time order:

  • Seek agreement to change parenting time order
  • Judicial standard when seeking to change parenting time
  • Suspend parenting time due to an emergency
  • Motion to alter or amend parenting time order

Seek Agreement to Change Parenting Time Order

There is a legitimate preference for divorced parents to work together when it comes to matters associated with their children. If a situation arises in which a change of parenting time is considered for one reason or another, in an ideal state the parents should try to work out an agreement between them regarding a change of a parenting time order. Continue Reading →

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