Date: November 29, 2013 9:08 PMHow to Negotiate With an Irrational Ex-Spouse
You can protect yourself legally by properly responding to an angry ex during divorce. Is your ex using the court system to regain a sense of power over you? Or maybe the fear of lost assets is driving your ex to prolong divorce litigation. Whatever the reason how you respond to his/her anger can play a role in how out of control the divorce process becomes.
Awareness is the key to successfully negotiating a divorce settlement agreement with an angry ex. It has been my experience that the angry ex usually comes out on top during divorce negotiations or divorce court. Like a dog with a bone, they don't let go and will eventually wear you down if given the opportunity.
I don't encourage anger but I do encourage anyone dealing with an angry ex to pay close attention to how their ex is choosing to 'defend' themselves during the legal process of divorce. It helps if you understand that anger is a secondary emotion that covers feelings of abandonment, fear, loss or powerlessness.
Divorce and marital separation are considered, respectively, to be the second and third major life stressors, following only the death of a spouse, on the list of 43 stressful life events included on the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (Holmes & Rahe, 1967).
The stress and anger your ex is feeling will directly impact any settlement negotiations or legal proceedings. Will you know what to expect and how to respond?
Date: November 22, 2013 3:00 AMHere We Go With The 14th Amendment Again
Below are some highlights from their suit and my responses to each.
'Connecticut's alimony scheme is unconstitutionally vague, giving no notice to citizens contemplating marriage or divorce what fate may befall them in a divorce proceeding. The Legislature, by failing among other things even to identify the purpose or aim or alimony, has delegated basic policy decisions to the judiciary without any meaningful guidance.'
If you marry without first educating yourself what might 'befall' you in case of a divorce, you should not be getting married. Seriously, alimony is old news and I for one will never be convinced that these gentlemen married with no awareness of how they would be held responsible should they decide to leave the marriage.
They claim Connecticut has no statute to guide judges in ordering spousal support, so the courts are not required to 'calculate alimony with mathematical prevision.'
It does though; Connecticut law specifically says that the 'cause' of the divorce will be taken into consideration when awarding alimony. If they are upset with the court for 'punishing' a spouse it feels is at fault they should not have chosen behaviors that would cause the court to view them as, 'at fault.' That is a better course to take than trying to change state law just because they don't want to pay for bad behavior that led to a divorce.
And, in Connecticut alimony is historically awarded in less than 20% of divorces. So, these gentlemen aren't speaking for the majority. Just the few who have made choices that didn't reflect positively on them in Family Court.
'It is impossible for any married person in Connecticut to know, even within a reasonable range, what financial penalties will be imposed upon him in a divorce judgment.'
This isn't necessarily true. If you are wealthy and leave your spouse for a younger model you are going to pay quite a bit of alimony. If you are not wealthy and leave your spouse for a younger model you will pay a little bit of alimony. I will say this, if a spouse has a chart outlining exactly what they would pay in alimony should they leave their wife/husband they could make a more informed decisions. Like, is the other woman/other man worth it or not?
'In no area of law other than family relations does Connecticut give a civil litigant the ability to use penal remedies to enforce a money judgment.'
If the argument is that a civil court should not have the authority to use penal remedies to enforce a money judgment I'm all for moving it to a criminal court. After all, in my opinion it is criminal to refuse to follow a legal order regardless of whether it is a civil or criminal order. I've known quite a few men and women who would have responded more positively to a Family Court order if they had known they would end up in criminal court for not following it.
'Alimony schemes like Connecticut's have had the opposite effect of discouraging citizens from marrying at all, whether or not they are in a committed relationship and whether or not they are raising children. The rate of births to women who are not married has increased dramatically, while the percentage of the population that is presently married or has ever been married has decreased significantly.'
Is Connecticut supposed to care whether someone chooses to marry or not? How does using this argument relate or uphold to their desire to not pay spousal support or the unconstitutional injustice of it?
I'm not sure how the 14th amendment plays a role in whether alimony is a violation of their constitutional rights. And if it does wouldn't a stay-at-home wife of 25 or 30 years who is financially dependent on her husband be able to use the same argument? Should she be deprived of 'life, liberty, or property without due process of law' just because her husband decides she no longer fits into his agenda? These gentlemen are forgetting an important aspect of the 14th amendment, their ex-wives have a right to equal protection of the law also.
Date: November 20, 2013 2:51 PMThievery: A Sure Fire Way to Stop Your Divorce?
If you haven't you should read this divorce court order from Circuit Judge Edward Garrison of Boca Raton, Florida. And if you are a husband or wife trying to stop your divorce, please don't get any funny ideas. Thievery is not the way to go.
The best line in the order, 'The wife simply became dissatisfied with her 'cut' from the illicit conspiracy.'
I agree with the Judge, it is an amazing display of chutzpah!
Date: November 17, 2013 6:53 PMDid You Take Time to Grieve The Loss of Your Marriage?
The grieving process one goes through during and after a divorce is very much like grieving the death of a loved one. Working through your grief can be a painful process, but it is necessary to ensure your future emotional and physical well-being.
According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death and Dying, the emotional stages of grief are 'responses to loss that many people have, but there is not a typical response to loss as there is no typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.'
In today's society the loss of a marriage seems to be 'typical.' Just because divorce is so common place doesn't mean you won't experience feelings of grief and loss. How you grieve, that loss will greatly determine how productive the rest of your life is.
Date: November 17, 2013 4:24 PMThree Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Marry for Love
Everything you've learned about love and marriage might be wrong!
Date: November 13, 2013 3:00 AMWhat it Takes to Rebuild After An Affair
We've all heard stories of couples who were able to rebuild their marriage after infidelity. Stories of how much better the marriage became after the infidelity. Or, maybe you've met someone who divorced due to infidelity and is now happy, secure and moving forward without anger and resentment.
The same is possible for anyone who has lived with the pain of infidelity. It takes actively practicing behaviors and thoughts that promote resilience.
If you are able to adjust quickly and snap back after disappointments in life you will be more likely to heal from a spouse's infidelity and restore your marriage. The more emotionally resilient you are the more able you are to 'roll with the punches' life throws at you. And infidelity is a hell of a punch! It is these folks who make a habit out of 'making lemonade out of lemons.'
What are the personality traits of those who are able to recover from infidelity?
1. You are solution focused. You focus on finding solutions to problems instead of becoming obsessed with the problem.
2. You are optimistic and confident. You don't sit around and wait for others to solve your problems, you take the initiative.
3. You set boundaries and enforce them. You know the rewards of distancing yourself from hurtful people, environments and situations.
4. You have a strong sense of autonomy. Who you are and your value as a person is not defined by the behaviors of others.
5. You don't view yourself as a victim. You are able to acknowledge your own contribution to disappointing situations, take responsibility and not blame, blame, blame.
6. You are empathetic. You are willing to view a situation from the perspective of others. Doing so helps you understand not only your feelings but the feelings of the person who hurts you.
7. You don't resist change. You are able to take what life gives you and make the best of it instead of expecting life suit your needs. You've learned to let go of a need to control every situation.
Date: November 10, 2013 3:29 PMWhat's Wrong With "Good Enough?"
I have an issue with those who leave a low conflict marriage for all the wrong reasons. If you've 'grown apart' isn't it your responsibility to work at creating a bond? If you are 'bored' well, join the club because marriage isn't and wasn't meant to be one life-long party.
'One minute, you love the stability and contentment. The next minute, you think it's not the right marriage, and there are flaws in the marriage that are serious, even though there are also great things about the marriage,' says historian Pamela Haag, author of 'Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses, and Rebel Couples Who Are Rewriting the Rules.' In other words, 'one minute you can't imagine staying, the next you can't imagine leaving,' Haag says. 'It's these kinds of marriages that are 'low conflict' but not all that satisfying that contribute the lion's share to divorce court each year.'
I've always argued that most marital problems are due to high expectations, Haag believes, 'our expectations for marriage may be too low--such that single people feel, perhaps rightly, that there isn't much that marriage would add to their lives.'
The problem I have with Haag is her belief that there is something wrong with feeling 'semi-happy' in a marriage. Haag's marriage is representative of most marriages, one day you are in, one day you are out. Marriage is like anything else in life, we can feel both good and bad about a situation according to our mood, our partner and any other number of things.
Isn't it time for us to grow up and realize that life nor marriage promises us happiness? All marriages are semi-happy. There are ups and downs, times of great passion and times of boredom. All couples have problems some less, some more that doesn't mean they are semi happy and should be running to a divorce attorney. It just means they are married and it pays to keep your expectations reasonable...not high or low but, reasonable.
Date: November 3, 2013 9:32 PMChildren and Divorce: Don't Leave Them in The Dark
I worked with a client last year who had been separated from his wife for six months. His children had no idea Dad was no longer living at home. Hard to believe but true! My client and his wife were so terrified of damaging their children by telling them they were separated that they were damaging the children even worse by keeping the secret.
Dad would come over in the morning before the children woke; he would then return after dinner and stay until the children were in bed. On weekends he and his wife ran around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to keep up pretenses.
His four year old son was acting out at school. His two year old daughter had started having nightmares. Both children knew something was wrong and the two people they depended on to be honest with them insisted on keeping secrets that only exacerbated everyone's level of confusion instead of encourage open communication.
If you have children and are about to separate or divorce, please don't do as my client and his wife. For the love of your children, don't!
Children need age appropriate honesty when it comes to the details of their parent's divorce. I agree with the opinion of Dr. Frank Pittman that keeping secrets and lying to children causes them to become insecure and dependent. It also breaks their trust and if there is one thing a child needs during the divorce of parents, it is two parents they can trust.
We work from the day our children are born building a trusting relationship with them. It is important for them to trust us so they can feel secure, not only in their relationship with us but in the world as they grow toward independence. You may think you are protecting your child when you keep secrets but what you are actually doing is damaging a relationship that is based on trust.
If there has been an affair, be honest and give age appropriate details when, or if your child becomes inquisitive? When telling your children about your divorce you are having a conversation that will set the standard for your future relationship with them. If you want a relationship that continues to be based in trust then it is imperative that you are open and age appropriately honest about the 'who, what, when and where' of your divorce.
Date: November 3, 2013 2:52 PMAn Open Letter To Therapists Who Help Clients Avoid Divorce
Are therapists unknowingly perpetuating societal shame when it comes to divorce?
Date: October 24, 2013 4:00 AMThe Key to Negotiating With an Angry Ex
Knowledge and awareness is the key to successfully negotiating a divorce settlement agreement with an angry ex. It has been my experience that the angry ex usually comes out on top during divorce negotiations or divorce court. Why?...
Date: October 21, 2013 8:24 AMWhat Roles Do Guilt and Shame Play During The Divorce Process?
'Why is my ex so unwilling to negotiate and compromise?' It is a question I hear often from those engaged in a high conflict divorce.
According to a study by Anne Wietzker, of Ghent University in Belgium you can expect different behaviors during divorce proceedings based on whether or not your ex feels guilt or shame....
Date: October 16, 2013 4:00 AMCan You Survive Financially After Divorce?
I received an email the other day from a mom of three who had recently divorced. She had been a stay-at-home mom for 12 years and her husband had handled all the finances for the family. She went into the divorce process with no marketable working skills and no idea of what debts they owed or assets they had.
Needless to say, she is finding it difficult to live on child support and her income from the only part-time job she could find. She is paying the price for not preparing herself financially before filing for divorce.
A divorce attorney once told me that most people rush into divorce without considering the financial implications. As a result they are left, post-divorce to deal with the repercussions of moving forward with something they couldn't afford.
If you are considering divorce in today's economy do your homework. If you are a stay-at-home parent or homemaker who has been out of the work-force for several years there are four top things you should think about before filing for a divorce.
It is crucial that you take into consideration what your finances will be like once you are divorced, especially if you have children. Once your marital assets are split and the ink is dry on that final decree of divorce will you be able to get credit in your name? Will you be able to find a decent job? Will your ex be there to help financially if you fall on hard times? If not then divorce may not be a viable option for you at this time.
Date: September 15, 2013 2:30 PMAre You an "In-Spouse" or "Out-Spouse?" And Why it Matters
The spouse with the least knowledge is most vulnerable during a divorce
Date: July 28, 2013 5:58 PMBreak Ups Are Both Harder and Easier Today
What role does the Internet play in your relationship?
Date: May 20, 2013 6:10 PMThe Bad Business of Marriage
To sign or not to sign? What to know before you say 'I do' to a premarital agreement.
Date: March 28, 2013 2:42 AMWhy a Stranger's Marital Advice Can Be Most Helpful
Some compelling reasons to reach out in a new direction for help
Date: January 20, 2013 10:50 PMCan Therapists Actually Cause Divorce?
One Change Can Lead to Another (and Another...)
Date: December 9, 2012 1:12 AMI’m Dreaming of a White-Knuckle Christmas:
There are many simple ways to avoid feeling bad on the holidays. This articles spells many of them out.
Date: July 30, 2012 5:43 PMWhere Are You on the Divorce Stress Scale?
I think it’s fair to say that divorce is a stressful event in one’s life. For some, it is the most stressful event they will ever experience.
Date: June 22, 2012 2:40 AMWhat If Divorcing People Had a Good Temporary Housing Alternative?
People leaving drug or alcohol addiction treatment have the option to go into what’s called, “transitional housing.” I have often dreamed of buying a property and converting it into transitional housing for people who are divorcing.
Date: May 6, 2012 1:32 PMHow Do You Know If Your Soon-to-Be-Ex-Spouse Is Hiding Money?
Whenever a divorcing client comes in and tells me that their spouse has said, “We don’t need lawyers,” I become wary. When that other spouse is self-employed, I become downright suspicious.
Date: April 1, 2012 12:30 AMSingle Mother Wants to (Ad-)Opt Out
An international news story broke Saturday about a woman in China who wants to give her two-month-old infant boy up for adoption, for free, due to her impending divorce from the boy’s father.
Date: February 27, 2012 2:00 AMIs There a Right Time or a Wrong Time to Leave Your Spouse?
Those who have contemplated divorce for a long time have been stuck in what I call the Marital Indecision CycleTM. This is the cycle wherein couples live in a relatively calm routine but, due to hurt feelings or a buried resentment resurfacing, for example, tensions begin to escalate.
Date: February 1, 2012 2:18 AMWant to Know the Number One Way to Save Money in a Divorce?
I don't know anyone who likes to spend their hard-earned money on a divorce. And divorce is incredibly expensive with attorneys charging upwards of $300 or $400 per hour, financial people charging thousands, and any other professionals needed adding to the long list of bills that make it feel like money is flying out the door.
Date: January 8, 2012 6:57 PMFinding Out Your Spouse Is Gay
Being left by a spouse who says that the marriage is over is difficult and coming to terms with the loss can be excruciating. But when the marriage is over because your spouse turns out to be gay, there is a whole different layer of thoughts and emotions to contend with.
Date: December 11, 2011 11:28 PMThe Holidays and Divorce: The Five Best Things You Can Do for Yourself (And Your Kids)
The holidays are the most emotionally charged time of the year; if you like where you are in life, it's a magical time, but if you don't like your life circumstances, holiday time can be quite awful.
To those of you who are divorced or divorcing, this can be an especially challenging couple of months.
Here are some suggestions to get through this period a little bit better:
Date: December 4, 2011 5:02 PMKnowing If You Should Stay or Go
When trying to decide whether or not to end a marriage most people have at least some ambivalence. This ambivalence can be confusing and I often hear the contemplator say that he or she is waiting for a sign or waiting until the 'knowledge' that it's time to leave is present.
Date: November 14, 2011 2:48 AMWould You Take Your Spouse Back?
In my experience, when a person is the leavee, they often tell me initially they would take their spouse back if he or she wanted to come back to the marriage. This is true particularly when the spouse being left didn't see it coming and didn't think the problems in the marriage were 'that bad.'
But then something interesting happens.
Date: November 6, 2011 3:00 PMIs God Involved in Marriage and Divorce
In my last article, I wrote about some of the reasons people get married other than love.
While most of those who responded thought the article had several good points, some told me in no uncertain terms that my ideas were not novel, and the religiously-minded readers were infuriated by my lack of focus on the holy nature of marriage.
Date: November 3, 2011 1:20 AMIs There a Secret to "Happily Ever After?"
Kate Schermerhorn is an Emmy Award winning filmmaker who contacted me after reading the 'Getting Marriage-Whys' article I posted a few weeks ago. She had many of the same thoughts I did about the role that marriage plays in our lives today.
Date: October 5, 2011 11:17 PMGetting Marriage-Whys: What We Really Need to Change
This week in headlines, we heard that Mexico is introducing legislation that will potentially put time frames around marriage with the minimum contract lasting two years.
There are now approximately 26 countries throughout the world that recognize civil unions, domestic partnerships and same sex marriages.
Date: October 2, 2011 8:25 PMThree Divorces for the Price of One
When most of us hear the word divorce, we think of one process that involves tasks such as dealing with the local courts and getting a lawyer, sorting out finances and child custody issues and one or both spouses having to move to a new neighborhood.
Date: September 11, 2011 11:13 PMSo You're Married to An Addict: Is Divorce Inevitable?
If you love an alcoholic or addict, you know how terrible the disease of addiction can be and you are indirectly impacted. If you are married to an addict or alcoholic, not only do you suffer from watching the person you love go down the tubes, you are directly effected.
Date: September 5, 2011 12:20 AMIs There a Legal Action That Can Actually Prevent Divorce?
Cora and John had been married for nine years and had no children. One night, they had a terrible argument over a financial issue that had been brewing for some time. John threw around the 'D' word like it was nothing, They had never gone to the level of animosity before.
Date: August 11, 2011 12:36 AMIf You Are Behind in Child Support, You Need to Watch This Video
If you have been a deadbeat parent, next time you win a prize, beware!
Date: August 10, 2011 2:24 AMOne Woman's Story of Losing 200 Unhealthy Pounds in Her Divorce
Ten years ago, Nan (not her real name), told her then husband, Frank, that she wanted to remodel the kitchen. After over seven long months of hellish construction, Nan finally had the kitchen she'd always dreamed of.
Just when she thought life was going to return to a sense of normalcy, she got the rudest awakening of her life: Frank announced that he wanted a divorce.
Date: July 24, 2011 4:22 PMWhen Parents Make Children Their Friend or Spouse
When my parents divorced, thirty years ago, my younger brother was the only one of the five kids who hadn't gone of to college yet. As the 'only child' at home, my mother leaned on him heavily and, as so many lonely parents do, she turned him in to her surrogate husband.
Date: July 3, 2011 7:27 PMWhat choices do "none-agomous" couples have?
Being held hostage in a sexless marriage is, to some, nothing short of torture. Sex is not only physically pleasurable, it is also an avenue for intimacy and emotional (and sometimes mental and spiritual as well) connection. It is a stress reliever when relationships are good but it can be the --cause--of tremendous stress when the relationship is not so good.
Date: June 19, 2011 10:10 PMBitter to the End Toward Dad
This past week, on June 14th, my 79-year-old mother died. The good news is that in her last few hours, I watched her get to the place where she only had love in her heart. The bad news is that, even the day before her death, she was expressing ill will toward her ex-husband, my father.
Date: June 5, 2011 4:21 PMWill the Future of Family Law Look Like Integrated Medicine?
'Only people who have what you want can take you where you say you want to go.' ~ Pauline Tesler
The following are links that will help guide you through the divorce process:
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