Texas Child Custody Agreement And What Parents Should Know

Ending a relationship with divorce can be worst for a couple but it can be even harder for the child who is there to make the relationship stronger. Any kind of separation that involves a child would lead to a custody fight and a subsequent child custody agreement.

Most of the times, parents mutually agree to chalk out a child custody agreement. Most commonly, the Texas child custody agreement would detail things such as child visits, living arrangements, and conditions, who would be the legal decision maker and meeting with friends and family. A child custody agreement in most cases is informal, and is part of an out of court settlement, keeping the best interests of the child in mind.

There is no doubt that in a divorce children are most affected. They not only get scarred emotionally, but they are psychologically jolted for life. In order for the child to be the least affected, parents should make a divorce as friendly as possible. This might not sound ideal but it is vital for the mental health of the child. During any agreement, the interests of the child should be held paramount. Everything in the agreement should be finalized by keeping the best interest of the child.

Before starting to give the agreement a shape, it is recommended for both parents to have a look at their individual child custody rights. These rights can be easily found on the internet or your lawyer would hand over them to you. Understanding these rights is extremely important before any child custody agreement is put in place. Most of the custody agreements are penned after several lengthy discussions between the parents and their respective lawyers. Custody agreements that are usually presented in the court are born after realistic and fair discussions.

A court keeps the best interest of the child at heart in any agreement. It judges what happens to the child after the parents are separated. The court sees the following points in an agreement keeping the child’s interest at heart.

  • Any sort of former history of abuse or violence involving the child
  • The age of the child and the medical condition or current health
  • School and community ties of the child
  • Emotional ties to any of the parent
  • The parents and their capacity to provide for the child financially
  • The social life of the parent
  • Finally, the choice of the child

During an agreement, the kinds of custody are also discussed. Physical custody and legal custody are two of the most common. The major types of agreements that can take place between the parents include joint custody, shared custody, and primary physical and split custody. During the agreement, the parents and the court can decide on which type of custody they want.

Parents find it often difficult to agree on any sort of child custody agreement. If and only if they keep the safety of the child in mind and make every effort to make the separation amicable, then reaching an agreement on child custody can be easy.

Texas Child Custody Guidelines for Unmarried Parents

One of the hardest things for parents to deal with in a custody battle is fear of the unknown.  Most people enter a custody dispute without having any experience in matters of family law.  This can make the entire process stressful for more reasons that are necessary.  To ease some of these anxieties, we have provided some basic custody guidelines that the courts use to make their decision.

Availability

Judges want to make sure that the custodial parent has plenty of time to properly nurture their child and promote their development.  They will take into account the nature of each parent’s career, as well as the average amount of hours, working in a typical week.  Business-related travel is another factor that will be measured against parental availability.

Prior Involvement

The previous behavior has always been utilized by the court system to predict future trends, and this applies to child custody as well.  The judge will be looking for a consistent pattern of involvement from potential custody candidates.  This includes evidence of participation in the child’s educational, social, physical development.

Positive Reinforcement

One of the keys to raising a healthy and well-rounded child is maintaining a positive environment for that child to grow within.  This encompasses things like supporting the decisions of the other parent, eliminating outside distractions, and supporting the interests of the child.  From a custody angle, this means that the ideal guardian would provide a situation free from negative influences and unnecessary stressors.

Strong Character

Because children are so heavily influenced by the environment that they grow up in, the court heavily scrutinizes the character of each parent.  Prior instances of substance use, prolonged unemployment, and infidelity can all be detrimental to a custody appeal.  The goal of a custody judge is to place the child with a parent who can teach leadership and responsibility by example.  Thus, the ideal candidate would display strong character attributes across the board.

These are just some of the guidelines that the court system uses in determining child custody cases.  There are other variables, such as finances, that play into the decision as well.  But the majority of the other factors are considered quantitative, meaning they can be supplemented by other methods like child support.  The primary considerations are given to how the parent promotes the child’s development.  This involves time spent with the child, creating a positive environment for the child, and serving as a role model by example.  Concentrating on these characteristics are the best things for custodial candidates to concentrate on.

Knowing what the judge is looking for and how to present your strengths is the best way to win child custody.

Do You Qualify for an Annulment in Texas

You May Qualify for a Marriage Annulment If:

  • You were married in Texas even if both spouses reside in other states; or
  • You or your spouse have resided in Texas for at least 6 weeks or move to Texas to Establish Texas Residency; or
  • You are in the military and your military state of record is Texas. In this case, we would need a copy of your LES. You may wish to check with your command officer to verify the correct state is listed on your LES.
  • It is important that we understand that in order to file an annulment you use what is known as a petition of an annulment in Texas. This is specific to each state and while this is so the information required is basically the same. It is for this reason that we have provided a copy of a petition for annulment for the state of Texas.

QUALIFICATIONS FOR ANNULMENT

A Texas annulment dissolves the marriage as though it never occurred in the first place and both spouses are returned to their prior marital status. You will need a copy of your marriage certificate for the process.

  • Unsound Mind - Intoxication/Substance Abuse, Medication/Sedation At Wedding Ceremony
  • Unsound Mind - Insanity At Time of Marriage
  • Consanguinity - Related by Blood
  • Lack of Consent of Parent Under 18, file within 1 year of marriage
  • Bigamy - Another Spouse Still Living

FRAUD

  • Explain why the conduct affected the “essential ingredients” of the marriage

MARITAL - SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

  • Did Not Reside Together after Marriage
  • Adultery Before & After Marriage
  • Spouse’s Prior Divorce Was Based on Adultery
  • Impotence - Unable to Engage in Sexual Relations Due to Mental or Physical Incapacity
  • Sterility or Infertility
  • Concealed Pregnancy By Another Man
  • Claimed Pregnant But Not Pregnant
  • Homosexual
  • Refusal to engage in Sexual Relations or Consummate Marriage
  • Abnormal Sexual Relationship With Spouse or Another Person
  • Spouse Previously or Currently Works as Prostitute
  • Refusal to Conceive Children - Required Use of Condoms

CITIZENSHIP - GREEN CARD - DEPORTATION

  • Spouse Only Married for Green Card
    Spouse is Illegal Alien Subject to Deportation
    Breach of Prenuptial Promise to Become U.S. Citizen - Must Explain Motive

CHARACTER - DISHONESTY

  • Spouse of Poor Moral Character or Disreputable Occupation
  • Physically Abused Spouse
  • Concealed Child(ren) Born of Prior Relationship
  • Criminal History Depends on crime, if sentenced after marriage, fines imposed
  • Duress, Threats, Intimidation

FINANCIAL

  • Secure Access to Spouse’s Wealth While Engaging in Sexual Relations with Another
  • Married solely to gain access to wealth

RELIGION

  • Breach of Prenuptial Agreement to perform Religious Ceremony
  • Misrepresentations of Present Religious Conviction
  • Misrepresentation of Intention to Embrace Spouse’s Religion
  • Religion - Roman Catholic, spouse divorced

HEALTH

  • Undisclosed Health or Disease - Prove doctor bills, statement
  • Mental Illness or Institutionalized - Prove doctor bills, hospital bills/statement
  • Alcohol or Drug Addiction
  • Gambling Addiction - Amount of Loss

Typically, the fundamental issue is that there will not necessarily be a right for you to obtain an annulment. It is possible to submit to get your marriage annulled in some places, pay a significant amount of funds, proceed with the complete court procedure, correctly stick to current annulment legislations, then reach the final stages and a judge could refuse the annulment. When this occurs you will be back to where you started. The widespread end result is actually to proceed with the filing to get a divorce.

In general, the people who usually want to get an annulment of marriage will have identical issues but rarely succeed in their attempt to get this procedure done. Some of the reasons for wanting an annulment to include being married over six months, the consummation of the marriage, lived mutually as a couple for over a month, own assets jointly or start to have problems as soon as the decision is made to conclude the marriage. In case any of those factors relate to your situation, then the annulment law will definitely not be on your side.

But, there can be uncommon circumstances which might qualify your situation to get an annulment such as if you are too young, would like to have children and your spouse withheld the information about impotency or it might be even a case where your husband had a sex change to become a woman.

So, as it is highlighted above it is easy for you to understand why the actual grounds to get an annulment to seem to be overwhelming and challenging for you to fulfill. In addition, your attempt to get an annulment for marriage might consume a lot of money. However, in case your circumstance is categorized within one of the uncommon groups mentioned earlier, there might be absolutely no cause why you should not try to get your marriage annulled. Moreover, obtaining an annulment as an alternative for divorce should be very essential to you based on the possible disadvantages.

In several locations, the division of asset for an annulment will be identical to the divorce. Although presently there are very little annulment laws in many locations, the legal courts have a tendency to utilize the comparable guidelines as the procedure.

The actual procedure for the annulment will be submitted like the regular lawsuit and also the fundamental procedure is likely to be comparable to the proceedings. There is actually a request for annulment, a summons, as well as the prerequisite for a procedure server. Most times the spouse can response the annulment request and counter-claim intended to get an end to the marriage.

When this takes place, the development for the case might turn out to be practically similar to the divorce. An excellent guideline to help with the process for annulment of marriage is actually the information on the internet, as this will describe the basic steps needed for the proceedings.

Midlife Crisis in Marriage

One of the most common reasons why people get a divorce or annulment is a midlife crisis. In marriage, this will arrive in the life of the couple between the ages of 40 and 60. It has been found out to be a normal part of the growing up as well as the maturing process. At some point in their lives, many people will experience some form of emotional transition.

It is not clear to many what the exact reasons for these but for emotionally-developed persons, this is not just a thing to be shrugged off. One should find out the cause of why these things happen in order to make the necessary adjustments to save the marriage.

Transitions enable one person to make adjustments or engage in a paradigm shift when things aren’t going on as they should. Sometimes, what they have been planning all along, is not the way it is supposed to be. These transitions are needed for one to change the way things are happening that affects the way life is lived.

Some can adjust smoothly but at other times, they can’t seem to adjust themselves to most situations. It can become uncomfortable experiencing such and this can lead to depression and the need for psychotherapy.

People who have a hard time doing paradigm shift experience a lot of different feelings. They may find unhappiness in life and there are lifestyle changes provided that gave them happiness before and is not anymore applicable at this time. Boredom is felt with people, even family members, and interesting things are not anymore that exciting to them.

They feel a need for adventure and change all the time. They often find themselves questioning the choices and decisions they have made in their lives. Oftentimes, confusion about who they are and where they are going is felt. They find themselves being angry at their spouse, blame them for the marriage, and that separation is oncoming. The desire for an intimate relationship with another person is a strong urge and can lead to bigger problems in the course of the marriage.

Midlife Crisis: External Causes

Midlife crisis for most people is believed to be caused by external factors which give them a difficult time for adjustment. These are factors that can contribute to stress in life and will often lead to divorce and separation if unresolved. Transition is hardly possible especially for most people who have unresolved issues in their childhood which were not dealt with before and has come to surface at this period.

One factor that makes midlife crisis hard to pass through is debt. If you want a stress-free life, try to cut off expenses limiting only to things that are necessary or a priority.

Most people nowadays, especially for one with a big family, incur expenses that are beyond their means to pay and lead to insurmountable debts due to credit card balances that are unpaid. Financial problem is one of the major reasons for split-up between couples.

If you are in your midlife and finding it the most stressful time, finding yourself in the middle of so many debts will make you lose confidence. These will be a cause for arguments between husbands and wives and will often be the ground for the separation between them.

Death of a loved one is also a cause of stress especially when it involves a family member, particularly a parent. People often find themselves losing someone of authority and they feel they have no one to turn on and talk to in cases of big problems encountered in life.

Because of this, those afflicted of a loss in the family are often in doubt and question themselves why these things are happening to them. These can lead to depression when unresolved and can affect personal relationships between and among family members.

Transitions in midlife which cannot be accomplished will lead to avoidance of the situation or facing of the situation. When someone tends to avoid a situation, he finds himself distancing from others and may feel inadequate.

For one who bravely faces conflict, it will be a healthy sign. But for those people who cannot, processing must be done like being open to communication to resolve the issues otherwise, this may lead to deeper problems and most likely, divorce or annulment.

Tips on Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

Before putting yourself in the grilling table for that much-contested divorce proceeding, balance first the decision of hiring a divorce lawyer. If you will do the representation yourself, well and good. But if the other party is represented by a lawyer, think twice. You might find yourself in the type of situation wherein you might be laughed at having insufficient knowledge of divorce and matrimonial laws. You don’t need a second opinion when the going gets rough, before you contest your partner in a battle of wills in front of a divorce court, be prepared, hire a lawyer.

Avoid lawyers who accommodate too many clients at the same time. When lawyers are overloaded, they cannot fully attend to your needs when you need them to. Lawyers are badly needed to address critical issues and questions from clients but if this is not properly attended to, the client may lose demands or benefits in court.

Look for lawyers who can manage the case well. Filing a divorce case is not simple but would demand most of your time. It also entails a lot of expenses going back and forth to attend to requirements for accomplishment. Not to mention the time it takes for a case to be closed and done, so find one who can properly handle and manage your case without missing deadlines, and always prepared.

Hire a lawyer who answers your calls promptly. Divorce proceedings will require you to be able to answer critical issues which need to be studied and reviewed. If your lawyer is not available for discussion anytime, at least he must be open for open communication over the phone anytime.
Interview your lawyers on what to do before the procedure and during the court battles. This is what they were hired for, to answer questions you are in doubt to answer. You need to know the how’s and why’s of divorce, so go on and ask those questions from them.

Employ your own lawyer when your partner also has one. You do not want to engage yourself in battle with your partner who is represented by a lawyer. They are the most trusted ones in issues about custody, parenting, support, and division of properties and assets. You’ll find comfort and reassurance knowing you are represented by a qualified, competent and efficient lawyer.

Children and Annulment

Child Support

Child support after the dissolution of marriage is followed as an order from the court. After the separation has been deemed final, a decision has to be made as to which child should go with whom and should be based on how much both of the parents are earning monthly. The expenses of the child is compared to the earnings of a parent, whoever has the capacity in terms of earning will give support to the child until he is 16-19 years old. After this period, they start to live on their own and earn their livelihood.

Child Custody and Visitation

Most often, married couples make a dispute about which child should go to which parent even before the proceedings has even started. During the divorce proceedings, couples are still at a quandary on who will be given custody from the two of them. The court will decide whether child custody is physical or render. With physical custody, a child is separated from one of his parents and goes to the other, whereas in render custody, both of the parents take care of them. Child visitation will be agreed as to the time of visits and how often the visits will be.

Guardianship

A guardian is a person who takes care of the child until they reach 18 years of age. This person is the one in charge of taking care of the child making sure he’s not into joining bad activities or involve himself in any activity which is against the rules of the school where he is studying, a community where he lives, and the state where he belongs.

Paternity

When a woman has given birth, some person or a man should be designated as the father of the child. If the child has no known father, then the court will be the one to decide about the paternity of the child. This will involve some legality and tests like DNA are carried out to be able to decide who really the actual father of the child is.

What will Mediation Cost ?

The cost of mediation often depends upon the specific type of mediation. Mediation costs are usually based on an hourly rate or flat fee, depending upon the contract between the parties and the mediator. Divorce Mediation varies in their fees; however, the average price is $200.00 per hour. Usually, each side splits the cost and pays $100.00 per hour. Usually, if we mediate your entire divorce without too many problems we can finish mediation between six and eight hours. Once the mediation is finished, we write a Settlement Offer for the courts. There usually is no testifying of witnesses, no depositions, nothing between you and the judge that will get in the way. When you leave our office two things will happen. One, your agreement is given to your attorney to review or two, a settlement offer is signed by all parties and the document is returned by one of the parties to court.

If you go to court first, you will still most likely have to mediate. This time it will be court-ordered mediation. The court may waive the cost of court-ordered mediation, or the court may order either party to pay the entire cost of mediation or order both parties to share the cost. The parties will also bear the cost of representation by their attorneys. In voluntary mediation, the parties are responsible for mediation expenses themselves. The Bar Association states; "although there is a cost for mediation, it is possible that the over all cost of the separation or divorce will be less expensive if pursued through mediation than through litigation".

What Kinds of Issues May be Addressed through Mediation?

Each family is unique; however, we all have basic needs. Mediation addresses those basic needs and then works on each family's needs and in some cases wants. A parenting plan is vital to a successful separation and divorce. If temporary support/visitation is needed, that is where you begin. From there you change gears, looking at custody, visitation, and child support including health insurance. Every issue discussed is up to you. This is your process. Perhaps working with your CPA or investment counselor, you may create in mediation a plan to resolve issues regarding the distribution of assets/liabilities. In today's economy, it is essential to protect what you have worked for. Retirement plans and the division of wealth including investments might be a concern that you will want to resolve. Each family is different. Each family will come into this process with expectations and concerns. Each family member will have their own needs and future goals. Through mediation, we rectify situations and come up with viable solutions. Go back to our homepage and look at the pictures and the captions of some of the areas we work on. It took you years to build your life, reworking your life with a pencil, calculator and paper is a process, sometimes a painful process, and therefore this is a time for patience. Sometimes that in itself is very hard to achieve. A right mediation takes time. This is your future and in some cases your children's future. Therefore it is a time to be prepared. It is essential to focus not only on the big stuff but the little things that don't necessarily stick out. We find these smaller issues are just as important and need to be handled efficiently. Good detail planning now can save you time and money later on. Once your problems are addressed and resolved, there is nothing worst than finding out that one of you did not have a meeting of the minds. Emotionally and financially there is nothing worse for both of you to have to once again return to court. Spend the time now to do it right the first time. We are here to assist you to work through some of the difficult decisions that are necessary for a divorce. We genuinely believe there is such a thing as a "Healthy Divorce".

What Happens After an Agreement Is Reached?

With voluntary mediation, Divorce Mediation will prepare a written agreement for the parties to sign. If you have an attorney before a private mediation agreement is signed, each side may review it with his or her attorney. If corrections or changes are needed, and both parties agree, then the modifications may be made. This agreement may take effect immediately and govern the sides until they decide to divorce. At that time, the arrangement may be incorporated into the divorce decree.

Why mediation is your first choice for resolving issues.

If your mediation does not resolve your differences two things will happen. In court-ordered mediation, the case will return to the court for a decision by the master or judge if the two parties cannot agree. The mediator is forbidden to reveal to the judge anything that the sides discussed during mediation and may not be called as a witness. If voluntary mediation does not succeed, the parties always have the option of hiring attorneys and resolving their differences in court. The good news is that: 97% of divorces and parental agreements are settled by mediation. Try mediation, it most likely will work with your family's issues. Bar Association states, "When mediation is not an option, we find that most high-conflict divorces go on for years. Prolonged divorces deplete assets, entail expensive professional services, interrupt business, and interfere with opportunities for personal growth as well as the desire to get on with life". This advice goes hand-in-hand with non-mediation practices. The Bar Association goes on to said, "Divorce mediation, by contrast, helps achieve closure". Divorce Mediation agrees with the Bar Association. Mediation does bring closure in a private, peaceful, and dignified manner.

5 Tips to Prepare for Divorce Mediation

All divorces need not go to court. In most cases the law is very clear and litigation is not necessary. A Divorce Mediation is a less costly alternative that makes the dissolution of marriage less painful in terms of legal, financial and personal matters. You will still experience the mixed emotions that come with a divorce, but you will be able to handle the process with more serenity.

Here are five tips that can help before you and your spouse sit with a mediator:

  1.    Agree to agree

This first step will determine the efficacy of mediating. It is like pre-mediation, if you will. You both have to agree that mediation is the best choice for both of you. Dragging your spouse to negotiation would defeat the purpose.

You need to take the time to talk about mediation and what it entails, how much time you can commit to it and how you will share the cost.

  1.    Be prepared before a Divorce Mediation

Mediation is effective if you come to the table prepared. You need to know what you have and what you want when it’s over

Make a list of your possessions, assets and investments – shared or personal. Make an inventory of your belongings. Gather all financial documents pertaining to your income and expenses.

Your financial status will be an important part of the discussions, so you want to be as ready and accurate as possible.

  1.    Set goals

The list you made regarding what you have will be of great help in deciding what you want and what you need. You have to consider what is important to you, what you cannot live without. Try and evaluate where you can be flexible so the discussions are less heated when it comes to splitting antique furniture or mementos.

Do not forget to plan ahead. Budgeting your future income and expenses will play a major part in the mediation.

  1.    Include your children

You are going through a difficult time and your children are in for the ride. Your kids need to be reassured that your going from parenting to co-parenting will not affect their life in a damaging way. They will likely have fears and questions about the future and you should answer honestly. Custody, holidays, school and where you all will live are topics likely to come up.

  1.    Choose wisely

The choice of a mediator is as important as agreeing to end your marriage. Your future depends on how professional and qualified that person is. Do not limit your criteria to convenience of location or competitive fees. Take time to interview before hiring: areas of expertise, certification and experience.

The main outcome of mediation is to agree through collaboration. Triad Divorce Mediation offers a unique approach based on expertise and experience. By working with professionals from the financial, legal and coaching disciplines, Triad Divorce Mediation brings both parties to an agreement that works for all involved and allow you to move forward.

Does Divorce Mediation Have a Place in Domestic Violence?

Courts thread with caution in divorce cases where domestic violence has been established. Is mediation appropriate as an alternative to litigation if one spouse is victim of domestic abuse?

Knowing that domestic violence is a reality in about half of heterosexual couples in America, the odds of a mediator encountering a case of domestic abuse are that much higher. In many cases, evidence of domestic violence might be unknown when the mediation process begins, due to the silence the parties keep about it.

If the evidence of domestic violence has been brought to the attention of the mediator, he or she will follow a screening protocol to assess if the couple is a good candidate for mediation. In essence, this process will evaluate the balance of power between the spouses, assess the degree of control of the abuser and determine if there is any threat of physical danger to the parties involved. At all times, the mediator’s main concern is the safety of his clients.

Should the couple proceed with the negotiations with the help of a mediator, policies are set to avoid any risk: separate meetings, exclusive communication, presence of a peace officer for escort if the abused spouse is under considerable fear.

Ground rules can be agreed to, such as precluding topics from the discussions or preventing the parties to communicate so the outcome of mediation is not jeopardized.

For divorce mediation to have a place in a case of domestic violence, the mediators have to be skilled and able to recognize the signs of abuse- when it has not been disclosed- and able to provide a safe environment to their clients. Mediation is collaboration between the parties so the dissolution of marriage is fair to both. However, safety should never be compromised in the process.

Triad Divorce Mediation is a team of highly skilled professionals who provide legal, financial and personal advice to divorcing couples. They work towards a solid agreement for both parties even in high conflict disputes.

Communicating when going through a divorce

How can things get worse after the decision to divorce is made?  Many times, things do worsen between divorcing couples, particularly when children are involved.  Here are some tips on how to manage the chaos and survive the pressure:

  • Minimize phone communications to only emergency situations, like an illness or accident, not if you are running late!  38% of how we communicate is through tone, volume and inflection – be mindful of how you come across to others!
  • Minimize in-person contact.  55% of how we communicate is through our body language…even the sight of our former significant other can trigger us
  • Avoid reading email or any type of interaction with the other party at the beginning of the day, particularly when at work…it can derail a good part of your day
  • Create a rule to send email from the other party directly to a designated file folder so you don’t have to see it until you’re ready
  • Maximum one email per day unless emergency or time sensitive
  • Maximum one topic per email
  • Maximum 40 words per email; ideally less than 20 are preferable
  • Refrain from talking about the past, making accusations or personal attacks, call names or otherwise blame the other – it will get you nowhere fast!
  • Everything written must be child-focused (when children are involved), informative, and polite
  • Acknowledge receipt of an email and identify a timeframe for when you will respond, e.g. “acknowledging receipt of your email; will respond within 24-48 hours”
  • Refrain from immediate responses, particularly less than 3 hours – this definitely reflects an emotional response, not a logical response
  • Make sure you do respond within 24-48 hours, except in cases of emergencies or time-sensitive matters.  Even if you don’t have an answer or are waiting for information, let the other party know that
  • Frame your requests in terms of a “proposal” – consider  your response in terms of “I’ll think about it” before saying “Yes” or “No”
  • If you can’t say “yes” to a request, respond with a counter-proposal.  If agreement can’t be reached within 1-2 proposals and counter-proposals, take it back to counseling and/or mediation for guidance
  • Be mindful of strong words like “I will not” or “I refuse” or “I insist” or “Don’t you…”

Remember, you are communicating with the other person you once loved…the person who helped you bring these wonderful children into the world.  Your children have a right to love that person, even when you don’t, and to love them through their eyes, not yours.

And, even if children aren’t involved, you do yourself harm by harboring resentment and anger.  Learn to breathe deep and reach for a higher place to be…you will feel better for it.

Marriage is grand…but divorce is 20 grand!

I just had to borrow this divorce phrase found at several sources…it’s so true!  Divorce is costly! Not that I am making a case for staying married when the relationship doesn’t work, but taking a look at these figures from Divorce360.com is pretty sobering…

Stats on Divorce

  • Most marriages end before the 10-year mark
  • There are many hidden costs to divorce that most people are unaware of
  • The cost of divorce increases with income, assets accumulated, the number of children involved and the duration of marriage
  • Geography makes a big difference in the costs for emotional, financial, legal and real estate help to get through the process
  • According to the 2006 US Census Bureau:  the average American family is married, 2 children, income $50K-$75K, a home worth $185K (in CA, this increases to a home worth $535K).

Here are some aspects to consider when contemplating...

Mediated versus the Litigated Divorce

  • Time is a factor
    • the typical litigated divorce takes from 9 to 24 months
    • the mediation process can be completed within 2 to 4 months
    • The current San Diego Family Court climate
    • July 2005, Money magazine – the average divorce:
      • $3,000-10,000 for a divorce mediation
      • $16,000 for collaborative law
      • $35,000 for traditional attorney to attorney negotiation
      • a minimum of $20,000-$50,000 for trial

In today’s budget-stricken Family Court climate, parties would benefit greatly by “narrowing the issues” by first using mediation, taking only those unresolvable through mediation into litigation.

Some other aspects to consider about mediation

  • Mediation is particularly important when there is an ongoing relationship, i.e. parenting, to be maintained.
  • Mediation also helps address the emotional turmoil and stress associated with ending a relationship – it can serve as part of the healing process,
  • It is important to note that men and women handle divorce differently…mediation can help balance the different stages of transition that each of the parties is facing.
  • Even when mediation is not successful, parties still report a high degree of satisfaction with the process because of how it helps them deal with the emotional stress around the issues being mediated.

Check it out…mediation is the way to go…even in difficult cases.  Keep the money in your pocket for you and your children!

The Real Reason Divorce is So Difficult

One of my clients once wrote:

“I am going through a divorce. I pride myself on being objective, upbeat and very good at my job. However, since the divorce began, I often feel depressed and sometimes paralyzed. I feel like I am firing on only one cylinder and it is only a matter of time before my employer and my children realize I am not fully functional. Does everyone who is going through a divorce feel this way?”

The short answer: Yes.

Most people believe the most awful psychological experience anyone could have would be one’s own death or the death of a loved one. However, for many who are separating after a long-term relationship, the separation is actually “three” times worse, as follows:

End of a Relationship

First, the end of a long-term relationship is, quite literally, the end of life as my clients know it. It therefore provides the same or a substantially similar psychological experience as that of my clients’ own death, and thereby the ultimate loss.

Happily Ever After

Second, ever since we were small children, we were taught to believe in the romantic notion of “happily ever after” for our domestic relationship. The end of that relationship provides the extraordinarily rude awakening of discovering the “happily ever after” clause is not valid. My clients discover they were tricked and fooled during their entire lives into believing something which turns out to be a giant hoax, a cruel prank. My clients thereby experience the ultimate humiliation.

Trust Your Partner

Third, we were also taught we could trust our domestic partner more than we could trust anyone else in the world. When the relationship ends, my clients usually learn the persons they trusted most have turned against them and are using my clients’ most intimate secrets against them. My clients thereby experience the ultimate betrayal.

Separation Process

Therefore, the separation process often involves the most extreme and awful experiences of loss, humiliation, and betrayal. Unfortunately, this does not include the full inventory of potential damage. For example, the majority of divorces and separations which go to court are ugly. They involve almost unbearable stress, ugly conflict, major losses of time and money, compromised integrity, psychological health and collateral damage to the psychological health of the children. Therefore, the end of a long-term domestic relationship will often be the most awful situation someone will experience.

___________________________________________________________________________

DISCLAIMER: The articles on this web site are intended to provide general information only and do not constitute legal or other professional advice for any purpose. The use of the Internet or of this web site for communication with the author of any such article, or with any professional or any other person associated with any firm of which the author is associated, does not establish an attorney-client relationship, mediator-client relationship, psychotherapist-patient relationship or any other professional relationship of any kind. These authors and all professionals and other persons associated with any firm of which these authors are associated DO NOT represent your legal or other interests and DO NOT have any duty to advise you about or to assist you with any time-sensitive information or issue. These authors and all professionals and other persons associated with any firm of which these authors are associated DO NOT have any duty to keep confidential the information you send through the Internet or through this web site. Therefore, you must not send confidential or time-sensitive information through the Internet or through this web site. If you submit an inquiry through the Internet or through this web site you may receive a response to your inquiry from an attorney or other professional. If so, that response will include no legal advice on which you can rely for any purpose. Rather, it will consist only of comments and suggestions based on family law rules of a general nature which may or may not apply to your case in specific.

Splitting It Down the Middle — Really???

Most all of us are aware that this is a community property state. So what exactly does that mean when it comes time to splitting community assets in a divorce. Let’s look at the global explanation first and then I will attempt to give you my 2 cents or make that 1 cent; if we split it. Community property is a term used to describe property and assets acquired after the marriage. Currently, there are nine community property states. As we know, Texas is one of them.

In addition, Puerto Rico operates under a community property doctrine and Alaska allows couples to choose to designate specific items as community property. So, what does all this mean when you divorce?

Does “community property” mean a 50/50 split?

In general terms, yes. During the property distribution process in a community property state, the court will attempt to divide the property as equally as possible between the two parties. This distribution is usually done using monetary values so that if the divorcing couple came in with $100,000 in assets, each should leave with approximately 50% or $50,000.

Division of Assets

So there you go. Pretty simple, huh? All assets are not created equal and not all assets can be easily split. But a greater concern regarding division of assets it– it is suitable, reasonable and appropriate for the asset to be maintained by one of the parities.

Concerns such as the knowledge to manage certain brokerage accounts, rental real estate, small businesses, etc could put an asset in the hands of someone who is challenged to manage it, growth, it and just plain old live with it.

Questions such as , “Is it better to transfer an assets in kind (maintain the actual stock/bond /mutual fund) or liquid the holdings into cash and then transfer can bring into the picture tax concerns and estate planning issues. Should we do a QDRO with retirement assets or just maintain our own plans assuming they are relatively equal? What about the defined benefit plans which many public workers and military have? How do we value a future value asset today ?

Certified Divorce Financial Analyst

Well the good news is that if you’re in mediation, or at least working together, sky is the limit. Someone like myself with a Certified Divorce financial Analyst designation can help weed through the myriad of pros and cons along with the attorney to find the best split without necessarily splitting everything.

A divorce is probably one of the most important financial crossroads you will ever encounter. Like my dad used to say , “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Spend a little extra money and get the expert advice…you will be very happy you did.

The Engagement Ring – Who Gets It When the Wedding is Cancelled?

When a marriage proposal is accompanied by an engagement ring, and someone breaks the engagement by refusing to marry, is the recipient legally obligated to return the ring?

The usual rule is the person who breaks the engagement probably loses the ring. However, “probably” does not mean “certainly.”

In our culture, an engagement ring which accompanies a proposal is usually considered to be a gift in contemplation of marriage. The underlying assumption is a gift in the form of an engagement ring is exchanged solely for each party’s promise to marry the other.
CA Civil Code §1590 addresses this type of gift. It states: “Where either party to a contemplated marriage in this State makes a gift of money or property to the other on the basis or assumption that the marriage will take place, in the event that the donee refuses to enter into the marriage as contemplated or that it is given up by mutual consent, the donor may recover such gift or such part of its value as may, under all of the circumstances of the case, be found by a court or jury to be just.”

The language of this statute suggests the recipient must return the ring (or the value of the ring) if:

  • The recipient refuses to marry; or,
  • Both parties jointly decide not to marry.

However, the rule appears to be different if the donor subsequently refuses to marry. California courts have interpreted this statute to mean the recipient usually has no legal duty to return the ring if the donor refuses to marry.

Unfortunately, there is no certain result if the parties seek court intervention, because:

  • Even though the statute specifically applies to gifts in contemplation of marriage, legal principles of fraud and other defenses for breach of contract may apply. These principles are numerous, complicated and conflicting. One can never predict how a judge or jury will interpret and apply any of those principles.
  • One can never predict what evidence will be brought to the court’s attention. Nor can one predict how, or even whether, a judge or jury will consider or interpret that evidence.
  • The statute itself is ambiguous. It states the donor “… may recover such gift or such part of its value as may, under all of the circumstances of the case, be found by a court or jury to be just.May” does not mean “certainly.” It means “maybe.” And one can never predict what a judge or jury will “find” to be “just.”

Therefore, depending on who calls off the wedding, the rules are probably as follows:

  • Recipient refuses to marry, due to no fraud by or other fault of the donor: Recipient returns the ring.
  • Donor refuses to marry, due to no fraud by or other fault of the recipient: Recipient keeps the ring. 
  • Both parties jointly decide to cancel the marriage: Recipient returns the ring.

Deviations from tradition may substantially increase this uncertainty. Our cultural tradition usually observes males giving engagement rings to females in heterosexual relationships. There is no certainty about how, or whether, these principles might change if:

  •  A female gives an engagement ring to a male, in a heterosexual relationship; or,
  • A male gives an engagement ring to a male, or a female gives an engagement ring to a female, in a homosexual relationship; or,
  • Both parties give and receive engagement rings; or,
  • One of the parties is transgender, or both parties are transgender.

The material on this document is intended for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal or other professional advice for any purpose. No attorney/client relationship and no confidential relationship of any kind is formed by reviewing or using this material in any way or from any direct or indirect contact with any attorney arising from that review or use. If you need legal or other professional services, consult with the appropriate, competent attorney or other professional.