Prenups, Post-nups and Separation Agreements are used to address finances and other issues concerning marital rights and obligations. As I have written in the past, prenuptial agreements are an opportunity for couples to have comprehensive discussions about each partner’s finances leading up to the wedding. Additionally, prenups provide an opportunity for the couple to navigate the financial path they would like to take during the marriage. Similarly, post-nuptial agreements afford couples the opportunity to have conversations about finances during the marriage. If a couple is contemplating divorce and has not executed a pre or post-nuptial agreement, a Separation Agreement can be negotiated. A Separation Agreement is a very detailed written contract that you and your spouse voluntarily sign without involving the court. It addresses all of the financial and other issues of the marriage. Continue Reading
The divorce process includes negotiating a plan for what will happen to assets and debt as well as the support needs of the family. There are many misconceptions about how social security benefits may be claimed after a divorce. Outlined below are some of the most common misconceptions about social security benefits for ex-spouses and general information on how the process works. Continue Reading
There is a distinction between irreconcilable and reconcilable differences when it comes to separation and divorce. The focus of this article is on the reconcilable ones. When the relationship changes to a point where there will be a separation and divorce, there are certain issues that need to be addressed so that both parties can financially disentangle and move on with their lives. Emotional disentanglement takes time. When there are children, emotions can be purposefully directed to a cooperative parenting plan so that the children can benefit from the qualities that each parent brings to the family. For more on co-parenting agreements, please see my article entitled: Co-parenting, Where do I start? Continue Reading
When parties initiate the divorce process, there are certain major issues that need to be addressed in coming to a final agreement. These issues include the distribution of property and debt, support (spousal and child, if applicable), health insurance, and custody and parenting arrangements. With the Coronavirus affecting many areas of daily life, some of these common divorce issues may become more complicated as parties work through divorce negotiations. Continue Reading
Even as some states loosen stay-at-home restrictions and businesses slowly start to reopen, many areas of everyday life remain effected by the Coronavirus. One of the major disruptions to everyday life has been the operation of local and state courts, and how issues and disputes are being resolved. While some areas are using video conferencing to conduct court business, other courts remain closed, putting a hold on the parties’ abilities to reach resolution. The divorce process has not been immune to these disruptions, as many family courts remain closed except in the case of emergency. Facts constituting an emergency are scrutinized. For individuals already engaged in the divorce process at the onset of the Coronavirus quarantining, or for those seeking to begin the process with the stay-at-home order already in effect, out-of-court divorce processes may provide resolution and relief. Continue Reading
I work with couples that are separating and divorcing so when Noah Baumbach’s film,“Marriage Story” first opened, I was curious and wanted to see it. “Marriage Story” renewed my strong conviction that the best ways to resolve conflict are through mediation and the collaborative law process. This marriage story shows what happens when things moves beyond a party’s control. The line in the film that stood out the most to me was: “You are fighting for something you don’t even want.” One striking moment in the film was the literal tug of war between the parents and the child. The parents in the film clearly love their son but their choices about how to resolve their dispute lead them down a difficult path to resolution.
What follows are some of the lessons to be learned from “Marriage Story”: Continue Reading
Divorce impacts many aspects of the parties’ lives, including parenting. Whether the conflict surrounding a separation and/or divorce is high or low, the children need to remain a priority in the decision-making that must take place. Two processes for divorce encourage healthy ways of co-parenting. This article addresses the benefits of collaborative divorce and mediation as they relate to children. In both processes, the focus is on what will work moving forward and negativity is discouraged. This promotes a healthier transition for the children to their new normal. I have outlined some of the benefits below.
Collaborative divorce and mediation may provide a healthier way to address the needs of the children.
Both the collaborative divorce and mediation processes are intended to be non-adversarial. Rather than a contentious “winner take all” approach, these processes allow for the parties to work together to create mutually beneficial settlements. Although the divorce process is often stressful and it may be difficult for parties to work together, the professionals encourage respectful dialogue and a cooperative, problem-solving approach rather than an adversarial one. Trained professionals are employed in each process to help facilitate the discussions and keep settlement meetings productive. Because the goal of each process is to reach a mutually beneficial settlement, the negotiations are then able to focus on the needs of the children and how the parties can provide for those needs post-divorce. The goal is to keep the children out of the middle.
Celebrity breakups tend to take news cycles by storm, and when there are pets involved, it raises a lot of questions about ‘pet custody’. Pop star Miley Cyrus has recently made headlines because of her high-profile separation with Hollywood actor Liam Hemsworth. The couple maintained an on-and-off relationship for years, and has been married for less than one year, having married in late 2018. Throughout the course of their relationship, the couple adopted and rescued many animals, including dogs, cats, and farm animals such as horses, mini horses, and pigs. Now that Liam Hemsworth has officially filed for divorce, who gets the pets? Continue Reading
You may have heard the recent story of a Michigan man who won an $80M lottery jackpot being ordered to split the money with his estranged wife (you can read the story here). When the man bought the ticket back in 2013, the couple had already been separated for about two years. The ticket won as the couple was still separated and in the process of obtaining a divorce. The couple had agreed to use an arbitrator for their divorce. In the case of the lottery winnings, the arbitrator noted that because “losses throughout the marriage were incurred jointly, so should winnings be shared jointly.” With the after-tax winnings totaling roughly $38M, the arbitrator awarded the wife $15M. Upon review of the appeals court, no errors were found. Continue Reading
Divorce and custody disputes are often material for tabloid front pages. Celebrity splits never seem to fall out of favor in the media, even though there are alternative and appropriate dispute resolution methods designed to minimize the hostility. Headlines for years have centered on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie – the once happy Hollywood couple nicknamed Brangelina by the media. The couple filed for divorce almost two years ago, yet updates on their relationship continue.. Just recently, reports came out about a “bitter” custody battle allegedly being waged by Jolie. When two parties go from a seemingly happy relationship to a contentious court battle, it might seem like the hopes for respectful and productive negotiations are gone. This does not have to be the case in a high conflict situation because the collaborative law process has created an environment where the focus is on the children and the structure encourages dignity and respect rather than inflame underlying hostilities. Continue Reading