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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.

Post-Divorce Holiday Tips

As a recent divorcee, you know you’re in trouble when the malls begin to adorn everything with red bows and garlands. When normally you’d be “Ho, ho, ho, and a cup’o cheer,” now you might find yourself feeling more “Bah Humbug!” Don’t worry, you’re not a horrible person, you’re just going through a particularly excruciating transition in your life. You’ll make it through this holiday season, but if you want to make it unscathed, here are a few tips about how to make the holidays something worth smiling about, even post-divorce.

Setting the Tone for Your Holidays

First things first: It’s highly likely you will turn into an emotional wreck a few times this holiday season; but that is okay. Accepting this and the (awful) feelings you will experience in waves is the first step to preparing for the holidays after a divorce. But here comes the hard part: You must not let yourself fall apart and become crippled by these emotions. The only thing to do, that is emotionally healthy, is to allow yourself to think through these feelings.

Think of it as a preemptive strike against depression and the ruination of your holidays. After all, you’re divorces, not dead, not imprisoned, or and not a social freak. Think of this holiday season as a time when you can do whatever you want. You can create a new holiday tradition, decorate however you want, and spend the holidays with whoever you want. See? It’s not so bad.

Say Hello to Friends You Know

So in the same vein as allowing yourself to emotionally heal, it is a wise choice to surround yourself with family, friends, and loved ones. The alternative is holing up and becoming the holiday miser of the family. No one wants to be known as the crazy uncle or aunt, so do yourself a favor and reject the urge to become a holiday recluse. If you were to shut out the world for a couple of months all you would achieve is steeping in your own misery and pain.

Aside from resisting the call of the hermit, forcing yourself to be around those who love with will help heal those divorce wounds. After a divorce people tend to feel unlovable and undesirable. There is nothing more damaging to the psyche than cultivating poor self esteem and self-loathing. So break out of the cycle and let yourself be loved!

Stick to the Plan

One of the most comforting things about the holidays is the routines and traditions we fall into. One of the worst affects of divorce is ruining those routines and traditions we fall into. So building off of the previous tip, we suggest making a list of the normal holiday routines and traditions you follow each year, and continuing those traditions.

Mind you, you can skip a routine or tradition or two if they are too painful to follow through with, if you never liked it anyway, or if you just don’t want to. Remember: Divorce is a new beginning for you, not the end of your life. The holidays are a time for celebration, warmth, and, well, cheer. Don’t let a divorce ruin the holiday season for you.

Religious Conversion in Marriage & Divorce

Religion can often be a large factor in why spouses do not see eye to eye. One of the top 3 reasons, besides infidelity and financial matters, for divorce is conflict pertaining to religion. Many couples who are of different faiths typically marry under the notion they will raise any children from the marriage under one or sometimes both religions. One of the many solutions couples have found to this dilemma is to draft up a legal document stating the stipulations under which their family will be governed, as far as religion is concerned.

However, this written agreement would not be enforceable during marriage and it may not be enforceable in the event of a divorce either, depending on the language, the judge, and the jurisdiction. If you’re married and your spouse does not want to follow the terms of your initial agreement about the children’s upbringing, in many instances, the battle will end in a stalemate. There is no civil legal form to enforce this marital problem, so what do you do?

Loopholes & Lawsuits
So, even with a contractual agreement, signed by both parties, if a conflict does arise with regards to the religious upbringing of children, the matter has no weight unless a divorce is pending. It almost begs the question, “What is the point of the agreement, and how do couples solve the issue without dissolving the marriage?” The civil courts will not rule on a premarital contract regarding religion without a termination of marriage proceeding, i.e. divorce or separation. So, if your spouse changes his or her mind after the birth of the child, then you have a problem on your hands.

Divorcing a Religion

Some courts in New York have upheld these “agreements” to raise children with a specific religion, but again, the courts only ruled on the issue in a termination of marriage proceeding. Sometimes a judge wants to acknowledge the agreement and enforce it or a part of it, no matter who has primary custody.  In other situations, the courts first look at custody and then consider whether the agreement is viable

In many states, a civil premarital agreement does not address any custody, parenting, and support issues for future children, and this obviously includes religious rearing. Religion is generally determined by the parent of primary residence when couples are divorced or separated. Divorce often leads to bitter custody disputes, but when religion and the indoctrination of the child are dependent on the sole custodian, custody battles are intensified.

Not many are aware of the rules that coincide with religion and raising children within a marriage. However, even with said documentation, the law does not fully regulate religion and marriage. These papers will show proof of said agreement, but the problem is finding a judge willing to enforce the agreement in an intact marriage.

If your religion is a large part of your life, it is not a great idea to get involved with someone of another faith, unless they are willing to convert. When people have children, they often revert to and have a renewed sense of pride in the religion they grew up with. They often want to give their children the guidelines, traditions, and values that they grew up with themselves. Setting ground rules and sticking to them is a gamble; but discussing the place of religion in your family at length and theorizing all possible scenarios is good planning.

Kick the Post-Divorce Holiday Blues

The holidays are a time where you and your family celebrate by going overboard on decorations, food, plans, shopping, vegetating on the coach for hours, and driving literally all the way to grandma’s house. Well now that your divorced it’s time to get a new routine, but with the same holiday cheer and good will. Yes, it can be tough being a newly divorced spouse going through your first holiday, but it doesn’t have to be. This is a time when you can lean on your family and close friends for support. Keep things in perspective and you can even make some of these holidays the most memorable (in positive way) in a long time.

The Patient

Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your family. You will grieve your losses, or be angry about your current situation, but remember what you are really celebrating. You can use this time to find new meaning, a deeper connection, and richer joys that you might have missed if this divorce had not happened. Accept the tears. Take it one holiday at a time; enjoy the freedom and ability to be flexible in your potential plans. The true meaning of the holidays will never disappear, and this experience, as hard as it is, can bring a fresh understanding of that truth.

Simplify the Equation

For all the planning, cooking, cleaning, and other exhausting activities, people inevitably always complain and want the holidays to be simpler. A midlife divorce will make you look at your priorities. You usually have moved to a smaller place; you have less money; and you have less time if you have gone back to work. You have an opportunity to do what most people want to do. You have been forced to do something that may be a positive turning point in your family’s life. Take a look at your priorities and simplify.

Bend but Don’t Break Tradition

 

Keep the traditions you want. Try some new things. Find creative new ways to share the season and create positive memories by enhancing the real meaning of the holidays. Who says Thanksgiving has to be celebrated on the official Thanksgiving Day? If you don’t have the children on Christmas, have a tree-decorating party earlier in December. Make that a new tradition. An added benefit might be to make the week of Thanksgiving and Christmas less hectic, if that’s even possible in today’s world, divorce or not.

It’s Not Me it’s You

The holidays are really about sharing and being thankful. Spread the joy around. Expand your list of people to welcome into your celebrations. There are all kinds of people you could encourage during the holidays. Reach out to old friends, visit family members you rarely get to see. It’s ok to be that single guy or girl that travels around, a true modern holiday travel and family party crasher. The holidays aren’t just about you, anyway. They are about having a generous heart and a gracious spirit. Cultivate those characteristics and be grateful for every good thing you have.

Going through the divorce process is no easy task. Even after you’re done, you then have to get on with your life and rebuild. Whether it is a long, drawn-out legal process or a quick online divorce, the repercussions and immediate effects can be felt for a significant period of time. Your first holiday after getting divorced can seem like an emotional challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. You will find out it is easier to be happy in these moments than you may think.

Splitting Child Custody During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is like a test run for the rest of the season’s holidays for divorced families. There is always the awkward questions of which family the children will spend which holidays with. Divorce creates a messy family life, but with simple planning and cooperation this can be tidied up in a cinch. Each family is different, and so should each family’s holiday custody schedule.

Different Strokes

If you’re having a hard time figuring out your child’s holiday schedule, then here are a few ways it can be done. But again, remember a schedule that works for one family may not work for another; so feel free to alter these schedule examples to fit your needs.

Annual Alternating: The most common schedule is rotating holidays with the child. So one year one parent will have the child on Thanksgiving, and the next year the other parent will have the child on Thanksgiving. This option allows for a more relaxed holiday for both you and your child because there is no time table to be mindful of. The downside is the absence of one of the parents will be a little distressing the first few times for both the absent parent and the child.

Halfsies: Another option is to equally split the holiday with the child. For example, the child would spend the first half of the day with one parent and their family, and then the other half of the day would be spent with the other parent and their family. In doing this, you solve the issue of the parents and child missing the other’s company. However, for this to work the parents and families must live in fairly close proximity. Also, the day would be a bit more rushed and stressful because you’ll have the keep track of time.

Rescheduling the Holidays: If neither of the above options suite your needs, try celebrating the holidays at another time. In this scenario the child would celebrate with one parent and their family on the actual holiday, and then celebrate at a later (or earlier) time with the other parent and their family. This route avoids confusion, time tables, and stressful drop offs all together. But this also means choosing which family will enjoy the child’s presence on the holiday. This would work best if one parent’s holiday plans are already on a day other than the holiday, or if the parents live in different cities.

One Big, Happy Family: This is by far the most unconventional, high risk, high reward option, which is why we saved it for last. If your ex and their family are cordial with you and your family, you could try continuing to celebrate as one big, happy family. The child would feel completely secure within their family, in spite of the divorce; but this means the families would have to be on good terms. Before you try this option have frequent talks about the plans with both families. Maybe have a test run without the child to make sure there will be no fireworks during the holidays; fireworks are only pretty from afar.

There are a few factors to consider when devising a holiday schedule, like the child’s desires, the families’ wishes, the stress factor of the day, where everyone lives, and so much more. But the most important factor is what would make your child’s holidays fun, comfortable, and stress-free. Planning ahead is the key to happy holiday for any divorced family. Hope your Thanksgiving is stress free and pleasant!

Tough Love Lessons: Can We Still Be Friends?

Not every divorce is a heated battle that requires a posse of attorneys or multiple Kleenex trips to Costco. No, some marriages end peacefully with mutual understanding and a dignified parting of ways; these marriages usually are the ones in which the inevitable question is brought up in: Can we still be friends?
For all you divorcees out there who needed a posse of attorneys, or who needed to make those runs for commercial-sized packages of Kleenex know the correct answer to this question: NO!
Why can’t you be friends, even if your divorce was a quiet and painless as a lazy Sunday? Well, try this on for size: You are no longer a couple and you both desperately need to discover who you are without your ex.
No ‘I’ in Couple
You may not think that you have become a different person just because you were married, but just think about your daily routine with and without marriage and your ex. Yes, it’s official. Life is different when you are a part of a couple and when it is just you, on your own, without a built-in dinner buddy. You may not have wanted it to happen, but when you are in a serious relationship, you change a little, and your routine changes a lot.
But, now that you are out of that serious relationship you need to rediscover who you are by yourself, or maybe how you want to be. Just make sure that who you want to be is okay being alone for a while before jumping into a new serious relationship.
But, But…
If you find yourself being the one asking “Can we still be friends?” then we need to have a different talk. Whether you consciously think or feel this or not, your motives behind trying to keep your ex involved in your life may be caused by two things (which might be working in tandem): 1. You’re afraid of being alone; 2. You have unresolved feelings you’re not ready to let go of.
I’m just going to say it; both of those feelings are self reasons to keep an ex in your life. Divorce and major life changes are scary experiences, and it’s only natural you want someone close to you during those changes. But if you’re major life change is being single again, and the person you’re keeping close is your ex, then you’re not really being single again.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel ready to have your ex become a periphery character in your life, then you need to ask yourself why. The answer probably has something to do with unresolved feelings you have towards your ex. It may be easier to keep holding on to your ex instead of dealing with your feelings, but it’s not better for you.
Let’s get this lie cleared up: Divorce is never easy, even if yours was an uncontested divorce. And the period after a divorce is even harder since you must rebuild your life, daily routine, and dust off the single person you once were. So do yourself a favor and keep communication with your ex to a bare minimum; yes, even if you’re divorce was mutually agreed upon. Think of it this way: If you keep your ex in your life, not only are you not healing, but you aren’t letting your ex have the chance to heal either.

Divorced: Forever Changed

 

The definition of marriage has long since been the union of two people in holy matrimony, those two people being clearly defined under law as a man and a woman. However, with change being at the heart of the nation right now, and ever intertwined with the platform of the leader of the free world, it was only a matter of time before the law was changed in order to catch up to the times.

Civil unions and common law marriages have often been the extent to which same sex couples were allowed to be joined under the law, and only in certain states. This is changing, and more traction is being garnered for marriages and divorces alike between same sex couples to be recognized under the law.

Change
One of the key components to any legally binding agreement is the piece of paper telling all those who inquire that it is recognized as such. Divorce papers, marriage certificates, and even birth certificates are all things that tell the world that an event has been recognized under law.

With the mass amount of change coming under many of the clauses comprising family law, the Washington state Health Department will be changing marriage and divorce certificates in response to the same-sex marriage law that takes effect December 6th. This new change means that words such as “bride,” ”groom,” ”husband,” and “wife” will likely be erased from these documents, to not discriminate against any gender or otherwise. The department wants to use gender-neutral terms in order to be more progressive, to adapt to the ever-changing world, and to be correct under the law.

Replacements
All signs, as of now, point to the replacement words on all certificates being something in the area of  ”Spouse A” and “Spouse B”, with names being inserted next to these titles, to ensure no confusion on any further documentation. But the forms will still include gender so the state can track the number of same-sex couples in the state.

The face of divorce is changing one step at a time. With these new changes to the documentation, the law is seeing changes that are enlarging the umbrella everyone falls under. When these laws were conceived and first instituted, they were closed off and put each person in a box. The bottom line is, this is simply not how anyone is meant to be “categorized.” With the ambiguity of the new documentation, everyone can be free from being squeezed into a predetermined box and can be better identified under the law.

The Kids Are All Right

In a touching Huffington Post article, the author compiled a list of wonderful things children had to say to their parents after their divorce. Wait, children can handle divorce? This idea clashes with the notion that divorce ruins children emotionally for life. As it turns out, the doublespeak occurs unabashedly. While browsing the Huffington Post’s divorce section, you can also see titles like, “Study: Divorce Affects Kids’ Math and Social Skills,” “5 Reasons Divorce is Good for Kids,” “Children of Divorce More Likely to Contemplate Suicide,” and “Should You Stay Together for the Kids?”

With all this conflicting information dumped on parents, it’s a miracle anyone makes it to finalizing their divorce without a mental breakdown. But there is a way to divorce without ruining your children’s lives, and that’s with honesty and affection.

Honesty

Most divorce articles and studies note that children who have been negatively impacted by divorce feel they cannot trust others. This is probably due to the way the divorce was sprung upon the children. Divorce can take children by surprise, and it often does. In a child’s mind, there are two parents, and it would defy logic and reason for the parents to split; it’s like a divorce cannot even take place. That is, until the child’s parents sit down and tell the child point blank, “Mommy and Daddy are getting divorced. We are not going to live together anymore, but we still love you.”

This is an honest statement, but up until this point was the child able to see that sometimes even parents don’t agree? The lie in this scenario was the “all is as it should be” lie, which is a lie of omission parents frequently make. We’re not promoting full-fledged arguments in the child’s presence, but we also do not support lying to your children that life is always a walk in the park. Even after a split, it is best to allow your child to openly ask questions about the divorce and your feelings (just answer the questions honestly). This will develop the child’s sense of trust, even in the face of divorce.

Affection

The biggest way to reassure your child of the love and care you have for them is to shower them with affection. Make sure they feel loved and cared for by you, your family, your ex, and your ex’s family. Affection, coupled with honesty, is the best way to reassure your child that a divorce does not mean a divorce from them. Make a note that affection does not mean caving into your child’s every demand, spoiling them, or never reprimanding them.

By affection we mean the same parental love and guidance you showered upon your child before the divorce. So don’t create new rules or bend old rules when it comes to raising your child. You put those barriers up to protect them from a destructive and negative disposition and life; their world is changing, so don’t start changing the boundaries of their world too.

To  make the transition smoother for the child, then follow the two rules. What is best is never easy, so even though you may be internally conflicted or feel guilty about divorcing, never break the honesty and affection rule. If you follow the two rules, you may end up hearing things like this “I love seeing you happy again, mom,” or “I am proud of you, you are strong.”

Men More Likely to Remarry Than Women?

No one has ever questioned the want to get remarried after a divorce. It seems like the logical next step in modern times to try to find that one special person again. Since the 1970’s, divorce has embedded itself in our pop culture. So it is natural that this would a situation where people are going on second and even third marriages.  Recently, however, a study was released that showed a disparity between the paths of male and females when approaching the possibility of a second marriage after a divorce.

Gender Disparity in Second Helpings

A recent study released says that divorced men are get over their complicated break-ups faster, and are more willing and ready to remarry than divorced women.  The study of 2,000 adults found that 47% of divorced men are more eager to wed again, compared to just 20% of previously married women. This contrasts the traditional,and somewhat sexist notion, that women are looking for love more than men.

A further 42% of divorced men admitted they were keen to get back on the dating scene. Women were reported to be slightly more reserved about venturing back into the dating world with less than one in five considering doing the same thing. 31% of divorced men also revealed they have tried venturing into the internet dating world following their marriage break-up, compared to 19% of women.

The State of Relationships

This UK study, finished and released to coincide with the DVD release of Crazy, Stupid, Love, surveyed 2,000 divorced adults. The reason and the way the study itself was done says something about where we are as a society concerning the repetition of failed relationships and the new movie genre dealing with the recovery from a failed marriage.

Yet given research study limitations, they should always be taken with a grain of salt. Many contrasting studies exist, showing “proof” of one idea or another, or making a claim to the effect of divorce on everyone from children to the family pet. One thing is for certain though: Divorce, as well as second and third marriages, are here to stay. Understanding the divorce process and everything that goes along with it, both emotionally and legally, can help minimize the residual damage this permanent  relationship schism.

Life, Marriages, Divorces, & Singles

Since divorce laws were made more acceptable in the 1970’s, there has always been a debate about the long term effects accessible divorce would have on marriage. The “marriage will become obsolete” argument has been stated, refuted, and stated again for decades now. However, there are examples and studies that show some areas of marriage declining, and divorce may not be the culprit. Many factors exist in society which can push people either one way or another as far as relationships and marriage; and divorce is just once facet of the evolving social climate.

Taking the Temperature Study

According to a recent study at Pew survey, many single Americans of all ages were asked whether they were in a committed relationship or whether they were looking for a partner. The largest portion of single persons, 55 %, stated that they were NOT in a committed relationship and that they were NOT looking to enter into a committed relationship leading towards marriage.

Another survey done by both Pew and Time magazine asked direct questions to a number of participants. The ‘single’ participants who were surveyed with the question, “Do you want to get married?” gave an interesting answer. Understandably, the question question was very basic, but the answers cannot be denied: Only 46% said ‘yes.’ This means about a quarter of the singles (a group that includes the divorced, widowed, cohabiting, or always-single) stated  they do not want to marry, and 29% responded they were not sure. For the divorced and widowed, the number of participants who stated they wanted to marry sunk to 22%, with 46% saying they do not want to marry, and 32% unsure.

In another nationwide survey, sampling 2,691 people living in America who are 18 and older, participants were asked whether each of the listed possible goals below would be easier to accomplish if someone was married or if single. The participants could answer: (1) easier if married, (2) easier if single, or (3) it wouldn’t make any difference.

Here is the list of goals they were asked to assess by marital status:

  1. Find happiness
  2. Have social status
  3. Have fulfilling sex life
  4. Be financially secure
  5. Get ahead in career

The highest ranking answer for to all these goals was (3) it wouldn’t make any difference, with the exception of the question about raising a family, in which 77% stated (1) easier if married.

Obviously, the sampling size  is infinitely smaller compared to the population, so the results cannot be taken to mean more than they actually do. However, it’s interesting to see the mindset some  people have today when it comes to committing to marriage or even a long-term committed relationship.

Yet in all of this, divorce cannot be considered the cause of the changing mindsets of our nation. Many facets of society can sway a person in their decision-making when it comes to committing to a relationship or marriage. Marriage has changed over time, and so has divorce. Going from a considerably long and dragged out process, to being able to divorce quickly and hassle-free with the gaining popularity of online divorce. There will always be a natural ebb and flow to the way we view certain aspects of our lives. The “sky is falling” attitude can sometimes just be the initial reaction before the dust settles over a longer period of time.