For couples facing divorce, the accompanying changes may seem endless. An often overlooked, yet extremely important consideration for divorcing couples is a review of the existing wills and other estate planning documents such as a health care proxy, financial power of attorney, and living will. Other documents that should be reviewed are beneficiary designation forms for retirement assets and life insurance policies. Often, a party’s recollection of the beneficiary designations and other provisions is not consistent with the documents. All of these forms should be looked over carefully upon a divorce to ensure that the documents reflect each party’s intentions and conform to the Separation and Settlement Agreement entered into by the parties. If there is a prenuptial agreement in place, it should also be reviewed to determine what the other spouse is entitled to in the event of death. 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
Prenuptial agreements (“prenups”), much like relationships themselves, are not “one size fits all.” Each couple has a unique set of goals and issues to be addressed. The content of a prenup reflects these individual objectives. People hesitant about obtaining a prenup often conflate the idea with certain common misconceptions and opinions. One sentiment often brought up is the notion that prenups only prepare for divorce. However, the principal goal of a prenup is to clarify expectations about the couple’s future regardless of whether there is a divorce. I have written in the past about the benefits of prenups for all kinds of couples. A prenup can act as a platform for compromise, while allowing couples to be proactive about their future, the management of their assets, and the expectations for their lifestyle. Once a couple does decide to obtain a prenup, what should the agreement actually cover? Continue Reading
With Valentine’s Day upon us, it is a great opportunity to discuss the positive effects that prenups can have on a relationship. In my book, Prenups and the Elephant in the Room, I cover the common misconceptions about prenups, and how couples can work together to face these misconceptions. Below is an excerpt from my book which discusses the misconceptions themselves, as well as how couples can use these misconceptions to start the discussion about a prenup. Continue Reading
The collaborative process offers many benefits to parties that are willing to work together to reach a solution in a non-confrontational environment. When parties put in a good-faith effort to communicate respectfully, a mutually beneficial solution can be reached. Part of respectful communication includes not only speaking in a respectful way; it also means actively listening with that same respect. During the divorce process, parties are understandably stressed and/or anxious, and this may affect how discussions progress. When both parties come to the table eager to have their points heard, the equally important aspect of listening may sometimes be overlooked. With this in mind, I have compiled some considerations to aid in the active listening process during a collaborative discussion: Continue Reading
As 2019 begins, I took some time to look back over the topics I visited in blogs during 2018. I started 2018 by writing a piece on maintaining respect during conflict resolution. Conflict resolution was a recurring theme in not only my practice, but in much of the front page news. I even looked into whether a talking stick may actually aid during an impasse in negotiations. There were many high-profile conflicts in the news throughout the year, about everyone from celebrities to politicians. It felt important for me to keep in mind the importance of respect and cooperation in disputes, and as a new year starts fresh, I wanted to highlight some of my own thoughts for the beginning of 2019: Continue Reading
As divorced parents plan the family’s first holiday season under new parenting arrangements, there may still be lingering stress and tension from the divorce. Each parent undoubtedly wants to spend as much time as possible with the children, and even when formal arrangements have been agreed upon, it may be hard to stick to the schedule. Focusing on a solid co-parenting plan and keeping the children as the main focus can not only provide for a smoother holiday, it may also lay the groundwork for the New Year to come.
Co-parenting arrangements come in all forms and are tailored for the unique needs of each family. A common arrangement is for the parents to alternate each holiday on an annual basis. Sometimes parents may opt to split holiday time equally – perhaps Christmas morning is spent with the mother and Christmas evening with the father. Alternatively, parents may arrange a holiday schedule so that the children celebrate certain holidays the weekend prior to the actual holiday, and then spend the actual holiday with the other parent.
Regardless of the arrangement, there are certain considerations for the parents, which could help, ease some of the unwanted stress and tension of the season:
The term “nesting” is used to describe an arrangement where the children remain in the family home while the divorcing parents take turns living in the family home and in another location. (The parents move in and out of the home rather than the children moving between homes.) Nesting is an option that some parents consider as a transitional parenting arrangement because they want to keep the children’s living arrangements in place for a period of time during and/or post divorce. In practice, nesting is something that requires cooperation and communication from both parents, and careful consideration should be given before nesting is used. Continue Reading
Prenuptial agreements are on the rise for Generation Y individuals, or “Millennials”, according to recent reports in the news. What is it about this group that is lending itself to an uptick in prenups? Continue Reading
Couples that select mediation are often looking for 3 things: 1) fairness, 2) to make their own decisions, and 3) a more economical way to reach resolution of their marital and family situation. Continue Reading