Family Law Blog

Can Divorce Parties Help with Closure?

Monday, June 16, 2014

It is a new trend that’s catching on across the country. New divorcees are throwing parties to celebrate the end of their marriage, and sometimes, in a trend that reminds one of conscious uncoupling, those parties are actually being jointly hosted by the couple.

Most of the parties however are being thrown by individual husbands and wives, after the end of their marriage. Event planners across the country are reporting an increase in the number of requests for such parties. The highlight of the divorce party is the divorce cake. Interestingly enough, the design of the cake seems to reflect the environment in which the marriage ended. Some of the cakes feature miniature brides with weapons, and depressingly black icing. However, not all of these divorce parties are all gloom and doom. Very often, couples actually prefer to celebrate the end of their marriage and mark the beginning of this new phase in their life with enthusiasm, positivity and optimism. Many couples want to celebrate the fact that this is a new phase in their life, and possibly even a new phase in their relationship with each other.

In an interesting diversion of this trend, couples are actually hosting divorce parties together. That typically happens when the couple has had an amicable split, and wants to continue maintaining a relationship with each other on friendly terms, and prioritizing the children above all else. In these parties, the note is very positive and optimistic.

Los Angeles divorce lawyers find this trend towards divorce parties encouraging, because it possibly does allow the people involved to move towards closure. Treating divorce as if it's shameful or something that should push you into months of depression doesn't help with closure.

Many Older Couples Choose Not to Marry, Cohabit Instead

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Couples above the age of 50 constitute an unlikely demographic in the United States-they form a growing proportion of people who don’t marry, and live together instead.

According to Census Bureau data, many baby boomers now avoid marriage for a variety of reasons. For one thing, many baby boomers have already experienced one divorce, and would rather not go through one again. Additionally, there are other more practical reasons why baby boomers may not choose to get married. Money is at the crux of many of these decisions. For instance, if you are divorced, and choose to remarry, you lose the alimony payments that you received from your earlier divorce. You also stand to lose pension payments and Social Security benefits from your former spouse. Widows may lose survivor’s pension benefits.

There are still more practical reasons why baby boomers choose not to get married a second time. A second marriage makes inheritance and estate division more complicated. Baby boomers may want to protect their assets, so that these go to their own children.

Getting married again does seem like a crazy idea even for those in the higher income group. In these cases, another marriage could simply mean being placed in a higher tax bracket, which becomes more expensive. No wonder many older couples are perfectly content to live together, than get married again.

However, cohabitation isn't without its challenges. Even seniors, who live together in a cohabitation arrangement without marriage, must understand that there are financial risks involved. To avoid these, sign a cohabitation agreement with your partner. It clearly outlines your rights and obligations towards your partner, as well as limitations on these. The agreement should make clear who pays the household expenses in your joint living arrangements, and all your assets including the home must be properly titled.

Divorce Tied to Excess Weight Gain in Children

Monday, June 02, 2014

Children can be exposed to emotional trauma when their parents divorce. A new study finds that children of divorced parents also struggle with excessive weight gain.

The study was conducted in Norway, and analyzed a group of 3rd graders. This analysis found that boys whose parents were divorced, were approximately 63% more likely to be obese or overweight, compared to boys whose parents were married. These boys also had a staggeringly high risk for abdominal obesity. They were approximately 104 percent more likely to suffer from this condition.

The researchers believe that they have found a link between obesity and divorce, but say that they cannot confirm that divorce was the only cause of this weight gain. For instance, the study did not take into consideration how long the parents had been divorced, and did not account for the presence of other factors that affect weight gain, like diet and exercise.

However, considering that child obesity is a public health problem not just in Norway, but in many other parts of the developed world, including the United States, doctors, parents and pediatricians need to take the findings of the study seriously. One reason why children gain weight when their parents get divorced is the lower supervision that accompanies a divorce in the family. Parents, who are trying to work through their trauma and the division of responsibilities of parenting, may not be able to give their children enough attention. Additionally, children may become stressed when a divorce becomes toxic, and that could lead to children overeating for comfort.

Whatever the reason, when a divorce turns hostile or becomes acrimonious, there can be long-term consequences on the children. Speak to a qualified divorce attorney about divorce mediation before you head to divorce court.

IRS Targets Tax Discrepancies in Alimony Payments

Friday, May 30, 2014

Those alimony payments that you have been receiving from an ex-spouse are soon likely to come under the microscope. According to the Internal Revenue Service, it intends to sharpen its focus on alimony deductibles and alimony claimed as income on tax returns.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, which happens to be an Internal Revenue Service watchdog, recently conducted an analysis of nearly 570,000 tax returns for 2010. The Inspector General has released a report which seems to indicate that there is a very large gap between the deductions that are being claimed by alimony payers, and the corresponding income that is being claimed on their ex-spouses’ tax returns.

Overall, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration claims that over a five-year period, the volume of revenues that the agency has lost because of such discrepancies could be in the area of $1.7 billion. About 47% of tax returns that were analyzed indicated the presence of discrepancies between deductible alimony as well as alimony claimed as income.

The analysis also found that many people who claimed alimony as tax deductibles failed to provide the correct tax identification number for the receiver of the alimony. The Internal Revenue Service intends to target this area, and it has announced that it is adjusting the current audit filters that it has in place to identify high-risk returns, and is also in the process of developing other measures to address this gap in alimony taxes. The agency also has plans to make sure that penalties are levied whenever a taxpayer does not provide an accurate tax ID for a person collecting the alimony.

Most persons going through a divorce don't bother to consider the tax consequences of the divorce. However, it is important to consult with your tax consultant to understand how alimony and other aspects of your divorce will affect your tax returns.

Shared Custody of Children on the Increase

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fewer child custody arrangements these days involve the mother getting sole custody of the child. In an increasing number of cases, parents are settling for joint or shared custody of their children.

According to a new study which analyzed Wisconsin Court Records between 1988 and 2008, the number of mothers who were awarded sole custody of their children after divorce, dropped dramatically from 8% to 42%. During the same period of time, there was a significant increase in the number of joint custody arrangements.

Equal shared custody arrangements during the same time increased from 5% to 37%, and unequal custody increased from 3% to 18%. There was little difference in the proportion of cases that involved father-only sole custody. These cases hovered at approximately 10%.

The study's findings may be slightly misleading. They don't seem to cover children born into single-parent households. About 45% of American babies are currently born to unmarried mothers. The study only included those families that were split up after divorce.

In a shared custody arrangement, the parents decide to share medical, legal, financial, and other decisions involving the child. Physical custody of the child may be split approximately 50/50. It is not possible to accurately divide the amount of time that the child spends with each parent.

But the study does seem to confirm that it is no longer a given that the mother will be granted sole custody of the children during a divorce. Joint custody is far moving towards the center, and in the future could actually be considered the norm. For decades, mothers were awarded sole custody, because of the general belief that they were better caretakers. In recent years, the interests of the children have taken the forefront during proceedings to determine the outcomes of such disputes, and those interests very often involve time spent with both parents equally.

Stressful Marriage Can Increase Risk of Premature Death in Males

Friday, May 16, 2014

Men, who are in stressful or difficult marriages, may have a much higher risk of dying prematurely, compared to men in happy marriages. The surprising results of a new study find that men may be much more vulnerable to the stresses of a difficult marriage, compared to women.

According to the study which was conducted on Danish men and women, men who reported facing pressures from their wives were much more likely to die much before their time, compared to men who did not suffer such marital stresses. The results of the study prove several things. For one, marital stress, and conflict are incredibly stressful on a person, and contribute to negative physical, mental and emotional health consequences. A bad marriage can actually kill you.

It also proves that men may find themselves very ill-equipped to handle the kind of conflict that a demanding spouse can create. They may lack conflict management skills, and therefore, the stress may become simply too much for them to bear. Chronic stress is a risk factor for hypertension, cardiovascular problems, heart attack, and even stroke. All of these increase the risk of premature death.

Overall, married life is believed to be much more conducive to a person's physical, mental and emotional health. Married people are believed to be happier, more fulfilled, and even more financially successful than unmarried or even divorced couples. Overall, they're also believed to live healthier, and live longer lives. Successful people tend to be in satisfying marriages. However, if you are in a bad marriage, just the opposite can happen. A bad marriage could make you depressed, stressed, and develop a negative outlook on life. As the study shows, it could even kill you.

Divorce Risk Is Higher When Wife Gets Sick

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Many married couples probably do not take those vows to stick with your spouse in sickness and in health very seriously. Severe illness can put a strain on any marriage. However, when that illness involves the wife, the strain is much greater, increasing the risk of divorce.

According to a study that was conducted by researchers at the University Of Michigan, the risk of separation is much higher when it is the wife who falls sick during the marriage. The study was based on an analysis of 2700 couples. The researchers found that 31% of the marriages, in which one person fell sick, ended in divorce. However, the risk of divorce was much higher in those cases in which the wife, and not the husband, fell sick. The threat of divorce when the wife falls sick can be even higher, when the marriage involves senior couples.

The researchers analyzed couples in which one of the partners was at least 50 years of age, and analyzed for the presence of a number of diseases, including cancer, lung disease, heart disease and stroke.

They found that that 31% of the marriages ended in divorce, when one person was sick. Husbands were much more likely than wives to fall sick, and divorce was much more likely when the wife fell sick.

However, in all these cases, it may not be an unfeeling or callous husband who may be to blame. Very often, it is the woman who initiates proceedings for divorce. It is quite likely that women often feel like that they are not getting adequate support from their husbands, and therefore, rely on their family and friends for support during their illness. It’s also possible that men are simply not that comfortable in a caretaking role.

Marital Stress Linked to Depression

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Sometimes, a divorce is not just the most sensible decision to make, but also the healthiest decision to make. According to a new study, suffering marital stress may actually place a person at risk for suffering symptoms of depression.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University Of Wisconsin-Madison. The researchers found that people, who were experiencing marital stresses in their life, were less able to properly enjoy positive experiences. That is one of the classic symptoms of depression. These people were also much more likely to report other symptoms of depression.

Overall, marriage is generally reported to be a trigger for higher levels of mental health and happiness. Married couples do report greater levels of happiness, and higher self-esteem. However, when there are marital-related troubles, just the opposite can happen. Persons involved in marital struggles may suffer social stress as a result of their chronic marital conflict. Chronic marital stress could lead to depression.

There is no denying that a toxic and hostile marriage can contribute to negativity. As the marital struggles compound, spouses may begin to develop feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress, and this could affect other areas of their lives. You could find that your marriage problems are affecting you at work, and your ability to take care of your kids well, or be attentive to your children.

In such cases, making a clean and effective break from the marriage in the form of a divorce may be the healthiest decision that you could make. If you’re not ready for a divorce, try out a trial separation, which allows you and your spouse to spend time away from each other, and reassess your feelings, before you make the decision to divorce.

Children in Single Parent Homes Just As Happy

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Divorced parents, who have been worrying about the effect of their divorce on their children, will be relieved at the findings of a new study. According to the study, there isn't much truth to the oft-held belief that children, who are raised in intact homes with two parents, are much happier than children from single families.

The study seems to indicate that the quality of parenting is much more important than the quantity. The research was conducted in the United Kingdom, and found that children who were brought up by a single parent, or a step-parent did not report lower levels of happiness, compared to children who grow up with an intact family with their biological parents. The research was based on an analysis of more than 13,000 children, and found that the children's reported happiness levels had no association with their family structure at all. Children were much more likely to be happy when they got along with their siblings, and had fun and positive experiences with the family at weekends.

Among the seven-year-olds, approximately 36% said that they were happy all the time, and 64% reported being happy “sometimes” or “never.” Those levels of happiness remained the same regardless of whether the children were being raised in a single family structure, or by both biological parents. In fact, the researchers found no difference in the happiness levels, even when they controlled for social class of the children. The researchers said they found similar results when analyzing another group of children aged between 11 and 15.

The researchers found that it was the relationships that the children had with family members as well as friendships at school, that were much more likely to indicate their levels of happiness or unhappiness. For instance, bullying at school was much more likely to be linked to unhappiness reported by a child, than having a single parent.

“Hangry?” You Might Want to Avoid a Conversation with Your Spouse

Friday, April 18, 2014

We’ve all experienced it at some point. When you're hungry, your irritability and anger levels simply skyrocket. Those high levels of anger when you're hungry actually have a new name - “hangry.” According to new research, such hunger-induced irritability could also lead to marital conflict.

The researchers evaluated a group of married couples, and followed them over 21 days, during which time the couples’ blood glucose levels were monitored every night. They found that blood glucose levels were actually a very clear indicator of how angry the person would be with their spouse. Persons with low blood glucose levels- an indication that they were very hungry and needed a meal - were much more likely to be hostile with their spouse.

The researchers actually found that there was a link between low blood glucose level and aggression. In other words, it is highly likely that low blood glucose levels are linked to marital conflict, and contribute to domestic violence incidents. The researchers measured aggression by giving the subjects voodoo dolls representing their spouse, and asking them to stick pins in their dolls. The lower the blood glucose levels, the higher the number of pins that the subjects stuck into their dolls.

Sometimes, marital conflict or even an incident of domestic aggression may simply be the result of a body that is starved for fuel. Glucose fuels the brain, and when there's a shortage of glucose supply to the brain, there is a risk of not just aggression, but also irritability.

All in all, it’s just not sensible to pick up an argument with your spouse around meal times.