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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 MyDivorceDocuments.com, 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.

Parenting Teens After Divorce, Step 2: Consistency

86540850Children are strange creatures that are made up of 50% you, 50% their other parent, and 100% themselves. They start out completely dependent on you for food, warmth, and comfort, and slowly begin moving farther and farther away. Then one day they magically turn into a teenager, on the cusp of autonomy but not quite there yet.

Teenagers may seem like an alien species, but parents just need to remember teenagers are still their children. Remember this throughout our discussion on parenting teens after divorce, because it will be your mental saving grace.

#2: You were, are, and will always be their parent.

Daddies and Mommies all over experience the day when their little angels no longer need them for survival. This day is seen as a blessing and curse because it means the parent can take a shower without worrying the child will find its own demise, but it also means the parent starts to question their role in the whole parent-child relationship.

Parents need to realize their role as parent will never change; it’s the parenting method that needs to change. For example, when your child was a toddler, parenting meant wiping their face and making sure they said please and thank you; now that your child is a teenager, parenting means guiding them to make good decisions and providing a stable environment.

Most people think a stable environment doesn’t really go in hand with a divorce, but can we please show you a few ways to make that a possibility?

How to Keep the Consistency

It’s true, divorce has a knack for uprooting a family. But ultimately it’s up to the parents to stabilize the family and structure the new family landscape. Divorce may physically change the family landscape, but the parents can level the ground so the children have a place to stand. Here’s how:

  • The rules your teen used to abide by during the marriage should be the rules your teen abides by after the marriage. Because your teen is a boundary tester (just like when they were in their terrible twos), it is your job to make them toe the line, because you are the parent. Married, divorced, separated, single, dating, alone and loving it, you are the parent.

  • Emphasize that the divorce doesn’t mean your teen no longer has parents. Mom and dad ended their marriage, but it doesn’t mean their parenting years are over. Parents aren’t just married people, they are people with children. Your teen may not have this straight in their head, but staying consistent with your parenting will clear that up.

  • Here is the best advice for the parents who feel guilty about putting their child through a divorce: The divorce was between you and your spouse, and the divorce can remain between you and your spouse as long as you maintain your role as parent.

Have you noticed the theme here? You are and will always be the parent. Just because you are divorced doesn’t make you any less of a parent or any less of an authority figure.

A Little Lesson About Taxes and Divorce

200264112-001Oh, tax season. The time of year when you can hear the clickety-clack of calculator buttons, and smell the nervous sweat on men and women alike. The only thing that could improve this glorious season is divorce.

…Said no one ever, not even tax specialists. In fact, the only thing that makes tax season worse is divorce (or is it the other way around?). But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, taxes can still be relatively simple as long as you know the basics. Where divorce is concerned, the tax basics are: deciding on a filing status, navigating the exemptions, and figuring out the tax refund.

Find Your Filing Status

Filing statuses are fairly cut and dry, so there isn’t too much confusion or misinformation about how to file your taxes. However, there are a few options available to couples who are separating or staying together.

Generally, a person’s legal filing status goes by what their status was at the end of the tax year. If you were legally divorced, or legally separated by or on December 31st, 2012, or living separate and apart for the last 6 months of 2012, then you will file as single or head of household. If you were still legally married by or on December 31st, 2012, then you will file as married.

However, married couples do have the option of filing taxes together or separately. So if you were still legally married by December 31st, and your and your soon-to-be-ex don’t want to file together, you may file as “married filing separately.” Just note that by opting to file married but separately, you are opting out of the tax benefits of filing as married; so if you and your spouse can tolerate each other it might be beneficial to give filing taxes together one more go.

Catch a Tax Break or Exemption

The most common and plentiful tax exemptions are for married couples with children; and the most common misconception divorced couples have about taxes is that they can both take exemptions for the child. Divorced couples can divide the exemptions, but there cannot be two people claiming exemptions for one child.

Most couples choose to alternate years claiming the children on their taxes. For example, the mother would claim the children on even years, and the father would claim the children on odd years. However, the parent with primary custody of the child usually claims the child every year. If the other parent pays for the child’s medical expenses, that parent may take those deductions.

Just as a little disclaimer, one child expense that is not tax deductible is child support. The parent paying the child support cannot take deductions for the payments made because child support is considered tax neutral.

The Tax Refund Raffle

That night, after filing taxes, everyone goes to bed with dreams of a big, fat tax refund dancing through their mind. Divorce does not dissuade this pipe dream of swimming in your tax refund, but here are ways to increase your little neat refund pile. As tax refunds go, married people with children they can claim as dependents have it pretty good.

As a divorcee, you may be hanging your head, but don’t despair for too long. Divorcees can get better tax refunds if they pay alimony, if they can claim any children as dependents, and more.

Have any more pressing tax questions? Leave a comment below and we’ll get to the bottom of it for you.

Nesting Into Divorce

Nesting child custody methodDivorce may not seem like something that can evolve, but attitudes towards divorce and divorce practices are evolving. A prime example of divorce evolution is collaborative divorce, which only become a practice around the 1980′s. Well, prepare yourself for the latest stage of divorce evolution, called “nesting.”

Nesting is a child custody plan that allows the children of divorce to stay in the same house, while the parents are the ones who shuttle back and forth. Nesting requires three houses: one where the children live, one where the father lives, and one where the mother lives. The idea is to allow the children to continuously live in one home to lessen the negative impact of divorce.

A Child Custody By Many Other Names

Just to add a little more confusion into the mix, nesting is known by a few other names. However, nesting (aka aparenting, aka birdnesting, aka kids stay) is a fairly simple custody method; just think of nesting as an extreme version of joint custody.

Basically, the parents each rent an apartment or place of their own, but keep the house they lived in together during the marriage. The parents create a schedule to decide which parent stays in the house with the children for a certain amount of time. A common nesting schedule alternates the parents in the house with the children weekly or bi-weekly.

Three Homes, Two Parents, One Big Problem?

While nesting might seem like a viable option only for Birkenstock-wearing, granola-eating, peace-talking divorcees, nesting is touted to be a viable option for anyone who can manage to put the kids first. However, nesting should only be used in cases that are completely without any kind of abuse (emotional, sexual, physical).

Still nervous about the thought of having to share a common dwelling with your ex-spouse? Yeah, we totally understand that, but everyone who has successfully used nesting as a custody method gives the same advice: Just step up.

Easier Said…

The most annoying direction is probably “Don’t try, just do.” Hearing this may make your blood boil, but just think about the empowering message hidden in the condescending package. In the context of divorce, just doing it and taking each day one at a time is basically all any divorcee can do.

So the “Just step up” argument for nesting is really not so offensive or blood-boiling, especially when the pay-off is emotionally stable children.

Is Nesting That Beneficial?

While the downside to nesting includes living in a home that smacks of your ex, and having to maintain two houses, the upside appears to easily outweigh the negatives.

Firstly, just the fact that the children aren’t expected to be on the ones dividing their time and love is a giant bonus. All the negative impacts (being put in the middle, feeling unstable and uprooted, being confused about the physical family structure, feeling uncomfortable and unaccommodated in their parents’ new spaces, etc.) divorce is said to have on children would be a lot less of an issue just by trying the nesting method.

Secondly, the parents would have to come to terms with being forever connected sooner rather than later. Since this is the main hang-up for parents after divorce, nesting essentially forces them to be the adult and deal with it, and fast.

Thirdly, nesting doesn’t have to be permanent and allows the family to take their time in deciding how to handle the divorce. Nesting could be used as a transition parenting plan, it could be temporary, or it could be permanent. Nesting allows the family to avoid making rushed, emotion-based decisions.

What do you think about nesting? Does it give you the heebie-jeebies, or does it peak your interest?

Can NC Manufacture “Healthy” Marriages

82770193There are many laws and bill in the works that would make it more difficult to get a divorce in various states. The most recent state to make motions to impose stricter divorce laws on their citizens is North Carolina. Senator Austin Allran of Hickory, North Carolina, and Senator Warren Daniel of Morganton, North Carolina are the main supporters of House Bill 518. HB 518 is also known by the monicker of The Healthy Marriage Act, which lends itself to some interesting arguments against the “Healthy” Marriage Act.

HB 518

HB 518 is some very interesting legislation that seems to be working from the wrong side of a healthy marriage. This bill proposes to make a divorcing couple observe a 2 year waiting period before any action to divorce can be taken.

The spouse instigating the divorce must file an intent to divorce with the court, and notify their not-too-soon-to-be-ex of the beginning of their 2 year waiting period. HB 518 graciously makes no demand upon the couple to live separate and apart for the 2 years; and wouldn’t you know, the provision allowing couples to have “isolated incidents of sexual intercourse” in the current divorce law would remain intact in HB 518.

However, the couple must complete a few courses during the waiting period. Firstly, the couple must complete an improving communication skills course, and a conflict-resolution course. These courses have no requirement concerning time of completion, or length of course. Additionally, the couple may complete the courses separately.

If the divorcing couple has children, then there is one more stipulation. The couple must complete a course at least 4 hours long about the impact of divorce on children.

Fostering “Healthy” Marriages?

The “Healthy” Marriage Act basically describes laughable attempts at patching up a marriage. Senators Allran and Daniel could have really benefited from the counsel of the twins from the Parent Trap. But alas, HB 518 is not some hare-brained scheme from a family frolic film; HB 518 is a real piece of legislation officials are currently considering.

I’m sure the intentions behind HB 518 are pure and from the goodness of the Senator’s hearts, but a bill that extends the waiting period so long, and allows cohabitation and even sexual relations is just too much to be believed. If the Senators wanted to make a dent in the high divorce rate and foster healthy marriages, they should put their efforts into the other end of a marriage: the beginning.

No one wants to pose restrictions on love, ideologically. But lets be adults and face the fact that marriage is regulated through bureaucracy and legislation. If we wanted to give starry-eyed lovers the best chance at marriage, we would pass laws imposing things like marriage counseling and conflict resolution courses on prospective newlyweds.

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 MyDivorceDocuments.com 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.

www.MyDivorceDocuments.com | Uncontested Divorce Questions Answered

uncontested divorce questionsContrary to popular belief, not every divorce has to be a drawn-out court affair with dramatic statements and ruthless negotiations. In fact, there are many ways to go about getting a divorce nowadays, and only a few of them involve nasty courtroom brawls. One of the easiest, pain-free ways to get a divorce is by getting an uncontested divorce.

What is an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce does not involve lawyers, court battles, or rulings handed down by judges. Instead, an uncontested divorce involves the divorcing spouses sitting down and deciding for themselves how to divide their marital estate.

This is how it works: The spouses going through an uncontested divorce must either agree or be able to agree on how to resolve the issues brought up in the marital settlement agreement.

Points in the marital settlement agreement in need of resolution include:

  • division of assets (like checking and saving accounts, and profits from a shared business)

  • personal property (like home furnishings, electronics, and cars)

  • real property (like houses, condos, and apartments)

  • debts (credit card debt, mortgages, etc.)

  • whether or not to award spousal support, and how much to award

  • child issues (like child support, child custody, visitation schedules, and more)

How much does an uncontested divorce cost?

The cost of an uncontested divorce is quite minimal, since the divorcee doesn’t have to pay for a lawyer. In an uncontested divorce, you must only pay the filing fee (which varies from state to state).

However, the cost of an uncontested divorce can vary based on how you go about pursuing the divorce. These are your choices:

  • Fill out the forms yourself: The upside to filling out the divorce forms yourself is there is no additional cost. But the downside is that the slightest mistake or inconsistency in your paperwork can lead to your divorce forms being rejected, which would delay the divorce process.

  • Hire a lawyer: Some divorcees choose to hire a lawyer to fill out the divorce papers for them, which drives up the cost of an uncontested divorce quickly. True, the divorce papers will be completed correctly, but the cost is usually not worth the minimal labor.

  • Use a divorce forms service: A divorce forms service is not a legal advisory center or other type of legal aide; it is a company that specializes in completing divorce forms. These companies are usually a good option because the services do not cost as much as a lawyer, and the forms are completed by professionals.

However, be wary of false divorce forms services. Scammy divorce forms service companies usually do not have a method of contact on their website (like a phone number, address, or live customer support module). Before making payments to an online divorce forms service, make sure the website has a method of securing your payment.

Can we get an uncontested divorce if we don’t get along?

You and your spouse may not be the best of friends during your divorce, and that’s okay, even in an uncontested divorce. The divorcing couple may not stand the sight of each other, but as long as they can agree on how they want to settle the matters discussed in first section (division of assets, child issues, and more), they can get an uncontested divorce.

If during the divorce, the spouses find an area they cannot agree on, negotiate, or otherwise overcome, then they may have to seek mediation. If the divorce is at a standstill because of certain issues, then the divorce is considered contested, and the couple will have to hire a lawyer.

Is this helpful information, or is there a question about uncontested divorces we missed? Let us know in the comment box below.

Getting a Divorce in a Covenant Marriage | www.MyDivorceDocuments.com

covenant marriage divorce

If you’ve never heard of a covenant marriage, or if you know very little about covenant marriage, it’s probably because it is only offered in 3 states. Covenant marriages are offered in Arkansas, Arizona, and Louisiana, but the concept of the covenant marriage has been around for quite some time.

What is a Covenant Marriage?

A covenant marriage is different from a “regular” marriage because the couples in covenant marriages essentially waive their rights to a no-fault divorce. Covenant marriages are said to be more binding than regular marriages because they are based on covenants, not contracts.

A covenant is a solemn, usually religious, agreement, whereas a contract is a legal agreement. Proponents of covenant marriages believe “regular” marriages are contract-based marriages, which do not hold marriage as sacred and permanent an institution. Due to the deep religious affiliation covenant marriages have, covenant marriages have certain laws imposed upon them that make it difficult to divorce.

Guidelines of a Covenant Marriage

A covenant marriage requires couples to attend premarital counseling, and to fill out special covenant marriage paperwork. During the premarital counseling sessions, the couple is advised of the severity of committing to a lifelong marriage, the legal restrictions on divorce, and how to deal with marital issues.

The prospective spouses then must file an intent to enter into a covenant marriage. The intent (or declaration) involves a few documents that demonstrate both parties’ willingness to enter into a covenant of marriage. All this paperwork includes disclaimers about the stipulations of a covenant marriage, like the difficulties of divorcing out of a covenant marriage and more.

Divorce in Covenant Marriages

The first step in seeking a divorce in a covenant marriage is to seek marriage counseling. The covenant both parties agreed to when they wedded includes a clause about always seeking counseling should issues arise.

There are stringent divorce grounds in a covenant marriage; but since only three states offer the covenant marriage option, here are the specific grounds:

Arkansas: There are 4 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Conviction of a felony or serious crime

  3. Physical or sexual abuse of one of your children

  4. Living separate and apart for at least 2 years; living separate and apart for 2 years and 6 months, if there are children; or living separate and apart for at least 1 year if there has been a form of abuse

Arizona: There are 8 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Abandonment for 1 year or more

  3. Imprisonment or death sentence due to conviction of a felony

  4. Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse

  5. Living separate and apart for 2 consecutive years

  6. Being legally separated for 1 year

  7. Substance and/or alcohol abuse

  8. Both spouses agree to the divorce

Louisiana: There are 5 grounds for divorce.

  1. Adultery

  2. Imprisonment or death sentence due to conviction of a felony

  3. Abandonment for 1 year or more

  4. Physical or sexual abuse

  5. Living separate and apart for 2 years; under legal separation, living separate and apart for 1 year, or 1 year and 6 months if there are children.