7 Ways to Ready Your Finances for Divorce

By Elizabeth Renter
For some couples, no amount of marriage counseling is enough to avoid a divorce. It’s a tough process emotionally and financially.

Untangling two people’s money is messy. Long before spousal or child support is awarded or your post-divorce budget is in place, you’ll need to prepare your finances for the work ahead.

Because each divorce is unique, specific advice can only come from experts familiar with your case. However, the following tips should point you in the right direction.

1. Be wary of well-meaning advice
Divorce laws vary by state, so be cautious of advice that seems to be a one-size-fits-all solution — whether you read it online or received it from a friend. If you’re unsure whether you should move money, change accounts or make any other financial moves pre-divorce, consult with an attorney licensed in your state.

2. Track expenses — and anticipate future ones
As soon as you know divorce is inevitable, begin tracking your household income and expenses. This will not only help build a budget post-divorce, but it is also crucial for your attorney and later the judge in deciding how to split assets and debts, and whether to award spousal or child support.

If you’ve already been tracking as part of your budget, even better: You have a record of past months and years. If not, start now, and include household bills, food, clothing, entertainment, home maintenance, transportation, child care and anything else that you spend money on. Use your bank and credit card statements to estimate spending from past years. Next, project future expenses.

“Look beyond the normal monthly expenses and include things like your holiday trips, vacations and seemingly ‘one-time’ expenses like replacing the dishwasher,” says Avani Ramnani, a certified divorce financial advisor with Francis Financial in New York City. Use previous years as a guide, but remember, circumstances change. For example, if you have children, you’ll transition from spending on child care to spending on after-school activities and eventually car insurance and college tuition.

Read the Full Article: NerdWallet.com

5 Pieces Of Parenting Advice To Help Children Adjust Post-Divorce

By Joshua Stern
Now that you’re divorced, you may be wondering how your role as a parent must change. The truth is it doesn’t need to change much if at all. Instead, you now need to consider your parental role in light of the new relationship you have with your ex as co-parents, and how each of you can make your children’s adjustment to your divorce as seamless as possible. It may mean not fixing what’s not broken and, on the flip side, fixing what may be very broken, like the way in which you relate to your former spouse.

As a divorce and family law attorney who has counseled hundreds of clients through their divorces, I am comfortable sharing a few pieces of wisdom I have gleaned about how to create an easier transition for children of divorce when the dust does finally settle. Whether you were involved in an amicable or high-conflict split, as parents it is incumbent upon you to see your children through this difficult time with as little disruption as possible. Here’s how.

1. Be consistent. Creating stability post-divorce is critical. As children begin traveling back and forth between two houses, it is important for them to know what you expect of them. Establishing a unified set of rules, such as a curfew, bedtime, and time allotted for playing video games will go a long way toward easing insecurities that may arise when one household splits into two. Children crave structure and will strive to meet your expectations—as long as they know what they are.

2. Don’t disparage. You may think your spouse is evil but to your children, your ex is someone they love. As children grow up and become independent, they struggle to reconcile their identity with where they came from and what qualities they have inherited from their parents, physical or otherwise. Do your best to keep such conversations at bay, remembering that when you criticize a parent, you are inadvertently criticizing the child.

Read the Full Article: Huffingtonpost.com

Gray Divorce & How Working In Retirement Might Just Save Your Marriage

Source: Forbes.com

By Joseph Coughlin

Alice and Henry were attending a retirement seminar for those in their 60s and 70s when the topic of divorce in later life came up. The facilitator revealed that it was most often the wife who asked for divorce after age 50. The women in the group started nodding in unison.

Then laughter erupted when the discussion turned to why older women sour on their marriages. While infidelity and money were causes for some, boredom or “he bores me” was a major reason women decided to make the exit. As I argue in my new book, The Longevity Economy, when thinking about the future of older age and retirement, the future is female and many men may find that out the hard way.

The men began to understand that the joke was on them.

With Henry standing a half step behind her, Alice lamented that now that he was retired, he was always around, a constant presence in the house. “I married him for life, not for lunch,” she said with a wry smile.

Retirement is often envisioned as a life stage where a couple finally gets time together. The kids are gone, the work is done; now there is time for us. But that uninterrupted time together may not always be the reward that many assume as they plan for retirement.

Since 1990, divorce rates for those over age 50 years old have doubled while declining across all other age groups. In fact, data indicates that since 1960, “gray divorce” in the United States has increased 700%.

Likewise, in the United Kingdom, divorce after age 50 has become so common that older divorcees have their own name – silver separators. Japan has seen divorces in 30-plus year marriages increase by four times in the last couple decades, garnering the name retired husband syndrome.

Read full article on Forbes.com

From Divorce, a Fractured Beauty

SEPT. 24, 2015 – By Lara Bazelon – NYTimes.com

Happy families are not all alike.

Picture this one. A mother and father sit on a beach on the Fourth of July with their two children, a boy, 6, and a girl, 4.

The parents are just on the other side of 40, still relatively young, still relatively attractive. Their children are beautiful: hazel-eyed, tawny and sparkling with precocious intelligence. They revel in the simple joys of sand and saltwater, wading into ocean waves that roll up in green cylinders before melting into white froth.

The scene I am describing is not fiction, and neither is it a single spark culled from an ash heap. Over the course of the five-day vacation, many similar scenes unspool in varying forms but with unvarying equanimity. The family hums along smoothly, splashing in the community pool, eating scrambled eggs and cheering as the fuzzy television shows the United States women’s soccer team winning the World Cup.

There are no harsh words, no frosty silences, no recriminations. When the mother and father are alone with each other, there is quiet conversation about work and school and camp, about what to make for dinner. There is even, occasionally, shared laughter.

The mother and father do not fight over the laundry. They do not fight over money. They do not fight over their marriage. There is no laundry or money or marriage to fight over. Not anymore.

Until this Fourth of July family vacation, the mother and father had not slept under the same roof in 18 months. The ink on their no-contest judgment of marital dissolution still felt fresh to them.

But they decided to take their two small children on a vacation together, to a beach house on an isolated stretch of bluffs in Northern California, and it is a happy one.

This is my story. I am the mother. It’s the story of my family.

I grew up in a loving but undeniably hard-charging and overachieving environment, a world of moral absolutes: good/bad, success/failure, right/wrong. The worst thing you could do in my house was lie; the second worst was quit. Losing was acceptable (sort of). But quitting? Never.

Read full article – NYtimes.com

The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On

Cumulative share of marriages ending in divorce

source: NewYorkTimes.com

Divorce rates increased in the 1970s and 1980s, but in the last 20 years they have dropped.

marriage-graph
When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin “consciously uncoupled” this year, ABC News said it was the latest example of the out-of-control divorce rate, “50 percent and climbing.”

When Fox News anchors were recently lamenting high poverty levels, one of them blamed the fact that “the divorce rate is going up.”

And when Bravo introduced its divorce reality show, “Untying the Knot,” this summer, an executive at the network called it “a way to look at a situation that 50 percent of married couples unfortunately end up in.”

But here is the thing: It is no longer true that the divorce rate is rising, or that half of all marriages end in divorce. It has not been for some time. Even though social scientists have tried to debunk those myths, somehow the conventional wisdom has held.

Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.

About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce, according to data from Justin Wolfers, a University of Michigan economist (who also contributes to The Upshot). There are many reasons for the drop in divorce, including later marriages, birth control and the rise of so-called love marriages. These same forces have helped reduce the divorce rate in parts of Europe, too. Much of the trend has to do with changing gender roles — whom the feminist revolution helped and whom it left behind.

“Two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women,” said William Doherty, a marriage therapist and professor of family social science at University of Minnesota, “so when you’re talking about changes in divorce rates, in many ways you’re talking about changes in women’s expectations.”

The marriage trends aren’t entirely happy ones. They also happen to be a force behind rising economic and social inequality, because the decline in divorce is concentrated among people with college degrees. For the less educated, divorce rates are closer to those of the peak divorce years.

Of college-educated people who married in the early 2000s, only about 11 percent divorced by their seventh anniversary, the last year for which data is available. Among people without college degrees, 17 percent were divorced, according to Mr. Wolfers.

Working-class families often have more traditional notions about male breadwinners than do the college-educated — yet economic changes have left many of the men in these families struggling to find work. As a result, many wait to achieve a level of stability that never comes and thus never marry, while others split up during tough economic times.

“As the middle of our labor market has eroded, the ability of high school-educated Americans to build a firm economic foundation for a marriage has been greatly reduced,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist and author of “Labor’s Love Lost: The Rise and Fall of the Working-Class Family in America.” “Better-educated Americans have found a new marriage model in which both spouses work and they build a strong economic foundation for their marriage.”

Some of the decline in divorce clearly stems from the fact that fewer people are getting married — and some of the biggest declines in marriage have come among groups at risk of divorce. But it also seems to be the case that marriages have gotten more stable, as people are marrying later.

Ultimately, a long view is likely to show that the rapid rise in divorce during the 1970s and early 1980s was an anomaly. It occurred at the same time as a new feminist movement, which caused social and economic upheaval. Today, society has adapted, and the divorce rate has declined again.

In the 1950s and 1960s, marriage was about a breadwinner husband and a homemaker wife, who both needed the other’s contributions to the household but didn’t necessarily spend much time together. In the 1970s, all that changed.

Read the full article: NewYorkTimes.com

Divorce mediator wants to help Hill

source: politico.com

By PATRICK GAVIN

divorce-mediator-pamphlet-congress-courtesy

Strange solutions have been proposed before to get members of Congress to get along , but this time, a divorce mediator thinks she could help.

Carol Bailey has handled family disputes for decades in her work as a lawyer at Seattle’s Integrative Family Law, and she’s applying her vocation to ease Washington’s gridlock. In her pamphlet, “Easing Congressional Gridlock: A Divorce Mediator’s Guide for the union that can’t dissolve,” Bailey applies reconciliation principles to politicians.

“Because I spend my days helping couples communicate to solve real life problems, I can’t avoid seeing the hallmarks of a dysfunctional marriage in the current Congress: tiresome bickering while neglecting the needs of the family,” Bailey writes. “Let’s not fall back into this pattern.”

She organizes her advice into 10 categories, which include, “Know your purpose and don’t get distracted,” “Discipline yourself to avoid negative accusations,” “Generate a desire to listen and hear. You don’t learn anything new when you are talking” and “Resist the culture of negativity and lead through inspiring others.”

Read the full article: politico.com

T. Boone Pickens on how to save millions on your divorce

Dallas_PickensBooneT 304by Bill Hethcock – Staff Writer- Dallas Business Journal

Billionaire T. Boone Pickens is clearly a man who knows a good deal when he sees one.

That’s why he used a collaborative divorce approach in his recent parting of ways from his fourth wife, Madeleine.

Pickens told a room full of lawyers about his experience Friday during a lunchtime panel in Dallas.

The State Bar of Texas didn’t let me into the room for his talk, saying it was a paid, private event, but I was able to grab a couple of comments from Pickens on the way out of the Hotel Palomar.

The collaborative approach saves both money and emotional wear and tear on families, the energy tycoon told me.

“Collaborative law keeps everything on a high level, and everybody cooperating,” Pickens said.

I asked him how much the collaborative approach saved him?

“Money?” he deadpanned. “About $100 million.”

He cracked a smile and revised his answer to “several million.”

Pickens is such a believer in the process that he gave the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas $100,000.

Pickens, who’s fond of saying “the first billion is the hardest,” said his second divorce was the toughest. He didn’t use the collaborative approach on that one.

Any chance he’ll marry again, I asked, feeling a bit funny about raising the question.

“No plans,” Pickens said as he walked out of the hotel, “but don’t rule it out.”

Read the full article here > bizjournals.com

Group Offers Alternative Divorce Process

BY JULIE LEVIN – SPECIAL TO THE MIAMI HERALD
[dcs_p]After 26 years of marriage, Dale Leblang’s marriage was coming to an end. The Boca Raton man and his wife wanted to find a way to end their union as quickly and civilly as possible. Acting on a recommendation from a friend, they turned to a process known as collaborative divorce and they had their divorce agreement just six weeks later.

“Even though divorce is a very stressful situation, by doing it this way, it could be done much quicker, much cheaper and with much less stress,” Leblang said.

Though the collaborative process has been around for some time in Europe, Australia, Canada and parts of the United States, it is just now gaining a following in Florida, thanks in part to the Collaborative Family Lawyers of South Florida.

Created 10 years ago and incorporated in 2001, Collaborative Family Lawyers is a network of 40 Broward County lawyers plus 40 financial and mental health professionals trained in collaboration as an alternative to traditional litigation. All negotiations are done outside of the courtroom.

“It is very private and confidential,” said attorney Enid Ponn, one of the founding members, who is with the law firm Miller & Ponn in Weston.

Without traditional and often messy litigation, the collaborative process is a fraction of the usual cost.

Each side must come to the table, ready and willing to work out an agreement. They must each be represented by their own attorney, Ponn said.

Psychologists and CPAs are brought in to help work out financial and child care issues to avoid a trip to court. Depending on the complexity of a divorce, an agreement can sometimes be reached after only one to two meetings. If an agreement can’t be reached, the lawyers involved must withdraw.

For more information, visit www.collaborativefamilylawfl.com

Now That You Have Decided to Get Divorced, Choose the Collaborative Process

By Enid Ponn

Breaking up a family is extremely sad. Add to that the devastating nature of the divorce process itself, and the result is a traumatic and destructive event. Unfortunately, in litigation, the “event” can take a year or two to conclude.

During this time, your life is not your own. You attend depositions, hearings, conferences, mediations, appointments to prepare for trial and and the trial itself. Time away from work and the loss of productivity is just one of the costs paid by those involved in divorce litigation. The negative impact on the children is often irreparable. Conflict resulting from heightened family discord, not the divorce itself that has the potential to cause emotional distress.

If the prospect of litigation does not attract you, but your marriage is irretrievably broken, there is some good news. You can partake in an alternate process to acquire your divorce called collaborative divorce or the collaborative process.

Spouses still have their own attorneys, but rather than each paying a pit bull lawyer to spar in court, the couple and attorneys agree to work together every step of the way to create a specially customized plan for each family. Collaborative attorneys are specially trained in this process and sign written Participation Agreement which states that if the case does not settle, they will not litigate the case, but will withdraw as counsel. Their only focus and motivation is to resolve the issues out of court in this non-adversarial, streamlined process which is based on open and constructive communication, not confrontation. If they cannot settle the case, they are out of a job.

Recently, collaborative divorce attorney are working with a financial professional and a mental health professional as part of an interdisciplinary team, all of whom have been trained in the collaborative process. Issues are resolved through a series of meetings: the process is client-driven: the couple makes their own decisions about their assets and about their children. No decisions are imposed upon them by a judge. A successful collaborative case spare children the anguish of parents who fight forever.

Celebrities such as Robin Williams and Roy Disney have chosen the collaborative process to get their divorces. With collaborative divorce, there is no need to step into a court room until the final paperwork is filed, providing the couples with a degree of privacy and confidentiality not possible in litigation.

Mediation was once thought to be merely an experiment that would not last and is now a permanent part of our legal system. Collaborative family law is destined to be the way of handling divorces in the future. In the last decade the collaborative process was introduced to Florida and we now see that it is finally taking off. After all, who would not choose an alternative that is healthier for everyone, less time consuming and less expensive?

Cameron Crowe, Nancy Wilson Divorcing

Director Cameron Crowe and his wife, Nancy Wilson, filed divorce papers this week in Los Angeles. Wilson, a member of the rock band Heart since 1974, technically filed the divorce petition (available at TMZ.com) but it appears to be a collaborative divorce in which both parties have worked together to settle all related matters prior to filing in court.

Wilson, a singer and songwriter from the rock band Heart, filed divorce papers Thursday in L.A. County Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. She lists June 15, 2008, as the date of their separation.

Crowe and Wilson first met in 1982. That same year, she made a brief appearance in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, a film written by Crowe. (Crowe went on to write and direct movies like Say Anything, Singles, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous.) They married on July 23, 1986.

The couple have 10-year-old twin boys, William and Curtis. Crowe and Wilson have apparently agreed to joint physical and legal custody of the children. It also appears that they have agreed that Crowe will pay Wilson spousal support.

California’s Family Code, Section 2013 provides:

(a) If a written agreement is entered into by the parties, the parties may utilize a collaborative law process to resolve any matter governed by this code over which the court is granted jurisdiction.

(b) “Collaborative law process” means the process in which the parties and any professionals engaged by the parties to assist them agree in writing to use their best efforts and to make a good faith attempt to resolve disputes related to the family law matters as referenced in subdivision (a) on an agreed basis without resorting to adversary judicial intervention.

Our guess is that Wilson and Crowe, quite admirably and maturely, were able to spend the time since their separation discussing and mediating how best to handle the custody of their children and division of their substantial marital assets.

Almost all of Crowe’s film successes came after the couple was married – thus, making the proceeds of those efforts community property. Heart had tremendous success in the late ’70s, prior to the marriage. It is unknown though how the proceeds of early Heart hits compare to those that came in the late ’80s (during the marriage). Heart has continued to record and tour until today (they actually just released a new album which debuted at #10 on the Billboard album chart). Wilson also wrote and scored for the soundtracks to several of Crowe’s films.

All of that is to say that division of the couple’s marital assets could not have been a simple process. Kudos to them for engaging in the collaborative process and keeping it away from trial and out of the tabloids.

Library Topics: divorce, collaborative divorce, custody, spousal support, distribution of assets, marital property, community property, California family law

Article source: myfamilylaw.com