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
The Russian film Loveless, directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev, is an intense, provocative drama that can be viewed on many levels. It is a comment on what happens when a marriage breaks down as well as a critique of modern Russian society. Continue Reading
A benefit of using collaborative law for separation and divorce is that the parties can work together with a team of professionals to create a situation that works for everyone, including the children. Collaborative law allows attorneys and other neutral professionals help develop creative and practical solutions with a focus on the unique needs of each family. When there are children involved, decision-making and parenting access schedules can easily become positional discussions out of fear of loss or anger. That being said, most couples are eager to make their own decisions rather than have a third party decide the family’s fate. Most parents want to find a way to work together on a parenting plan that prioritizes what works best for the whole family. Continue Reading
Entering into a negotiation with uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing. Thinking that we know all of the answers before a negotiation starts can lead to less flexible, positional thinking. A reasonable agreement in divorce is different for each family. For that reason, we can enter into the negotiation with uncertainty about what is best for one particular family so long as we are flexible in considering available options and work in good faith to find the most reasonable solution. Some individuals chose to stay in limbo due to uncertainty about outcome. The uncertainty can lead to fear – that may prohibit productive thinking. Continue Reading