Just a few days ago, social media was trending with its usual celebrity gossip and sports news, but an interesting family law case in Michigan snuck into the mix. A judge in Michigan sent three children to juvenile detention for refusing to have lunch with their father (if you haven’t had a chance to read the story, click here). As a collaborative lawyer who tries to help clients avoid hostile court battles, this story especially peaked my interest. After seeing much commentary and debate on the situation, I gave some thought to my own take on the story.
The plot of this very engrossing courtroom drama revolves around an Israeli woman’s desire for a divorce and her husband’s refusal to agree. Viviane, the wife, needs a gett, which is a divorce document that is only obtainable in Israel by going through the rabbinical court. The process can take years and there is no civil recourse. It is up to the husband, Elisha in this case, whether to give the wife a divorce. This film shows that personal freedom can be difficult, if not impossible to achieve. I will leave the issues of how much liberty was taken with the story or whether it accurately depicts the rabbinical court for others to discuss. My focus is the contrast offered up by the film in individual freedom and the right to make choices in marital agreements that benefit both spouses and their children. Continue Reading
The importance of keeping the children’s interests at heart and the best ways to handle communication with children is often emphasized through the divorce process. No matter how old the children may be, they react to their parents’ divorce in different ways. What happens to the children after the divorce process is completed? One parent may be moving out of the family home and starting new in a different place and, in some cases, the family home may be sold and everyone will move. While it is a new beginning for that parent, it is also a brand new home for the children. What can you do to help make your new residence a comfortable second home for your children?
I recently read an article discussing a current “phenomenon” of the Gray Divorce – a term used for couples divorcing in their later years. Although I can’t say I like the name for it, I was prompted to do my own research as to why older couples are now choosing divorce at a higher rate than in earlier years. Over the years there has been somewhat of a cultural shift when it comes to the traditional definition of marriage. The lines between acceptable and unacceptable have become blurred, including general views on divorce. In years past, there was a social stigma attached to divorce, and along with specific religious issues, divorce was not a viable option for many people. However, because a lot of those ideals have become more relaxed over the years, couples who might not have been able to divorce in the past can do so now. While cultural and religious changes can account for some divorces, there are other reasons to consider for older generations as well.
Now that the holiday season is upon us, people tend to get pulled into a bunch of different directions. From holiday planning to finishing up odds and ends before the New Year, the holiday season can bring forth a lot of stress. Last year, I wrote about tips for a happy and successful holiday season. This year, I’m expanding on my list to include some more helpful information.
Many couples flock to beautiful upstate New York in the Fall for the gorgeous foliage. This month, quick-service divorces can also be added to the Fall getaway. The Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, New York will debut its newest feature – a designation as a “Divorce Hotel.”
The hotel sits on a beautiful piece of land and has been considered a great wedding venue for years. The “Divorce Hotel” concept has actually been in practice in Europe recently, and now the US will be giving it a try. The general premise is that instead of worrying about a long, drawn-out and hostile process, couples can come for a weekend getaway and have their divorce taken care of, while enjoying scenic walks and spa treatments during the process. While I appreciate the idea of not wanting to prolong what is already a difficult process, I, as a mediator, question whether this approach provides couples with an environment conducive to informed decision-making. Given the delicate and complex nature of divorce, coupled with its lasting consequences, checking into the Divorce Hotel should only be done, if at all, in very limited circumstances.
I recently read about a divorce case in Oklahoma that caught my interest because it is being dubbed “the priciest divorce ever.” Whether it’s the financial aspect or another issue, in family law it is always important to understand how the rules will be applied to your own personal situation. All states generally divide property with the goal of achieving a fair result. The difference is in the rules used to reach that result. Because Oklahoma is an equitable distribution state, like New York, I took a closer read. To be clear, an equitable distribution state looks not to just divide assets in a 50/50 manner, it instead looks for the fairest division of the property considering several factors. Only marital property is divided by the Court. Each spouse gets to keep his or her own separate property.
The case I read involves an Oklahoma billionaire, named Harold Hamm, who is at risk of losing much of his fortune. How the case will ultimately turn out depends on how his fortune actually grew. Asset appreciation is classified as either active or passive, and it is this classification that will determine just how much has to be paid out.
I’ve written a few pieces on divorce and always tried to point out how the divorce process can be different for every couple, depending on their specific circumstances. With the amount of military families in America, it is also important to consider certain differences and issues that a military divorce may present.
Many people reinvent themselves in one way or another during and after the divorce process. For some, a move to a different place is in order, for others even a simple revamping of their wardrobe or new look helps as a new beginning. However, some people are forced to deal with the stressful task of reentering the workforce, when they might not have worked outside the home for an extended period of time during their marriage. Although both men and women can experience this, there are a higher number of women that need to reenter the workforce after divorce.
While it is no secret that the job market is less than stellar, there are certain things that people can keep in mind that may make the job search a little less stressful. A good first step is to clarify goals and priorities. The next step is to make an honest assessment of experience and skills. It can be very helpful to enlist the aid of a qualified professional, such as a vocational counselor or career coach, to help you examine your top interests, the skills you want to employ, and the best work environment. They can also help you assess projected income and benefits. Gaining information about interviewing, resume preparation and internet research will help you plan for a smart transition. A good way to find a vocational counselor or career coach is to ask your matrimonial lawyer for a referral.
Social media is also utilized by the majority of people. Many of us are familiar with the friend requests, constant invitations to use a certain app or game, and the countless photo albums that our family and friends post online. However, using social media as a networking tool can be incredibly valuable in the job search. Depending on your background, reaching out to people you know in your own field can help get you in the door for interviews and even jobs. If you don’t necessarily have a job history and are looking for your first job, it will be still be useful to reach out to people that you know – they may be able to offer you some insight into how to decide what to apply for, and how to sell yourself in the interview.
Speaking of social media, technology itself has evolved immensely over the years. Depending on when your last job was, there is undoubtedly at least some new techniques that are being used with a newer technology. It is important to not let yourself get intimidated by this! You probably know at least a few people who are more than willing to “show you the ropes” with some technology, and there is a slew of online courses offered by companies as well as community colleges so that you can become more versed on different software and processes.
A simple Internet search of “National Divorce Month” will result in a stack of articles discussing how lawyers encounter a heavy volume of calls right after the holidays, giving January the unfortunate moniker of ‘National Divorce Month.’ 2014 has been no different. Last month we once again saw divorce attorneys writing about how the phones began to ring off the hook once the holiday season officially ended. On the surface, it makes sense. Many couples choose to prolong beginning the divorce or separation process until after the already busy and stressful holidays are over. It can be especially difficult for couples with children, because parents are hesitant to interrupt the child’s holiday with news of a divorce. Many people tend to look at the New Year as a “fresh start” and a chance to begin again, so choosing to begin the divorce process in the New Year seems like the best alternative.
Is there ever really a “right” time to initiate a divorce or separation? Many articles written about January divorces point to the many reasons why people choose to begin the process at that time, and why it makes sense to wait until after the holidays. The most important thing, though, is for the spouses to evaluate their own marital life and family. Several of my blogs have made mention of the fact that every family is different and thus, every divorce is also different. This rings true no matter what the highest divorce month may be.
The decision to divorce or separate is an important one, to say the least. Every couple has considerations to keep in mind before deciding if divorce is the right path to take. In making an assessment of the marital life as well as family life, couples should make sure to have open and honest communication, and not rush the process. Some couples find it helpful to sit down with a couples’ counselor or mediator in order to really get everything on the table. A very important aspect of assessing the situation is to become educated on all of the options available. Taking an active role in decision-making is helpful in reaching decisions about what to do.