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
A prenuptial agreement is a written contract between two people that is entered into before marriage and takes effect upon marriage. This document has become more popular as couples realize the importance of clarifying expectations and setting a good foundation for communication about finances (and other issues) before the marriage.
Each couple has a unique set of goals and issues to be addressed and the prenup can be specifically tailored with that in mind. Without a prenup, state laws dictate who owns the property acquired during the marriage as well as what happens upon the dissolution of the marriage.
Why get a Prenup? 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.
Moms and Dads that choose mediation or collaborative law usually want to create a stable, healthy environment as the family reconfigures during a separation and divorce. A well thought out parenting plan helps children and parents move forward in a positive way. Continue Reading
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