Category : Contested Divorce

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Preparing for a Child Custody Battle

Becoming single can be a scary thing. Along with the swirling emotions and impending divorce, the uncertainty of the future can create a negative residual effect on your daily life as you try to get through this upsetting process. However, with that being said, it is important to understand the custody laws and potential ruling, as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure you do not make a crucial mistake. We are speaking more about contested divorce rather than a mutual understanding, uncontested divorce proceeding.

Know the Law

Understandably, you are more than likely going to hire a lawyer, but it will help in many ways to get familiar with the custody laws and procedures in your local area. The laws around child custody can very state by state and even county by county in some states. The procedures may vary and understanding what the potential and likely outcomes are can only arm you with the knowledge needed to potentially make tough decisions; but it can also help alleviate any fears, both rational and irrational when it comes to this emotionally toxic situation.

Get Help

Do your due diligence when it comes to hiring a lawyer. If you know you’re going to be in a battle over custody in a contested divorce make sure you do the research and hire a lawyer you trust, as well as one that specializes in child custody. You may be able to get free consultation on the matter. Make sure you get involved in your case and do the necessary homework when you do hire a lawyer, don’t just sit back and assume you don’t need to know anything about the proceedings and potential outcomes. Don’t allow yourself to be blindsided by anything in your divorce proceedings, and things are more likely to go your way.

If there are other complications in your divorce proceedings, like child abuse, spousal abuse, or even your ruthless spouse’s lawyer, make sure you do the right things. For example, in situations of domestic abuse, contact a local shelter to inquire about assistance, legal or otherwise; never try to keep it hidden because it won’t go away. Be sure to conduct yourself properly throughout your divorce proceedings; do not do anything to further implicate yourself in a negative way.

There is no sure fire way to make it through the divorce process unscathed. It can be a devastating thing if you let it, but believe it or not, there are positive things that can come out of it. Most couples wait until the breaking point to confront their issues, so be glad you got to this point and the end of a bad phase is in site and the beginning of a new, positive phase is on the horizon. Life is full of complications; don’t let yourself be weighed down to the point where you are afraid of changing the negativity around you. For more information about all laws on divorce in each state or to find out information on how to file for an online divorce, visit

New York’s New Strange Divorce Law

New York has never played by common divorce laws adopted by basically every other U.S. state, so it’s no surprise the little stubborn state is making waves again. This time the Empire State is getting flack for their alimony laws. More specifically, the way New York divorce courts recognize degrees obtained during a marriage is under scrutiny.

Case in Point

In a Wall Street Journal article on the subject, an example of the unfair New York alimony laws was found in the divorce case between Tanya Finch and Kenneth Quarty. The couple married in 2000, around the time Finch started working on her nursing degree. The couple divorced in 2009, by which time Finch had received her nursing degree. During the divorce, Quarty requested and was eligible to receive a percentage of the money Finch would potentially earn as a direct result of the degree she earned during their marriage.

Quarty was able to obtain this “potentially” earned money upfront because of the New York divorce law that recognizes a degree or professional license as marital property. New York courts calculate the lifetime worth of the degree, and divide that value into two as a part of the marital estate. This practice and New York’s other strange divorce laws have been petitioned and submitted for review.

Who Really Owns Your Degree?

When people enroll in any college, university, trade or skilled craft course, they anticipate the moment when they will receive a certificate of completion with their name on it. However, based on the New York law, that certificate or diploma might as well be reprinted to state the alumnus’s spouses’ name as well as the alumnus’s. In fact, any employee may as well include their spouses name on their payroll account because the state of New York also views any profits from any career as marital property.

New York’s law is not unfounded completely because any spouses income is in theory supplemented and supported by the other spouse’s support, which can be as menial as washing dishes while the student spouse is studying.

Why, Oh, Why?

However, New York lawyers and divorcees are not fighting the order to pay spousal support or maintenance. New Yorkers are astonished by and fighting the courts’ ability to grant “potential income,” which is money a person has not earned yet. New York citizens are frozen stiff at the sheer amount of money they “owe” their divorced spouse, most of which they are not even expected to have at the time of ruling.

The New York alimony regulations were originally fashioned to level the playing field for low-income, dependent spouses of a divorce. Yet in these changing times, the inequality of the laws and regulations have been exposed. Currently, New York law makers are waiting for the Law Revision Commission report before taking measures to change this piece of legislature.

Irradicating Irrational Divorce Decisions

Divorce declarationIt has been said that the worst mistake anyone can make during a divorce is to let their emotions cloud their judgement. This is so true that it can be said in any situation, because emotions have a hand in almost all the decisions we make. When you buy an item, no matter how large or small, you base at least a part of your decision off whether or not you like it. You can’t really manufacture an equation to gauge the level of like an item, option, or person musters, you just feel it. So how exactly does one make a totally rational, emotion-free decision?

You can follow the advice of others, or hire someone to do your thinking for you. Or, you could make a few ground rules for yourself to follow during times of emotional turmoil.

The Divorce Rules Charter

There are two life-altering D’s in life: Divorce and Death; while divorce can be avoided, staying married is not always a viable option. Deciding which movie to rent is difficult enough, let alone deciding on who will keep the house or car. So how do you keep a level, emotionless head during a divorce? Draw up a Divorce Rules Charter for yourself (or with your ex if that’s possible without a bloodbath). Here are a few rules we’d include in our Divorce Rules charter:

  • I will not lie. In the divorce process, and basically in life, it’s best to be truthful and honest; this is especially important when money matter are the topic of discussion. In a divorce it may be tempting to hide assets, lie about assets, and unscrupulously try to get all you can, but this guerrilla warfare approach could end up hurting you the most. If you’re in a contested divorce, do yourself a favor and be honest in court and with the lawyers (both your lawyer and theirs). If somehow you are caught in a lie in court, or in a court proceeding, you’d be in deep water and sinking fast. Besides, your mother taught you better.
  • I will vent only to the appropriate outlet. Part of not exploding in rage during a mediation session or in court is having an outlet for your feelings and stress. The other part of not being a human time bomb is having the appropriate outlet, like a counselor or therapist, group of friends, or one really good friend. The upside of a professional “outlet” is although a professional may bring out your less-than-perfect traits, it may be beneficial in moving on to healthier relationships. The upside of the friend route is you have a personal cheerleader, commiserating partner, and at times a reality-checker all in one; just make sure your friend doesn’t let you stay in the resentment/misery-monger phase too long.
  • I will think about what is best for the children first. If you have children from the marriage, think about how your actions and decisions will affect them. By putting the children first, this will cool your jets (hopefully) in your subconscious mission to make your ex pay. Also, a child-conscientious divorce might even pave the way for an amicable relationship with the ex, which really would be the best thing since the ghost of the family will still exist after divorce.

Have any other rules you want to add to the Rules of Divorce Charter?

The Logic Fallacy Behind Iowa’s Divorce Bill

logical fallacy in Iowa divorce billIn the past month, the U.S. has seen some strange marriage and divorce legislative moves from various states. In early February, North Dakota revisited an old House Bill that would force parents to observe a 6 month waiting period and undergo counseling before finalizing the divorce. The bill had been introduced a year earlier, but it was rejected because it originally had a year waiting period.

Apparently the divorce reform is an infectious virus, and Iowa has got it bad.

Divorcing an Absent Spouse

200259869-001Divorce is a difficult enough process between the court fees and dealing with your spouse. However, divorce without a spouse is just as difficult, if not more stressful. No, you didn’t read that wrong, divorce can be done without knowing where your spouse is.

While some people may be thinking “If only I didn’t know where my spouse was…” those who are in this unique situation are wishing it were otherwise. But the American judicial system is not that cruel as to deny a person a divorce just because their spouse is nowhere to be found.

Search for the Absent Spouse

It is easier to complete divorce process with an absent spouse in some states than others. Most states with the no-fault option, like California, have provisions for spouses seeking a divorce who do not know the whereabouts of their spouse.

It is recommended to make all efforts of locating your spouse, and record your efforts before filing the divorce forms. Essentially, you will have to prove to the court you have exhausted all options of finding your spouse. If you’re at a loss for where to begin, we have compiled a list of the recommended ways of attempting to locate your spouse.

  • Search the phone book

  • Contact their last known employer for information about their current whereabouts

  • Check with the post office to see if they left a forwarding address

  • Check at their last known residence

  • Contact any and all friends or relatives you can for information

  • Send emails or social media messages to their email or profile

  • Check with the DMV, voter registry, and other public records offices

  • Hire a private investigator, if absolutely necessary

File the Divorce Petition

If you have exhausted your search options and still have not found your spouse, then their is one option left: Divorce by publication. The filing process is very similar to a regular divorce proceeding, except for a few things. Included in the regular paperwork is an application for a divorce by publication. To proceed with the divorce by publication, you must provide the court with the evidence of your extensive search.

If the judge accepts the proof of your search, they will grant you a divorce by publication. Then, the court will place an ad in the local newspaper in the area where your spouse is either believed to be or in your spouse’s last known location. The ad will be of the divorce summons, and will include all information about your case, including where your spouse should respond to the divorce summons.

The ad will run in the newspaper for a certain number of weeks, depending on which state the search is taking place. In California, the divorce by publication ad will run in the newspaper once a week for 4 weeks in a row. After the running of the ad, your spouse has 30 days to respond to the court regarding the divorce.

If the spouse does not respond within the grace period, you will be granted a default divorce. However, in California, the courts will not make judgements about any joint property, assets, or child-related matters.

Can I Use an Online Divorce Forms Service?

The divorce by publication process can be completed by an online divorce forms service, like, as long as the aforementioned steps are taken. However, it is advised to research the divorce by publication process in your specific state before beginning the divorce process.

The Reality of Divorce Realtors

divorce realtorThe world of divorce has seen many changes. Firstly, the word divorce does not raise eyebrows in the general public anymore. Secondly, the law is (slowly) changing to create balanced, fair rulings. And thirdly, divorce has become a kind of specialty group, a niche. There are shows dedicated to divorce (some reality, some dramatic, comedic, and more); major news sources have whole sections dedicated to divorce; divorce party planning has become a viable business venture; and now, divorce realty is thing.

Divorce realty is a specialty of a few, and a mystery to most. The New York Times recently uncovered this new sector of realty, and we are very excited and intrigued. Vicki Stout and Bob Bailey-Lemansky are real estate agents for Keller Williams Suburban Realty of New Jersey who are proclaimed divorce specialists. Other local real estate divorce specialists, like Frances Katzen, Michael Shapot, Elayne Reimer, and Victoria Vinokur, also shared their experiences.

What could a real estate agent possibly specialize in divorce, you might ask? Well, they specialize in selling the homes of divorcees, of course.

Separate, but Still Equal

Divorce realty is more than calling both homeowners about scheduling viewings. Stout and Bailey-Lemansky are the first real estate divorce specialists in New Jersey, and so far that includes being well-versed about how divorce affects property ownership, the divorce process, and how to handle clients who might have, say, restraining orders in place.

In this light, a divorce realtor is much more complex than the simple job of realtor; divorce realtors have to prepare for different scenarios, play therapist and legal counselor, and find a way to make two magnets meet in the middle to agree.

No Passion, No Dice

In a job where you are literally stuck in the middle of a divorce all the time requires one thing: passion. Without a passion for being the no-win middle man, you cannot do your job and do it well. But Stout, Bailey-Lemansky, and the other divorce realtors are thriving, thanks to a few hard-learned tricks for their divorce realtor tool belt.

Divorce Realty Trick #1: Keep the divorce hush hush. Keeping the divorce on the down low is not out of shame or fear of offending buyers, it is out of respect for the sellers. The divorce realtors have noticed prospective buyers operating under the assumption that divorcing sellers are desperate to make a sale. The result: buyers lowball sellers, and no one is happy.

Divorce Realty Trick #2: Fill the void. When a couple is going through a divorce, their house probably reflects that. One side of the closet is probably empty, there are probably a few bare nails on the walls, and missing appliances or furnishings. Luckily, divorce realtors expect and prepare for these things. Divorce realtor Michael Shapot, for example, borrows used clothing from friends and family members to make sure a client’s house doesn’t betray the white elephant in the room (or house).

Divorce Realty Trick #3: Make the best of it with the clients. A divorce realtor is composed, prepared, and ready for clients who are going through a traumatic time. As such, divorce realtors are more than willing to work with clients who need maybe a little extra time and patience. Reimer, one realtor from the NY Times article, recounted divorcing clients who divided their living quarters so strictly that when showing the house, Reimer had to show the husband’s half of the house and then reschedule to show the wife’s half. The only advice divorce realtor’s have is to have patience with the divorcees.

How to Serve Divorce Papers

document serverThe whole divorce process is kind of a headache, but hopefully we can alleviate some of the pain by providing you with helpful information. Today, we are going to delve into the mysterious business of serving divorce papers and how it works.

Can I Serve My Spouse?

Most people think they can serve their spouse with divorce papers by simply handing them over. However, there are legal guidelines that must be observed when serving legal documents to proceed with the divorce. Because you are an “interested party” (meaning you are directly involved in the case), you cannot be involved in serving the divorce papers.

Luckily, there are a few other ways to serve the divorce papers without having to pay someone to do so, or by paying a minimal cost.

Served By Mail

One of the most common ways to service your spouse is by mail, which usually doesn’t cost more than a few dollars. Service by mail is very simple, but to do this you have to include an affidavit of service in the divorce papers. The affidavit is named different things, and sometimes is included in various forms within the divorce forms. The served spouse must sign the affidavit of service, which verifies the spouse was served with the papers by mail.

Mail the divorce papers via first-class U.S. mail with a return receipt. If you ask the post office for a return receipt they will put a slip on the envelope, which must be signed by the recipient upon delivery. Then, the signed receipt of delivery is sent to your address for you records. Keep the return receipt for your paperwork as proof that your spouse received and was essentially served with the divorce papers.

Served By Third Party

Another common, yet free way to service your spouse is by a third party. A third party is basically anyone other than you, your spouse, and any child or person not immediately involved in the divorce proceedings. A third party can be a friend, relative, or neighbor.

The third party must, however, be over 18 years old and must sign the affidavit of service document as well. In some states it is required by law that the third party sign the affidavit in front of a notary public. This option only requires payment for the notary public, which varies from each notary.

Served By Official Service Officer

If neither of these options is agreeable with you, it is possible to hire a service officer to serve your spouse with the papers. A sheriff can be contracted to deliver the divorce papers to your spouse, or you can hire a professional process server.

The official server will know exactly how to complete the little paperwork required from them, like signing the affidavit of service. This option is pricier than the other two, but it is recommended in contested divorce cases where the spouse is trying to delay the divorce by avoiding being served with the divorce papers. A process server can cost anywhere from $30 to $100.

Can I Serve My Spouse With an Online Divorce Company?

With the online divorce forms service, you are able to decide how to serve your spouse, and are provided with all the necessary paperwork to legally prove your spouse was served. However, you must provide your spouse with the divorce papers, either by mail, third party, or process server.

SPLIT: How Kids Really Feel About Divorce

dv1940064Divorce is an event, a lifestyle, a “thing,” a freak occurrence, and/or a game-changer. No one is exactly sure what divorce is, but there is one thing we do know: It affects families in unique, very personal ways. But the divorce rate stays its course at a cool 50%, and affects more children as the population rises.

One filmmaker decided it was high time the children affected by divorce had complete control of the floor. Ellen Bruno, a San Francisco filmmaker and former international relief worker, raised money on Kickstarter to fund her latest documentary, “Split”. The documentary is scheduled to be released on June 8th later this year, with the  SPLIT website already collecting orders for the DVD.

Kids Run the Show

The SPLIT website displays a startling statistic: “Almost half the children in the U.S. will experience their parent’s separation before the age of 16 — more than any other county in the western world.” This little known fact is possibly what caused Bruno to create a documentary about divorce and include interviews only from children.

The opinions, stories, information, and advice in “Split” comes from children between the ages of 6 years old and 12 years old. In an interview conducted by Vicki Larson, Bruno divulged that she originally scheduled filmed interviews with 18 children. But through the course of several the interviews, Bruno said “it was clear within minutes that it would not be helpful to them to have this conversation, so we stopped.”

And so Bruno’s documentary became the musings and outlet of 12 children between the ages of 6 and 12 who had gone through a divorce.

No Minor Status, No Service

Most (if not all) documentaries include footage of a professional to provide viewers a credible source to learn from. But “Split” is one documentary that is completely “professional” free.

“Kids are wise and intuitive, and when given the space to share their experiences, they speak truth that is clear and profound,” says Bruno. “And kids listen to other kids, often far more attentively than they listen to adults.”

This is a novel, yet completely understandable stance to take when creating a documentary about how divorce affects children. The children who have gone through a divorce may not be certified, and may not have a diploma hanging on the wall of an office, but they certainly are experts of their own familial situation.

In watching the sneak peek videos, there is no need for the camera to swivel to a therapist, sitting behind a desk, explaining what the child means when she says, “It’s like something that you really love, like, breaks, and you can’t put it back together, kind of.”


But “Split” is not about doom, gloom, and the end of the world. On the contrary, “Split” is about children showing other children that life can, and does, get better. Bruno wanted this documentary, which is by, from, and for children, to balance the children’s realities with their expectations. Essentially, she wanted the documentary to commiserate and unite the children of divorce while simultaneously showing them the light at the end of the tunnel.

Bruno’s other motivation behind creating this documentary was to provide parents, therapists, and others a raw look at how children process divorce. Certainly, it’s a strange and looming topic for children so small, but it’s not insurmountable.

Get Divorced On Other People’s Money

money for divorceThe average cost of a divorce in America is estimated to cost between $15,000 and $30,000; the scary part of this estimate is that the figures represent the average cost of a divorce and not the cost range of a divorce. For people long-embroiled in a divorce battle, this figure may seem like but a pleasant memory in comparison to the figure they are currently facing.

It is no secret that divorces can be the nastiest experiences in the world, especially when robust finances are involved. But what about those spouses whose separate finances are less than robust? What chance do they stand in getting a fair shake in this expensive legal system? These are the very questions that birthed a new business sector called divorce financing.

People Will Finance Your Divorce?

In case you were wondering if you had missed something in the business world, divorce financing is not a business with a long history. In fact, divorce financing has only been around since 2009. Currently, there are two major players who are solely in the divorce financing market, BBL Churchill and Balance Point, and they each take a unique approach to divorce financing.

The Church of Divorce

BBL Churchill basically loans clients the money needed to cover all the legal expenses incurred during their divorce, and any necessary living expenses. After receiving a money retainer, BBL Churchill will loan divorcees anywhere from $2,000 to $1,000,000 if the divorcee meets the requirements.

To take out a loan with BBL Churchill, a divorcee must be represented by a qualified divorce attorney, have a joint net asset pool of $400,000 or more, and must have been married for at least 12 months to the divorcing spouse.

The BBL Churchill loans have a fixed interest rate for the term of the loan, and do not have to be paid back in monthly increments. The loan is repaid in its entirety by the divorce settlement.

Finding Balance in Divorce

Balance Point Divorce Funding invests in clients’ divorces, rather than loaning money to clients. The money from Balance Point is used for hiring attorneys, forensic accountants, and asset investigators, and for the client’s necessary living expenses. Balance Point usually invests about $200,000 in their client’s divorce.

To be funded by Balance Point, clients must have combined marital assets of $2 million or more, must not have marital assets affected by pre- or post-nuptial agreements, and be in need of $200,000 or more in funding.

If Balance Point decides to invest in a client, the invested money will be returned in full and more upon reaching an agreeable divorce settlement.

With the cost of living inching up each year, it’s no wonder divorce financing and other legal financing became a thriving new market. Just two years ago, legal financing companies were estimated to have $1 billion invested in clients’ legal actions. Divorce financing may just be the future of divorce in America; we only hope other divorce financing companies that crop up operate ethically.

If you were in a divorce with a spouse who out-earned you, and you needed money to get a fair settlement, would you hire a divorce financier?

Do Fathers Have Custody Rights?

fathers rightsParents: Have any of you parents found yourself with your foot shoved far into your mouth? Yeah, so has every other person at one point in time. But trips to the playground seem to coincide with sudden cravings for the taste of feet. The huddle of parents watching their children play is a breeding ground for innocent-enough small talk, until one person makes the assumption that the divorced father just has visitation.

Each person in the group suddenly is interested in the look of their shoes, eyes widen, and lips slowly are pressed into a thin line. If the seemingly-innocent comment was fresh of your lips, your eyes mirror the apology currently flowing from your mouth.

The Truth About Father Custodians

If the father had heard this before, and is aware of the statistics, they probably were not too offended. After all, the 2009 U.S. census reports only about 17.8% of fathers gain full custody rights of the children after a divorce. It was just your luck that you bumped into the 1 father out of 6 who was the custodial parent. But, if you are the father fighting for custody, don’t let past statistics guide your choice to fight the good custodial fight.

Historically, fathers were the preferred custodian of any children in a divorce or marital split (which we discussed at length in a previous blog); but at the turn of the century, mothers became the championed custodial parents. Ever since the switch in child custody doctrines (read the blog and you’ll understand), the number of custodial mothers have all but stomped out the number of custodial fathers.

In custody battles, fathers may dejectedly say or think, “What’s the point of fighting for custody? The courts never favor the father.” But we are here to say, “Buck up, soldier. These days, fathers have just as many rights to custody as mothers.”

Fighting the Good Fight

We don’t normally endorse any kind of animosity or battling, but when a child’s true best interests are at stake, we fully support fighting the good fight. And besides, single fatherhood is quickly gaining momentum in American society.

In 1993, Indiana became the first American state to pass a child custody law in favor of joint parenting plans. Since then, the other U.S. states have passed similar custody laws championing joint parenting plans. As a result, the amount of single fathers grew by 37.9 percent between the years of 1990 and 2000; the rate continued to increase by 27.3% between the years of 2000 and 2010.

The Pen is Mightier

Although the world we live in might seem to enjoy horrific wars, the pen really is mightier than the sword; this is true especially during a custody battle. Nowadays, courts are focusing more on the best interests of the child, instead of the genders of the parents and child involved.

The courts generally consider the best interests of the child to be factors like:

  • maintaining the same standard of living

  • living in a stable, familiar environment

  • living with the parent who cared and provided for the child on a daily basis

If the father provide examples of all the factors above (and the other state-specific requirements), then he has a good chance of gaining custody. However, don’t take our word as divorce law. If you’re embroiled in a heated custody battle, you should probably seek legal guidance.

We try our best to be helpful and informative at, but we can’t cover everything without hearing from you. If you have a question or comment, let us know in the comment box below. We’ll do our best to get you the best information available.