Planning For Special Needs Children During The Divorce Process

Right now, 40 to 50 percent of Americans who are getting married will get divorced. However, couples who are parents to special needs children have almost double the divorce rate percentage with 80 to 90 percent of marriages ending in divorce. While any divorce poses specific challenges, when dealing with a divorce with a special needs child, the focus should be on strategic long-term disability care planning to ensure a financial support for children who will need long-term services. Unlike other children who will one day outgrow their parents, special needs children will require assistance with basic life skills such as decision making, daily activity and self-care well into their own adulthood.

When negotiating during a divorce, it is important to take into consideration the child’s disability when making agreements. For example, children with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder might not be able to handle transitioning from one house to another therefore only one parent might have physical custody rather than both. As always, all custody discussions should be handled with what is in the child’s best interest but in this case, what is the best long-term interest of the child. Also, agreements should clearly define responsibilities when it comes to physical therapy, tutoring, specialized medications and education.

Another unique aspect of divorce with specials needs children is that children aren’t always minors. In the event that the child is above the age of 18 and is disabled and not incapacitated, then they can issue what is called a General Durable Power of Attorney to one parent or both parents. They might also dictate who will be the Health Care Proxy to help make informed health care decisions. If the child who is over the age of 18 does not have the capacity to make informed decisions guardianships are a possibility. Guardianships are usually awards to one parent who will make decisions on what is best for the child.

Divisions of assets become tricky in these cases because when the child reaches a certain age because in order for the child to receive Medicaid and Social Security Benefits they must make below a certain income. This might seem contradictory because it is always the parents’ goal to make sure that their child will be financially secure in the future. It is recommended that assets that wish to be given to the child be put into a separate trust and appoint a trustee to use the funds at their discretion. This way the child can still qualify for things like Medicaid and Social Security Income. It is important to note that the trustee cannot be one of the parents.

If you are going through a divorce and have a child with special needs, contact one of our divorce attorneys to help you through this difficult process to ensure a successful financial future for yourself as well as for your child.

How Can Social Media Affect Your Divorce?

Posting on social media has become a daily or even hourly activity for a lot of people. While some users are conservative, others will share their personal lives with the masses, updating them on what they are doing, seeing, hearing, and so on. As you may know, social media can affect all aspects of your life. When you are going through a divorce, what you post o social media can affect the outcome of the case. It is important that you keep some things personal and refrain from giving your ex-spouse ammunition to use against you in divorce court.

How Can Social Media Negatively Affect your Divorce?

Social media can affect your divorce in a variety of ways, including:

  • Uncovering Hidden Assets – While you ex-spouse may think they are slick hiding assets from you, they may not be slick enough to keep their single life off of social media. For example, if your ex-spouse is claiming that they cannot afford alimony payments, but is posting pictures on Facebook of their vacation at a 5-star resort or the brand new luxury car they just bought, the pictures can be used as evidence to show that they have more money than they are leading on.
  • Dating Life – Dating can be tricky after a divorce. While one party might be making an effort to make the marriage work, the other might be out and about, going on dates with other people. If you decide to start dating during the separation process, it can create a bad optic. Your ex-spouse may be able to use pictures of your dating profile or from your social media accounts to put the fault on you. If your divorce becomes an “at-fault” divorce, it can have a significant outcome on the ruling of the divorce or the financial obligations of the divorce.
  • New Job/Higher Income – When someone receives a new job or promotion, it is often celebrated by a post on Facebook or LinkedIn. Even if you do not log on to post a celebratory status, you may add the new job/position to your LinkedIn resume. A new job or a promotion may mean an increase in income, which can affect the amount of spousal support or child support you are ordered to pay. Additionally, if your new position requires regular traveling, it may have an impact on child custody rulings.
  • Negative Comments – Sometimes, when someone grows angry with someone or something, they take to social media to air out their feelings. If you are going through a divorce, posting your feelings on social media or airing out your exes dirty laundry can have a negative impact on rulings like child custody. If you are creating a hostile environment, a judge may rule against you in a custody hearing. The reasoning behind this ruling is that judges try to place children in an environment where the children will have the best quality of life and avoid any hostility against the other spouse.

If you are going through a divorce, it is a wise decision to take a break from social media. If you are hiding something from your ex, make sure your mutual friends do not post it on social media either, as you may have blocked your ex-spouse but forgot about your mutual friends.

Tip On Managing Your Finances During A Divorce

One of the most difficult decisions a person makes is the decision to get a divorce. And with decision comes many other decisions including child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal support and division of property. Without the guidance of a legal expert, the amount of decisions, especially when it comes to finances can feel insurmountable. We’ve created this list of helpful tips on how you can manage your finances while you are going through the divorce process.

Tip 1: Close all joint accounts

Whether it’s a joint checking account or a joint credit account, it’s important to close these accounts immediately. You do not want to be gaining income or racking up debt in both of your names while you are trying to split the assets equally.

Tip 2: Create a budget

A lot of the times in the event of a divorce, you are going from a two-income household to now just a single income household. By creating a budget, you will make sure that you do overspend on things that are not necessary and you will be able to afford your new lifestyle. The budget should include things like your monthly expenses, mortgage payments, car payments, retirement funds and tuition if applicable.

Tip 3: Find healthcare insurance

Especially if you are the spouse that is covered under your soon to be ex-spouse’s plan, the sooner you can get on your own health insurance the better. This will prevent a lapse in coverage and you can work the new expense into your budget.

Tip 4: Update your insurance policies and other estate planning documents

While we do not like to think about our own mortality, making sure your children are provided for in the future. It’s also important to make sure your power of attorney and health care proxy are updated to the correct person so you ex-spouse is not in charge.

Although this is just the small tip of the iceberg of everything you need to do during the divorce process, we hope that we can make your lives a little easier. If you are seeking a divorce attorney do not hesitate to contact us.

Common Reasons for Divorce

When a couple gets married, their intentions are to have a happy marriage, with a wonderful family, that lasts forever and ever. A growing number of couples are getting married; unfortunately, not to their soul mate. More and more couples are choosing divorce over sticking it out with someone they can’t bring themselves to live with any longer. Divorce has become a common theme amongst young couples in their 20s and couples within the first 10 years of their relationship. There are a number of different factors that weigh into the decision to get a divorce. An article from marriage.com supplied the information we used to create this list.

Some Common Reasons for Divorce

Infidelity – We see it in TV shows and movies all the time, but that’s just dramatics for the big screen, right? Wrong. Extra-marital affairs are one of the most common reasons for marriages that end in divorce. People cheat for a variety of reasons, maybe they’re looking to spice up their sex life, maybe they’re angry with their partner, maybe they just feel detached from the person they once lived deeply. Whatever the reason is, it can be a crushing blow to a marriage that was already shaky.

Money – Money, money, money, mooo-ney. Everything about money can make a relationship toxic. If the two partners have different financial goals, the spending habits of the other partner may put an immense amount of strain on the couple. Money can also factor in if one partner makes more than the other. This can create a power struggle between the two partners.

No Communication – Communication is key in any relationship whether it’s between a friend and you, a coach and his/her players, a boss and his underlings, and your spouse and you. Without communication, one party may become frustrated and feel left out. Practicing good communication is key to a successful marriage. You should never be afraid to talk to your partner. Tell them how you feel and share your feelings with your partner.

Arguing – A sign of a relationship going south is constant arguing. Constant arguing can make each spouse feel like they’re not being heard or appreciated. Sometimes a fix to this can be taking a step back and looking at it from the other person’s point of view.

Weight Gain – We know, this reason is messed up. But it’s true, weight gain is one of the most common reasons that couples get divorced. It’s not because there is a change in personality, but it can be as simple as one person isn’t as physically attracted to the other anymore. This can also have an effect on yourself. If you have gained weight, your self-esteem may drop making you less physically intimate.

Unrealistic Expectations – Often, people enter a marriage and think that everything is going to be cupcakes and rainbows. Unfortunately, that’s more than likely not going to be the case. There are going to be some rough times and some issues you have to push through. Don’t go into marriage with the idea you and your spouse are never going to argue, it’s unrealistic and can cause a rift between the two of you.

Absence of Intimacy – The responsibility, for this reason, falls on both parties. This isn’t always about physical intimacy, emotional intimacy can also play a role. If one party is acting cold or disconnected from the other, it can leave the other party feeling under appreciated. Practice little acts of kindness and affection to constantly remind your loved one that you appreciate them.

Shortage of Equality – This reason comes into play if one party feels like they are making more of an effort to the marriage. This can lead to resentment, which can lead to extra-marital affairs or divorce.

Not Ready for Marriage – Sometimes, you’re just not ready for married life. Divorce rates among couples who get married in their 20s are high. Almost half of the couples that get a divorce are within the first ten years of the marriage.

Abuse – Abuse covers not just physical abuse, but emotional abuse as well. Emotional abuse can stem from a reason that is unsettling to one party whether it is a deeper emotional issue or something within the marriage. No reason for abuse is acceptable and no one should be forced to tolerate it.

What Is A Gray Divorce

A gray divorce is a colloquialism for anyone going through a divorce over the age of 50. And why do couples getting a divorce in this age range get a special name for their divorce? Because after a long-term marriage, the divorce process can be very difficult and complex.

Although the average divorce rate has gone down, the average divorce rate for this age group, in particular, has continued to increase. There are several contributing factors to this such as the fact that this might not be their first marriage, they are not empty nesters, they postponed their divorce until their children were grown or for financial reasons.

When a couple in this age range gets a divorce there are several things to take into consideration including but not limited to retirement, social security, income, spousal support, insurance, adult children, long-term care, competency, and estate planning. This is why hiring a divorce attorney who has experience in gray divorce can be to your benefit to ensure that you have everything you need to live out the rest of your life comfortably.

For example, let’s examine retirement. Retirement assets that were accrued during the marriage might be separated at the time of divorce. This amount of money will not nearly be enough for either member of the couple to live the same quality of life that they were used to having. Or, once separated you might not have enough income to help pay your bills so you dip into your retirement fund as a way to supplement the loss of income. Either way, this can be very dangerous and cause long term financial issues. A divorce lawyer who also has an estate planning background will be able to help you in your divorce as well as ensure that your future is planned so you can finally move on with your life.

How Does Divorce Affect Bankruptcy

When you take your marriage vows, the last thing on your mind is the possibility that it could all collapse one day. All too often, though, that’s what happens. We should all be prepared for the worst-case scenario because if you’re not it will get a whole lot worse. What happens when you have no money and you must declare bankruptcy–when you’re simultaneously in the middle of a time and energy consuming divorce? Here’s what you need to know if you think this might someday happen to you.

How bankruptcy affects divorce depends mostly on the type of bankruptcy you intend to file, and that itself largely depends on what you hope to gain from it. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy means that your assets will be completely liquidated, and the resulting funds will be used to pay off any outstanding debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy means that you, as the one in debt, will be responsible for drafting and submitting a detailed plan to pay off your debt based on income you’ll obtain in the future.

Regardless of which option you choose, you won’t be eligible to make good on any domestic support required of a divorce settlement. If you go down the Chapter 13 route, then you may be eligible to fulfill other divorce settlement obligations. Chapter 7 won’t allow for the same. This means the timetable for your divorce and bankruptcy might change. In reality, you can’t do both at the same time, and you’ll have to choose which takes priority.

If you plan ahead for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it can be done with all haste. It will take a few months for both you and your soon to be ex to file a Chapter 7 together in order to take care of whatever debt you can. After that’s taken care of, the divorce can proceed. If you don’t want to file together, then perhaps it is better to wait a while.

Jointly filing a Chapter 7 can also help you spend much less money during the bankruptcy process, which can lead to a less stressful divorce later. Filing fees and lawyer fees can add up. There is a possible impediment to this option, however: if your joint income passes a particular threshold, you won’t be eligible for Chapter 7 at all, and you’ll have to divorce first if you still wish to exercise that option.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a much longer process and sometimes drags on for many years. Most people don’t want to be stuck in a dismal marriage for that long, so it’s probably best for everyone if you proceed with the divorce first.

Common Signs Of An Unhealthy Marriage

We’ve all been there while married friends or family are having it out with one another. The fighting can do more than grate on everyone’s nerves–it can be downright unbearable, and it can reduce the love we feel for one another to a different level altogether. The unhealthy marriage sometimes persists like a slow-moving but deadly virus, intent on destroying everything in its path. Sometimes, though, just like a virus, an unhealthy marriage isn’t as apparent as we might wish. It lurks beneath the surface, doing damage without notice. Here are a few common signs of an unhealthy marriage.

Whether you’re the one in the marriage, or it’s someone you know, one of the biggest indicators is where one turns for support. If your friend is venting his or her frustrations to you instead of a spouse, then perhaps the subject at hand isn’t the only problem. In the same way, if someone can no longer see a hopeful future or recall fond memories, then the marriage may be toxic. If there’s nothing fresh or new, and common interests are no longer shared, there is a problem.

Sometimes we think that addictive habits such as smoking or drinking are obvious, but some people are extremely good at hiding all the usual warning signs. These destructive tendencies can do even more damage to an otherwise salvageable relationship.

Most of us have experienced a situation or scenario in which we knew what the right thing to do was, but we did the opposite instead. Sometimes you can’t blame yourself or the ones around you. If the relationship has stagnated, then most of the time rational thought and actions will fall close behind.

A change in confidence can show the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. If you remember a friend brimming with energy, ready to get out there and take on the world, but is now a shut-in who never wants to do much of anything, it could mean that confidence is waning. Usually when this happens, it’s the result of who we spend the most time with and the effect they have on us.

Compromise is the backbone of any strong, lasting relationship. If a loved one can’t acquiesce just a little in order to make things better for the both of you, then your significant other might not have your feelings in mind anymore. This is something we don’t always notice in other relationships, but it happens often. Sometimes this shift in attitude seeps into the bedroom. A significant other may only care about his or her satisfaction, and can be forceful in obtaining it. This should not be tolerated. If counseling is not an option, then such a relationship should be quickly abandoned. Better things are on the horizon!

Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?

Divorce can be a trickier business than you might realize if you’ve never been down the road before yourself. For example, we so often hear about visitation rights. Who most often gets primary custody of a child? The mother? The father? No matter what, one parent usually has to take a step back in order to let the other parent keep the lion’s share of these responsibilities. That means visitation. What happens to relationships with other family members? If the mother gets sole custody, and the father is cut out of the loop, do the paternal grandparents have rights? It depends on the circumstances, and local laws are important as well.

In California, there is at least the possibility that a grandparent could gain visitation rights with a grandchild. What matters most is the relationship between the grandparent and the child before the divorce took place. If the court can establish that a bond existed between child and grandparent, then naturally the legal system would do everything in its power to see that bond continue to strengthen through to adulthood.

In order to prove that such a bond exists, though, it must also be proved that a continued relationship with the grandparent would benefit the child in the future. This isn’t always an easy thing to do.

What really complicates the matter, however, is what the parent with custody wants for his or her child. The court is granted the authority to perform a balancing act in the interest of doing so. Even if visitation is in the best interest of the child, the decision-making rights of the parent will often still take priority.

It should be mentioned that these rules are contingent on the status of the couple in question. If the couple is still married, then visitation rights will likely not be granted. If the parents are married but separated and living apart, then the option is still there. If a grandparent has the support of a parent, then the option is still there. If neither parent is currently guardian to the child, then the option is still there.

Those are the basic rules governing the issue, but as you can see it can be a convoluted mess to navigate these laws and restrictions without a lawyer. In order to begin the process, it is strongly recommended you seek legal counsel beforehand. When you have an idea of what you would like to do, then you can petition for visitation rights with the court overseeing custody. Because it isn’t always obvious where to file this petition, a lawyer can help shed some light on what would otherwise feel like an impossible situation.

What Are Foreign Divorce Decrees?

We don’t all live in common circumstances, and sometimes divorce can make this plain for all to see. What happens if you require a divorce, but you’re currently living in a foreign country when your home is the United States? Well, it gets even more complicated than usual, and it’s usually already complicated. Not only do the laws of the foreign nation in which you would like to get divorced apply, but you will also need to get the divorce validated in the United States when you finally decide to return home. That’s where a foreign divorce decree comes into play.

A foreign divorce decree is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a–usually–legal decree that a divorce has taken place between two spouses who no longer wish to be together while at least one spouse resides in a foreign country. Although these issues are playing out in the legal arenas within another country, the United States federal government still holds no real authority over divorce in or out of the country. When you file for divorce away from home, a decree is the only thing that can determine whether or not a state will recognize the divorce has occurred.

No matter what, information regarding divorce is widely sought after and should be taken with a grain of salt when found. Consider it generalized at first glance, and be sure to check up with a divorce attorney. You need to know the local laws of the country where you get the divorce, you need to know how to get a fair and accurate decree, and you need to know how to ensure its validity at home. These aren’t waters to navigate alone, so be sure you enlist help before going any further.

One matter that you need to be familiar with is where you have your home. You cannot expect a state government to accept that a divorce is valid if you did not have a home in the country where the divorce decree was issued. When seeking a divorce in another country, you must be sure that at least one party resides there first.

There are a number of legal terms regarding foreign divorce decrees to familiarize yourself with before you seek one. An “ex parte” divorce occurs when one party is physically present but the other is not. For an ex parte divorce to proceed, fair notice must be provided to the absent party. A “void” divorce is an ex parte divorce during which no notice is provided to the absent party. If you obtain this type of divorce, then you can expect the foreign decree to be invalidated by the state government upon your return home.

A “bilateral divorce” occurs when both parties are present, and these are the most commonly validated foreign divorces. If you’ve done your research, this is probably the way to go.

Will The Court Order My Spouse To Pay My Attorney’s Fees?

Divorce in practice is a lot different from divorce through word of mouth. There are a number of scenarios that will play out over the months after which you file for divorce, and the number of questions you inevitably attach to these scenarios will continue to grow over time. They can be nearly to impossible to answer without the help of qualified legal counsel, which is why that is always the first step. If you’re not yet ready to file for divorce, however, you might wonder what it can cost you. Will your spouse be required to pay your attorney’s fees if you’re the one who filed for divorce?

Maybe.

Let’s say your spouse cheated on you, and you decide to file for divorce because you feel that marriage vows are important. That’s good–most people do, and the court system tends to agree. Because you’re getting a divorce as the result of your spouse’s actions, and those actions alone, there’s a good chance you may be able to convince a judge to order your spouse to pay for the fees required of your attorney.

In cases where the issues at stake are a little bit murkier–for example, the actions of both husband and wife are requisite factors in the divorce–then the court may not take action to force a spouse to pay either partial or complete attorney’s fees of the other spouse. What matters most in this example is the income of both parties. If your income is much, much lower than your spouse’s income, the court may decide to give you a little help. Or rather, the court may decide that your spouse will be required to give you a little help.

California has an interesting rule that requires fairness in these circumstances. If one spouse is exigent and can’t afford attorney’s fees, but the other spouse can, then the other spouse will likely be forced to provide the difference. This rule is not contingent on a wide gap in income. All that matters is what can be afforded, so that both sides have an equal say during the divorce proceedings. Needless to say, if the process took place while one spouse had legal counsel and the other did not, one spouse obviously holds an unacceptable edge over the other.

Lastly, if you would like your spouse to pay for your attorney’s fees, then be on your best behavior. Extra points will be gained if you act fairly and quickly, but your spouse does not. Judges are quite irked when proceedings are drawn out unnecessarily, and someone usually pays the price for making a judge angry. If your spouse’s attorney engages in disruptive tactics in order to make the process last longer than it should, then it may be your lucky day!