Surprising Divorce Advice You Actually Need

Nobody goes into a marriage thinking it will only last a short time. People want marriage to be forever, as that is what it is intended for. However, as time passes, the divorce rates keep increasing, and this is especially true if someone gets married more than once. Here is some advice that may surprise you.

When you got married, you probably thought it was
forever. You probably thought that you and your spouse would be good, that you’d
never become a “statistic,” but now, here you are. You’re
in one of the 5 out of every 10 first marriages that end in divorce. But
don’t feel bad, the
divorce rates increase with each subsequent marriage, so you’re not to blame.

As people hear about your divorce, the advice will probably start rolling
in, whether you ask for it or not. “Hire a good attorney,”
they’ll say. “Don’t change your relationship status
on Facebook until you’re divorced,” they’ll say. “Take
some time off work” and “Now is the time to slow down and
focus on your kids.” Surely, you’ll hear a lot of the same
advice repeated and it will come from people with the best intentions.

Each person who offers you divorce advice will be sharing nuggets of wisdom
based on their personal experience. Well, after representing countless
clients, we have narrowed down the best pieces of advice that we share
often, and most of it applies to everybody, regardless of their unique
relationship circumstances. Here are some divorce facts and advice that
you probably won’t hear from the average divorcée, but you’ll
hear it from our experienced divorce attorneys.

1. The Divorce Will Affect You Physically
Even if you’ve been fantasizing about divorce for years, when it
becomes official, it’s very common for people to be affected physically.
By physically, we’re referring to nausea, insomnia, anxiety, nervousness,
loss of appetite, sudden weight loss, or weight gain. If the divorce didn’t
affect you physically to some degree, it would be unusual.

We expect the divorce to affect you physically. If and when it does, our
advice is to slow down and take good care of yourself. Instead of turning
to food, drugs, or alcohol to numb the pain, our advice is to eat healthy
food, get extra rest, and exercise. In fact, a good diet and daily exercise
can be the best things you can do for yourself right now. What’s
more, you can use the divorce as motivation to get in the best shape of
your life!

2. The Divorce Will Affect You Emotionally
Again, you may have been dreaming about divorce for some time, but that
doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be stressful. Even when a divorce
is for the best, it’s still normal to feel a flood of emotions,
which may be unpleasant. You may be thrilled about the divorce, but the
thought of detangling your finances, putting your house on the market,
telling your friends and family, and dealing with child custody can be
overwhelming and extremely stressful.

So, the breakup itself may not be the issue, but dealing with the divorce
process may be the hardest part. At a time when you’re at your worst
emotionally, you have to make big decisions that will affect you for the
rest of your life. It can challenge you to the core.

3. You May Want to Get Rid of All Physical Reminders
Ever wondered how people could get rid of expensive items for “free”
on Craigslist or how they can donate valuable items to thrift stores?
Sometimes, people get rid of things and don’t even sell them during
a divorce because they want to eliminate all reminders of their marriage.

If you find yourself walking around your house and you get the urge to
get rid of something your spouse gave you, or an item you bought while
on vacation with your spouse, or a wedding gift because it reminds you
of your spouse, you’re not alone. If you have the urge to get rid
of all physical reminders of your spouse and your marriage, it’s
not strange. It happens all the time.

However, instead of throwing all reminders away or donating them, we recommend
setting them to the side and asking your spouse if he or she wants them
before removing them from your home permanently. It’s nice to do
this out of respect, even if you despise your spouse. If he or she did
the same for you, you’d probably appreciate the gesture. It just
helps keep things smooth.

4. Your Spouse May Start Dating Before You
We don’t know your situation. As soon as you and your spouse are
living under separate roofs, you may be the first one to sign up for a
dating app like Tinder or Bumble. Or, maybe you can’t imagine going
to bars, let alone signing up for a dating app. If you’re nowhere
near ready to date again, beware, your spouse may be, and it may not draw
the best emotions out of you.

If your spouse starts dating before you, try not to take it personally.
It could upset you,
a lot, but do your best to distract yourself. Often, the best thing someone
could do in this type of situation is to focus on themselves. This means
doing whatever it is that makes you happy as long as it’s not self-destructive.
Perhaps this means working out, reading, binge-watching your favorite
shows on Netflix, diving into an old or new hobby, taking a new class,
camping, or traveling, etc. If you’re happy with yourself, it will
be easier to accept that your spouse has moved on.

5. Your Spouse Will Remain Flawed
If you have children with your spouse, he or she will be in your life
forever, especially if you have grandchildren one day. While you’re
getting a divorce, the things that bother you about your spouse probably
won’t change. So, you’ll have to accept his or her flaws and
just be glad that you don’t have to live with them anymore.

Divorce Advice That Doesn’t Cost You a Dime


Is a Post-Quarantine Divorce Boom Around the Corner?

With so many couples quarantining together the last few months, it’s a safe bet that many have had arguments, realized things about each other, and may no longer feel the same love that they did before. This is leading a lot of people to believe there may be a post-quarantine boom around the corner.

It would be safe to imagine that when the Chinese government lifted its
quarantine restrictions, people would be running out to local parks, taking
strolls around their neighborhoods, hitting their local gyms, visiting
their favorite restaurants, and so on. But instead of the much-anticipated
happening, something peculiar took place. Scores of married couples did
the same thing. They didn’t go on dates together. Instead, they
went straight to
divorce lawyers.

Bloomberg News recently reported, China’s post-quarantine divorce spike is a warning
to the rest of the world still in lockdown. When the quarantine was started
in China, officials were hopeful that couples being cooped up together
would result in a baby boom since birthrates in the country have reached
a record low since 1949.

In fact, one banner from a local family planning office was hung on a gate
in Luoyang, a central Henan province. The banner read: “As you stay
home during the outbreak, the second-child policy has been loosened, so
creating a second child is also contribution to your country.” Of
course, China won’t know if its efforts to increase thitsopulation
worked until eight or nine months post-quarantine.

As China temporarily relaxed its second child policy, Chinese media reported
on the uptick in domestic violence reports. For example,
Sixth Tone, an online publication based in Shanghai, reported how police in one county
in central Hubei province, located close to Wuhan, where the pandemic
began, had seen a surge in domestic violence calls. In February, they
received 162 reports of domestic violence, three times the number of reports
(47) in February of 2019.

Feng Yuan is the cofounder of a non-governmental organization in Beijing
called Equality. “Lockdown brings out latent tendencies for violence
that were there before but not coming out,” she wrote in an email
to Bloomberg. “Lockdown also makes help seeking more difficult.”
According to Yuan, police were so busy enforcing quarantines that women
who were being abused couldn’t leave, and the courts that normally
issued protective orders were closed.

Are Chinese Divorces a Sign of Things to Come?

Are the divorces coming out of China a sign that a similar thing will happen
here in the United States? We think so, but we’re not alone. If
people can barely deal with each other when they get to go to work and
see their friends and engage in hobbies alone, how are they going to deal
with each other while in lockdown?

Like many divorce lawyers in the United States, we predict there will be
a spike in divorces after the stay-at-home orders are lifted. For those
marriages that were volatile before the pandemic, they’re probably
going to explode during quthe arantine. But then, there’s going
to be a second category of divorces – couples who had healthy marriages
before the pandemic.

These couples were leading their lives apart 8 to 10 hours a day while
their kids were in childcare or school. When their normal routines are
dramatically interrupted, if they don’t have the tools to communicate
effectively, they’ll have trouble adapting and their marriage can
break down to the point where someone throws in the towel.

Some reasons why happy couples will struggle during quarantine:

  • Financial strain, such one or both spouses losing their jobs
  • Unequal division of domestic responsibilities
  • Fighting children
  • Infidelity (read more below)

Infidelity is one of the leading causes of divorce and even though quarantine
makes it harder for cheating spouses to see their paramours, physical
confinement can make it easier to get caught.

How many people are going to be sneaky and creep onto their spouse’s
phones while they’re in the shower or when they accidentally leave
a phone on a counter? Then, there’s the issue of a relationship
having an ugly ending but the people are trapped inside and they can’t
get away from each other. And what about the children who are trapped
inside the unhappy home with their mom and dad?

That’s what’s the scariest. Adults get divorced all the time
and that’s their right. They are adults who can make their own decisions
about their marriages. But what about the children who are forced to watch
their parents’ marriages self-destruct? This is not going to be
a good thing and it’s happening as we speak. It’s dangerous
for hostile couples to be forced to cohabitate with each other and this
is one of the reasons why divorce attorneys have a grim prognosis for
couples coming out of quarantine.

Another Reason to File for Divorce ASAP

One reason why some couples will rush to divorce court after the pandemic
is they’ll realize they’re not happily married. They’re
asking themselves, “Why stay married to this person if it’s
not working?” Aside from that, there’s a financial incentive
to divorcing sooner than later.

On the day a couple files for divorce, it’s as if the value of their
assets, including a business stock portfolios they self-manage are set
in stone. So, it makes financial sense for many couples to file for divorce
before those assets start to bounce back after the economy recovers.

Are you thinking about filing for divorce? Whether it’s because of
domestic violence, a discovered affair, economic strain, or because you and your spouse
can’t stand being with each other 24/7, we can help. To learn more
about what steps need to be taken to get this process started,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to schedule a
free case evaluation.


10 Money Mistakes People Make In A Divorce

In any legal matter, mistakes want to be avoided at all costs, that is just common sense. In a divorce though, mistakes can be even more glaring, especially when money is involved. Make sure these ten money mistakes are avoided if you or a loved one are going through a divorce, and it can make the process a bit more smooth


Divorce Decrees and Remarriage

Although divorce may unfortunately be common in today’s world, so is getting remarried, which is a great thing. When people get divorced, then want to re-marry, a lot of questions arise about the process, and how the divorce impacts them. One of those is the divorce decree, and how it factors into getting remarried.

divorce process is complicated because it involves financial entanglement and also because
the couple has to follow specific legal and court procedures before their
divorce can be signed off by a judge. Because of this, it’s important to
avoid a DIY divorce and seek the assistance of a professional attorney
who can navigate the process for you.

When you file for divorce, you will have to resolve several divorce-related
issues, such as
child custody,
child support,
spousal support,property, and debt division, what to do with the marital residence, etc. Once you have sorted through
all of these issues, you will eventually receive the “divorce decree,”
which is the required proof you’ll need to show that you are divorced.

The divorce decree is official evidence that your divorce is final. Generally,
both spouses sign the divorce decree but it’s not final until it’s
signed off by the judge – that’s when the divorce decree is

Are Divorce Decrees Permanent?

Once a judge has signed off on a divorce decree, the divorce itself is
official. The parties are free to remarry from that day forward. The terms
outlined in the divorce are also considered “final,” but that
does not mean they aren’t subject to change. It is very common for
things to change in people’s lives after a divorce.

People move away, they become unemployed, the go back to school, they remarry,
they get big promotions, or they become disabled or terminally ill –
all of these life changes may warrant a
modification to a divorce decree. If one of the former spouses desires to change child
custody or spousal support, they have to petition the court for a modification
for the change to be legally enforceable. If a modification is not made
by the court, and one of the party’s deviates from the terms in
the original divorce decree, it is considered a violation of the divorce
decree and the non-breaching party can take their ex to court to enforce
the court order. In serious cases, a party may even be held in contempt
of court, fined, and jailed for violating the divorce decree.

Showing Proof of a Legal Divorce

It is very common for people to remarry, even after they’ve had a
heavily-litigated divorce. Often, such people had been living in hollow,
loveless marriages and they embrace the opportunity to love again, to
have a second chance to get it right. As such, they’ll need to apply
for a marriage license. But what if they were married before? Do they
have to show proof of the divorce?

As we mentioned earlier, the divorce decree is proof that someone has obtained
a divorce. If someone was married before, they cannot remarry unless their
marriage was officially terminated by a court. To prove that the divorce
has in fact gone through, to prove that divorce is legitimate, the divorced
party will usually need to supply evidence of the divorce by producing
their divorce decree.

“Why would I need to show proof that my divorce was finalized?”
For starters, it’s illegal to get married while you’re still
married to someone else. If you were to have this big, beautiful wedding
while you’re technically still married to your first husband or
wife, your second marriage would be legally invalid.

One Story of Bigamy

In 2017, ran a real-life story about a woman who was living in California. The
wife didn’t know it, but the husband married her while he was still
legally married to his first wife. His second wife only learned about
the first marriage when the man’s new girlfriend started spreading
rumors about it. So, the woman wanted to know what her rights were about
taking legal actions against bigamy. She also wanted to know if her marriage
was legal.

The woman was informed that her marriage was invalid because her husband
was married to another woman while he was married to her. Under California
law, the second wife was an unwitting victim of bigamy, which means her
marriage was never legal or valid in the eyes of the law. While bigamy
is illegal in California, it’s rare for it to be prosecuted.

The woman was informed by the author of the article that her marriage is
void and that she needed to file an annulment right away. Since she attempted
to get married in good faith, she was a “putative wife,” who
could, therefore, seek one-half of all property the couple acquired during
the course of the invalid marriage. What’s more, she was still entitled
to seek spousal support if she needed it.

Even though we highly doubt that you or anyone you know is guilty of bigamy,
we thought we’d share this interesting story!

Applying for a Marriage License

In California, people don’t have to be a resident of the state to
get married here. However, to get married in California, neither party
can be married to someone else.

“Both parties must appear in person and bring valid picture identification
to the County Clerk’s Office to apply for a marriage license in
California. Valid picture identification is one that contains a photograph,
date of birth, and an issue and expiration date, such as a state-issued
identification card, drivers license, passport, military identification,
etc. Some counties may also require a copy of your birth certificate,”
according to the
California Department of Public Health.

If you are divorced, you will have to provide the specific date your divorce
was finalized. Some counties also require the marriage license applicant
to provide a copy of their final judgment, which is the divorce decree
we mentioned above.


Discussing Divorce Goals With Attorney

When you hire an attorney of any kind, they should certainly be aware of your case, and the ins and outs of the laws of what is being accomplished. That much is a given. When it comes to a divorce both parties have goals for the outcome of the case, and whether the attorney knows what these goals are is important.


When Does Child Support End?

When going through a divorce with children involved, there are many financial aspects to consider, and to plan for, from both sides of the divorce. One of these is child support, and who will be paying, how much, and for how long. Although it may seem as though child support never ends, there is an end in sight.


Advice Before Your Divorce

Obviously divorce is a difficult time, and there are many ways to approach it, depending on the situation between you and the other party. Many people will give advice, whether they have been through a divorce or not. There are a few things though, that you should definitely be aware of and prepared for.

Divorcing is usually a very emotionally stressful experience. At a time
when you’re whole life is turned upside-down, it’s important
to be thinking with a clear head. And the less you know about the
divorce process, the more stressful it can be. To have a more positive
divorce experience, we encourage you to read this article, which provides excellent
information on surviving divorce.

When it comes to every aspect of divorce, it’s important that you
know your rights and responsibilities under California law, especially
as they pertain to
asset and debt division,
spousal support,
child support, and
child custody – you do not have to feel powerless when getting a divorce. Read
on as we help prepare you for your divorce journey.

Be Prepared for Battle

Claery & Hammond, LLP, we fully support the idea of a collaborative, amicable divorce, but at
the same time, it’s important for clients to be prepared for battle.
It doesn’t mean you need to be angry and bitter and treat your spouse
with utter animosity – it simply means you need to be “prepared”
for battle. In other words, don’t let your guard down. Don’t
let yourself be taken advantage of. Don’t say “yes”
to everything your spouse wants just because you feel guilty about the
divorce. Be rational, but don’t keep those defenses up.

Consult with an Attorney Before Filing

You may have just gotten in a huge blowout with your spouse and now you’re
in a rush to get in court and file for divorce; please don’t. Before
you file for divorce, do yourself a favor and consult with a divorce lawyer
from our firm. At your initial consultation, we can discuss our fees,
answer your questions, and provide the good advice you need early on.

We offer free consultations, so it doesn’t cost you a dime to get
the pressing advice you need. Also, we recommend meeting with your accountant
so they can explain the tax consequences of your divorce and any other
issues regarding your retirement accounts, stocks, and other investments.

Consider the Timing of Your Divorce

When getting a divorce, it’s good to consider the
timing. If you’re due for a bonus or a raise, you may want to file for divorce
sooner than later because after you file for divorce, the money you earn
is considered separate property. On the other hand, if your spouse is
expecting a big bonus or a raise, you may want to hold off on the divorce filing.

Have you been in a long-term marriage, one that is almost 10-years-old?
If you’re close to the 10-year mark, this is something to consider.
You see, in California, a marriage of long duration lasts 10 years or longer.

If you’ve been married close to 10 years, it may be wise to stick
it out until your next anniversary. Waiting until your 10th anniversary
can help you access more Social Security on your spouse’s earning
record after the divorce. Also, if you’re the lower-earning spouse,
it could mean you’re entitled to spousal support for a longer period
of time. But once you decide to divorce, be the one to file first. There
are advantages to filing for divorce before your spouse does.

Make Yourself Indispensable

Before you file for divorce, make yourself indispensable. How? By making
sure your name is on all utilities, bank accounts, investments, deeds
of trust, etc. and make sure that all accounts need joint signatures.
This way, you’re not in a vulnerable position and your spouse can’t
move money or drain accounts without your signature.

In addition to the above, make sure you have your hands on all of your
financial information. Make copies of all of your financial documents
before they “suddenly disappear” after you file for divorce.
We’re referring to tax returns, bank statements, mortgage documents,
credit card bills, auto loans, life insurance policies, W-2 forms, loan
agreements, etc.

If you have assets, track them all down. It’s important that you
know exactly where every penny is. Such assets include bank accounts,
real estate, investments, life insurance policies, stocks, bonds, jewelry, etc.

When you file for divorce, you and your spouse will have to disclose all
of your assets and debts, however, it’s not uncommon for a spouse
to be dishonest or less than forthcoming. California is a community property
state so you are entitled to half of all the income and assets acquired
during the marriage. Know what you’re entitled to.

Protect Your Credit

When you get a divorce, it’s vital that you protect your credit.
Do not co-sign anything for your spouse. If you have any joint credit
cards, remove your spouse from the accounts, pay them off or close them.
You want to sever all financial ties if possible. Also, if any joint accounts
survive the divorce for any reason and your spouse agrees to pay off a
debt, be aware that by law, you’re still liable for the debt regardless
of what the divorce decree says.

If your spouse fails to pay a joint debt after the divorce, it could ruin
your credit. Keep tabs on any joint accounts after the divorce and make
sure they are paid. Of course, the best solution is to eliminate all joint
accounts before the divorce is final.

What should you do about your money? Don’t drain the bank accounts.
Instead, separate the money. You can take half the money in your accounts
so you have some funds to live off of – you don’t want your
spouse to beat you to the money and take it all with them.

Does Your Spouse Have an Unfair Advantage?

To file for divorce, we invite you to
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP.


Helping Your Kids Process Divorce

Divorce is never easy for anyone, and if there are children in the picture it can be especially hard on them. They may question if it was their fault, if they will be able to maintain a relationship with both parents, and other things. If you are going through a divorce and want some reassurance for your kids, have them read this article from the Huffington Post below.

Divorce is hard, for all of the individuals involved. When your parents decide to get divorced, you may experience many different, overwhelming, and even conflicting emotions. You may feel torn between the two people you love the most, and you may even feel to blame for what has happened.

It is important to know that you are not the reason for your parents’ divorce, and you are not alone. No matter how old you are when your parents decide to go their separate ways – whether you are 10 or 20 – learning to live with divorce can be an emotional rollercoaster.

If you are the child of newly divorced parents, or you know of a child who is struggling with his or her parents’ divorce, here are some ways to help cope.

1. Talk to someone. Talking about your problems is a good thing, and honesty is the most important. Never repress your feelings. Whether you talk with your parents, a friend, a school counselor, or a therapist, it is helpful to get your thoughts and fears out into the open. Check in with your parents regularly – tell them how you feel, what is going on with you, and what you need from them in order to do better.

2. Don’t take sides. Don’t choose one parent’s side over the other.

3. Don’t become either parent’s protector. They are grown-ups and do not need your help.

4. Don’t become a collaborator, agent, or a messenger. Let your parents relate to each other independently.

5. Don’t feel guilty, and don’t blame yourself. Children have no control over their parents’ marriage.

6. Spend time with each parent alone. It is okay to spend one-on-one time with each parent, separately. You are a part of both, and can love them both equally.

7. Allow yourself to grieve the end of your original family. This will help you open to the possibilities of your own resource and transition into a new and healthier family structure.

8. Give up the secret mission of reuniting your family. Realize that you cannot “fix” your parents’ relationship.

9. Have empathy. Empathy is so important during this time. Remember to have empathy for yourself, and for your parents.

10. Stick to your routine. Maintaining your normal, every day routine can help you feel more in control when everything seems out of control.

11. Don’t try to take on the role as head of the house or homemaker. You are a child, and entitled to your childhood.

At the end of the day, it is important to have open conversations about your feelings. If you can’t put them into words, then draw, play, dance, and write in a journal.

You are entitled to your feelings, whatever they may be – they are legitimate. Divorce is a loss of innocence, and as a child you have been put into a space that is new and frightening. Remember: your parents still love you, and even though they may no longer be married, they are still there for you, to comfort and guide you.


Helping Your Children Transition Post-Divorce

If your children are having a difficult time opening up to the idea of you having a new partner, you are not alone. This is a common issue that divorced parents deal with and it’s important to be aware that this just might happen to you once you re-enter the dating scene.

Here are a few helpful ways to open up your children to the idea of you dating again, as well as a few of the many benefits of having your children see you happy and in love post-divorce.

Being single again can be awkward, especially if you haven’t been
single since before online dating sites like Zoosk,, OurTime,
and eHarmony forever changed the dating scene. When you are divorced with
kids, dating can be even more difficult.

This is why a lot of divorced parents decide to stay single – they
may have little time to date, or they may want to spend their free time
with their kids, or they may be afraid their children (especially teenagers)
will never accept a new romantic relationship.

If you feel like your divorced parent status means you should stay single
until your children turn 18 and head off to college, that doesn’t
have to be the case. You don’t have to stay single until you become
an empty nester. In fact, if you want a new companion, it can actually
benefit you, your children, and your family life if you find the right person.

Taking it Slow is Key

If your children are under the age of five, introducing them to a new partner
may not be that difficult, especially if you were their primary caregiver
and the other parent was gone working a lot. But the older children get,
and the more attached they are to your former spouse, the more you need
to ease them into it.

The key is to take your time introducing them to a new partner; you don’t
want to rush it or it can backfire. Understandably, children of divorce
usually need time before they can accept someone new. If the child is
heartbroken about the divorce or if they are attached to the other parent,
they may be hoping that you’ll both change your minds and get back
together – this is normal.

The first thing you want to do is not introduce your child to someone new
while your divorce is pending or immediately after the divorce is final.
If you choose to date during this time, be discreet and don’t go
out on dates when it’s your turn to have your child. Instead, only
date when your child is with the other parent.

Using a Progressive Approach

Expect it to take time for your children to accept a new partner. So, don’t
force your children to meet him or her if they are not ready, and don’t
force that person on your other family members if you’ve only been
divorced for a short time and your children’s emotions are still
raw. Keep everything slow and gradual, especially as you date. Take your
time to get to know your dates and don’t jump into a new relationship
too soon. If you find a “keeper” sooner than expected, explain
your situation and get to know the person before you trust them around
your children.

Ask questions about this person, such as do they have a criminal record?
Have they ever been convicted of
domestic violence? Do they have a substance abuse problem? Have they been married before?
Do they have children too? How do they manage money? Does this person
share the same views about money, politics, religion, parenting, and socializing?
Do they have a good work ethic? Get to know them, especially before you
let them be around your children.

These questions may seem a little extreme, but when you have kids, it’s
all about quality over quantity. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to
do a little investigative work before dating someone to make sure they
are who they say they are.

Good sites to look at are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. It’s
also wise to do your own Google search. You never know, a little research
can uncover that the person is actually married or doesn’t have
the job that they say they have – it happens all the time!

Eventually, you’ll meet someone nice who understands your divorce
and your family’s needs. At that point, you can introduce them to
your kids and hope the relationship lasts, but there is no guarantee.
However, you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Don’t Expect a Substitute

Unless your spouse is emotionally or physically absent as a parent or abusive,
your child is probably attached to him or her. What does this mean? It
means you may never find a substitute for the other parent. It’s
pointless to fall in love again and expect your new spouse to replace
your child’s biological mother or father.

In your child’s eyes, they’ll never have a “new Dad”
or a “new Mom” because no one will ever replace their real
mother or father. However, if you decide to let your new partner move
in with you, you should inform your children ahead of time.

Success depends on using a slow and progressive approach. Have your children
meet your new boyfriend or girlfriend first in a casual setting. Allow
them to gradually get to know each other as time passes. A good move is
to invite your new partner to the beach, a family dinner out, or another
recreational and “fun” family activity. If your children can
have fun with your new partner and enjoy their company, they’re
more likely to accept them into the family rather than seeing them as
a replacement for Mom or Dad.

As far as displays of affection, showering your new partner with a lot
of hugs and kisses can make your children uncomfortable at first. It can
even make it hard for them to accept him or her at all. It may be wise
to explain the delicate situation to your partner and to agree on keeping
the displays of affection around the kids at a minimum until the children
warm up to them. Not only that, but kids usually find adults kissing disgusting,
so they will appreciate the courtesy.

If you’re looking for a Los Angeles divorce attorney,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP for help.


Mental Illness in a Divorce Case

With the topic of mental health on the rise, there is an especially prevalent surge of questions regarding mental illness when dealing with divorce. When placed in the instance of a divorce, your mental health and your spouses mental health are brought into question. This blog post answers the million dollar question, “Can mental illness hurt my divorce?”

According to the
National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), “Research shows that mental illnesses are common in the
United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year. Estimates
suggest that only half of people with mental illness receive treatment.” The
NIMH continues, “Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness
(44.7 million in 2016).

With statistics like those mentioned above, it’s no wonder why mental
illness plays a role in a share of divorces. Not surprisingly, a number
of spouses admit that their spouse’s mental illness was a determining
factor in their decision to
divorce. Or, that their own mental illness played a role in their spouse’s
decision to divorce. Beyond that, a diagnosis of mental illness can have
a material impact on the divorce proceeding itself.

If you are contemplating a divorce and there is a question about your mental
health, or your spouse’s mental health, and how it can affect
child custody,
spousal support, and your overall
divorce settlement, we urge you to contact our firm for advice. Before you file for divorce,
you should learn more about how mental illness can impact your case.

How Mental Illness Can Impact a Divorce

When it comes to divorce proceedings, mental illness can be tricky. Since
the facts vary so widely and no two cases are identical, it’s impossible
to say that all cases involving mental illness will have the same outcome
because that’s simply not true.

Some people have such a severe case of mental illness that they are living
in another world. They can hear voices. They have hallucinations or they’re
delusional. They can be suicidal or homicidal, disconnected from reality
and unable to hold down a job, care for their children, or even take care
of themselves. They can be emotionally volatile, violent, or suffer continuous
physical symptoms like fatigue and stomachaches.

They may even be in and out of mental hospitals and if they stop taking
their medication, they may go missing or spend all day in bed, unable
to interact with their family and the outside world. While anxiety and
maynot be crippling, the following conditions can have an effect on a divorce,
but others can too:

  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social phobia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Multiple Personality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Sometimes, mental illness can play a role in a divorce. Often, it has a
way of impacting child custody, asset division (Does the mentally ill
spouse doesn’t have the cognitive ability to handle half the marital
assets?), and spousal support.

If your spouse is accusing you of being mentally ill, it can stigmatize
you and your children’s perspective of you as their primary caregiver.
You could be a responsible, loving parent, but if your husband or wife
is labelling you as mentally ill, it can affect your children’s
opinion of you, especially if they’re old enough to understand the
accusations or an official diagnosis.

Suddenly, you may become less in your children’s eyes. Instead of
taking care of them every day, they may think they need to take care of
you. They need to make you dinner. Drive you to the doctor’s office
(teenagers), let you sleep in, and help you with the household chores.

If your children are already stressed by the divorce, introducing mental
health issues can make an already bad situation worse. The stress can
reach the boiling point, causing your children to act out, slam doors,
run to their friends’ houses, and have difficulty socializing at
school and during extracurricular activities.

Are You Concerned About Your Spouse?

Perhaps you’re perfectly fine, but it’s your spouse your concerned
about. If your spouse can’t get out of bed, or if they can’t
take care of your children, or if they are disappearing for hours or days
at a time, or if they are completely disconnected from reality, you may
be concerned that they are incapable of caring for your children.

If your husband or wife’s mental illness is such that unsupervised
parenting time is dangerous to your children, we suggest you start documenting
your spouse’s condition and recording information of witnesses who
have seen first-hand your spouse’s episodes. You may need to introduce
this as evidence in court.

However, if your spouse’s mental illness does not pose any actual
risk of harm, if he or she simply holds different values than you, it
may be better to find another way to seek custody of your children. It
may be easier to persuade him or her that it’s in the best interests
of the children. You don’t want to play the mental illness card
unless it is a very real and valid issue that needs to be addressed by
the court. After all, your children love both of you and they need two
loving parents in their lives.

How Mental Illness Can Affect a Divorce Settlement

A bitter spouse can swear to get even when they get to court because of
their spouse’s mental illness, but more often than not they’re
wrong. In fact, the spouse may get the opposite of what they anticipated.
If the mentally ill spouse is a kind, loving parent and their mental illness
does not get in the way of their parenting, the court could order the
healthy spouse to pay spousal support and child support, and they may
not award the healthy spouse primary custody.

When should mental illness be a concern in a divorce?

  • When it interferes with a spouse’s parenting ability.
  • When there is a high risk of
    spousal or child abuse.
  • When the children are at a risk of being neglected.
  • When the mentally ill spouse will seek spousal support because of their
    mental illness.

Can Antidepressants Affect Child Custody in a Divorce?

If mental illness is an issue in your divorce, we urge you to
contact our firm to meet with a Los Angeles divorce attorney for free. You should know
how mental illness can impact your divorce proceedings.