When starting the divorce process, understanding the difference between the available process choices can help create the healthiest environment for the process to proceed. In addition to a traditional adversarial courtroom process, mediation and collaborative divorce each provide a process that focuses less on confrontation and more on an optimal result for both parties. While both mediation and collaborative divorce are non-adversarial, they each have key differences that should be considered when choosing the right process for your divorce. Continue Reading
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
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
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
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
Many parents come to mediation wanting a 50/50 parenting schedule. That usually means that both parents are concerned about maintaining a strong relationship with the children once Mom and Dad separate. Shared parenting is usually a positive experience when the parents cooperate to create a workable plan that respects the bond between both parents and each child. Continue Reading