Category: Divorce

What’s The Difference Between Legal Separation And Divorce?

If you’re wondering whether or not it’s in your best interest to file for divorce, a number of questions are already running through your mind. It happens to everyone going through the same thing, and the questions are always the same. Should you go through with it, or will time heal the issues between you? Okay, time hasn’t done anything to heal, so maybe distance is the best option. Time apart isn’t just time apart, though, and it’s important you understand that. What is the difference between legal separation and divorce, and which is best for you?

The first thing you need to remember should be obvious, but sometimes people forget: when you’re separated, you’re still married. When you’re separated, therefore, you should still behave as you would when you’re married. If you do indeed decide to get divorced at some point down the road, then the actions you take during your legal separation could affect the divorce proceedings. In other words, be extremely careful.

You might choose to separate for a number of reasons, but the consequences can sometimes creep up on those who do. Sometimes, the benefits of your marriage will dry up, depending on the type of benefit and how long you’ve been apart from your spouse. If you currently enjoy the fruits of a spouse’s labor–i.e. Social security income, health insurance, dental, or any other benefits–then you should know that you often don’t have the legal right to continue to use those benefits during a separation.

Your specific situation matters. The job you have and the benefits provided can affect the outcome, and might help determine whether or not you would be better off following through with divorce or simply staying separated. A qualified legal professional specializing in divorce is an absolute necessity, even if you don’t intend on getting a divorce. A divorce attorney can help underline the fine print you might otherwise forget to read, and they can give you detailed instructions on how best to proceed–and how to do so carefully–in either case.

There are a number of reasons you might continue to fulfill your marriage vows, even during a legal separation. Perhaps you and your spouse are devoutly religious and do not believe in divorce as a means to solve the differences between you. Perhaps you are dependent on the benefits of the other, or you require the tax benefit provided by marriage. Maybe you have other extraneous circumstances in your life that preempt the stress of getting a divorce, and you’re just not ready to go down that road. No matter what, legal counsel will help you determine the best course of action for you and your future.

What Careers Have Higher Divorce Rates?

If you’re about to get a divorce or just thinking about it, then blame is probably getting tossed around. Believe it or not, sometimes there are extraneous factors to consider. One of those factors is the career of you or your spouse–or both. Certain careers lead to much higher rates of divorce for a number of reasons, and you probably won’t guess what some of those careers might be. Here are some of the careers that have the highest divorce rates.

The profession with the absolute highest rate of divorce is that of a gaming manager, coming in with a stunning 52.9 percent rate of ruining that marriage. While this probably wasn’t your first guess, it also probably isn’t a surprise. Gaming managers help supervise operations at casinos. Flight attendants and bartenders take the next top spots with 50.5 percent and 52.7 percent rates, respectively. These can likely be attributed to odd hours and time spent away from home. After all, flight attendants basically live out of hotels much of their time.

The next jobs on the list fall into similar categories. Gaming services workers also fair poorly at marriage, getting divorced at a 50.3 percent rate. Certain types of machine operators take over a number of the next five spots, most falling just under 50 percent. Switchboard operators land at 49.7 percent.

Telemarketers have a 49.2 percent rate of divorce, which probably won’t surprise anyone. We’ve all been aggravated by them from time to time, especially when they phone you while you’re on a no-call list.

Considering that the actual rate of divorce is already so high in the United States, you might be wondering what careers have the lowest divorce rates. The numbers are a lot different than the previous set. You might think that surgeons would have a higher rate of divorce because they’re often required to be “on call” at all times, but you’d be wrong. Physicians and surgeons come in at number ten on this list, with only a 21.8 percent chance of divorce.

Amusingly, the career with the absolute lowest rate of divorce is that of an actuary with only a 17 percent chance of divorce. This is funny because those invested in this career spend their time analyzing statistics in order to find patterns. They use the skill to determine risks and rewards for insurance companies. Other careers that were low on the list were clergy (still not the lowest), scientists, software developers, physical therapists, and chemical engineers.

Since it turns out that career can be such an important indicator of where you’ll end up later in life, perhaps it’s important to take the time to consider where you’ll be working when it comes time to plan a family!

Tips for Summer Vacation and Divorced Parents

School is often a blessing in disguise because the institution of learning keeps our children out of harm’s way while we’re off at work or perhaps even irresponsibly gallivanting in an effort to maintain that elusive social life. That’s why summer vacation–even for happily married couples–can present a difficult conundrum. There are only so many activities that keep our kids preoccupied without enormous expenditure, and coordinating between them is that much harder when you’re on your own. So you’re a divorced parent: here are a few of the best tips for how to spend time with your kids or keep them busy on their own during the summer months.

Since your kids are already around, this is the best period of time during which to allocate your vacation weeks. Whether you spend the time at home, explore an exotic location, or walk down the street staring at the birds, this is a good chance to experience new things with your kids. Summer months present a good opportunity for overnight camping excursions, and if they’re in need of exercise because of the sedentary 2000s lifestyle of video games and mobile phones, then hiking is a great choice.

If you still have to be at work every day and can’t leave the kids at home, then send them off to an actual summer camp or find other parents around the neighborhood who have the same problem. It shouldn’t be too much of a struggle to find like-minded adults who need some time with (or without) their kids, so work together to brainstorm new options and take turns with the neighborhood kids. Just because you might not have a spouse doesn’t mean that no help is available.

Don’t be as rigid as society says you need to be. Kids like to do things their own way, and the chance to provide them with options and choices shouldn’t be missed. This is a good time to reacquaint yourself with the new hobbies, likes, and dislikes that your children have accumulated over the past year. If they feel fine having a movie marathon or sitting around playing video games for a few hours, then let them have at it. Try to include yourself every once in awhile. Don’t let them go too far overboard, but don’t stop them.

One of the most important things you may need to constantly remind yourself of while you brave the summer months with your kids is this: maintain a positive attitude, and be careful what you say–especially when someone mentions your ex-spouse. It’s never a good idea to be critical of the other parent in front of the kids, and what you say has a tendency to make its way into unfriendly territory. Don’t start any confrontations for no good reason, and keep everyone calm.

FAQs About Changing Your Name After A Divorce

When you’re finally out of a toxic relationship, there are a number of paths you can take. Do you keep a last name? Sometimes it can be easier that way. It can be simpler when you don’t have to go make a list of all the websites and companies and institutions that have your married name on record in order to make the necessary changes. It can be less confusing for young children. If you choose to go back to your old surname, then you might forget about everything you have to do. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions about changing your name after a divorce.

Do I need to notify Social Security of my name change?

Yes. If you opt to change your name, then you must acquire a new card to reflect the new name–and that means alerting Social Security of the change. Keep in mind that this isn’t a process that can be completed online. In order to make the needed changes, you need to fill out an application for a new card, and then mail that application and other necessary documentation (such as identification) to whichever Social Security office services your locale. An in-person visit will serve just as well.

What do I need to do in order to get my name changed back?

Although there are a lot of minor nuisances and notifications you’re likely to forget, you probably don’t have to venture into court to make the change. Most people just start using the name! When you take your spouse’s surname after marriage, you can usually get away with simply using the name as long as you have a marriage certificate handy. Similarly, you can start using your old name again as long as you have a divorce decree. Eventually, it sorts itself out without any legal mumbo-jumbo. The only reason you would need an actual court order is if you’re changing to an entirely new name that you’ve never used before.

What am I forgetting?

There are a lot of things to update after you make the change. Be sure to get new checks issued, then alert USPS, credit card companies, billing companies and utilities, government institutions and affiliations, and order new identification cards. You need to update your driver’s license and passport immediately, because your name needs to match databases and travel itineraries exactly in order to avoid any trouble. A lot of travel plans have been squashed because of these minor missteps. You might also forget to notify friends or family, employers, your children’s school, the DMV, and the Department of Records or Vital Statistics.

Pets & Visitation

Pets are like our children, but only with hair, fur and feathers.

At least, that is what we think from an emotional standpoint. We are emotionally invested with our pets almost as much as our children. Unfortunately, many states have laws that account for pets as property in a divorce or legal separation case.

Emotion vs. the Law

Family law has the goal of re-unifying families, or at the very least to keep stable living conditions for children. While much of divorce court is about splitting up property, children have always been considered different from property – they have been considered minor children with emotional bonds to their parents.

However, pets are largely ignored in that sense. Pets have an emotional bond to the family as well – though it may be admittedly more one-sided (humans toward pets) than the human relationships.

Laws governing divorce and family custody issues were slow in taking pets into account, but some of that has slowly been changing in several states, where pets are starting to be treated “children” rather than “property.”

The Current Reality

Divorce is more often messy than amicable, when the two people going through the process have a tendency to fight for virtually everything, including children. However, because there has been a relative lack of clarity involving pets, if there is a need for consideration of the two parties working together, it might have to be for any pets in the relationship.

Dogs have been especially featured in legal circles lately in the evolution of pet custody laws, as dogs are considered most popular and high-maintenance for their health and happiness. Courts have been open to awarding custody of dogs as well as visitation in divorces, but many states encourage the couple to actually come up with its own agreement outside of court in terms of where the dog will live, who will care for it and whether the other “parent” will have visitation or even will want it.

Is Pet Visitation a Thing?

The short answer is yes, but it’s not something that is handled by courts. Any visitation or custody agreement would have to be worked out by the couple, and very few states so far are willing to use court resources to enforce terms of any visitation agreement. Therefore, if both people in a divorce case wish to spend time with the pet, it is recommended that they work it out themselves and pinky-swear upon a very specific agreement, or make an agreement so vague that it can’t be enforceable and is only operated under “good faith.”

Use Legal Means Sparingly

Until pet-custody laws are brought forth in many states, you might assume that you won’t get any help in court in enforcing any pet visitation agreements. It would benefit the pet to have a document negotiated by the parties involving visitation and care of the pet(s) in the family, and have all expenses tracked and shared between the parties.

Contact our San Diego attorneys for a consultation about your pets and let us help you form the right kind of agreement that both parties can uphold so your pets have as much care as they normally require.

Talking To Your Kids About Divorce

It is one thing to deal with the reality of divorce. That can be painful for the couple, because no one wants to fail on a vow to live together “until death.”

Even when it’s an amicable and mutual split, divorces are often tough on people’s minds and emotions. And adults are supposed to be well-equipped for this.

So can you imagine what it might be like for children?

The time may come when you have to tell the kids about an impending separation or divorce. The news will be hard to take and will likely be a shock. So much so, that some studies have shown that this kind of life-changing announcement is one of the few that is never forgotten by children, no matter the age.

There is no way to make it easy on children that they will eventually forget about it on their own. Knowing that, how might you approach the news about divorce with your children to make it as painless a memory as possible? Here are a couple tips:

Plan Out the Talk

Before you decide to have the talk with your children, make sure to plan it out – even have a set date of the split. Do not approach it when you are “thinking” about divorce; be decisive that it will happen, then have a discussion about what to say and when to say it.

Be Available Post-mortem

Part of the key of when to have the talk is to discuss it with your children at a time when both of you can be available afterward to address questions and to be there to comfort them. The kids will need hugs and comfort to deal with conflicting emotions.  Do not tell your kids when on the way to school or work, or right before bed.

Be Unified

Have the talk with your children together. This will make it more comforting for the children to see that both parents are doing what is in the best interest of the children. This also helps you both tell the same story and give the same information to the children so there is no need to repeat information later.

Be Honest

Be prepared for a lot of questions, especially if your kids are older (7-8 years and older). You may not have to give the children details, but be open to the questions and answer them with as much candor as possible.

Start the Healing

Resolving to divorce is probably the second-most difficult talk to have, behind only the talk with children about the breakup of the life they know. It’s difficult, but necessary to be open and honest as possible, but it can be hard to know how to broach the subject of divorce. When you contact a quality divorce attorney, he or she can help you develop the right strategy to ensure that your children do not suffer any more than is needed in an otherwise painful situation.

Can I Move Out of State During Divorce?

If you’re currently going through a divorce, it can no doubt be a difficult time for you emotionally. While divorce can be incredibly stressful, depending on your circumstances, it can also be quite liberating. The transition to independence can be both scary and wonderful when a world of opportunity opens up, moving from one stage of life to another. For those seeking a fresh start post-divorce, moving out of state is a great way to start the process. However, is it possible to move out of state while your divorce is still in progress?

California divorce law states that in order to file for divorce in a particular state, the individual filing for divorce must reside in the state for 6 months or 180 days. Additionally, living in the specific county where you are looking to file the divorce for at least 3 months is essential as well. If you and your ex-spouse have lived in California for 6 months but live in different counties, however, you may file for divorce in either county. If you don’t meet the residency requirements but want to get the ball rolling on the process, you can still file for a legal separation and then file for an “Amended Petition” once the residency requirement is met.

If you and your ex-spouse are childless, there is not much after the residency requirement keeping you from staying within the state, besides making it the paperwork process more convenient. The situation becomes much more complicated, however, when there are children involved.

In order to move out of state with your child, you will need to file a petition to the courts for permission to take your children with you across state lines. The guidelines and steps for doing so depend on the custody conditions between the both of you and your child. If you are the parent with sole custody, taking your child out of state should be legally uncomplicated unless the other parent attempts to prove the move would harm the child in any way. In the case of joint custody, the parent that wishes to move must prove the move is in the best interest for the children if the other parent doesn’t want them to move.

Whether you are thinking about moving away with your kids, or you suspect your ex-spouse may wish to move away with your kids soon, discussing this with your attorney will ensure that your parenting plan will protect your rights and intentions. Ultimately, given the complicated nature of child custody laws, divorce laws, and their intersections, it’s imperative that you consult with an experienced attorney who will give you the best possible advice. Contact our team of divorce attorneys today!

Divorce During The Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a happy time for family and friends.

If there is a divorce hanging over heads, the holiday dinner tends to taste a little bit different.

No matter how amicable and “friendly” a divorce may be, divorce is a traumatic, stressful and unhappy situation. The eggnog and hot cocoa taste bitter when such a cloud hangs over the family get-togethers.

When divorce is on the menu for the holidays, this can lead to some awkward conversations over the mashed potatoes. To get through the awkwardness, here are a few tips to handle family gatherings surrounding a divorce.

  1. Have patience.

If this is the first time you are by yourself either separated or divorced during the holidays, you need to quit assuming that the holidays are going to be the same as every other holiday season. You will have a different emotional state, and your family and friends will have a different take with you – they will likely want to be more sympathetic. Be patient with yourself and others, and be OK with not being emotionally in tune with the joyful season.

  1. Have flexibility.

We have holidays written out on our calendars, but are they etched in stone? If you have mutual friends with your ex-spouse and you don’t want the awkwardness of having to attend the same holiday get-togethers, arrange to meet with your friends or family on different days (like Christmas Eve instead of Christmas, or the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of Thanksgiving Day).

  1. Reach out.

It can be easy to internalize when you are upset or depressed. But this is actually the time of year to show some outreach and be available for others to make sure that their holidays are joyous. This may mean being social, calling friends and family to visit with them, or paying attention to those less fortunate – visiting homeless shelters, women’s shelters, etc. The key here is, don’t be alone and look out for others over yourself.

  1. Show gratitude.

One of the great sustainers of overall happiness is expressing gratitude. Being grateful for your health, your children, your friends, your family, and sharing those blessings and gratitude can help many people overcome trauma and depression. This is the perfect time of year to count blessings and think much about the positive that is in your life.

Joy to the World

The holidays are supposed to be a time for joy and fellowship with friends and family. In the wake of divorce, those times could be clouded by feelings of anger, depression, betrayal or sadness. You can work with one of our divorce attorneys to help navigate you through the divorce process and get through the holidays with gratitude and blessings.

Is Divorce Good For The Economy?

When two people get married, they do not expect their relationship to end in a divorce. Unfortunately, a large portion of marriages end in divorce, but that number is dropping. The National Center for Family & Marriage Research reported that in 2015, 16.9 of every 1,000 married women received a divorce. According to the report, this number is down from 17.6 in 2014  and has decreased 25% since 1980. The locations in the United States with the highest divorce rate are Washington D.C., Wyoming, and Nevada; in that order. The states with the lowest rate of divorce are Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Hawaii; in that order. Fun fact, Hawaii is the only state that fell under the 12 per 1,000 married women mark.

How Does Divorce and the Economy Relate?

A big debate about divorce is if it positively or negatively affects the economy.

  • Divorce slows economic growth
    • A common trend in economics is if there is an increase in households, there is a decrease in the economic growth rate. Naturally, an increase in divorce causes an increase in the number of households, an increase in the amount of power being used, an increase in the number of resources being used, etc. Therefore, an increase in the divorce rate leads to a decrease in the economic growth rate.
  • Changing family formula driving down divorce rates
    • The average divorce rate for first-time marriages is 41%. There are a number of factors that weigh into the divorce rate and how it fluctuates including age, first-time marriage, location, finances and other factors.
    • A change in the family formula means that the traditional roles of the family members are changing. An example of this is, for many households, the woman or mother is now the financial supporter. This has led to an increase in the number of dual-income families, which bring down the divorce rate. Another factor is that couples are getting married at a later age. It is believed that couples who wait to marry, are less likely to get a divorce.

What Factors Into Divorce Rates?

There are a wide variety of reason that people become unhappy in their marriage and decide to get a divorce. The following factors all play a part in any divorce:

  • Age
    • There is a direct correlation between the average age couples are getting married and the rate of divorce. According to CNBC, in 1950, the average age of men getting married was 23 years old; the average age of a woman getting married was 20 years old. Over the next 59 years, the average age of marriage has increased to 28 years old for men and 26 years old for women. The sweet spot for marriage is about 28-32 years of age.
  • Education Level
    • Education Level plays a factor in divorce. Couples who have a college degree are about 10% less likely to get a divorce. Women who completed college have a divorce rate of 14.2:1,000. The divorce rate rises to 23:1,000 when women do not finish college.
  • Location
    • Where you live when you get married has a factor in divorce rates. Nevada and Maine have the highest divorce rate, 14%. New York, New Jersey, Utah, California and North Dakota all have considerably lower rates.
  • Race
    • According to the 2014 Community Survey, the ranking of race and divorce race is as follows: Asian women, Hispanic women, white women, then black women.
  • Sexuality
    • A report came out that same-sex marriages in New Hampshire and Vermont had a lower rate of divorce than heterosexual couples. Shortly after, the Washington Post came out with an article that stated this is not true. The article also stated that the rates are the same.
  • Children
    • Usually, having children decrease the likelihood of a divorce, but having children often decreases the parents’ rate of happiness and their life satisfaction.
  • Religion
    • Religion tends to be a marriage give marriages some stability. The highest rate of divorce over all religions is Christianity which comes in at 74%. The next highest is atheist at 20%.
  • Mental Health
    • Depression and substance use disorders are both factors in increasing the divorce rate.
  • Parents’ Marital Status:
    • Basically, if your parents were divorced, you are more likely to have a marriage end in divorce. This is due to the fact that you are brought receiving messages that convey the thought that marriages and relationships are not long-term.

All of these factors can weigh into why you a couple’s relationships may end in divorce, but they are not end all be alls. There are exceptions to every rule.

A common misconception is that a higher divorce rate will lead to a stronger economy. This is simply not true. Divorce rates have an inverse relationship with the economy, as they go begin to decrease, the economy will begin to rise. If you are going to get a divorce, hopefully, it is mutual and you and your partner can have a collaborative divorce. In the event that you and your soon to be ex-spouse are not parting ways amicably, then feel free to contact one of our divorce lawyers for assistance so you can ensure that you will live and be comfortable for the rest of your life.

I’m Going Through A Divorce: How Can I Keep My Pet?

Sad Dog. Owers in Battle for Pet CustodyIf you are a pet owner you know they are not just an animal, they are a member of the family. If you are a married couple without kids, you might consider your pet as your child. If you are a married couple with kids, you might consider your pet your son/daughter’s brother or sister. Even if none of the aforementioned statements apply to you, your pet is still one of your best friends and no one wants to lose a best friend, especially when going through a difficult time like a divorce.

In the past, pets used to be considered personal property in divorce cases, but over the last 15 years, that model has been changing. It is now more common than ever that custody over pets is being treated similarly to the custody of children.

Pet Custody Case Statistics

According to the American Pet Products Association, 144.2 million of American households own a pet. Dogs and cats are the most popular pets among pet-owning households. 60.2 million American households own an average amount of 1.49 dogs per household. 47.1 million American households own an average of 2.00 cats.

In 2014 the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers took a survey of its members and the statistics were revealing. 88% of pet custody battle were couples fighting over who gets the dog, and 5% of cases were couples fighting over who gets the cat. The results of the study illustrated that attorneys are noticing an increasing number of pet custody cases.

What Happens in Divorce Court?

When a married couple is planning on getting a divorces it has the potential to get messy for every party involved. Thing such as child support, child custody, child visitation and the division of assets all need to be sorted out if the couple can’t reach an agreement. A point of contention that also needs to be addressed is who gets custody of the beloved pet.

Some of the factors that weigh into the judge’s decision about pet custody include:

  • Did the pet belong to one party pre-marriage?
    • If the pet belonged to one party pre-marriage, technically the pet is that party’s “personal property”, therefore, the judge is likely to rule in the favor of the respective party.
  • Is there a prenuptial agreement? If so, is the pet included in that agreement?
    • Although we love them like family, pets are still considered personal property, therefore one party can claim the pet in their prenuptial agreement.
  • Where are the children going?
    • Often times in a pet custody case, the judge will award the family pet to the party that has physical custody of the children.
  • Who has the better living situation for the pet?
    • Another factor the judge will consider in a pet custody case is the living situations of the parties. If one living situation is better suited for a pet than the other, then the judge will most likely award that party the pet.
  • Who provides for the pet?
    • In some cases, the judge will rule in favor of the party that can prove they are the financial supporter of the pet. In other words, if one party is responsible for purchasing pet supplies (food, treats, toys, beds, etc.), pay for veterinarian visits, and take on any other cost that a pet owner may incur.

Contact Our Divorce Attorneys

We have the experience of negotiating pet agreements for our clients, even if you were not the owner of the pet pre-marriage. We will help you get the documents you need to help prove that you are financially responsible for the pet or help prove that the pet will be safe in your living conditions.

At the end of the day, a pet is a man’s best friends. Pet owners build strong emotional bonds to their dogs, cats, or any other animal they own. If you are going through the process of divorce and are worried that you might lose your pet, contact one of our divorce lawyers today.