Don’t Trash Talk Your Ex: Staying Civil After Divorce

Family conflict and stress

Among the many significant benefits of collaborative divorce is providing a framework for respectful, civil discussion between spouses about difficult issues. By remaining civil, emotional stress is lessened on everyone in the family, especially the children.

Once the divorce is final, parents need to continue those respectful communication practices as they work together to raise their children. The positive aspects of collaborative divorce can be unraveled quickly when children witness their mother and father speaking harshly about one another, even if the conversation isn’t directed at the children. Conflict and the family stress it creates benefits no one in the long run, no matter how justified you may feel at the time.

Marina Sbrochi  is a dating coach who works with people returning to the dating scene after a divorce. She offers her advice about refraining from “trash talking” your former spouse. Sbrochi’s endorsement that reinforces our collaborative divorce philosophy of respectful communication continuing well after all of the legal details are final. Read Sbrochi’s sensible advice here.

 

Choose Your Divorce Date

Attorney Carol Severance

by Carol Severance, Attorney at Law and Certified Family Law Specialist

You chose your wedding date and you and your spouse can choose your divorce date.

Some people think the day the Judge signs your Judgment is the day your marriage terminates. But that’s not always true.  Spouses have some control over that date.

Attorney Carol SeveranceA Judgment is an enforceable order that finalizes the terms of your divorce. It’s sometimes known as a Divorce Decree. But in your Judgment, spouses can choose the date to end their marriage with some guidelines:

  1.  In California, you have to wait at least six months from the date divorce papers are served on a spouse to terminate the marriage. But you and your spouse can pick a date that is after that six month period.
  2. You have to pick a date that allows the Judge enough time to sign your Judgment before the date you select. Your attorney can help you choose that date to allow enough time.

You don’t have to pick a date. If you decide it doesn’t matter what date the marriage is terminated, the Court will just fill in the date for you after the six month period.

Five reasons why you might want to choose your own date:

  1.  Getting health insurance when you need it. If you need to get health insurance, start your health insurance on the date you terminate the marriage.  So there’s no guessing. You will know exactly the date you need it.
  2. Avoid the wrong date. If your marriage ended on your birthday, or your child’s birthday, it would not be a date you would have chosen. So you can mutually pick a date to avoid this from happening. It may not be a reason in itself, but if you are choosing the date anyway, you can avoid meaningful dates you don’t want ruined.
  3. Tax purposes. Your marital filing status for tax purposes is determined on the last day of the year. If spouses wish to file married filing jointly, they should pick a date at the beginning of the following year to terminate the marriage, so they can file married for the current year.
  4. Social Security benefits. The ten year mark is significant for social security benefits. So if you’ve been married for nine years, you might choose a date after you have been married for ten years, just to be eligible for derivative social security benefits. This may not be beneficial to all spouses, but if it is, you should secure those benefits.
  5. Immigration process. People working through the legal immigration process may wish to delay the termination of the marriage until the process is complete.

You may even decide to decide later. This means you can submit a Judgment for a Judge to sign, but leave the date open to terminate the marriage. For example, your spouse is being treated by a doctor and does not wish to switch doctors. So the spouses choose to stay married until treatment is over. If you don’t know when the treatment is ending, you can agree to decide on that date later.

Be aware there may be downsides to delaying a termination of marriage, such as liability for your spouse’s debts and accidents, or lawsuits that may expose both spouses to liability. You also are unable to remarry until your marriage is terminated.  On the other hand, if one or both spouses may benefit , you can mutually choose your own date.

By working with your spouse in a collaborative process, you can work together with your attorneys to open up more options that may be beneficial to you. This is just one more way that collaborative divorce may work best for you and your spouse.

 

 

 

Six Tips for Separating Emotions from Economics in Divorce

Financial Infidelity and The Money Trap

by Ginita Wall, CPA, CFP®, CDFA 

They say that a bad marriage is like a game of cards. You start out with two hearts and a diamond – but end up wishing for a club and a spade. When those feelings surface during a divorce, it leads to unproductive conflict and often results in a less than optimal settlement.

In divorce it is important to focus on the real problems to come up with real solutions. If spouses are at war, they are likely to see each other as the problem and the divorce as the solution. But they won’t get to true resolution until they recognize that simply isn’t true. The real problem is how to divvy everything up in divorce, and divorcing spouses won’t arrive at the best solution for their family until they collaborate on resolving their issues by working together, not against each other.

No matter how much spouses despise each other, they often equally despise spending money on a divorce battle, so even though they are on the outs they may be willing to work together to settle matters and keep the costs down by staying out of court.

When you are going through a contentious divorce, the key is to avoid letting uncertainty whip either of you into an emotional tizzy. The more frenzied your emotions, the longer the proceedings and the more costly the divorce. Collaborative divorce can be a Godsend in reaching optimal resolution at a reasonable cost.  In collaborative divorce, you’ll have all the professionals at the same table, working with the same facts, and engage coaches to keep everyone on track. That keeps uncertainty and miscommunication down, which helps everyone focus on the issues that are most important.

The job of the professionals in collaborative divorce is to help clients figure out how to divvy up the assets and debts so that each spouse emerges from divorce with a fair share of the pot that will let them begin anew. Here are six tips the divorcing spouses can use to separate emotions from economics:

Don’t let guilt rule you. “Please release me, let me go,” pleads the country song, but don’t give up everything to buy your freedom. Your spouse will still be unhappy that the marriage is ending, and you’ll be unhappy when you find yourself impoverished by your foolish gesture. The needs of each person are important, and the goal is to reach the best agreement possible as you balance those needs.

Don’t give in just to get it over.  When going through divorce, carefully consider your current needs and your needs in the future. You can’t depend on your soon-to-be-ex have your best interests in mind, and you can’t depend on your attorney to know exactly what is best for you and your family. Don’t try to shortcut a divorce. The only way out is through, and it will take your conscious involvement to reach a resolution that will work for you.

Don’t make nice to get him or her back. It’s all right to hope against hope that your divorce will end in reconciliation, but don’t bend over backward to make it happen. Stand up for yourself and get your share. If you successfully reconcile, and some couples do, that’s wonderful, but if you don’t, you’ll still be able to take care of yourself financially.

Leave revenge at the door. Legally, it doesn’t matter who did who wrong. Revenge is costly, and funding a wild rampage by not giving an inch is bound to turn out badly. You won’t win every battle, no matter what, and if you stubbornly stick to your guns despite all reasonable offers to settle, who knows, you might even end up paying part of your spouse’s attorney fees.

Don’t succumb to threats, or threaten your spouse. Money and power are emotionally linked, but in divorce it isn’t smart to try to use money to control your spouse and get your way. If you launch a full-blown court battle and argue every financial issue, be assured that most of what you can’t agree on will end up being split between your attorneys, with a sizeable amount going to the financial professionals. That is money that could be used to fund your family’s future if you stay out of court.

Focus on problem-solving, not fighting. Don’t let meetings with your ex turn into posturing to show who is in control or how smart you are. Settling your divorce is the problem you confront, and it won’t get solved through fighting. You can’t get everything you want in divorce, so figure out what is most important to you and let the rest go. You’ll end up with a better agreement, a less tumultuous relationship, a happier family, and a healthier future.

Nine Tips for Deciding Fair Spousal Support

by Robin DeVito, Attorney at Law

One of the more difficult issues facing people getting divorced is the issue of spousal support. For both parties, questions generally focus on how much support will be, and how long is it paid.

There are three types of spousal support orders.

The first: Money is paid for spousal support for a period of time.

The second: Money is not being paid for support, but the recipient spouse may go into court to ask for support. This is commonly called the court reserve jurisdiction over the issue of spousal support.

Spousal support decisions during a divorceThe third: The right to ask for spousal support is terminated forever. This means that the spouse may never ask the court to order spousal support.

Through my experience as a family law attorney, I have created a list of nine tips that will help you navigate this tricky area of your divorce.

For the party requesting spousal support:

  1. Be realistic when listing your needs. Your needs are your monthly expenses. A financial specialist can assist in preparing a realistic list of expenses.
  2. Determine if there is anything you can do to increase your income instead of relying on help from support payments.
  3. Put together a plan for school or training to increase your income.
  4. Be realistic about the changes that will occur with both your household and that of your spouse.
  5. Remember that spousal support is not a number generated by a computer. While we have “rules of thumb” for the length of time support may be paid, there are a number of factors that come into play under the law to assist in the calculation of spousal support.

For the party being asked to pay spousal support:

  1. Be realistic as to the time it will take your spouse to become self-sufficient.
  2. Remember that forcing a spouse into a low paying job is counter-productive.

For both parties:

  1. Each party must fully disclose their income from all sources. A financial specialist can assist in the identification of income.
  2. The goal of each party should be self-sufficiency within a reasonable period of time. If it means paying more up front to allow the party requesting support to complete training or education to increase his or her long-term income opportunities, think about it. It makes sense.

Couples who pursue a Collaborative Divorce work with a financial specialist as part of their divorce team. If you need to work through spousal support issues, you may want to consider the Collaborative Process for your divorce.

Contact the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego to find out whether a Collaborative Divorce is right for you.

Ask These Five Questions to Find Out If You Are a Candidate for Collaborative Divorce

by Adryenn Cantor, CFLS, AAML 
Law Office of Adryenn Cantor, San Diego, California

If you see the completion of your marriage as transition, instead of failure, then you can consciously decide how to move forward in dissolving your marriage with grace and thoughtfulness.

Instead of seeing the process as dividing assets, dividing time with the children, and each of you having your “own” attorney, using conscious transition means you can work together with the support of a Collaborative Team.

You may have no choice that your marriage is ending, but you have many chooses on how that ending is accomplished.

The team approach used in the Collaborative process allows:

  1. Each party to be supported by their own attorney, who works individually with their client and cooperatively with the team to assist the couple in getting to a win-win result.
  2. Each party, should they so desire, can have guidance from a well-trained mental health professional to help them with the emotions of transitioning.
  3. Children can have a mental health professional to be their voice during the process.
  4. The parties can have the wisdom and expertise of one neutral expert to assist with the financial issues; thereby getting the information they need at half the cost.

So, if this New Year you find your marriage ending, perhaps the Collaborative approach is the way to make this important transition happen with the help of a conscious and caring team.

Some thoughts about whether you are a good candidate to use the Collaborative Team approach. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do you want to end your marriage with respect and integrity?
  2. Is taking a rational and fair approach to dividing your assets more important than seeing yourself as a winner and your spouse as the loser in this process?
  3. Are your children the most important aspect in this process?
  4. Is saving money, which could go to you or your children more important than spending it on protracted litigation?
  5. Do you want to model for yourself, your spouse and your children how mature adults handle significant challenges?

If your answer is “yes” to two or more of these questions, you should definitely consider having a consultation with a collaboratively trained professional to see if the Collaborative Team process is for you.