Category : Divorce Rights

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Grandparents: Keep Out!

Divorces often creates a divide when it comes to families and extended families alike. Due to the fact that not all divorces can be amicable and have families fully agree with the situation, and go on living as they did before, divorces can be damaging both mentally and physically sometimes.

Division of families brings the choice of how to go on after the divorce. This is true for everyone directly and indirectly involved. One big decision can change the way in which an entire family lives their lives. Assets are divided, property is distributed, but so too are family members. So many questions are asked, “Do I live with mom or dad?”, “Where do we go for Thanksgiving?” and many more.

One landmark case also changed the face of visitation for extended family forever on June 5th, 2000.

In the case concerning Troxel vs. Granville, the Supreme Court invalidated a Washington State law that allowed third parties to petition for child visitation rights over parental objections. Simply stating that the parents of the children in question were the only ones to decide who could and couldn’t have visitation rights to their children. The Supreme Court said that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court,” noting that such petitions are an unconstitutional intrusion into a parent’s right to raise a child as they see fit.

The ruling effectively eliminated grandparents’ visitation rights when parents object to the visitation. This also extended to any other third party directly involved, such as stepparents or other closely tied relatives. The Supreme Court struck down the Washington grandparent visitation statute because it unconstitutionally infringed on the fundamental parental right to raise their children as they see fit.

Due to this case, the law now requires courts to give parents’ decisions concerning whether, when, and how grandparents will associate with their children. Even though Troxel vs. Granville does not define “special weight,” previous Supreme Court precedent indicates that “special weight” is a strong term signifying very considerable deference to any particular person being allowed visitation with children in question.

Parents will ultimately always have the right to govern who their children can see whilst under the age of 18, and rightly so. This ruling only further makes this natural governing all the more legal and final in the eyes of the law. Divorces do unfortunately take their toll on families in a multitude of different ways. Extended family are sometimes just as affected as those directly involved. However, keeping the best interest of all children involved at the forefront of all decisions is something that the courts have done even more so with this ruling.

Pregnant Man Files for Arizona Divorce


You know times have changed when you see a headline starting with “pregnant man.” But in today’s world, where gender roles are continually being debated over, and the institution of marriage is being redefined state by state and law by law, it is no surprise that new scenarios in divorce will eventually come to the forefront.

The Blurred Lines of Marriage, Gender, and Divorce Laws

Transgendered couples’ laws are still in their infancy when it comes to marriage and divorce. So it’s no wonder that when it comes to a divorce in this type of situation, the lines are still completely blurred. Thomas Beatie, a transgendered man, was born a woman in his native state of Hawaii. He underwent an external sex change to become, for all intents and purposes, a man before he married his partner, Nancy, in 2003.

After learning that Nancy was unable to bear children, and still having female reproductive organs, Thomas bore their 3 children, making headlines when photos of him pregnant with a mustache were leaked online. Legally married in Hawaii, which recognizes same sex marriages, the couples have since moved their family to Arizona.

The Difference a State Makes

After moving to Arizona, to live the couple recently decided to file for divorce. While Hawaii recognizes their marriage as legitimate, they also recognize Beatie as a man. Arizona’s law, however, does not recognize same sex marriage and the courts have questioned the validity of their marriage. While Beatie’s lawyer has admitted that this scenario was new territory for Arizona law, he argues that if one state recognizes the legality of the situation, who is Arizona to refute the validity?

While it would technically be cheaper for Thomas to have the state not recognize his marriage and bypass having to pay any spousal support, he and his lawyer state that the case is not about the divorce laws themselves, but about validation for Thomas concerning his marriage.

This case, as with many others concerning either same-sex couples or transgendered couples, will continue to make headlines as they push the boundaries of the court courts and law structures. The social pressure on law makers to allow for same sex couples to experience the same rights in marriage as well as sharing in the divorce procedure has greatly increased in the last 10 years. Stories like this and others will grow more common as a collective push is made to increase the rights couples and transgendered marriages like Thomas’.

Pre-Divorce Filing Tips

Divorce is a messy business, but a business nonetheless. Entering into any business, one needs to know just how to survive and to stay afloat; otherwise, being in over your head is going to catch up, and fast.

One of the first things that needs to be done when entering into a divorce, that may be the hardest, is to try to separate the emotional aspects from the business aspects and be sure to get the help you need so you can get the best financial result possible. If a divorce is anything but amicable, the chances of an ex-spouse going for the jugular as far as finances is concerned is quite high. So here is a short list of things that you should do and think about before rushing to file for that divorce.

Finances, Finances, Finances

Understanding your current financial situation, in depth, is a key factor before entering into any divorce proceedings. Asking yourself questions like “What do I own and what do I owe?” are important. Be sure you know whose name certain assets are in, as well as whose name is on the debts. Credit can be ruined overnight if a spouse’s name is on a debt that is owned by the other spouse.

The Big Divide
Look into, properly allocate, and then separate your credit. Try to establish new credit in your name alone while removing your name from joint credit where possible. This will require closing joint credit cards and bank accounts. Start storing your own cash and assets in a new bank account. Setting up after the divorce is final will not be cheap or easy, so save for the immediate future now.

Think Ahead
Go over all wills and deeds; if your beneficiary choices are affected by the divorce, change them. also, consider your insurance needs: first, you’ll want to make certain that you’ll have uninterrupted health insurance. You may also want to consider requiring life insurance to guarantee continued alimony and child support, should your ex-spouse die prematurely. Decide now how college will be funded for any children involved within the dissolution. You can never plan too much. If you’re not the planning type, now marks a great point in your life to start.

The process of divorce is often a highly charged, emotional time. Don’t let the hectic, roller coaster of divorce lead you to make financial mistakes that can affect you for years to come. Plan ahead at all costs. Be rational and calm, especially in a dissolution that is less than amicable. Chances are, your ex-spouse is not thinking of your needs entirely, so look out for number one, and that’s you( and any children you may have).

What To Do In Cases of Domestic Violence

Regardless of your views on family structure and divorce, when it comes to domestic violence, getting out should be the only decision. Sadly, many people become victims of domestic violence each year, and countless instances are hushed up out of fear.  It is often times harder for someone to make the decision to leave than to actually leave and begin the divorce process. But once your mind has been made up, there should be no looking back.

Domestic violence is about fear, control, and the abuse of false power. If and when you decide to leave an abusive spouse, this could make the abuser lose even more control.. In other words, exercise caution when preparing an exit strategy.

Preparing to Leave

When you make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, you must be prepared for the subsequent fall out and repercussions. You are making the right choice for yourself, potential children involved, and your future. Here are some tips to take inconsideration before planning your escape; some tips are obvious, and some may not be:

  1. If you feel your safety is at risk, get a civil or criminal restraining order and have it in place before you leave.
  2. Have somewhere to go. Research local domestic violent safe havens and shelters.  Ask a friend if you can stay with her/him, or, if you can afford it, rent an apartment but keep your address from your spouse.

It is also important to remember to take important documents with you. Birth certificates, driver’s license, social security card, health insurance cards, credit cards, and all cards that are in your name. Also, if you can, take any property deeds or bank statements. It is also important to take any restraining or court orders you already have against your spouse with you. This may seem drastic, but only you know how your relationship has been and what you situation is.

Domestic Violence Statistics

The most unnerving thing about incidents of domestic violence are the thousands of cases that go unreported. Women, men, and children are all at risk of the residual effects that can go with an abusive relationship. Thousands of serious cases are reported each year, but even more go unreported. Here are some eye-opening stats about domestic violence in the U.S.:

  1. Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
  2. The costs of intimate partner violence in the U.S. alone exceed $5.8 billion per year. $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
  3. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  4. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Divorce in general is never optimal, but it is a necessity when it comes to abusive relationships. The severity and exposure to abuse can occur on such a wide range, form outright psychical abuse to passive aggressive, emotional abuse. No one deserves to or should live in an abusive  situation. Understandably, these situations are extremely complex, but knowing how to be prepared and what to do will help you when the time comes to make the decision to leave.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, don’t stay quiet, help them attain the freedom they deserve. But help can come in many different ways. For advice on how best to help, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

How to Save Yourself from an Expensive Divorce


When it comes to divorce, we have all heard the horror stories of how it can get messy. Everyone has a friend of a friend who went through a year-long divorce process that ended up costing him or her thousands of dollars just to get out of the marriage. In years past this all was unavoidable. Depending on your situation you would end up paying a lawyer  tons of money, even if the divorce was amicable. Those days are, thankfully, gone.

Today, it’s the couples’ with the power. Understanding the steps in the process and therefore properly evaluating your decisions can be done without the input of a lawyer. Understandably some situations dictate the necessity of a trained legal professional, but the landscape of the divorce world has clearly changed, here are some tips to work towards an inexpensive divorce.

Keep Divorce Lawyers from Fanning the Flames

File this under the easier said than done category, but the divorce process can be a much smoother process once the couple comes together to work on the particulars. Lawyers are not only expensive, they can also bog down the process, scraping for every inch they can exploit in a situation. While it is understood they are working towards what they believe is the best possible outcome for you, they can be detrimental to your progress. In these cases, unfortunately, the battle can go on and on, until the clients run out of money and limp to the settlement table.

Worse, if there are children, the fight depletes not only your pocketbook, but also your children’s sense of security. Once the legal fight is over, trying to establish a normal ongoing parenting relationship between both parents and the children can be very difficult.

Shouldering the Decision Load

Weeding through the decisions that need to be made when seeking a divorce is tedious and most likely painful. But it really is in the divorcing couple’s best interest, whenever possible, to tackle these matters together, rather that bickering and fighting over everything through the jargon and manifesto of divorce lawyers. Working together or with an agreed upon third party (such as a divorce mediator) on crucial decisions can help you and your spouse come to quick , fair decisions on the important matters. Not to mention, this saves both time and money.

If you are able to resolve the big questions surrounding children, money, and property, then you just need to ask the court, in writing, to grant a divorce. In many states, you don’t even have to appear in court. Many courts now make it relatively easy for people to handle an uncontested divorce without a lawyer.

While some situations need a divorce lawyer, in today’s society more the of responsibility has been continually placed on the couple themselves. The rise of online divorces has given many couples the freedom to control their divorce process, making decisions with their spouses and getting through the process with both their savings account and dignity intact. Don’t allow yourself to put yourself in a deep hole when you’re already trying to get out of one. Do the research on your situation and find out if online divorce is right for you.

5 Common Divorce Mistakes

The latest census poll shows the majority of divorcees of this era are divorcing their first spouse more frequently. This means that these people have never gone through an entire divorce process before and do not know all there is to know about the procedures and steps taken in order to properly and legally finalize a divorce.

The best way to better understand something is to educate yourself on the topic. That is why comprised below are a few of the most frequently made mistakes in the divorce process. Knowing what not to do will hopefully steer you in the direction of what to do.
#1. Believing your spouse will be fair and cooperative.

Divorces can be trying, lengthy and will usually always place stress on all involved. Most people facing a divorce are emotionally vulnerable and upset, and many are in a state of denial.  If a divorce is anything but amicable, always assume that your ex-spouse is going for the jugular. Going into a prize fight assuming your opponent will hit you softly will always end up with you on your back. In the case of divorce, you will never have the settlement you desire if you do not do all you can to obtain it.

#2. Lying to your lawyer.

Lawyers are your allies. They are your direct link to having a smooth and successful divorce. This can only come with complete and utter honesty. Lawyers have heard everything under the sun, and are typically professional about the ins and outs of their clients. Telling them absolutely everything, disclosing all information both good and bad, will ultimately help you in the long run when a decision is made in terms of your marriage dissolution.

#3. Lying in court.

If you do indeed have a trial, the result is directly affected by your credibility. Judges are generally experts at determining who is telling the truth and who is lying. This is because mass amounts of extensive research is done into the marriage and both parties themselves. Not only is lying in court a crime, but you are bound to be caught lying in court. Divorce lawyers have a duty to stop a proceeding and tell the court if he or she knows you are misrepresenting facts of any kind. If you have areas of your case that are sensitive, work with your lawyer on what you are going to say but do not misrepresent the facts.

#4. Allowing emotions rather than logic to rule your legal decisions.

Going through a divorce is most aptly compared to an emotional roller coaster. It is often hard to put feelings aside and keep an eye on the prize by being rational and sensible. As stressful as the situation may be, keeping composure at all times is best for all involved. If you let your emotions gain control, rather than reason and logic, you will undermine your case. Being reflective, versus being reactive, is the best way to approach the proceedings.

#5. Hiding or failing to produce documents.

You have an absolute right to see your spouse’s financial documents throughout all divorce proceedings; but this means your spouse absolutely has the right to see your financial documents too. This should not be a problem, as most couples share finances and share access. Although, on the off chance that separate accounts have been opened or are owned, both known to the spouse and unbeknownst, they need to be disclosed upon filing for divorce. Failure to do so will result in major repercussions. The court can force you to produce records, and order that you pay your spouse’s lawyer fees incurred in getting the records. Good clients and good lawyers produce documents quickly and voluntarily.

So, avoid these pitfalls at all costs. Be open and honest at all times, and let your case speak for itself. Do not make these mistakes, as they will hurt you and your case in the long run.

Caught Hiding Assets During a Divorce

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally complicated matter. Every divorce scenario differs, but each is the literal split in which tension has been building for some time, and in truth it can entice people to make questionable decisions. Filing for divorce is not a simple situation, and can be a long and tedious process. It is essentially laying everything on the table for the spouses to sift through everything accumulated throughout their years of marriage.  When it comes to the legalities of the divorce process things can get a bit tricky, especially with finances. In many cases a spouses might not disclose all their assets, or try to hide sources of money so it is not included in the fair split between the spouses during the divorce proceedings.

Withholding Assets

Discussing incomes, money, and assets within the divorce procedure can lead some to attempt to hide their value, or purposely mislead the courts and the spouse as to how much they are worth. Even though this is not an uncommon thing, full disclosure is the law and subject to severe repercussions. These situations most commonly include, but may not be limited to:

  1. Hide, understate, or undervalue certain marital property;
  2. Overstate debts;
  3. Report lower than actual income;
  4. Report higher than actual expenses.

Proof of Deception

According to a recent study by the National Endowment for Financial Education, financial deception in the divorce process is still a common occurrence. Part of the study took a look at divorce across the country and surveyed a number of divorced couples, and found 31% of adults who combined assets with a spouse or partner said they have been deceptive about money. Also within the study were other prominent findings, such as:

  1. Nearly three in five of those surveyed (58 percent) said they hid cash from their partner or spouse.
  2. More than half (54 percent) hid a minor purchase from their partner or spouse.
  3. An additional 30 percent hid a statement or a bill from their partner or spouse.
  4. 34 percent admitted they lied about finances, debt, and/or money earned.

When it comes to finances, people can make some amazingly unwise decisions. Divorce often becomes a time when people use emotional ammunition to convince themselves this deception is not only warranted, but justified. Keeping perspective and a level head during divorce proceedings can benefit spouses in ways they probably had not imagined. Keeping a level head about your divorce helps you qualify for an online divorce, allowing you to handle the splitting of assets honestly and quickly with your partner and can save you thousands in legal costs. Visit today and learn how you can save thousands and get on with your life.

Divorce Means No Insurance

The dissolution of marriage comes along with many changes for both parties involved. One of the many drastic changes is the difference in lifestyle. The division of assets puts a brand new perspective on a lot of everyday things when spouses are no longer together. Sometimes the division of assets affects the woman in a divorce more severely than the man, and this is because many marriages still see the male as the breadwinner and the woman as the homemaker. Therefore, a divorce for many women also means losing health insurance protection.

Without health insurance, many women are left stranded to fend for themselves should an injury occur or some type of medical emergency. Most insurance plans through a place of business is far less expensive than that of an independent plan. This presents yet another problem as women who have been homemakers for so long probably do not have sufficient skills to obtain a job, and consequently the benefits that come with it. Paying out of your own pocket for health insurance is costly to say the least.

Crunching the Numbers
A recent University of Michigan study revealed that roughly 115,000 American women lose their private health insurance annually after a divorce, and about half of them do not get replacement coverage.

Women who fall into this category often find themselves out of insurance for a significant amount of time. The stats show that women’s overall rates of health insurance coverage remain depressed for more than two years after the divorce. When conducted, the study looked at data that spanned four years and observed women who were married, remained married, or divorced at some point during that time. They found that approximately six months after divorce, 15 to 20 percent of women lose their health insurance coverage.

Women from moderate income families, meaning those making between two or three times the federal poverty level (or about $46,000 and $70,000 for a family of four), are at high risk of losing insurance in a divorce. Under the law, these families technically make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to purchase private health insurance coverage. This becomes a dilemma for many families, and they begin to struggle.

Other Ways to Survive
Not having health care altogether is not the only option for divorced women who were dependent on their spouse for insurance previously. Federal law allows ex-spouses to extend their coverage through the Federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, also known as COBRA, for up to three years. But premiums for this kind of coverage are expensive because the individual picks up the entire cost of the policy. However, this does allow the ex-spouse to be insured, and gives them ample time to find a policy through either new employment or of their own accord. Some states even employ programs that allow an ex-spouse to simply pay the premium of the employer-based insurance, rather than the costly COBRA plan.

So, all is not lost, but be alert during a divorce, since the division of assets can often mean that the luxuries and the small things we often do not think about are taken away. Always be prepared, and where ever possible, discuss with a spouse just how you will be taken care of post-divorce, health care especially.

Social Security & Alimony


It isn’t typical for an alimony case to be associated with the U.S Supreme Court, however, in one case from the state of Oregon this is exactly what happened. The dispute between spouses over alimony from Linn County, Oregon in 2009 finally came to a conclusion after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case entirely.

The case involved a spouse who was disputing the fact that he had to pay alimony of any kind, even though he was ordered to do so under the divorce statutes of the state of Oregon. The husband decreed that he couldn’t pay alimony as his only means of income came from Social Security benefits.

Many things can complicate the finalization of any divorce, especially in the areas of child support or spousal support. Even if the spouses generally agree on issues of property division, child support, or spousal support, the process is no easy task.  More often, there is some disagreement over issues, such as one spouse’s obligation to pay or how the division of marital debt should be accomplished.

In this particular case, both the Oregon Court of Appeals and the Oregon Supreme Court refused to hear the case, which involved the husband’s obligation to pay alimony. The husband, whose only income is provided by disability benefits from the Social Security and Veterans Administrations, argued his VA disability benefits cannot be used to determine spousal support obligations because such payments are solely intended for the welfare of the veteran. He was technically true in his argument, but the family law court trumped this rule in favor of the wife in question.


The husband was ordered to pay $1,000 per month in alimony to his ex-wife based on the combined total of his SSDI and VA benefits. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (FSPA) specifically states benefits for veterans are subject to divorce judgments; meaning whatever ruling the divorce court made would overrule all previous rulings or acts put into place. This federal law was passed in response to a Supreme Court holding in 1981 that protected military retirement funds from spousal support awards.

None of the appellate courts apparently found legal merit in the husband’s argument that the FSPA was not intended to be applied to disability benefits for veterans’ spouses.

Fighting his way all the way past multiple failed attempts, the husband finally took  his case to the U.S. Supreme court, where the case was thrown out. The husband was ordered to pay his alimony and in turn lost money through legal fees and court fees in order to have his case turned away again.

Being Amicable Pays Dividends
Resolving financial matters is a vital part of the divorce process, as both spouses have a vital interest in securing an independent future and maintaining their lifestyles to the best extent possible. This being said, however, fighting as far as the U.S Supreme Court, after failed attempts in smaller court, is just a waste of time. Laws are set in place to look out for the best interest of children and to financially support spouses after the dissolution is finalized. Moral of the story: Being amicable, making a plan, and agreeing, always works best.

Texas Courts Allow Divorce Without Lawyers

In today’s economy, budgets are often a necessity. Even marriages with two working spouses have trouble keeping up with all the bills and living comfortably. Yet when divorce enters the picture, it can quickly become a very expensive ordeal. However, Texas lawmakers voted on a motion to help low-income families, and those filing for an easy, uncontested divorce to use forms that will allow them to move through the process without hiring an attorney.

Legal Aid

Recently reported from Texas, six of the nine Supreme Court justices have voted to approve the use of forms allowing  couples to file for divorce in Texas without hiring an attorney. After months of back and forth battling it was finally put to a vote, much to the ire of the group of family lawyers who vehemently opposed the motion.

The reason given by the lawyers was that these legal forms could lead to confusion and many legal complications if/when mistakes are made in the filing process. However, it has been reported that pro bono and legal aid attorneys can only reach about 20% of the divorce service demand last year.

In its Infancy

Back in 2011 a group of lawmakers, including lawyers, judges, and other experts, and the Texas Access to Justice Commission came together to help create the newly approved forms. The opponents of these forms, who are mostly made up of practicing attorneys, have stated that citizens will be unable to navigate the legal system without the help of an attorney. However, as you can see by the website, and the recent rise in online divorce forms, that is just flat out untrue.

What’s in a Form?

The forms may only be used by couples without children or real estate who are seeking a divorce without the aid and expenses of an attorney. The forms are said to be simple and straight forward to help make the judicial part of the process more efficient going forward. The forms are available now, but as a result of a public comment period that will last until February they may undergo some changes.

An even better route for couples both with or without children in preparing Texas divorce forms is filing for an online divorce. At we have already helped served many citizens in Texas with a logical and 100% legal way to help file for an uncontested divorce; helping save time, money, and stress for those couples who know they want to move forward but are dreading the process. To find out more about online divorce forms and how to file for an online divorce in Texas, visit today.