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.


9 Mistakes to Immediately Avoid During Divorce

Divorce is a difficult time for everyone involved. More times than not, the divorce process is a birthplace of mistakes and regrets from both parties. Although the experience is emotionally draining, you can make it easier on yourself and your loved ones if you avoid a few of these common areas of havoc.

“Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary bypass,”
said authorMary Kay Blakely. A lot of spouses who’ve been through it would agree, not only because
a failed marriage is stressful, but it’s also a detailed and complicated process.

divorce is
so emotional, it creates a breeding ground for mistakes. Often, people aren’t
in their “right mind” during a breakup. So many long-lasting,
regrettable, embarrassing mistakes are made while people are riding the
emotional roller coaster called divorce, or because they act before understanding
the short and long-term consequences of their decisions.

It’s unfortunate – when people are going through what’s
perhaps the worst psychological trauma of their life, the have to make
some very critical, impactful decisions. If you’re headed down the
divorce path, you may be wondering about all the wrong decisions you could
make when your marriage ends. As divorce attorneys who have seen and heard
it all, here are some of the biggest divorce fails you want to avoid making.

1. Not understanding the effects of moving out. If you have minor children and you anticipate a child custody battle, you
should NOT
move out of the house leaving the kids with your spouse. If you feel you can’t
live under the same roof, talk to an attorney and get a temporary
child custody order in place before even thinking of leaving your children with your
spouse. And, make sure the judge knows your future intentions.

If you leave prematurely, this tells the family court that your spouse
is a perfectly suitable person to take care of the kids most of the time
and it can be very difficult changing the status quo when you go after
primary custody.

2. Thinking they can nail a spouse with evidence of their affair. California is not only a no-fault divorce state, it’s the first state
to become one. Under California’s no-fault divorce laws, most judges
will not be interested in any evidence of an affair. For example, you
might have thought that a judge would penalize a spouse for adultery,
but in most cases cheating will have no impact on the division of marital assets.

3. Snooping on one’s spouse. We know, this is
very tempting and when innocent spouses suspect their husbands and wives of cheating,
usually the first place they look is their spouse’s smartphone.
However, secretly reading your spouse’s social media direct messages,
emails and texts is actually a violation of privacy and against state
and federal privacy laws.

4. Looking foolish on social media. We do not recommend changing your status on Facebook from “married”
to “single” until the divorce is final. We advise against
posting pics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram of you dating someone
new or partying during the divorce proceedings. And, no matter how tempting,
don’t rant about your spouse, their attorney, or the judge on social
media – this can hurt your case! To protect yourself, don’t
post anything before or during your divorce that you don’t want
the judge to see.

5. Not having money for an attorney. If you’re unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise financially dependent
on your spouse, you can ask the court for “temporary
spousal support” to help cover your living expenses while the divorce is pending
over the next six or more months, but you’ll need cash for your
attorney fees before the court awards temporary support. You’ll
need to gather the money for the attorney’s retainer before you
get started. Otherwise, your divorce could be on hold.

6. Thinking they won’t have to get a job. If you’ve been financially-dependent on your spouse, that doesn’t
mean you’ll automatically be awarded spousal support, even if you
have small children at home. If you are healthy and not caring for a disabled
child, the court may expect you to become financially independent as soon
as possible. This could mean that you’ll need to head back to school
or re-enter the job market.

7. Dating too soon. It’s not wise to jump back into the dating pool as soon as you split
up with your spouse, especially if you have children living at home. If
you and your spouse “agree” to date other people while the
divorce is pending through the courts, be sure to speak to an attorney
about how to date with discretion during this sensitive time. Whatever
you do, don’t hire a babysitter on “your nights” with
the kids so you can date, don’t introduce the dates to your children,
and don’t post any pictures of your date on social media –
these can all be used against you.

8. Failing to use a divorce lawyer. If a husband wants to control the divorce, he may say to his wife, “Let’s
sit down and work this out together.” Or, “Don’t you
trust me more than some attorney?” Then, he’ll try to get
his wife to agree to a settlement that’s much less than she’s
entitled to under the law. When an attorney says to the wife, “No,
you’re entitled to far more than he’s offering,” the
husband gets angry and it’s a lot harder to negotiate.

9. Dragging out the divorce for revenge. Some spouses, especially women, who’ve been cheated on will intentionally
drag the divorce out because they want revenge. They’ll say, “I
want to drag this divorce out as long as possible to make him suffer.”
But in reality, the wives are suffering too because the legal and court
fees are reducing the value of the
marital estate.

How ‘Bad’ Behavior Impacts Divorce

You may have noticed a common thread in these mistakes: A spouse’s
emotional state can affect the outcome of their divorce, namely their
finances. This post makes it abundantly clear that divorcing spouses should
gain a firm grip on reality and hire an experienced divorce attorney at
the onset of their divorce. Get the help you need by
contacting Claery & Hammond, LLP for a
free case evaluation.


What Not To Do In Divorce Court

If you are going through a divorce and you have to go to court to reach a settlement with your former spouse, there are several things you should not do.  When you are in the courtroom it is important to be respectful and not let your emotions get the best of you.  You can make sure you are prepared for this by avoiding the nine mistakes mentioned in the article below.

9 Mistakes That Will End Up Costing You In Divorce Court

Divorce attorneys share their tricks of the trade.
By Brittany Wong
Want to win your divorce ― or at least come out financially secure?

Take it from divorce attorneys and don’t make any of these common mistakes that almost always end up costing people who decide to litigate.

1.  Going to court without a lawyer.

“This is the No. 1 mistake. Yes, you might do fine, but lawyers ― good lawyers who are in court often ― will know the procedures, the etiquette, the judge’s likes and dislikes and many other things that can be invaluable. You often only have one chance at a good result. Hedge your bets, improve your odds, get a good lawyer. Or at least consult with a lawyer ahead of time to better understand the process.” ― Randall Kessler, a divorce attorney in Atlanta, Georgia 

2. Not being prepared with your paperwork.

“If the judge asks you a question and you don’t have a good answer, there’s a very good chance they won’t be pleased. For example, if you show up to court for a hearing where you are seeking a reduction in financial support, you better have documentation ready to prove your income and debts. If the judge asks for something and you don’t have it, that won’t help your case.” ― Jason Levoy, an attorney and divorce coach in New York City

3. Not meeting with or talking to your lawyer about the trial ahead of time.

“Trial is unknown territory for most people and learning what to expect is crucial. Practice, practice, practice. And if possible, go watch another case ahead of time to see and feel the courtroom environment.” ― Kessler

4. Dressing inappropriately.

“Like it or not, appearances count. If you walk into court looking like a hot mess, you’re going to have a harder time convincing a judge that you should have 50/50 parenting time and joint custody of your kids. Yes, I know that doesn’t seem fair. Sorry, but judges are human, too. And if you walk into court wearing expensive clothing and jewelry, good luck convincing the court that you don’t have enough money to pay your child support.” ― Karen Covy, a divorce attorney and coach in Chicago 

5. Making unreasonable demands.

“Don’t overreach. Many people think that in order to get $500 per month, they need to ask for $1,000 per month. But this may well come off as greedy and overreaching. Make a reasonable proposal. The judge is looking for a reasonable solution.” ― Kessler

6. Not turning off your cell phone before you walk into court.

“Judges are busy. They have a lot of cases to cover, and they don’t appreciate being interrupted. Anything that beeps, buzzes or rings in a courtroom will draw the judge’s attention to you in a way you definitely are not going to want. Even using your cell phone in court is considered disrespectful. So, when you walk into the courtroom, leave your cell phone in your pocket.” ― Covy

7. Interrupting the judge.

“This is a big no-no. Tape your mouth shut if you have to, but interrupting a judge while they are speaking will get you nowhere fast. I always tell people to write their thoughts on paper so you don’t forget, but wait for your turn to speak. You will get it. Nothing pisses off a judge more than a litigant who interrupts them.” Levoy

8. Giving the court clerk and other courtroom personnel attitude.

“The judge may be the one who makes decisions in your case, but the judge’s clerk is the one who makes sure the courtroom is running the way the judge wants. If you piss off the clerk, you will also anger the judge. (Plus, the clerk will probably make sure your case gets called dead last that day.)” ― Covy

9. Being angry.

“Judges do not like angry people, even if the anger is justified. Be polite, sweet and endearing. The judge is a person who will be deciding how to help you through this mess and it is much better if the judge likes you. Even if you are 100 percent in the right, present your situation politely ― it makes a difference.” ― Kessler

Quotes were edited and condensed for clarity.


Asking For a Prenup

Couples that are heading towards engagement or that are newly engaged are likely thinking about what married life will be like. Thoughts might be crossing their minds like ‘Are we going to have kids right away?’, ‘Are we combining finances?’, and ‘Should we sign a prenup?’. Yes, that last thought does cross a lot of minds. Prenups are more common than you’d think, yet there is still a negative stigma attached to them. As a family law attorney, Erica Bloom can advise you through drafting and signing a prenuptial agreement. The article below offers advice on how to bring it up to your future spouse.

Prenuptial agreements are on the rise, particularly among millennials

In a recent survey of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 62 percent of the lawyers polled said they saw an increase in the number of clients seeking prenups during the previous three years. And more than half of the attorneys said they’d seen an uptick in the number of millennials requesting prenuptial agreements.

The prevalence of prenups doesn’t make asking your partner to sign one any easier, though. To make the conversation less thorny, we asked divorce attorneys to share their advice for best ways to ask for a fair, equitable prenup. 

1. Have the conversation as early as possible. 

This is a delicate, uncomfortable conversation, but if it’s something that genuinely matters to you, you owe it to your partner to bring it up as soon as possible, said Lisa Helfend Meyer, a family law attorney in Los Angeles.

“In fact, bring up the subject when you are still dating,” Meyer said. “That way, you can gauge your partner’s reaction to one. If the reaction is to move to the other room, then you know you will need to handle with extra sensitivity.”

2. Know that it’s going to be a weird, heavy conversation.

There’s no way around it: Broaching the subject is going to cause some tension in your relationship, said Atlanta-based divorce attorney Randall Kessler. In his 30 years in family law, he’s rarely heard of a prenup conversation that’s been hiccup-free.

“I’ve heard all kinds of approaches. What usually seems to work best is the truth,” Kessler said. “Say something along the lines of, ‘My family and I have always discussed and agreed that if I or my brother ever got married, we would sign a prenup,’ or, ’My best friend went through a horrible divorce and all he can remember from it is his lawyer saying, ‘If only you had signed a prenuptial agreement.’”

If you communicate your wishes in an open and honest way, and your S.O. respects that, you’re very likely on the road to a solid relationship, Kessler added.

3. Emphasize how much of a headache you’ll be saving yourselves later. 

Ultimately, a prenup has the power to uncomplicate a messy, knotty personal situation, said Carla Schiff Donnelly, an attorney in Pittsburgh.

“Emphasize the fact that a prenup will simplify a divorce and make it quicker, less expensive and less emotionally taxing,” Donnelly told HuffPost. “That will benefit both your fiancée and any future children.”

4. Remind your partner that all relationships end one way or another. You’re just trying to make the inevitable easier.

One way to introduce the idea of a prenup is to talk about how you’d each want to be treated at the end of your marriage, said Katherine Eisold Miller, a divorce attorney in New Rochelle, New York.

“All marriages end, one way or another. Instead of saying, ‘I can’t marry you until we have a prenup,’ try framing it this way: ‘At the end of our marriage, whether it ends in death, as we anticipate, or divorce, what would be important to you and how would you like to be treated?’”

Then, pivot and ask your partner if they’d be open to hearing what would matter most to you in either case.

“A prenup should do something for both people and give them some certainty in difficult times,” Eisold Miller said. “A conversation like this allows for both voices to be heard.”

5. Point out that a good prenup benefits the lower-earning spouse, too. 

If you’re worried about coming across as greedy or penny-pinching by bringing this up, remember that a carefully written, thoughtful prenup protects both parties, Kessler said. 

“Sometimes, the prenuptial agreement is even more valuable to the less-wealthy spouse because it gives him or her some security about finances in the event of a divorce,” he said.

6. Suggest that you co-create the agreement.

Don’t make this a weird power play: Both partners should be active participants in drafting the prenup to ensure that it’s equitable, said Dennis A. Cohen, a family law attorney and mediator in Marina del Rey, California.

“The trick is to make this a co-created agreement that deals with both of your concerns, not just the partner who has substantially more income or assets than the other,” Cohen said. “It may be helpful to have a neutral mediator help you reach an agreement that addresses both of your needs and desires.” 

Regardless of how you go about it, end the conversation with a promise to be fair and reasonable throughout the process, and actively listen to your partner’s concerns.

“This is, after all, a person you love and want to marry,” Cohen said. “Keeping that uppermost in your mind, words and deeds will result in you coming up with an agreement that works for both of you.”


Risk Factors for Divorce

Divorce is commonly talked about these days as about half of marriages end in divorce.  Since this is the case, research is done and speculation is made about if there are commonalities across marriages that end in divorce.  The article below discusses common risk factors, but don’t panic – if any of the risk factors apply to your life it does not necessarily mean your marriage will end in divorce.

10 Things That Make You More Likely To Get Divorced

Marriage is hard work, period. But it turns out there are a slew of surprising things that can make it even harder.

10/18/2017 03:19 pm ET Updated Oct 19, 2017

By Sarah Klein

Divorce risk factors

Marriage is hard work, period. But it turns out there are a slew of surprising things that can make it even harder. Relationship experts call them divorce “risk factors.” Like risk factors for heart disease or breast cancer, these traits and habits don’t cause divorce, and by no means do they guarantee that a marriage is headed for trouble. They simply raise a couple’s odds of splitting up.

Many of the factors (like how attractive you are, or the sex of your first-born) are things you have no control over. But taking steps to strengthen your relationship is never a bad move. That could mean making little tweaks (like exercising together, and banning phones at dinnertime) or doing some heavier lifting — such as adjusting your financial expectations, or learning to communicate better.

Read on to see if you and your partner match any of the scenarios below.

Your parents got divorced

Divorce is more common among children of divorced parents. But a new study in Psychological Science suggests this may have more to do with nature than nurture: The researchers examined data from nearly 20,000 adults who had been adopted as kids, and found that the patterns of marriage and divorce were more similar to those of their biological parents, not their adoptive ones.

“A lot of the scientific evidence to date has suggested that seeing your parents go through a divorce contributes to your own propensity to experience divorce yourself,” author Jessica Salvatore, PhD, assistant professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, told Health in a prior interview. “But those studies haven’t controlled for the fact that those parents are also contributing genes to their children. By looking at adopted children, we’re able to separate out the genetic factors and the environmental ones.” The genetic link is likely due to inherited personality traits like neuroticism and impulsivity, which are in turn linked to a higher chance of divorce, she said.

Your alcohol habits don’t match your spouse’s

If enjoying a bottle of wine together is your idea of a perfect date night but your spouse prefers to stay sober, it may cause some problems down the road. In a 2014 University of Buffalo study, researchers found that among couples in which one person was a heavy drinker and the other wasn’t, 45 to 55 percent got divorced before their 10th anniversary. Meanwhile, when both partners — or neither partner — drank, only around 35 percent of couples split up.

You got married young

According to conventional wisdom (and concerned parents of college sweethearts), the longer you wait to get married, the stronger your bond will be. The latest statistics paint a somewhat more complex picture of the ideal age to get married; but tying the knot in your teens and early 20s still seems to increase divorce risk, compared to getting hitched in your late 20s and early 30s. But waiting just a little longer — until after age 32 — may once again raise your divorce risk, according to an analysis from the Institute of Family Studies.

You’re hot

This might help explain some shocking celebrity breakups: Good-looking partners have a harder time staying together. The authors of a recent paper published in the journal Personal Relationships found that physical attractiveness was indeed linked to a higher likelihood of getting divorced. In a series of four studies the researchers determined that both regular people and celebs were more likely to split if they scored higher on scales of attractiveness. Hotties were also more vulnerable to temptation than more average-looking married folk.

This might help explain some shocking celebrity breakups: Good-looking partners have a harder time staying together.

You shelled out big bucks for your wedding

A wedding that breaks the bank might also break the marriage. Emory University researchers found in a 2015 study that women whose weddings totaled more than $20,000 were 3.5 times more likely to get divorced than women whose weddings cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Men and women who spent less than $1,000 on their nuptials, on the other hand, were the least likely to get divorced.

You didn’t waste any time getting pregnant

How quickly you have a baby may affect how that union plays out. According to data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women (in a first marriage) who waited to have a baby at least eight months after their wedding day were more likely to make it to their 15th anniversary than women who had a baby before the big day or within the first seven months.

Your first kid is a daughter

Statisticians have long noted a higher rate of divorce among couples with a firstborn daughter compared to those who have a son. The findings have been interpreted over the years to reflect a sexist preference for sons on the part of fathers ― a simplistic generalization that isn’t panning out in newer research. A 2014 study published in the journal Demography suggests that rocky marriages–the kind that may already be headed for divorce ― might actually produce baby girls thanks to a concept known as the female survival advantage. “Girls may well be surviving stressful pregnancies that boys can’t survive,” study co-author Amar Hamoudi said in a statement. Thus girls are more likely than boys to be born into marriages that were already strained.”

You didn’t finish college 

Earning at least a bachelor’s degree has been linked to a longer and stronger marriage. A 2012 National Health Statistics report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that women and men who completed college had a 78 percent and 65 percent chance, respectively, of their marriages lasting at least 20 years. Women and men with a high school diploma had just a 41 percent and 47 percent chance of the same marriage duration. Women and men with some college education but not a bachelor’s degree had a 49 percent and 54 percent of a marriage lasting two decades.

You were raised without religion

Women who grew up in religious households are more likely to stay with their spouse than women without a religious upbringing. According to 2012 National Health Statistics data, protestant women had a 50 percent chance of their marriage lasting 20 years. Catholic women had slightly higher odds at 53 percent. And women raised in “other religions” had a 65 percent chance of staying married that long. Women who were not raised religious had only a 43 percent chance.

You’ve been divorced before

A second or third marriage isn’t doomed, but your odds of lasting for the long-haul are slightly lower if you’ve been married and divorced before. About 35% of first marriages end within 10 years, while about 40 percent of second marriages end within that period, according to CDC data. But of course sometimes, the second or third time’s the charm.


Getting Divorced in Your 20s

Currently, half of all marriages end in divorce.  The average age men and women get married spans from 24.7 to 30.5 across the 50 states, so it is possible for people to get divorced in their 20s.  Some people feel like failures for getting married and divorced so young.  Getting divorced in your 20s should not get you down.  Think of it as a clean slate, a fresh start, or a new adventure.  The article below offers eight pieces of advice that can give you a whole new perspective on life during and after divorce.

8 Pieces Of Advice For Divorce In Your 20s

“Divorce can be a gift if it teaches you.”

By Brittany Wong

It’s easy to be hard on yourself when going through divorce in your 20s. While all your friends are busy planning their weddings on Pinterest, you’re planning a new life without your spouse and dealing with mounting legal bills.

To make the process a little easier, we asked experts ― divorce lawyers, psychologists and financial advisors ― to offer their best advice. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Chalk the divorce up to a lapse in judgment. 

Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like a failure for splitting up in your 20s. Forgive yourself and remember that you were young and maybe a little naive when you said “I do,” said Andra Brosh, a Los Angeles-based psychologist.

 “The truth is that you probably landed here because of a lapse in judgment and unrealistic expectations of the relationship,” she said. “Blame it on your brain; some research has suggested that the brain is not fully mature or developed until well into your 20s.”

2. Learn from the mistakes you made in your marriage. 

You’re only allowed to sulk about splitting up for so long. Eventually, you need to reframe your thinking and see the divorce as a stepping stone to personal growth, said Antonio Borrello, a Detroit-based psychologist. Ultimately, divorce should teach you what you need to do differently in order to have a healthier, longer lasting relationship the next time around, he explained.

“You’ll still need to work on whatever it was that killed your marriage even after you get out,” he said. “If you don’t, you’ll drag that junk into your next relationship. Develop some insight and take ownership of the part you played in the downfall of your marriage.”

3. Be wary of rebounding. 

Yes, you’re still young and Tinder is very tempting, but for your own well-being, it might be best to take a dating and relationship hiatus, said dating coach Neely Steinberg.

“Spend time developing your independence and discovering who you are outside of a relationship,” she said. “Understand that your existence is not validated by you being in a relationship or by another person. You validate you. Once you are good by yourself and you love who you are on your own, then maybe take a small, smart step to move forward again in your dating life.”

4. Consider mediation as an alternative to litigation. 

There’s one advantage young divorcés have over those who go through the process later in life: You likely have less marital assets to divvy up (property, retirement accounts, etc.) and no children to shield from ugly custody battles. Given that, you may want to forgo traditional litigation and consider meeting with a mediator to work out the terms of your divorce, said divorce coach Laura Miolla.

“It’s faster, cheaper and gives you far more control over the process and the agreement you end up with,” she explained. “With less to negotiate, mediation is your best path to divorce without the huge bite out of your bank account in legal fees.”

5. Shared debt may complicate the process.

You might not have much property to divide but you may have shared debt. If you split your joint debt (“I’ll be responsible for this credit card, if you’re responsible for that one”), know that complications could arise later, said certified divorce financial analyst Donna Cheswick.

“Where I see problems occur is when one spouse fails to make monthly payments or files for bankruptcy,” Cheswick said. “If this occurs, the creditors can, and will, go after either party to recoup the full amount of the debt, plus interest and penalties. Lenders don’t care what the couple agreed to in their divorce agreement. They see the credit as a legal obligation of both parties and will enforce the debt obligation, regardless of marital status.”

6. Don’t rant about your divorce on social media.  

The drama between you and your ex may be as juicy and compelling as an episode of “Empire,” but your Facebook friends really don’t need to hear about it. What’s more, ranting about your ex could cost you big time in court, said Adam Kielich, a family law attorney based in Dallas.

“Social media creates all sorts of problems in litigation,” he said. “It might be satisfying to skewer your spouse in front of friends and family on Facebook but the satisfaction will quickly dissipate if it gets back to your spouse and becomes a conflict in the divorce. You never know what seemingly innocent post or picture might become important evidence in your divorce.”

7. Take comfort in your friends. 

When you do need to rant, call up your closest friends and family and bare your heart to them, suggested psychologist Borrello. That said, keep in mind that since your friends are ultimately #TeamYou, their advice may be a little one-sided.

“Your friends and family will instinctually blame your ex,” he said. “Don’t allow that to get in the way of you investigating the dynamics of the failed relationship and the factors that you contributed to the breakup.”

8. See your divorce as a gift, not a failure. 

Once you’ve taken accountability for the part you played in your marriage’s downfall, stop obsessing over why it didn’t last and task yourself with moving on, said Miolla.

“There’s no power in endless obsessing, only judgment and shame ― two things that will never serve you well,” she said. “Focus instead on what you are learning from this experience ― about yourself, about relationships, about love.”

While you’re at it, remind yourself that you shared some really good times with your ex, too.

“Celebrate that you did love. And you will again,” Miolla said. “Use this experience to define what you want for yourself, what you insist on and what you won’t allow in your life anymore. Divorce can be a gift if it teaches you.”




Ask Yourself These Questions

If you are separated from your spouse and divorce papers are being filed, you need to know exactly where you are at in life — financially, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Getting divorced is a huge change/disruption of one’s life and things can get stressful, overwhelming and emotional. So, it is extremely helpful to ask yourself the questions in the article below to have the best grasp on things. You can always consult with Erica Bloom Law for more divorce guidance as well.

Deciding to
divorce is a big ordeal; for most it’s overwhelming at first. So, if you
have decided to file for divorce or if your spouse has decided to end
the marriage, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get
this process over with as painlessly as possible. You’re in a tough
spot, and we understand that.

Here, we go over five questions that you need to ask yourself. Once you
answer these questions you’ll be in a better position to make informed
decisions about
your divorce. Ultimately, our goal is to help make this process as peaceful as possible.

Most people view divorce as a legal matter. While technically that’s
true; the divorce is filed in court and a judge does have to make it official;
divorce is really about money and negotiation. Thus, you and your spouse
will have to negotiate a divorce settlement that is fair; a settlement
that both of you can live with.

Since everyone’s situation is unique, not every question on this
list will apply to every reader. However, these are basic questions that
apply to most people who are getting a divorce. We suggest that you read
over these them and think about how they may apply to you. This way, you’ll
be in a good position to start planning for your divorce.

Question 1. What is your current financial situation?
This is an important question. Are you living very comfortably or are
you living check-to-check? Do you have thousands in credit card debt,
and are you basically living off credit cards every month? If you and
your spouse are in debt, this will factor into your negotiations, especially
if one spouse has been out of the workforce and is asking for support.
One of the best ways to drive down the costs of divorce in a debt situation
is to opt for
divorce mediation.

It costs more to pay for two homes, two sets of utilities, and to sets
of health insurance. Not only that, but when you’re single, you
lose a lot of the discounts that you enjoyed as a married couple. So,
it’s important to keep that in mind.

Sometimes, lower-earning spouses see divorce as an income opportunity;
they look forward to child support and spousal support, but this can lead
to a false sense of security. If the couple was struggling before the
divorce, things will often be harder after the divorce.

Question 2. Can you afford to keep the house?
Many spouses are emotionally attached to the house, especially when they
have raised children in the home or when they’ve invested a small
fortune into remodeling. If you’re eager to keep the house, you
have to ask yourself, “Can I afford it?” Just basic maintenance
like hiring a gardener, a pool company, and annual tree trimming can add up.

You also have to think about the current condition of the home. If it needs
a new roof, new shingles, a new driveway, a new HVAC system, or if the
plumbing needs to be completely redone in the near future, major repairs
can easily run between $10,000 and $30,000. Then, if you need to replace
your hot water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer, it
could cost you $500 to $3,000, if not more.

Question 3. Do you both have job stability?
Do you and your spouse have to work just to make ends meet? If so, are
both of your jobs stable? It used to be that people would work for one
company their entire lives until they retired with a nice pension. These
days, people tend to bounce from job-to-job every 3 to 5 years. Is your
spouse afraid of being laid off? Are you worried about your job?

During a divorce, you have to be realistic about job stability. If you’re
the lower earner and you’re banking on
spousal support or
child support, it’s hard to get very much money from an unemployed former spouse.
With that in mind, you want to have the mindset that you’re going
to become self-supporting as soon as possible. You don’t want to
have to rely on your former spouse to cover your basic living expenses.

Question 4. What will it cost to be single?
It’s important that you sit down and look at all of your bills as
a married couple. Write them all down, including your spouse’s credit
card debt. Then, create a separate budget for you as a single person and
calculate all of your living expenses, including housing, utilities, health
insurance, an auto loan, car insurance, food, credit card debt, and child-related
expenses, such as clothing and extracurricular activities.

If you don’t have enough income rolling in to support yourself post-divorce,
it’s time to find ways to reducing living expenses while increasing
income. If there’s a large discrepancy, it’s important to
act fast when it comes to the increasing income part.

Question 5. How much will your divorce cost?
In reality, you can do this the hard way or you can do it the easy way.
Basically, you have three options: 1) a litigated divorce, 2) a
collaborative divorce, or 3) divorce mediation. Of the three, divorce mediation is the most
cost-effective, but it’s not for everybody.

We must keep in mind that the goal should be to keep the divorce as peaceful
and affordable as possible. When you do that, you preserve more of the
marital estate. When you litigate a divorce, it costs significantly more,
which means there is less money to divide. If you’re a parent, you’d
probably prefer that extra money go towards your children’s college
education than a contentious divorce.


By asking yourself the above five questions, you’ll be better prepared
to focus on the financial considerations in a divorce. By preparing yourself
to the fullest, you’ll position yourself to make better decisions
throughout the process.

Need a Los Angeles divorce lawyer?
Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP today!