Most marriages begin as a fairytale, yet not all those fairytales have a happy ending. Some become never-ending nightmares. And for some, the nightmare continues long past a divorce.
Divorce is one of the most painful of life’s events. Regardless of the factors contributing to the divorce, it can be both traumatic and emotional. The end of a marriage can have a significant impact upon your overall attitude towards life. The loss of a relationship can be similar to suffering the death of a family member, with emotional ups and downs, self-doubts and loneliness, as well as health problems.
Stress and anxiety are known to be precursors to health conditions and ailments, making work duties, the raising of children, and managing life’s affairs even more difficult.
Stress can lead to a myriad of health issues such as headaches, obesity, depression, anxiety, diabetes, heart disease, a weakened immune system, digestive problems and other conditions, according to a study published by Science Daily.
There are several healthy coping strategies that can help you through this time of transition:
- Journaling. Writing is a great way to express your thoughts and get your feelings off your mind, and onto paper.
- Talk about it. Friends are important resources for you during this period. Spend time talking with a friend you trust, who is a good listener and cares about you.
- Don’t isolate yourself. Get out there and attend lectures, concerts, events – any event that will take you out into the world and engaged.
- Do the things that make you happy. Simple pleasures such as reading a book, gardening, going on walks or other activities that take you out of your home are helpful. Seek out groups that match your interests, and join up.
- Get outside and get moving. Exercise is has been proven to be one of the best stress-fighters. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise eases the symptoms of depression, as well as improving your overall health and sense of well-being.
It may be difficult to view a divorce other than as the failure of a marriage. Take the viewpoint that you have the opportunity to create a new life – and you have full power over what you do with it. It is important to remember that your divorce does not define you. Stay focused on what lies ahead, and take advantage of the opportunity to create the life you want. You may be surprised to discover what your future holds – even a new relationship that will bring you joy.
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When you were unmarried and lived with a significant other, it may have been relatively easy to split your things when you both called it quits. Maybe he got the DVD boxed sets and you got the cookware. Although you knew you’d miss watching endless episodes of the X-Files, you knew you had the better end of the bargain with the pots and pans. Undoubtedly, there was a bittersweet end and some quarreling about splitting up things, but they were just things. You moved on.
Now you are facing divorce and you’re facing the splitting of things (“assets” they call them) again, but this time it’s harder, more emotional, and more frustrating. Let’s face it, divorce is tough, but many couples have agreed that the splitting of assets during divorce is one of the most difficult steps in the process.
Understand Separate vs. Marital
Many couples assume that the splitting of assets will be straight down the middle with equal financial value. While this might work in some cases, particularly couples who have no sentimental attachment to anything, this is not a practical or common practice.
Separate assets are anything that each spouse owned before marriage. Separate assets can include everything from expensive jewelry to real estate or a car. So, if you got family heirloom from your great-grandmother before you got married, it is yours. Such assets, however, are at risk of being included in marital assets if your spouse became a co-owner of something you owned previously or you deposited money (such as inheritance) into a joint account.
Marital assets can easily be defined as anything that you, as a married couple, owned or purchased together. That means cars, homes, tax refunds, valuable art or antiques, the list goes on. Even if your name isn’t on something, such as a retirement plan or 401Ks, you are entitled to a portion of whatever built up during the length of your marriage.
So, It’s Simple…Just Like That?
In theory, it should be cut-and-dry, but the splitting of assets can make the divorce process an arduous one. What can make the whole process even more complicated depends on where you live. If you live in a state that is considered a Community Property State or Equitable Distribution State, all marital assets are split, 50/50. So while you may try to prepare yourself for “equal” you can’t guarantee that it will be fair.
Preparing for an Asset Split
Depending where you are at, emotionally or mentally, you might be tempted to tell your soon-to-be ex to take at all. Maybe you’re so ready to be out that you don’t care what goes with you or stays behind. Rethink these feelings immediately. There will come a time, probably shortly after the divorce is finalized, that you wish you would have taken the opportunity to split the assets together. Although it can be a difficult process, making a detailed list with your spouse, it’s an important step in coming to terms with and finalizing your divorce.
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Most people who have been divorced would answer this question with a resounding “NO!” In fact, former spouses remarry every day, and many of these remarriages are successful. The issues that led to a divorce may have been resolved, or after years have passed, the two discover they still have the mutual attraction and understanding that led them to fall in love and marry. The key to making a remarriage successful lies in communication. Almost all divorces are related to communication failures. Are you considering remarrying a former spouse? Here are some tips that could help you make the second time around a success.
Resolve The Issues Before You Commit
Your marriage failed due to certain issues. These must be resolved, as if they caused a failure in the past, you can predict that the future will bring the same outcome. These issues must be discussed fully. Remember – a lonely former partner may also be prone to making promises that he or she can’t keep as the years roll on. Take all the time you need to sort out these problems. The initial flush of rekindling your relationship is exciting, but let time pass before you make a commitment.
Does Time Heal All Wounds?
The passage of time allows you to feel more forgiving for issues that once drove you up a wall. Loneliness can set in, and your former spouse can seem to be an attractive option. If there has been any cheating, it can be difficult to trust that it won’t happen again. Statistically, cheaters tend to cheat, but there are exceptions to the rule. Be careful. If you cheated on your spouse and he or she wants you back, remember that trust is the main issue you must resolve for a successful future.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
You need to communicate with your former spouse – a lot. You need to engage in genuine communication. Don’t try to impress, be yourself. Be a good listener. If your marriage will work the second time around, it must be based upon honest communication. Don’t use alcohol as a crutch. This is the time for honest, open communication, and will establish better communication as a foundation in your restored relationship.
If you have decided to remarry, you must be able to forgive. The past is the past, and you have to let it go if you are going to make the marriage a success. Learn to forgive. Focus on the future, and building a marriage that is based on honesty, trust and mutual respect.
If you are considering get back together with your former spouse, these are some guidelines that could help you make your marriage a success. The love you once had can be restored and enhanced if you proceed carefully and thoughtfully, without being driven strictly by emotion.
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Getting married is easy. Getting divorced often proves to be a far more complicated legal process. Once married, you are in a binding legal contract with your spouse. “Untying the knot” can costs thousands, or tens of thousands in a contested divorce. The issues in contention most are often associated with child custody and visitation… and money. The matters that must be resolved for the divorce to be final include child custody, child support, spousal support and the fair division of marital property. If you are planning to divorce and hope to avoid a long and bitter court battle that will cost you dearly, we have gathered together some simple strategies that can save you thousands. You can directly control the costs of divorce through your approach.
- Find a divorce lawyer in your area who is experienced and who has a favorable reputation, and who will speak with you honestly and openly about the actual cost of the divorce, including legal fees and filing fees. A divorce in which the agreement is made out of court can often cost as little as $1,500 if you go to the right law firm.
- Set aside the emotional issues that led to your breakup. If you make the decision to work in a respectful manner with your soon-to-be-ex, it is often possible to come to a compromise that works for both of you, and a better agreement that you can both live with – and is fair.
- Be honest when presenting your financial scene. Never attempt to hide or reduce the value of assets that may be considered marital property. If you are honest, the other party will be more willing to work with you and be fair to you in return.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. Fighting over minor details can get in the way of solving the major issues in the divorce. Be willing to compromise and to set aside minor disagreements.
- Your children belong to the both of you – and their needs are more important than yours. It is important that you maintain a respectful relationship. Children need both parents, and working out a custody/visitation schedule between you will save you a great deal of money. The last thing the court wants to do is have to step in and solve a child custody case merely because you refuse to work together. Come to an agreement about custody and visitation between yourselves, with the help of a lawyer and/or divorce mediator.
- Always have a divorce lawyer review any agreement before you sign. Although saving money is important, there is no need to make sacrifices you don’t have to under state law. It is also very important that you completely understand any tax implications in property division.
- Put it in writing. If you have questions or concerns, you can waste a great deal of money by discussing every detail with your attorney verbally. Your attorney is a legal professional who is working to help you with divorce, and to be blunt, is not in the business of resolving your emotional issues.
Uncontested Divorce: Cheaper and Better
A lawyer that works to keep you and your former partner from communicating, and presses you to be aggressive and take your case to trial may or may not have your best interests at heart. The costs of litigation are extensive. Every hour your lawyer spends in court will be charged to you, as well as all the preparation for presentation of your case. Some attorneys make promises that may be impossible to keep. Issues such as spousal support, child support and property division can be resolved outside of court in many cases. When this is impossible, of course, litigation is the remaining option.
If your attorney is urging you to take your case to trial, consider how that will impact your life. In many cases, wrapping it up in a reasonable and respectful manner may be a better solution. Not only will you be able to move forward with your new life, you are not left dealing with a divorce for a year or much longer. Moving on faster can be far better for everyone.
Divorce is tough, particularly in a marriage of long duration. You built a life together, but it is over. The court is not the correct place to try to punish your spouse. Look to the future. You are in a time of transition, and it can be stressful, both financially and emotionally. Saving money in the divorce will leave more available funds to establish a new home and deal with the other costs you will incur. Put your attention on your future life rather than the problems of the past, and you may find yourself in a far better position.
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Many divorcing couples would answer ‘no’ if they were asked if they should hire a financial analyst. After all, the assets of the average couple aren’t extraordinary, and the cost of a divorce is high enough without hiring people unnecessarily. Besides, don’t the lawyers help value and divide assets? No, in most cases the lawyers lack the training, knowledge and expertise to competently analyze the couple’s finances. Even if a lawyer is versed in finance, there are other, equally important reasons why it pays to hire a certified divorce financial analyst (CDFA).
Saves Time and Money
In the early part of the proceedings, much time is spent grappling with the financial components of the divorce. Since most lawyers aren’t equipped to competently manage the minutiae of the couple’s assets, a CDFA can step in and handle every aspect of the finances. This saves time and frustration, and the CDFA can provide the divorcing couple with a complete analysis of their assets. Since the services of a CDFA cost significantly less than those of a divorce lawyer, it can also save money.
Plan for the Future
A substantial part of the discussion surrounding asset division will revolve around the financial future of both parties. By studying the proposed division of the couple’s assets, a CDFA can perform an objective analysis, and project how such a division would impact future spending and lifestyle choices for both parties. That information can be critical to the way joint assets end up being divided. Once a final division has been determined, the CDFA can then help with post-divorce financial planning.
Plan for Taxes
Another important role of a CDFA is that of a tax advisor. When the divorcing couple is discussing how the marital property should be split, a CDFA can explain the tax implications of selling, dividing and holding onto specific assets. However, while a CDFA can advise a couple on divorce-related tax matters, he may not be an expert in other tax areas.
Even if a divorcing couple doesn’t want to hire a CDFA, it can still pay to consult one. A CDFA can provide the answers to important questions that can help the couple decide on their own how to divide their marital assets. Prior to a one-time consultation, make a list of any general finance-related questions you need answered. Sample questions might include the following:
- What is ‘individual property’, and what is ‘joint property’?
- What are the long term financial implications of certain decisions?
- How are pensions and retirement funds split?
- Should you keep the house or sell it?
- How is joint property valued?
Find Hidden Assets
In some marriages, one spouse is primarily responsible for the family’s finances. In that scenario, when the couple decides to divorce, the other spouse may feel left in the dark, and concerned there may be assets he or she doesn’t know about. Much like a forensic accountant, a CDFA can help identify hidden assets.
A certified divorce financial analyst can assist divorcing couples with myriad financial-related issues, so the earlier in the proceedings a CDFA is brought in, the better. Working with a CDFA helps ensure financial transparency, accuracy and equity in the divorce process. Most divorcing couples, regardless of the value of their assets, would benefit from consulting a CDFA.
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The role of a divorce mediator is one of neutrality. Mediators guide divorcing couples through the process, helping them reach an agreement on the division of assets and debt, alimony and child support, as well as child custody. Divorce mediators do not make decisions for the couple though. Instead, they provide guidance that helps the couple make their own decisions. The high cost of litigation leads many people to try mediation first, and some do find success. But, before deciding to follow suit yourself, read on for the pros and cons of using a divorce mediator. When it works, it works well, but mediation isn’t necessarily for everyone.
Advantages of Mediation
Divorcing couples who choose mediation often end up forging a more communicative and emotionally healthy relationship in the long term because there is no fighting involved. The amicable approach is also easier on children and it can be expedited, as opposed to the protracted litigation that often accompanies a court battle. In addition, since the mediator does not make any decisions for the couple, the couple maintains complete control. Mediation is also private, whereas litigation is public. The process is also less expensive than litigation which can require multiple hearings and, often, a trial.
Disadvantages of Mediation
If negotiations fail, the parties will have wasted both time and money because they will have to start the process over again. Another disadvantage to choosing mediation is that it could result in an agreement that is unenforceable. That is, if the mediation agreement ends up plainly favoring one party over another, it can be challenged. Also, all information that is disclosed is voluntary, so one party could potentially hide assets from the other. If one party is dominant, that could also carry over into the mediation process, leaving the submissive partner in an unfair position.
Tips for Choosing a Mediator
If you and your spouse feel that mediation is a good fit for your situation, the next step is to find a mediator that you both agree on. If you know someone who previously used a divorce mediator, that’s a good place to start. Word of mouth referrals are valuable because family and friends will offer honest feedback.
However, if you search for a mediator on your own, you won’t have the assurance of a personal referral. So, it will be incumbent upon you to filter the bad from the good. After all, this is the person who will be guiding you through your divorce. Here are eight questions to ask that will help lead you in the right direction:
- How much specialized training has the mediator had?
- Does the mediator have a law or mental health degree?
- How familiar is he with your state’s divorce laws?
- How long has the mediator been practicing, and how many divorces has he mediated?
- What is his mediation style (directive, facilitative)?
- What does he charge?
- Will he provide a free introductory consultation?
- Can he provide current, local references?
Mediation is not for all couples. It will not work if one or both parties is emotionally or physically abusive, unreasonable and unwilling to negotiate, or hiding assets. But, it can work if both parties can get along reasonably well, are honest, open to compromise, and willing to negotiate fairly.
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When celebrity couples get married, the expense and glamor of it all creates the illusion that their lives are perfect and uncluttered by the everyday troubles of regular people. Of course, that’s obviously not the case. The media inundates us daily with information about every step of any given celebrity’s divorce process, so it’s clear that celebrities experience marriage-ending troubles, too. The type of issues they face will include many pressures not known in most standard marriages (media pressure, time apart), but the result is the same. They, too, end up divorcing, and fighting over children and assets.
Are We Really the Same?
Yes, in some ways. First, the rules of engagement between parties are the same regardless of socioeconomic status. Famous divorce attorney, Laura Wasser, who has represented celebrities including Britney Spears and Angelina Jolie, drives that point home with her list of the top ten rules divorcing couples should follow. She lists ideas, such as clear and respectful communication, counseling, and remembering that the divorce is a business transaction. Not only is it a good list to follow, but the suggestions show that the behavioral guidelines are the same for everyone because they’re relevant for anyone seeking a divorce, whether they’ve reached celebrity status or not.
Second, on the legal frontier, outside of the occasional report of a celebrity getting special judicial treatment, celebrities also have to follow the same legal steps and timelines related to asset division and divorce in general. The requirements vary by state the same way for them, too. But, because they are in the public eye and typically have much more money and other property to divide, there are sure to be some differences, right? Here’s a look.
A Look at Celebrity Asset Division in Divorce
Since celebrity couples typically have more assets to divide, and their lives are more financially complicated than non-celebrities, it makes sense that the division of said property would be more difficult. Such was the case in Mel Gibson’s divorce, where his ex-wife Robin received $425 million in cash and other assets, as well as half of his film residuals for the rest of her life. However, the former Mrs. Gibson filed for divorce in 2009, but it was not finalized until 2011. Regardless of celebrity status, two years is not an uncommon length of time to divide an estate that size.
An additional pressure celebrities may face involves public scrutiny. The spouses may be concerned about the details of their divorce going public, and what image that may convey. If a celebrity’s “goodwill” value is negatively impacted, both parties could suffer financially. So, they may be more inclined to resolves issues quickly and peacefully.
On the other hand, in some celebrity divorces, the path is made easier because each spouse maintained separate bank accounts and individual asset trails throughout the marriage. The Bruce and Kris Jenner divorce is a good example of that scenario. Unfortunately, for the average marriage, that’s generally not the case. That’s because the couple’s finances are not as complicated as they are in celebrity households, there’s only one wage earner, or both parties rely on one another to help pay their bills.
The takeaway is that, when it comes to divorce and asset division, the same procedural rules that apply to non-celebrity couples are supposed to apply to celebrity couples. There are differences, of course, but they focus on the areas of the causes of marital pressure, how assets impact expediency, and motivations for peaceful property division. In short, divorce is challenging for all who undertake it, regardless of socioeconomic status, even if those challenges differ. When it comes to asset division and celebrity divorce, their process is just as decidedly unglamorous as it is for the rest of us.
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Divorce is the most entangled and emotional when children are involved. Not only do the spouses have to negotiate over material assets, they must contend with the very personal decisions regarding child custody. Divorcing couples with children also have to find ways to help their children cope with the divorce during and after the process.
The divorce process starts for children the moment they’re told that it’s happening. So, consider very carefully what you’re going to say and where you’re going to say it when making the announcement. The more balanced your approach, the more you can help your children get through it as smoothly as possible, given the circumstances.
Snapshot in Time
For better or worse, the moment children hear that their parents are getting divorced is a memory that stays with them. So, bear that in mind when deciding where to tell them, and do take time to contemplate the setting. When choosing a location, there are two characteristics to consider.
Start by considering places that aren’t too public. News that significant can cause elevated, unexpected emotions and children need a safe place to express themselves.
Second, choose a location away from home so the children won’t associate where they live with the memory of receiving the news. It’s a difficult balance of priorities, so it can be equally difficult to pinpoint the right spot. Ideas might include a counselor’s office or relative’s home. When deciding where to tell your children that you’re getting a divorce, don’t underestimate the power of the news you will be delivering or the length of time they’ll need to process it.
Write it Down
The initial conversation you will be having with your children about the divorce should not be off-the-cuff and spontaneous. You’ll probably be experiencing intense emotions right along with your children, and in order to help you keep your cool and get them through it, you need to be prepared. Write down the main points, so you don’t forget anything significant. But, keep it short.
The news will already be overwhelming to the kids. They don’t need to be further burdened by information that is unnecessary at the time, so balance plays a role here, as it does in your decision about where to tell them. Leave plenty of time for questions and emotion, but don’t leave out what matters most. Include the following information and answer these questions when planning what to say:
• Are we moving? Is mom/dad moving?
• Which parent will we live with? Are we still a family?
• Explain that it is not their fault and they are still loved
• Assure them that their needs will be met
• Make them feel confident that they can come to you with questions anytime
The list is fairly short and simple, but it’s also an important tool that will allow you to provide your children with the answers and assurance they need. By preparing the list ahead of time you will have more confidence in the process, too.
Telling your kids that you are divorcing is not going to be easy on you or them. Preparing what you plan to say and choosing the location carefully, however, will help give you the balance you need and ease the burden for all of you.
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Just as there are multiple reasons why couples choose to seek a divorce, there are also multiple paths available to obtain the divorce. The type of divorce you choose will depend on a number of factors, including size and complexity of the estate to be divided, whether or not minor children are involved, and whether or not you and your spouse are cooperative with one another.
Of the four types of divorce, which are collaborative, litigated, mediated, and do-it-yourself, both the collaborative and litigated divorce processes require attorneys. A collaborative divorce is less expensive and allows the couple to avoid court until the end, but if the spouses aren’t on civil terms, litigation may be the only appropriate path.
If a couple want to avoid going to court, a collaborative divorce may be a good option. A cooperative effort must be made throughout the process because all parties in a collaborative divorce, including the attorneys, must sign agreements that require both lawyers to remove themselves from the case if litigation is threatened or the parties cannot reach a settlement. That means that you will have to start over completely and hire new lawyers. So, cooperation and flexibility are essential in a collaborative divorce.
In addition to an attorney experienced in handling collaborative divorces, you may want to consider hiring a therapist to help guide you through emotionally charged issues. You may also need a neutral divorce financial planner if your assets are complex.
The biggest perk about opting for a collaborative divorce is that, even though you will still need to hire an attorney (and possibly additional professionals), a collaborative divorce is most often less expensive than a litigated divorce. You can also avoid the courts for the most part. You will have to appear in court at least once to sign the divorce papers before a judge,
If there is a history of mental and/or physical violence or drug/alcohol use, or if you fear that your spouse is cheating or hiding assets, then a litigated, or traditional, divorce is the solution. Additionally, choose litigation if you cannot reach an agreement on important issues, such as child custody and support and division of assets.
Often, litigated divorces don’t end up in court, as a settlement is reached first. However, many divorces are contentious and emotion-fueled, so negotiations end up in a stalemate. When that happens, the case is moved inside the courtroom and the lawyers change from ‘negotiation’ mode to ‘win’ mode. Court should be a last resort since the judge, who knows very little about the situation, is the one who will be making life changing decisions on behalf of both parties.
Consider all of your options carefully before deciding which path to take to divorce. If you have any concerns about your spouse’s integrity or commitment to cooperation, or if you’re concerned about fair division of assets or custody, then it’s best to play it safe and opt for a traditional, litigated divorce.
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Many divorces are too complex for the parties to handle alone. Understanding the combined assets and how they should be split can be overwhelming and complicated, and issues regarding children can be too emotional to take on alone. So lawyers are brought on to help resolve the issues and reach an amicable agreement. Just because a lawyer is required, however, doesn’t mean that the divorce has to be prohibitively expensive. The couple seeking the divorce can do quite a few things to help reduce the financial cost of the divorce so that it doesn’t end up being more of a burden than necessary.
What’s Worth Fighting For?
Every conflict that divorcing spouses have could cost them money. So, it’s in your mutually best interests to individually determine what is worth battling over and what isn’t. It’s natural to be emotional during a divorce, but the most important thing you can do to save money on the process is to negotiate with one another and come to an agreement on everything you can without the aid of a lawyer. Only those items that you consider to be nonnegotiable are really worth paying a lawyer to help you hash out.
Take the Time to Find a Good Attorney
The criteria you use when choosing the right divorce lawyer will include his or her fees. However, attorneys with experience and a good track record can be more beneficial in the long run. They may cost a bit more upfront, but experienced lawyers possess the required knowhow to resolve issues in the best interests of their clients, whether that means their clients end up paying less or getting more.
Additionally, keep in mind that out-of-town attorneys charge for travel time, so location is important. Also, consider whether or not you need a high priced specialty lawyer at all. For example, if you have already agreed on asset division then you don’t necessarily need a pricey lawyer who specializes in forensic accounting.
As they say, time is money, and for an attorney, the saying is literal. Prior to communicating with your attorney, whether on the phone, in person, or through email, consider exactly what it is you want to say or ask. Is it imperative, or can it wait? Do you have other questions that can be added to the list? Is your question something a paralegal can answer? Take time to think through all communications because as soon as you have your lawyer’s attention, he is on the clock.
Roll Up Your Sleeves
You may not be able to see the divorce through on your own, but you can certainly be a critical part of the team. By taking on much of the process yourself, you can save significant money on attorney and paralegal fees. By doing little tasks yourself, such as making your own copies and phone calls, and tracking court dates and Court Orders, you will also have a little more insight into the process and, specifically, your own case.
Hire a Mediator
Finally, it might sound counterintuitive to suggest that you hire an additional person when you’re trying to save money. However, hiring a neutral, experienced mediator can literally save thousands of dollars in litigation fees. Some states require mediation, so check with your state court to determine whether you live in such a state.
Getting a divorce is painful enough without the added stress of the expense. But, by following the tips listed here, you can save significant money in fees and costs. That’s money you can use for a fresh start.
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