Does ‘Separation’ Have to Mean Scorched Earth?

by Meredith Brown, Attorney, Brown and Brown

Most divorcing couples can agree on the day they were married but it is not uncommon for spouses to have very different ideas of when the marriage was “over.” Sometimes the dates expressed by spouses are years apart. How do couples set their date of separation? Why does it even matter?

canstockphoto24466347In California, property and debts accumulated by a married couple from their wedding day to their date of separation are considered “community property” to be divided equally.  Generally, once a couple has separated, their earnings, retirement plan contributions and employment benefits such as restricted stock and stock options, and their debts become separate property. When competing dates of separation vary significantly, division of sizable assets and debts may be placed at issue.

So how does the court determine the date on which a marriage was over? There are literally decades of cases that have sorted through a myriad of facts and circumstances in an effort to fix the date on which a particular couple separated. Courts have considered conveniences such as maintaining a joint account to pay bills or filing a joint tax return, or even the thoughtful act of sending a birthday card, as a sign that the marriage was not truly over. It is almost as though couples must suddenly turn a blind eye to one another and their history together as a prerequisite.

This summer, the California Supreme Court issued a ruling on the date of separation in Marriage of Davis. Davis holds that as a prerequisite to separation, spouses must live in two separate residences (with a footnote to the opinion leaving the door open for physical separation under the same roof, under limited circumstances). For many divorcing couples maintaining two separate residences during this difficult time is not economically feasible, practical or desirable, especially for couples with minor children.

When parties cannot agree on their date of separation a separate trial on that one issue may be necessary. The trial process is adversarial, emotionally draining, time-consuming and costly. Judges do the best they can but the court lacks resources to allow for a more compassionate approach that considers the personal and emotional needs of divorcing couples.

The Collaborative Divorce process is different. It is designed to respect your history together and help you design your post-marriage relationship. While you are fully informed about the law, you are not bound by the rules that restrict the court’s options. Your Collaborative Divorce team provides a confidential environment in which you and your spouse work together to create a settlement that meets your family’s needs.

How the Divorce Process Might Change Your Standard of Living

financial-advisor-banner-HuffPost

The decision to get divorced isn’t one people take lightly. Frequently it comes after months or even years of trying to make it work, and weighing your alternatives.

In this recent column from the Huffington Post, experts including Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Justin Reckers, Justin A. Reckers, CFP, CDFA and CEO of WellSpring Divorce Advisors shared the most important questions people need to ask themselves before moving forward and filing for divorce.

Read the column here.

If you have questions and need answers about your divorce options, contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at 858-472-4022 to learn about your options for a healthy, respectful divorce that preserves family relationships, especially with your children, and avoids the expense and pain of a litigated divorce by using the Collaborative Process.

Your Real Estate Options During Divorce (VIDEO)

The financial impact of divorce on the family is one of the leading concerns couples have entering the divorce process. For most families, the family home is their largest single investment. What are you options? Should you sell your home when you divorce? Should you keep it and co-own it? What about renting it out? This can be one of the larger and more important decisions you need to make.

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Justin Reckers, Justin A. Reckers, CFP, CDFA and CEO of WellSpring Divorce Advisors answered questions about issues focused on real estate concerns during divorce on this recent edition of the “Craig Sewing” YouTube video program.

Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at 858-472-4022 or visit our contact page to consult with one of our members to learn about your financial options during your divorce.

Collaborative Divorce Featured on “Real Talk San Diego” Radio and Podcast

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego member Meredith Lewis, attorney with the law firm Lewis, Warren & Setzer, introduced Collaborative Divorce and oMeredith Lewisther forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution on the radio talk show “Real Talk San Diego” with host Jason Cash.

Lewis explains how Collaborative Divorce is an especially good alternative for families with children to resolve their marital issues.

“The satisfaction I have and more importantly my clients have when the divorce is finalized is much greater. Nobody has satisfaction when you go to court. Divorce is one of the most horrible things to go through. If you can do it in a way that is not as destructive to your family, your future and your finances then in my opinion it makes everybody better off,” said Lewis.

Listen to the interview at this link to the show online.

The Baby Boomer Divorce and Why Collaborative Divorce Is a Good Choice for the Over 50 Crowd

Al and Tipper Gore's wedding, 1970

by Michele Sacks Lowenstein, Certified Family Law Specialist,
Lowenstein Brown A P.L.C.

Do you know that 25% of people getting divorced today are over 50?

Do you know that getting a divorce late in life presents additional financial consequences?

Do you know that people who divorce late in life are more likely than not to seek alternative to litigation?

Michele Sacks Lowenstein Divorce for those 50 and up has increased from 10% to 25% of all divorces. What’s behind today’s Baby Boomer divorce boom? Some theorize that as we grow older, lose our elderly parents and face retirement and the “empty nest” that these events are catalysts for Baby Boomers to reassess their lives. At age 65, people can be expected to live another 20 – 25 years and are less willing to sacrifice the years they have left to a marriage which no longer meets their needs.

The Baby Boomer divorce presents unique financial consequences. A late in life divorce impacts years of retirement planning. For the more economically secure the late in life divorce, while still disruptive to retirement plans, it can mean a new life with minimal negative consequences. For those less secure, the late in life divorce can result in financial uncertainty or devastation.

Regardless of the couples’ financial circumstances, the over 50 divorce requires people to take stock of their Social Security benefits, health insurance and housing costs. For some, this can mean rejoining the work force after an absence of many years. Attorneys representing older individuals must be able to provide strategic thinking and advice to what repositioning needs to be done with respect to retirement planning.

Collaborative Divorce is an ideal alternative to litigation for the Baby Boomers who have planned for their retirements. They understand that tackling the problems creatively can help them find solutions that will allow them to preserve not only their nest egg, but move on with their lives. This can best be accomplished by working with professionals who are experienced in the division of more complex estates and attuned to the unique problems presented by the late in life divorce.

 

 

 

 

Realistic Expectations in Divorce: Do Leopards Ever Really Change Their Spots?

leopards-don-t-change-their-spots_things-wish-id-always-known-menby Shawn D. Skillin, Esq.
Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

As a mediator, I met with a Mediation couple today. I like both of them very much. We
are the same ages, have similar interests and if I wasn’t their divorce mediator, I could be friends with each of them. But what struck me again today, was how divorcing spouses treat each other and annoy each other, and yet at the same time they find this surprising and frustrating.
Shawn Skillin

You are getting divorced. There are multiple reasons why you are getting divorced. Many of them boil down to that fact that you each have a different perspective on various issues. One of you likes the house neat and tidy, the other leaves dirty socks and wet towels on the floor. One of you is fussy about the budget, the other just wants to know if the ATM card works. You each have a different set of expectations for the children and approach discipline in different ways. You both have frustrations, disappointments and hurt feelings. You have argued over these issues many times, you can recite each others point of view word for word. You have stopped even pretending to listen.

Yet when one of you decides to file for divorce there is often an expectation that somehow this will change. The other person will now see your point, change their perspective, after all you must have gotten their full and undivided attention now! Right? Mmmm … not so fast.

In divorce, your individual perspectives don’t magically change. You still see things differently from each other. These differences continue to annoy and frustrate you. Yet, both parties often continue to treat each other in the same way and expect a different outcome. These communication styles didn’t work during the marriage, they aren’t going to work during the divorce. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

This is why I love Mediation and Collaborative Divorce. In Mediation, the Mediator is a neutral third party who helps interpret and re-frame what is being said. The Mediator can put a different spin on the issue, help you both see it in a different way, or at least point out that this isn’t unusual that you each see it differently. The fact that you do, doesn’t make either of you right or wrong, good or bad, just different.

In Collaborative Divorce, there is a Coach, or two, and two attorneys who help each party take a step back and take a fresh look at old issues. Perhaps, even learn a new way of presenting information and proposals to each other. They help you see what you do have in common and how, even with your differences, you can resolve issues, co-parent and work together.

Both Mediation and Collaborative Divorce keep you focused on the present and the future; the past can’t be changed.   How you got here is not nearly as important as where you choose to go now and in the future. In the best Mediated and Collaborative Divorces the parties learn new communication tools that can help them resolve their issues and move forward with hope.

Poway Scripps Ranch Rotary Club Learns about Collaborative Divorce

Thank you to Poway Scripps Ranch Rotary Club President Pauline Getz and all of the members for their hospitality.
Anna Addleman, CPA, CDFA, CFF, CFE; and Myra Fleischer, CFL-S, joined the Poway Scripps Ranch Rotary Club to talk about Collaborative Divorce.

Anna Addleman, CPA, CDFA, CFF, CFE; and Myra Fleischer, CFL-S, joined the Poway Scripps Ranch Rotary Club to talk about Collaborative Divorce.

Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego president Anna M. Addleman, CPA, CDFA, CFF, CFE; and attorney Myra Chack Fleischer, CFL-S, incoming 2016 President, joined members of the Poway Scripps Ranch Rotary Club at the September meeting for a presentation on Collaborative Practice as an alternative to traditional litigated divorce.

The presentation provided an overview of the process, introduced the members of the divorce team and how they work together with the couple, and the advantages of Collaborative Divorce including privacy protection and the emotional well-being of the family.

Anna Addleman explains the differences between Collaborative Divorce and traditional divorce litigation.

Anna Addleman explains the differences between Collaborative Divorce and traditional divorce litigation.

Thank you to Program Chairman Bill Stoudemire and President Pauline Getz for their warm welcome and to the entire club for its attention and hospitality.

If you would like a presentation to your business, service, or social organization about Collaborative Divorce, please contact Gayle Falkenthal at gayle@falconvalleygroup.com or call 619-997-2495 to schedule. We look forward to speaking with you.

Thank you to Poway Scripps Ranch Rotary Club President Pauline Getz and all of the members for their hospitality.

Thank you to Poway Scripps Ranch Rotary Club President Pauline Getz and all of the members for their hospitality.