Monday, November 22, 2010

Letting The Judge Decide

Judges usually encourage the parties in custody cases to reach their own agreement because the parties are in the best position to know what is best for the child. Judges do this, not to escape doing their jobs, but out of a recognition that agreements always work better than judicial edicts.
Working together with the other parent or relative, however, is hard work. It is very often unpleasant and requires making compromises with someone for whom true animosity is felt. It is much easier to "leave it up to the judge." To do so, however, is to turn over basic parental decision making responsibility to a total stranger, just because he or she was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly to be a judge. As recently as Friday, in the Chesapeake J&DR Court, the judge was trying to explain this to a father who continued to cling to the notion that he would prefer to have the judge decide where his daughter would live.
Whether it is an inflated idea of the wisdom of judges who get only a glimpse of the family in court or the true absence of a willingness or ability to communicate between people who have the responsibility of raising a child, parties often do not put in the effort that is required to spare the child the needless conflict that court brings.
With the resources available in co-parenting therapy and mediation, contested custody cases should be the exception rather than the rule.

Should i be worried about her taking my son and filing for custody?can she get custody of my son being she has him for the night -

Should i be worried about her taking my son and filing for custody?can she get custody of my son being she has him for the night -

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mid-life Crisis And Divorce

I told a client this week that doctors love to give legal advice, and lawyers, in turn, love to give medical advice. Family law practitioners usually limit their medical practice to the psychiatric field. That is what I do today. In a purely anecdotal, non-scientific, unresearched, but greatly observed, survey, a few things have become evident. The most obvious is that both women and men are prone to mid-life crises, although the manifestations and on-set ages are not always the same with the genders or the individuals.The second , but most often overlooked, is that the crisis has a limited lifespan (usually 2 years or less). Usually, the person comes out on the other side of it and cannot believe that someone who looked just like him or her did or said all of those things, that now seem very odd.
During the crisis, it often seems like a good idea to get rid of your old spouse because you have outgrown them or they depress you, etc. Often, they are "helpful" and cooperate with your plan of dismantling the family. Other times, they are very "mean" and want you to go to counseling and come home at night and talk about "saving" the family. In the end, it often turns out, that people wish that their spouses had not been so "helpful" and "nice" and had actually cared enough to fight for the family and be a little "mean". Sometimes, you may not be happy when you get what you wished for!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Five Common Sense Rules For Divorce
Five Common Sense Rules for Divorce
Posted by Daniel Clement on October 26, 2010

Contemplating divorce or already engaged in one? No matter where you are in the process, five common sense rules apply to all family law cases:

* Don't underestimate the fury of a scorned spouse.

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned. Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." Anger, jealously and feelings of betrayal inspire the need for revenge. A divorce premised on the need for revenge will be costly (economically and emotionally), bitter and damaging to all.

* You can listen to your friends, but maybe don’t pay attention to them.

Divorces are fact specific. The facts of your case are different from your neighbors your friends, and your co-workers. The facts of your case will determine the outcome. So, when a client tells me that “My hairdresser said that I should do. . . “ or that “I am entitled to. . . .” I try to find out when the hair dresser started practicing law. By analogy, I don’t tell my mechanic how to fix my car.

* Don't write or say anything that you don't want to be read or heard in court.

Social network postings, pictures, and even causal asides will be used against you in a contested divorce or a custody fight. Your own words could be the strongest evidence against you. If you don’t want something to be used against you, exercise discretion and don’t say it, post it or photograph it.

* Don't let any anger, guilt or remorse get in the way of a reasonable and fair settlement.

Settlements should objectively fair, based upon the facts of the case. The emotions of anger and guilt cloud judgment. For instance, a spouse who feels that he/she betrayed the other by having an affair, may be willing to “give away the farm” to satiate feelings of guilt. On the other hand, the betrayed party may have a knee jerk reaction rejecting a fair settlement offer because it does not provide for loss of the other’s body parts. Accept the advice of your attorney and financial advisors in order to resolve your case.

* Hire a lawyer who practices matrimonial law, not someone who handles divorces only occasionally.

Due to the complexity of the issues involved in the dissolution of a marriage, ranging from the valuation and distribution of assets to the custody and care of children,you should seek representation from an attorney well versed in this particular area of law, not from someone who dabbles.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Divorce/ Children Resources Available

There are many low cost and no cost services available to families. Some of those available are;

FIT (Fathers In Training) Virginia Beach Social Services 437-3200 (Search "Fathers In Training")

For Children's Sake Seminars by The UP Center

Children & Divorce
Fleet & Family Support Center

You also can contact the Departments of Social Services in your locality.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

New Addition To The Team

Linda Cataldo, formerly Director of Mediation for Catholic Charities, a certified Family and General Mediator and Mediator Mentor has joined the team. Linda has extensive experience mediating court-referred and private cases. We are very fortunate to have her!

Friday, September 17, 2010

"Neuroticism" Can Kill Your Marriage

Friday, September 10, 2010

18 years of marriage and 4 boys with 15 years at home mother. Will I lose everything because she's not happy? -

18 years of marriage and 4 boys with 15 years at home mother. Will I lose everything because she's not happy? -

Update Your Will--Or Else

Last week I had the unfortunate experience of a divorce client committing suicide. The acrimonious nature of the divorce, no doubt, was a contributing factor to his decision to end his life.The divorce had not ended. He still was legally married. So, in the eyes of the law, his wife is his next of kin. This is something that my client did not consider.
Just before he took his life, he sent text messages stating his clear wishes as to how he wanted his property to be divided and that he wanted his wife to receive "nothing". Unfortunately, his expressed wishes, in this form, carry no legal weight. He died without a Will, so his assets pass according to law, not according to his wishes. This is a grim reminder of the need to take care of legal formalities well in advance of the time when you think that they will be needed. This is not an advertisement for legal services , because you can write your own Will so long as it is all in your own handwriting (not typed), signed and dated. It is just a reminder and a warning to take care of your own business so that your family does not suffer because you did not take care of some paperwork.

Talk Show Interview

On September 9, 2010 I was a guest on the HearSay with Cathy Lewis radio show on NPR. We were discussing Collaborative Divorce, Mediation, Judicial Settlement Conferences and the current state of alternative means of divorce settlement. The entire show is available for your listening pleasure (?). Clink on the title above to access it. Also on the program was Karen Richards of the Conflict Resolution Center and Lonnie Broussard, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst. You cannot cover everything in 45 minutes, but we did hit most of the high spots.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Courts Cannot Do Everything

On Friday, I was in Newport News Circuit Court before Judge Vincent Conway, a very experienced judge. He stated the obvious, but often overlooked point, that courts were never designed to do "everything". Parties in turmoil often look to the courts as their salvation, as a way to solve problems that have no solution. Problems such as not having enough money for two parties to live in separate households and not enough common courtesy to live in one (the issue before Judge Conway). Courts and judges cannot perform miracles. They are limited by the restraints and forces that the parties who come into court have-too little money; too many children; no health insurance, etc. The only difference is that when the parties come into court they usually are adding a layer of ill will on top of the existing problems and making them even worse. Of course, they rarely recognize this at the time. Instead they come to court for "justice", when they really want either vengeance or a miracle. When they achieve neither, it is the fault of the lawyer or the judge or some other force outside themselves.
Money and time would be better spent with financial advisors and counselors dealing with the real problems and changing what can be changed and accepting what cannot. Courts have a role as the last step when all others have been tried and have failed. They are not the first avenue. They are not the best avenue. They cannot do everything.

I have joint legal and physical custody but the mom won't obey court order. How can I get the order enforced by the court ? -

I have joint legal and physical custody but the mom won't obey court order. How can I get the order enforced by the court ? -

Can my husband take our son to N.C -

Can my husband take our son to N.C -

Friday, June 25, 2010

Co-Parenting Therapy and New Guardian Ad Litem Needed

A potential client, who was already represented by another lawyer, came in for a legal second opinion in a child custody case. It is not unusual in such highly emotional cases for a client to need some reassurance that everything is fine. I did an evaluation of the case and made some suggestions and encouraged the client to meet with the child's guardian ad litem. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss co-parenting counseling, since the basic problem was obvious-The parents couldn't communicate. They were spending thousands of dollars fighting in court, which was doing nothing to help the problem. They were doing nothing, however, to address the REAL problem!

The client googled co-parenting therapy. She learned what it was about and was impressed that it could actually help with the parents' rapidly deteriorating situation. She then contacted the guardian ad litem who is supposed to be a trained specialist-who said that since she was not familiar with co-parenting therapy (and apparently did not want to go to the effort to google it), that she would not recommend it. This is a travesty. The legal system, at its best, can direct people to resources that actually can help them. At its worst, the legal system just keeps them churning in and out of court.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Children And Divorce-Do It Right!

AAMFT Consumer Update
Children and Divorce

Many families in the United States are touched by divorce. The current divorce rate is calculated to be between 40 and 60% for those recently married and up to 10% higher for remarriages. A majority of divorces occur in families with children under the age of 18.

Divorce propels adults and children into numerous adjustments and challenges. While great diversity exists in children’s adjustment to divorce, and a majority of children weather the transition and become competent adults, up to a quarter of children whose parents divorce experience ongoing emotional and behavior difficulties (as compared to 10% of children whose parents do not divorce).

Spouses divorce each other, but they do not divorce their children. A majority of former spouses are able to establish a relatively conflict-free parenting relationship for the benefit of their children. However, about a third have difficulty in establishing a workable parenting relationship, even years after the divorce.

In her research on divorcing parents, family therapist Constance Ahrons identified different types of post-divorce parenting relationships: "perfect pals," "cooperative colleagues," "angry associates," "fiery foes," and "dissolved duos." However, even when parents are "angry associates" or "fiery foes," there are ways they can develop cooperative or business-like relationships for the sake of their children. Parental conflict can hinder children’s adjustment and good coparenting skills are very important to a child's adjustment.

Most parents who have a difficult relationship with their ex-spouse but who want to coparent start out with "parallel parenting." In this arrangement, each parent assumes total responsibility for the children during the time they are together; there is no expectation of flexibility and little contact with the other parent. As time goes on and anger dissipates, parents may develop some version of "cooperative parenting." In this arrangement, parents communicate directly and in a business-like manner regarding the children and coparenting schedules. Marriage and family therapists can be helpful to families as they formulate or define their post-divorce parenting relationships.

How can you help your children?

* Tell children about the divorce together, if possible.
* Answer children’s questions honestly, avoiding unnecessary details.
* Reassure children they are not to blame for divorce.
* Tell children they are loved and will be taken care of.
* Include the other parent in school and other activities.
* Be consistent and on time to pick up and return children.
* Develop a workable parenting plan that gives children access to both parents.
* Guard against canceling plans with children.
* Give children permission to have a loving, satisfying relationship with other parent.
* Avoid putting children in the middle and in the position of having to take sides.
* Avoid pumping children for information about the other parent.
* Avoid arguing and discussing child support issues in front of children.
* Avoid speaking negatively about the other parent or using the child as a pawn to hurt the other parent.

How do you know when to seek help?

When your children show signs of stress:

* acts younger than their chronological age
* fear of being apart from parent(s)
* moodiness
* acting out
* manipulation
* sadness and depression
* guilt
* sleep or eating problems
* change in personality
* academic and peer problems
* irrational fears and compulsive behavior

When you or your partner begins to:

* use the legal system to fight with each other
* put down or badmouth the other parent
* use the children as message carriers or to spy on the other parent (children feel caught in the middle)
* experience high levels of conflict and children repeatedly try to stop the fighting
* rely on the children for high level of emotional support and major responsibilities in the home
* experience depression or anxiety

What help is available for divorcing parents and children?

* Court-connected divorce education programs for parents and children.

Programs for parents and, sometimes, children are recommended or required in over half of the counties in the United States. Call your local family court for more information.

* School programs for children.

Some school systems offer small groups for children during the day or after school. In these groups children learn that they are not alone in their experience of divorce and learn coping strategies.

* Family therapy (available through public and private mental health centers, university family therapy centers).

During separation and divorce, family members experience uncertainty, emotional upheaval, and changes in their family roles and rules. Family therapists can assist in the process of redefining relationships and addressing family members’ responsibilities and needs.

* Resources

Many resources exist for adults, parents, and children who wish to learn more about the process of separation and divorce. In particular, numerous books exist for children at varying reading levels. A few books for parents are mentioned in this brochure; check libraries and bookstores for other titles.

Consumer Resources:

Ahrons, C. R. (1994). The good divorce: Keeping your family together when your marriage comes apart. New York: HarperCollins.
The point of the Ahrons book is not that divorce is good, but that there is such a thing as a good divorce, in which couples part without destroying each other and their children. She concludes that about 50% of couples had cooperative coparental relationships one year post-divorce.

Blau, M. (1993). Families apart: Ten keys to successful co-parenting. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.
This book focuses on what separating parents need to know if they are thinking about coparenting. Blau identifies ten "keys" to good parenting after a divorce; chapters are organized around these keys. Blau lists many resources for parents and age-appropriate books for children.

Everett, C., & Everett, S. V. (1994). Healthy divorce. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
This book describes 14 stages of adjustment from marital erosion through separation, mediation, and remarriage. Helpful ideas given for coparenting and mediating.

Gold, L. (1992). Between love and hate: A guide to civilized divorce. New York: Plenum Press.
This hands-on guide to the divorce process provides assessments and exercises that help parents learn to resolve conflict, improve communication, and avoid costly legal battles.

Lansky, V. (1991). Vicki Lansky’s divorce book for parents. New York: Signet.
This inexpensive paperback book is a comprehensive guide that includes such topics as: telling the children, talking with your ex-spouse, dealing with support payments, dating, sex and the single parent, knowing when to get professional help, and handling holidays.

The text for this brochure was written by Karen R. Blaisure, Ph.D. and Margie J. Geasler, Ph.D.

Marriage and family therapists are mental health professionals who treat a wide array of disorders, working with individuals, couples, and families. Marriage and family therapy clients report that they are highly satisfied with the services they have received, and research shows that marriage and family therapy is a cost-effective, short-term, and results-oriented form of treatment.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), the professional organization representing marriage and family therapists, believes that therapists with specific and rigorous training in marriage and family therapy provide the most effective mental health care to individuals, couples, and families. This brochure is courtesy of:
the AAMFT.

Visit the AAMFT, a public service of the AAMFT. There you will find

Monday, June 21, 2010

The ADHD Brain

I have never met a lawyer who did not meet the ADHD criteria. It was a bad thing when we were kids. as adults, it gave us a career.
There was an interesting article in the Psychology Today Blog on "ADHD Brains" which follows:

Cowboys and sodbusters, the ADHD Supercomputer
Published on June 20, 2010

ADHD is not a disorder. It is a difference. The ADHD brain is a genetic adaptation found in populations that have had to adapt to difficult situations; migrate, survive. There is very little ADHD in sedate, bucolic agrarian populations that have done the same things for eons. There is a lot of ADHD in Jews, Gypsies, American Irish, and so forth. These are groups that have been assailed and attacked. And the survivors are the ones able to think on their feet, adapt, stay ahead of death. America has an unusually high prevalence of ADHD because it is to America that the firebrands, pioneers, resisters, and survivors went. From Europe, Asia, Ireland, England; everywhere. There is a clear and direct correlation between the great creativity, productivity and success of America and the nature of it's immigrant, melting pot society. After WWII it was described as "The Brain Drain" as the best and brightest scientists, artists and so on...came to America. The Jews who made it, the Irish who made it earlier, were the one's who wouldn't take it, saw the writing on the wall and moved on. Notwithstanding the politically motivated Nobel prizes for "peace" and literature exactly how many Nobels have come out of the Europe engulfed by the Holocaust. And how many have come from the Arab world?

The brain is the world's most sophisticated computer. In the parlance of cyberese the regular brain has 20 gigs of RAM, a modest, linear processor (speed of sound), and a methodical, one thing at a time desktop. Attempts to run too many programs at once slows it down until it freezes or crashes. Programs must be put to sleep and then closed on the hard drive, and tediously retrieved when needed.

The ADHD brain has almost a google of RAM, a splendidly fast non-linear processor (speed of light), and a busy, frenetic desktop. Dozens or hundreds of programs are open and running all of the time; the RAM buzzes along with stupendous amounts of data, often to a fault. It is internally as distracting as the continuous attention to all manners of external and extraneous sensory input. It can't "turn off" at night and go to sleep. Neither can it's owner. It can frazzle you into anxiety. It can keep you "obsessively" re-checking things.

It's the distinction between the Cowboys and the Sodbusters. One breaks new ground, explores and discovers. The other moves in and builds fences and makes rules and needs order and struggles for control. It's the difference between the Special Forces and the Regular Military. The former think the latter to be stupid bean counters. The latter think the former crazy! It's very difficult to make it in the Special forces without ADHD. They screen for it. You know; think on your feet, improvise, multitask, intuit, anticipate. You know; the irritating kid/adult who blurts out the solution to a problem before the teacher finishes the question/the committee administrator has explicated the conundrum. Infrastructure? We don't need no stinkin' infrastructure! Oh yeah.

Linear thinkers describe ADHD as an executive function disorder because folks with ADHD don't think as they do. Actually the ADHD brain is a true Executive brain; non-linear, super-fast, creative, decisive. It just doesn't count all of the beans, zips about and can't often tell you how it got there. That's why so many creative, inventive executives are forced out of their own companies when their success takes them to a critical mass (called the chasm by an author I can't recall) and there is a need for the dreaded infrastructure, organization and that most detestable of all, the administrative middle manager.

I'll enlarge upon this in future posts. Now I've got four other things going on. Cheers.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Hi there visitors to the Family Law Blog. I know from those of you who have actually made appointments to meet with me that you are reading these posts. Leave me a comment or a reaction. Also let me know if there are questions or topics that you want me to cover.

I have more topics discussed on my Facebook Page and my website,

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Richard Warshak

Richard Warshak "Divorce Poison"

My spouse and I are separated but no PSA has been signed. Is is lawful for him to be engaged? -

My spouse and I are separated but no PSA has been signed. Is is lawful for him to be engaged? -

Choose Your Battles

In all cases in litigation, especially those that involve family issues, emotions run high. Everyone is hyper-vigilant and hyper-sensitive. Paranoia is common. The "fight or flight" instinct takes over the rational mind. As a result, there is a tendency to "be tough" and refuse to yield on anything out of fear that this sign of weakness will be exploited.

In reality, the only way to diffuse the unsustainable level of tension is to choose your battles. There are some things that are not emotionally or financially worth the fight. For example, people are tempted to fight over household furnishings. Once your furniture and electronics leave the retail showroom, they are yard sale material. In a divorce, a court looks at actual value, not what you paid for it and not what it will cost to replace it. I tell clients that it is not worth the fight unless it is over "Louis XIV's furniture" and Louis XIV himself sat on it! Cut your losses, and don't pay lawyers to fight over sofas.

Visitation is a touchy issue. Added to the other emotions that are present, there may be jealousy over one parent's new relationship. The temptation is to try to deny visitation to punish that parent for moving on. I call this the "I don't want him, you can't have him syndrome". Parents say that this is to protect the child. In some instances that may be the real reason, but usually it is not. Remember the parents are getting a divorce, not the parent and child.

There are issues that may require the fight, but before you go into battle decide whether it is worth the cost. Everything has a cost.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Adoption Resources

Adoption information is available from the Dave Thomas Foundation. Click on the link above.

Lawyers Like To Win

There is a certain type of person who completes law school and actually practices law. Some get to law school, see what it is and leave. Others get the degree but go into business or other non-law practice pursuits. Those who follow through are people who like (probably "love" or "need" are more accurate terms) to win. More importantly, we HATE to lose. The joy of victory is surpassed only by the agony of defeat.

We expect to win by force of our own ability to persuade. We are surprised when a judge does not agree with our reasoning.

We expect to win even when our client is caught lying. We expect to win even with the facts or the law against us, and even though we have fully advised the client of this and that the odds are against us.

Is this personal investment in every case a good thing or a bad thing? It is definitely bad when it leads lawyers to ignore the reality of the case or the client. You may take it personally but you cannot let that interfere with doing the job properly. You cannot turn the client's case into a personal vendetta. You also need to tell the client in a brutally honest way what the flaws are in the case and to tell them when it is futile to continue. It is a good thing because lawyers work incredibly hard for their clients. They give each case their complete effort. A good lawyer does not have "small cases". All cases are important.

There is great frustration when the client does not provide all-or accurate-information. This is magnified when a client lies in court. The lawyer and the client are a team. Even when the crucial player on the team (the client) fails to perform, we still expect to win.

Joint custody of daughter and want to let her see her grandfather for week vacation out of state. -

Joint custody of daughter and want to let her see her grandfather for week vacation out of state. -

Friday, June 4, 2010

me and my son both want to file custody. -

me and my son both want to file custody. -

Gore Split Up

Al and Tipper: We Hardly Knew Ye
Calling out the BS in the Gore Divorce Story Line
Published on June 3, 2010

I don't know what felt worse on Monday morning this week: the oil spill hitting Florida or the divorce announcement by Al and Tipper Gore. Married myself for 38 years and a marriage therapist for nearly that long, I thought I was above illusions about anyone else's marriage. But this divorce-and even more so the way it was announced-got to me.Here's a couple who survived the near death of a child, Tipper's depression, and Al's cliff hanger loss of the Presidency, and forged a believable public image of unity and passion (the famous convention kiss). They even wrote a book on family life titled Joined at the Heart. They were the baby boomer couple who could. At first sad, I became mad when I read their non-explanation of the divorce: they had come to a "mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration." Family friends and former spokespersons were left to fill in a story line that went like this in the New York Times: The Gores "had grown apart after decades," and especially "after Al moved onto a global stage while Tipper seemed to move in a more personal direction." One close friend added that "there's not a lot of drama behind this...they remain very close friends." This, I submit, is either evasive bullshit or something worse: a lack of respect for marriage. Is this little whimper all that a 40 year marriage with children and grandchildren is worth? Sports teams and their home cities show more grief and anger when teams leave for better stadiums and tax benefits. The breakups of authors and long term literary agents come with more public emotion. Even candidates and campaign managers divorce with more feeling, for crying out loud. Without revealing details, would it be too much for the Gores to say something like "This is really hard and involves a lot of pain and regret." I'd almost settle for the classically evasive "mistakes were made" over "we grew apart but remain best of friends." My own hunch, after years of working with long term marriages threatened with divorce, is that there is more to the Gore story than growing apart. In my experience, when a 60 year old otherwise stable husband wants a divorce, it's usually because he's had an emotional or sexual affair. He's comparing how he feels being with a more admiring and gratifying woman to the more complicated way he feels with his wife of many years, and he believes he has fallen out of love with his wife. He says he that admires and respects her, that she's a great mother, and that he wants to remain friends, but he can't imagine staying in an empty marriage for the rest of his life. What's usually missing in his divorce narrative is his shared responsibility for the problems in the marriage and the notion that he could take leadership for calling on his wife to get help together and renew their relationship. When women over age 60 initiate a divorce, it's more often from a sense that they do not want to continue for 20 more years with a man who they see as controlling and mean to them. Unlike husbands, older wives generally do not anticipate that a new honey will take care of them after the divorce. Although these women usually have a better handle on what's going on the marriage than a fleeing husband does, what is usually missing is a sense of their own part in putting up with the guy's behavior and how they got back at him in countless ways. They also may not realize that their husband actually loves them and might change if confronted before she turns stone cold on the marriage. More than anything else, what concerns me about the Gore divorce is the cultural message it reinforces: that marriages, like leaking oil, drift over time in ways that we can't do much about, that people once mated for life get caught in different currents and wake up one day to find themselves in different seas, too far apart to be life partners any more. I do not accept this sophisticated story line for modern marriage. I do not accept the baby boom divorce mantra that "these things happen to the best of marriages; let's be civilized and not show how we feel about the end of a dream." When it comes to divorce, I'm with the poet Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From Psychology Today Blog

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do I need a lawyer? Im taking my ex back to court for increase in child support? -

Do I need a lawyer? Im taking my ex back to court for increase in child support? -

Studies Consider Behaviors Predictive of Divorce

Studies Consider Behaviors Predictive of Divorce

Studies Consider Behaviors Predictive of Divorce
Posted on May 24, 2010 by Daniel Clement

The reasons why marriages fail and couples divorce have been studied ad nauseum. Apparently, everything, including your smoking habits, age and even the state in which you reside is predictive of your odds of divorce.

Annli Rufuse on the The Daily Beast details 15 of these studies. Here are some of the more interesting ones:

* If you live in a red state, you're 27 percent more likely to get divorced than if you live in a blue state.

In red-state couples traditionally in The Compassionate Community: Ten Values to Unite America, by Jonathan Miller and Al Goly marry younger—and the younger the partners, the riskier the marriage. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the states with the lowest median age at marriage are Utah, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma.

(Source: National Vital Statistics Report, 2003; cited in The Compassionate Community: Ten Values to Unite America, by Jonathan Miller and Al Gore)

* If your parents were divorced, you're at least 40 percent more likely to get divorced than if they weren't. If your parents married others after divorcing, you're 91 percent more likely to get divorced.

This could be because witnessing our parents' divorces reinforces our ambivalence about commitment in a "disposable society," says Divorce Magazine publisher Dan Couvrette. "In most people's minds, it's easier to get a new car than fix the one you've got."

(Source: Nicholas Wolfinger, Understanding the Divorce Cycle, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

* If only one partner in your marriage is a smoker, you're 75 percent to 91 percent more likely to divorce than smokers who are married to fellow smokers.

"The more similar people are in their values, backgrounds, and life goals, the more likely they are to have a successful marriage," notes Tara Parker-Pope. From age to ethnicity to unhealthy habits, dissimilarities between spouses increase divorce risks.

(Source: Rebecca Kippen, Bruce Chapman and Peng Yu, "What's Love Got to Do With It? Homogamy and Dyadic Approaches to Understanding Marital Instability," Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2009)

* If you have a daughter, you're nearly 5 percent more likely to divorce than if you have a son.

This figure multiplies with the numbers of daughters or sons. "We think it happens because fathers get more invested in family life when they have boys," says Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History and director of research for the Council on Contemporary Families.

(Source: Gordon Dahl and Enrico Moretti, "The Demand for Sons," published in the Review of Economic Studies, 2005)

* If you're of "below average" intelligence, you're 50 percent more likely to be divorced than those of "above average" intelligence.

Presented by University of Delaware education professor Linda Gottfredson, codirector of the Delaware-Johns Hopkins Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society, this figure joins assertions in Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray's controversial 1994 bestseller The Bell Curve that those with IQs of 100 face a 28 percent probability of divorce in the first five years of marriage, compared to just a 9 percent probability for those with IQs of 130.

(Source: Linda S. Gottfredson, "The General Intelligence Factor," Scientific American, Winter 1998, and Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles A. Murray, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life, Simon & Schuster, 1994, page 176)

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5 yr old son biological father has never been around or on Birth Cert. I'm getting married in the next month. -

5 yr old son biological father has never been around or on Birth Cert. I'm getting married in the next month. -

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Psychological Effects of Divorce on Women |

Psychological Effects of Divorce on Women |

1. Even in an uncontested and relatively civil divorce, the lives of both partners are disrupted. The disruption is even more profound when children are involved. The legal and financial aspects of divorce can be devastating. For instance, according to the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, a woman's household income may decline by as much as 45 percent after a divorce. The emotional and psychological effects of divorce can also be profound and can persist long after the legal battles have been settled and finances have stabilized.
Guilt and Shame
2. Although divorce does not have the stigma attached to it that it had in past centuries, divorcing couples often feel a sense of guilt or shame. This is especially true if marital infidelity is involved or if there are young children in the household. The authors of "Collaborative Divorce," Pauline H. Tesler, M.A., J.D., & Peggy Thompson, Ph.D., state that guilt and shame are a natural reaction to society's perceived or actual disapproval, as well as one step in the process of emotional adjustment to divorce.
Anger and Resentment
3. Anne Newton Walther coined the phrase "divorce hangover" to describe the syndrome of anger and resentment that frequently motivates women toward acts of revenge against their spouses. Dragging out the divorce proceedings or making it difficult or impossible for their ex-spouses to exercise visitation rights are just two of the most common tactics many women take to lash out against their ex-husbands. Holding onto their anger and expressing it in inappropriate ways prevents women from moving on with their lives, according to Walther.
4. Depression manifests itself in many forms. For women going through a divorce, depression often appears as overeating, insomnia or sleeping too much, excessive drinking or substance abuse, according to Tracy Achen, author of "Divorce 101: A Woman's Guide to Divorce." Divorce is a very real loss, and grief is a natural part of the process, explain Tesler and Thompson. Nonetheless, Achen recommends placing limits on the grieving process, devoting no more than 15 minutes per day at a specific time to concentrate on the pain of the divorce.
5. Although acceptance of the end of the marriage is essential to the overall well being of both partners, making a clean break is often very difficult, according to Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT. Lancer claims that 16 percent of couples continue to have sex and 2/3 claim that the first person they would call in a crisis would be their ex-spouse. Many women cling to the futile hope of reconciliation, even when their ex-husbands have formed new relationships or even remarried. This ambivalence makes it difficult for the ex-partners and their children to develop a sense of equilibrium and move on with their lives.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Do I need an attorney to file for contempt of court for child visitation? -

Do I need an attorney to file for contempt of court for child visitation? -

Do I need an attorney to file for contempt of court for child visitation? -

Do I need an attorney to file for contempt of court for child visitation? -

"Frequent Fliers" At Court

A few people occupy the majority of a court's time with child custody and visitation "issues". As I told a client last week, when the Clerk and the courtroom bailiff are joking about you being back at court, you have overstayed your welcome. Judges, on occasion, have had to enter orders that require people to get advance court approval before they are allowed to file actions in court.
Why do these people have such problems? Of course, it is the other party's fault; but beyond that the constant court appearances indicate a more serious underlying personal problem. Until that is addressed appropriately, court will remain in the family's life.
Judge Michele Lowrance in "The Good Karma Divorce" points out that all of us have brain cells that are called mirror neurons. You respond to another person in the same fashion as they dealt with you. Hostility causes a hostile response and so on. Forever, if someone does not stop it.
Judge Lowrance also noted that many parties just cannot make a complete break from each other. They use court as a means of "staying relevant" in each other's lives. They pursue this negative emotional connection-even if they do not realize what they are doing. Court, however, is not a suitable forum to deal with this problem. Judges and lawyers cannot "fix" people. They have to fix themselves. To do this, they may need assistance from trained professionals in another setting.

How can I get a GAL into place before court, without a lawyer? -

How can I get a GAL into place before court, without a lawyer? -

A therapist may be of more benefit than a guardian ad litem.

What happens when you file papers with the magistrate for assault? -

What happens when you file papers with the magistrate for assault? -

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My husband and I have been living apart in separate states for over 6mos. I am going to buy a townhouse--can he legally own half -

My husband and I have been living apart in separate states for over 6mos. I am going to buy a townhouse--can he legally own half -

Legal Dis-services

Today on my walk around town, I encountered a man who had consulted with me a couple of times about his divorce. He and his wife had gone to mediation. He came for me to review the proposed mediated agreements. He offered to give his wife more than she ever could recover in court. She then asked for more. And he agreed to it in order to avoid the emotional wear and tear and the cost of a contested divorce. THEN she asked for even more! This time, the husband was done with making offers and hired a lawyer to handle a contested divorce-which is what the parties now have. One year now has passed. Each has spent a fortune on attorney's fees, and they still are not divorced.

A sad part of the story is that the wife was represented by an attorney who advised her to keep asking for more. The worst part of the story, however, is that the lawyer led (or misled) her to believe that she actually could get more. She now is coming to the realization that not only is she not going to get more, but she actually will get less. Much less when you factor in the attorney's fees.

There is nothing wrong with trying to maximize the client's recovery, but there is something wrong with creating false expectations.

Can I do an out of state second parent adoption? -

Can I do an out of state second parent adoption? -

Friday, May 14, 2010

How to Keep Legal Costs Down

Before meeting with your lawyer:
· Gather all information together in a logical order;
· Be sure you have current correct telephone numbers and addresses of interested parties and witnesses, if applicable;
· Prepare a written statement of your problems and what you want done;
· Make photocopies of everything and offer originals or photocopies to your lawyer. Let your lawyer decide if originals or the copies are needed.

During your initial consultation:
· Present an overall view of your position.
· Share all relevant information, let your lawyer decide what is not in your favor. It is much better for your lawyer to know, rather than be surprised later.

Discuss legal fees and related costs during your initial consultation:
· There are several ways in which legal fees can be computed. It is not always possible for attorneys to give you an estimate of their fees since they cannot control the other side of an issue. However, you should be prepared to discuss how much you are willing to invest in the resolution of your problem.
· In addition to the fee charged by your lawyer, there will probably be certain associated costs, such as costs paid to the court for filing fees, sheriff fees and costs for a court reporter. Most of these costs cannot be controlled by your lawyer, if the attorney is to be an effective advocate on your behalf.
· If your lawyer requests a fee deposit, sometimes called an "advance" or "retainer," ask whether or not any part of it will be refunded if you do not proceed. Money accepted for the payment of costs will be placed into your lawyer's trust account and any unused portion will be refunded to you. Fee retainers can be refundable or nonrefundable. Be sure you understand this point. On occasion, some lawyers may refund the unused portion of an advance or retainer after reimbursing themselves for any services actually performed.

From: Florida State Bar

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If you file for separation and then divorce using mediation will you have to appear in court? -

If you file for separation and then divorce using mediation will you have to appear in court? -

can my husband and i be legally separated and reside in the same household? -

can my husband and i be legally separated and reside in the same household? -

You need a corroborating witness to confirm the separation period.

just got my notice yesterday, and need to know what happens next? i was served here in va, and he's from tx do i have to show up -

just got my notice yesterday, and need to know what happens next? i was served here in va, and he's from tx do i have to show up -

I have primary custody of my child I am about to get married. I want to move to Flordia with him. Am I am going to be able to? -

I have primary custody of my child I am about to get married. I want to move to Flordia with him. Am I am going to be able to? -

I need to find out if my exwife has obtained passports for my children, how do I do this? -

I need to find out if my exwife has obtained passports for my children, how do I do this? -

You need both parents consent to obtain a child's passport.

My son will live with his father for one school year I live in Virginia and he lives in New Jersey, if he wants to file to chang -

My son will live with his father for one school year I live in Virginia and he lives in New Jersey, if he wants to file to chang -

i am a virginia fireman after 8 years of marriage I am divorcing and my wife si trying to get my retirement can she -

i am a virginia fireman after 8 years of marriage I am divorcing and my wife is trying to get my retirement can she -

Retirement benefits which accrued during the marriage are marital property.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Drivers License Suspension And Child Support

The Virginia Division of Child Support Enforcement has a powerful weapon with its ability to suspend a child support obligor's drivers license.
Virginia Code Section 46.2-320 provides:

B. The Commissioner may enter into an agreement with the Department of Social Services whereby the Department may suspend or refuse to renew the driver's license of any person upon receipt of notice from the Department of Social Services that the person (i) is delinquent in the payment of child support by ninety days or more or in an amount of $5,000 or more or (ii) has failed to comply with a subpoena, summons or warrant relating to paternity or child support proceedings. A suspension or refusal to renew authorized pursuant to this section shall not be effective until thirty days after service on the delinquent obligor of notice of intent to suspend or refuse to renew. The notice of intent shall be served on the obligor by the Department of Social Services (i) by certified mail, return receipt requested, sent to the obligor's last known addresses as shown in the records of the Department or the Department of Social Services or (ii) pursuant to Sec. 8.01-296, or (iii) service may be waived by the obligor in accordance with procedures established by the Department of Social Services. The obligor shall be entitled to a judicial hearing if a request for a hearing is made, in writing, to the Department of Social Services within ten days from service of the notice of intent. Upon receipt of the request for a hearing, the Department of Social Services shall petition the court that entered or is enforcing the order, requesting a hearing on the proposed suspension or refusal to renew. The court shall authorize the suspension or refusal to renew only if it finds that the obligor's noncompliance with the child support order was willful. Upon a showing by the Department of Social Services that the obligor is delinquent in the payment of child support by ninety days or more or in an amount of $5,000 or more, the burden of proving that the delinquency was not willful shall rest upon the obligor. The Department shall not suspend or refuse to renew the driver's license until a final determination is made by the court.

C. At any time after service of a notice of intent, the person may petition the juvenile and domestic relations district court in the jurisdiction where he resides for the issuance of a restricted license to be used if the suspension or refusal to renew becomes effective. Upon such petition and a finding of good cause, the court may provide that such person be issued a restricted permit to operate a motor vehicle for any of the purposes set forth in subsection E of Sec. 18.2-271.1. A restricted license issued pursuant to this subsection shall not permit any person to operate a commercial motor vehicle as defined in Sec. 46.2-341.4. The court shall order the surrender of the person's license to operate a motor vehicle, to be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of Sec. 46.2-398, and shall forward to the Commissioner a copy of its order entered pursuant to this subsection. The order shall specifically enumerate the restrictions imposed and contain such information regarding the person to whom such a permit is issued as is reasonably necessary to identify him.

D. The Department shall not renew a driver's license or terminate a license suspension imposed pursuant to this section until it has received from the Department of Social Services a certification that the person has (i) paid the delinquency in full, (ii) reached an agreement with the Department of Social Services to satisfy the delinquency within a period not to exceed ten years and at least one payment, representing at least five percent of the total delinquency or $500, whichever is greater, has been made pursuant to the agreement, or (iii) complied with a subpoena, summons or warrant relating to a paternity or child support proceeding. Certification by the Department of Social Services shall be made by electronic or telephonic communication and shall be made on the same work day that payment required by clause (i) or (ii) is made.

Do three domestic assault charges mandate jail time? compound felony? -

Do three domestic assault charges mandate jail time? compound felony? -

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Domestic Violence Facts

Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.

Nearly one-third of American women (31%) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.

Domestic violence is primarily a crime against women. Women account for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence, and men account for approximately 15% of the victims.

30% of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year.

Women of all races and economic strata are equally vulnerable to violence by a partner or intimate.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the U.S. – more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

Acts of domestic violence occur every 12 seconds in the U.S.

28 percent of all women who use hospital emergency services have been battered by their partners.

4,500 women are killed each year in the U.S. by abusive husbands or boyfriends.

20 percent of all murders are committed within the family, and 13 percent are committed by spouses.

Fact Sheets (provided by Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance)

Murder-suicide In Divorce Case

The linked article details the Klosterman murder-suicide. The situation shows the height of emotions that can be reached when people separate. There truly is a thin line between love and hate.

The article also hits very close to home. My first divorce client was murdered by her estranged husband. Their adult son later killed him the day before his father's murder trial was to begin. She had a Protective Order, but as I always tell my clients, you are responsible for your own safety. A piece of paper cannot stop a bullet.

The absolute need for early alternate dispute resolution and the use of mental health services cannot be demonstrated any more clearly.

What does the Non Custodial Parent need to provide? -

What does the Non Custodial Parent need to provide? -

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Lawyer Second Opinions

We live in a consumer driven world, yet many lawyers are offended when their clients seek a second opinion in their case. These same lawyers would not give a second thought to getting a second opinion of a doctor's diagnosis or treatment plan. This is no different. It is having another professional, who may have had different experiences and a different perspective, review the progress of the case. Sometimes, the second opinion serves no other purpose than to reassure the client that everything is going as should be expected. At other times, the "new" lawyer can make some suggestions that can be taken back to the current lawyer. A fresh set of eyes can often see things that have been overlooked in the day to day handling of the case.

Clients should not be reluctant to get second opinions, and lawyers should not be offended when they do. Most lawyers are not out to take away other lawyer's clients, and quite frankly, clients should be suspicious of lawyers who do try to do this during a second opinion consultation.

Friday, April 30, 2010

proof of income -

proof of income -

Do I need a lawyer if the mother does'nt want anything to do with the children -

Do I need a lawyer if the mother does'nt want anything to do with the children -

Tips For Child Support Recipients

1. Document every single payment. Keep a calendar showing when and how you received your payment.
2. Stay ahead of your budget. Oftentimes people who pay support send the payments late. This can wreak havoc with the timely payment of bills. To avoid this, structure your budget so you don’t depend upon that check to arrive in a timely manner.
3. If you receive the payment by check, negotiate it immediately.
4. Don’t allow the substitution of other payments for support. For example, if the payer buys something the child needs, they might try to deduct it from your payment. This is not permissible. Along the same lines, don’t ask the payer to buy something for the child and deduct it from the support payment. This might seem easy at the time, but it can lead to confusion and sets a bad precedent.
5. Don’t ask the children to pick up the support payment, and don’t allow the payer to send the support payments through the children. This places the children in the middle. Find ways to discourage this conduct.
6. Don’t withhold visitation in retaliation for non payment of support. Family Law requires a person seeking help from the court to have "done right" themselves. Its called "the clean hands doctrine."
7. Don’t react angrily if a payment is not received on the exact day it is due. Most courts allow a little time leeway and getting angry only antagonizes the payer and encourages retaliation. Instead, send a gentle request for payment by email or text. If payment is ten day’s late, a letter formally requesting payment might be in order. If that is not successful, consult your lawyer.
8. Be careful about allowing voluntary reductions of payments. Consult a lawyer before you do.
9. If you allow your child to spend protracted periods of time with the payer, a court may not enforce your right to support. Before allowing for significant deviations in visitation from the Order, consult your lawyer.
10. Support can be "modified" where there are substantial changes in circumstances. You should check with a lawyer every couple of years. You should also consult with a lawyer if your child’s needs increase for any reason. If you have information the payer’s income has increased, consult a lawyer.
11. If either party has moved to another State, check with an attorney about the nature and extent of laws in the new state to see if rights or obligations may have changed.
12. Don’t discuss support with a child. When a child asks for money or payment for something, don’t respond, "I don’t have the money because your father has not sent his support check yet!" This harms the children.
From Mark Chinn Blog

My exhusband who I share joint custody with is trying to take our 8 year old son to Puerto Rico for 10 days -

My exhusband who I share joint custody with is trying to take our 8 year old son to Puerto Rico for 10 days -

My husband was buying a house before we got married. After getting married if divorced what rights do I have to the house? -

My husband was buying a house before we got married. After getting married if divorced what rights do I have to the house? -

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Military Deployment and Children

Deployment is a fact of life in military families. The sustained periods away from home do have an impact on custody and visitation decisions by the court.

In 2008, the Virginia General Assembly enacted Virginia Code Section 20-124.8 to try to address some of the concerns that were hindering deploying parents in the courts.
This section requires that whenever custody or visitation is changed due to a parent or guardian's deployment that the order state that specifically.

Delays also are a problem in our over-burdened court system. This Code section gives returning servicemembers priority on the docket and requires that their motions to amend custody/visitation orders that were issued on the basis of deployment be heard within 30 days of filing. The hearing on this motion also places the burden of proof on the nondeploying parent or guardian to show that reentry of the former custody or visitation order before deployment is no longer in the child's best interests. This is a change from the usual case where the party filing the motion has the burden of proof.

The ideal situation would be for the parents to be able to have an agreement worked out, without the need for court intervention. If they cannot, Section 20-124.8 is available to help deploying parents.

A male has no job, owes back support and 1600 monthly what can he do? -

A male has no job, owes back support and 1600 monthly what can he do? -

Monday, April 26, 2010

Can I be held liable for my husband's pre-marital debt? -

Can I be held liable for my husband's pre-marital debt? -

I have been subpeaoned in assault charges against my boyfriend where i was the victim. -

I have been subpeaoned in assault charges against my boyfriend where i was the victim. -

my niece signed a notorized paper 7 months ago giving my husband and I custody of her daughter pending us adopting her. -

my niece signed a notorized paper 7 months ago giving my husband and I custody of her daughter pending us adopting her. -

Using GPS To Track Your Spouse In Virginia -

Using GPS To Track Your Spouse In Virginia -


Visit me on Facebook for Discussions, Notes and Legal Updates.

I'm over 18 but my girlfriend is 15 years old. I might face statutory rape charges. Does my girlfriend have to testify? -

I'm over 18 but my girlfriend is 15 years old. I might face statutory rape charges. Does my girlfriend have to testify? -

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Straight Answers -

Straight Answers -

Get the help you need to leave your abusive spouse. Mary G. Commander, Attorney & Mediator

my husband left me almost a month ago, does he have any right to come back in the house -

my husband left me almost a month ago, does he have any right to come back in the house -

If you want to keep your spouse out of the house, you need an order against the louse.

Why Is The Ex Always Bad?

How come the ex is always bad and wrong?
Posted by Martha Chan on April 20, 2010

I’ve read a lot of discussions posted on the Forum on, on facebook, and blogs by people going through divorce. A vast majority of them complain about their ex, about how bad and wrong they are before during and after the divorce or separation. The complaints range from how the ex didn’t treat them right while they were married, cheated on them, didn’t take care of the household, fiancially in debt, was not there for the children, alawys late in picking or returning the children after visits, didn’t pick up the children when they should, didn’t pay the support payment, didn’t get a job and be self sufficient, dated too soon after the separation, brought home the new boy friend/girl friend too soon, leave the children alone with the boy friend/girl friend, terrible step parent… and the list of complaints goes on.

I was once asked why is it the ex is always bad and wrong, or why don’t they just do the right things after the divorce. I thought I would share my answer here. First of all, these are all one sided postings. We know that there are often two sides to a story. And when someone is venting online about their ex, the ex is usually absent and no one is there to defend the absentee. Second, most people who initiate the divorce have done so because they know (not just think) something is wrong with their ex, so it would only make sense that the ex remains to be bad and wrong after the separation. But perhaps more importantly, they need to keep on making the ex bad and wrong to justify or prove that they have made the right choice by asking for a divorce. Of course, if we weren’t the one to initiate the divorce, the other person is bad and wrong for having initiated it.

To me, part of the irony is that for most states and in Canada, the reason for filing a divorce is “irreconcilable difference”, not he/she is “bad and wrong”. Further, divorcing people are still hoping to change/control their ex who is supposed to be leading a separate life.

What’s interesting is that most people who divorce end up falling in love and remarrying. This may suggest that the same person who is bad and wrong is lovable… to somebody else. So where does the truth lie?

Does it help to complain about your ex, as in will the ex change their behavior? I don’t know, maybe. Does it help to complain about your ex online? I would definitely have to say no because your ex does not even know about it and you are the only person who is all wound up. I suppose venting online anonymously can be therapeutic for some on a temporary basis. But I think letting it go, finding a way to reconcile and acknowledge the differences between you and your ex is a better way of spending your time. So, when is the right time to stop making your ex bad and wrong? How about now?

Martha Chan Martha Chan is the co-owner and V.P. Marketing of Divorce Marketing Group and Divorce Magazine. She is responsible for all online and offline initiatives of the company. She is married to Dan Couvrette and is a step mother of two sons. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. She can be reached at (888) 217-9538 ex. 36 or

Incriminating video -

Incriminating video -

Parents have an obligation to protect their children first and foremost.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Divorce Recovery

How Long Does "Typical" Divorce Recovery Take?
If you're not moving beyond your divorce, you may be doing something wrong
Published on April 18, 2010

One of the most common questions newly divorcing people have for me is, "how long will it take before I'm over this divorce ordeal?

My answer is always the same: "How long it takes to "recover" from a divorce depends on a number of factors, including how long you were together, how good the relationship was and how committed you were to your spouse, whether the divorce was a surprise to you or not, whether you have children together, whether you or your spouse are involved in a new relationship, your personality, your age, your socio-economic status and on and on.

I liken the undoing of a marriage to trying to disentangle two trees that have grown next to each other for years. The more intertwined the root systems are, the longer it will take for the trees to go their separate ways.

In addition, grief has a life of its own and you are done* when your grief process is done, and not a minute before. There is no magic formula and no way to get through your grief on the fast track. But you can do things to slow your process down, which I discuss below.

*(I'd like to qualify this statement by saying you're never completely "done" grieving if you had a sincere love and attachment to your spouse. By done, I mean recovered to the point where you are no longer weighted down by thoughts and feelings about your spouse or your marriage and the pain of the split is a distant memory.)

While no one can tell you exactly when this will be, I can tell you there are things you can do to make the process harder, and there are things you can do to ease the process. I've created a chart so you can see the difference by comparing actions side by side.

Top Ten Don'ts for Divorce Recovery

Actions that facilitate divorce recovery Actions that impede divorce recovery

1. Don't ask for help and try to do it all alone

2. Don't talk about your grief/feelings

3. Count on others to tell you what you need (don't be in your own power)

4. Stick your head in the sand and hope it will go away

5. Pretend you're fine or try to hold it all together

6. Be upset with yourself for "still" feeling bad, sad, scared or angry

7. Try to push your "negative emotions" away and be only in better feeling emotions

8. Don't accept your new reality and move on

9. Don't trust that things will work out

10. Be a perfectionist and think you mustn't make any errors

Top Ten Do's for Divorce Recovery

1. Ask for help & let help in

2. Talk about your grief with others

3. Get as much information as you can about the divorce process

4. Face each obstacle as it arises

5. Let others know when you're not feeling well

6. Allow your feelings to come to the surface

7. Allow yourself to feel whatever you feel

8. Accept your new reality and move on when it's appropriate to move on (this doesn't mean you have to like it!)

9. Have trust/faith that things will work out

10. Be willing to make mistakes (mistakes are going to happen no matter how well prepared you are - it's just part of the process

While I know there are more ways people have to impede or improve their recovery process, this list gives you a general overview of the do's and don'ts as well as the reminder that you can get through it but you'll need a good set of emotional and mental "tools."

I will add a note here also to those may be beyond the time it "should have"taken. If you are three or four years post-divorce and you find that you are not letting go, my best guess (without assessing you personally) is that you are practicing one of the top 10 "don'ts and that you don't have adequate emotional support.

From "Psychology Today" Blog

I filed for an uncontested divorce. My wife won't sign them. What can I do? -

I filed for an uncontested divorce. My wife won't sign them. What can I do? -

What is a Material change in circumstances? -

What is a Material change in circumstances? -

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can i file for divorce on the bases of adultery? -

Can i file for divorce on the bases of adultery? -

Legal News-Judge Frees Liens From Wife's House

Woman upends $1.1M in liens her ex put on house through fraud

By Alan Cooper
Published: April 20, 2010

Tags: Domestic Relations, Judge Craig D. Johnston, Prince William Circuit Court

A Northern Virginia judge has given a woman ownership of her house, free of any of the $1.1 million in liens fraudulently racked up by her ex-husband before he disappeared.

In the case, there was no question who the bad guy was. But Daniel S. Wilkes was not around to hear testimony about how he had conned his wife and a series of banks.

He disappeared in the middle of last year rather than face criminal charges for bouncing a check at a Las Vegas casino and forging documents in Prince William County that netted him $1.1 million in loans secured by a house that was worth less than half that amount.

Wilkes’ wife, Alisha Wilson Wilkes, contended that the house was hers, unencumbered by any of the loans because she and her husband had owned it outright as tenants by the entirety before the fraud started.

Prince William Circuit Judge Craig D. Johnston believed the wife’s testimony that she was the innocent victim of her husband’s machinations and rejected the banks’ claim that it is inequitable to allow the wife to retain the property lien-free and leave them with the entire loss.

Wilkes’ “schemes not only defrauded his lenders, they defrauded Mrs. Wilkes as well,” Johnston wrote.

“She is left with large joint credit card debts which he incurred, as well undoubtedly with large legal bills. She is also is left without the husband and the father she thought she had for her child.”

According to Johnston’s opinion in Wilkes v. First Settlement LLC and the wife’s attorney, John C. Bazaz of Fairfax, the Wilkeses bought the house in July 2005 for $574,000 and took out a $459,800 mortgage on it.

Wilkes paid off the mortgage less than four months later. The source of that money was not clear to Johnston or Bazaz, but Wilkes was working at the time as an online day trader and there was no indication that the money for the payoff was obtained improperly.

The impropriety started in July 2006 when Wilkes forged his wife’s signature to obtain a $400,000 loan from the Bank of New York.

Seven months later, he received $150,000 from a line of credit loan from Bank of America. In April 20007, he received $130,000 from another line of credit, this one from SunTrust Bank, which gave him $54,800 from an additional line of credit in October 2007.

In each of the three line-of-credit loans, Wilkes signed an affidavit that he was the sole owner of the property, and – because the loans were relatively small – the banks did not conduct a title search to verify the affidavit.

Finally, in April 2008, Wilkes duped a notary into signing an affidavit that she had seen the wife sign a promissory note from Fannie Mae for $368,000.

Wilkes asked the notary to meet him at a hospital because his son was very ill. He told her that his son was near death and the wife refused to leave his bedside.

The notary allowed him to take the documents inside the hospital, and he returned with what he purported to be his wife’s signature on the note.

Johnston found that neither the wife nor the child were ever at the hospital.

The wife did not know anything about the loans until October 2008, when she received a call from a creditor.

Wilkes told her that he had been the victim of identity theft, and the wife at first believed him.

Another call prompted her to run a credit report and a title examination which, Johnston wrote, “gave her some idea of the enormity of what he had done. Searches of the house and his computer yielded other information, including pictures of him and women with whom had had apparently been associating.”

Johnston said it is not known what Wilkes did with the money, but some of it apparently went into his online trading and another large portion went to Las Vegas casinos.

Bank of America and SunTrust abandoned their claims on the house once they learned that it was held as tenants by the entirety and not by Wilkes individually.

Bazaz said the Bank of New York has filed a notice of appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Among its contentions are that Wilkes fraudulently conveyed the house to the wife after she filed for divorce.

Johnston said the conveyance did not put the bank in any worse position because the house was held as tenants by the entirety before the transfer, a status that protected her from claims by individual creditors of her husband.

Bazaz said Mrs. Wilkes has moved to West Virginia to be closer to family and is working as a school counselor.

The house is being rented and is on the market for $375,000. With the collapse of the Northern Virginia housing market, the word from those who have expressed an interest in the dwelling is that the price is too high, Bazaz said.

The Relationship Between Opposing Counsel


A. Introduction

People watching the interaction between the lawyers in their divorce sometimes have a hard time making sense out of what they see. One client said at the end of the divorce, "I could never understand how they could be at each other's throats one minute and cracking jokes the next." In spite of appearances, it is usually to your benefit if the two lawyers get along with each other.

B. You Benefit From Cooperation Between The Lawyers.

Stipulations can be reached which simplify the case, move it toward settlement and save you money. Lawyers often meet without their clients to try to isolate areas of agreement and disagreement and to cooperate in exchanging information. Your lawyer will discuss any such agreements with you.

All this can be done without compromising your position. If negotiations don't result in a settlement, your lawyer can and will vigorously represent you in trial. The time spent exchanging information and negotiating will make you and your lawyer better prepared for trial.

Lawyers routinely extend simple courtesies to each other such as agreeing to extend deadlines and postpone hearings. You may feel like every advantage should be pressed in your favor, and that if the other side is under time pressure, your lawyer should take advantage of it. But in the long run, it doesn't help you for your lawyer to be uncooperative. In most cases, an extension is available by court order anyway. Refusing to agree just costs you and your spouse more legal fees. And the shoe will be on the other foot some day. When you need more time, the other side will remember your discourtesy and refuse. Then you will have to go to court for relief and both your legal fees will again increase. Still, you are not powerless in these matters. If you truly believe that a delay will work to your detriment, tell your lawyer so that you can discuss what to do.

Finally, it is important for lawyers to treat each other in a way that makes it possible to work together in all cases. The good reputation your lawyer has developed for cooperation and reasonableness in previous cases will benefit you in your case.

C. You Will Be Hurt If The Lawyers Are Drawn Into An Emotional Fight.

Part of the job of a matrimonial lawyer is to be objective, to stay calm and rational during the emotional cross fire of a divorce. Experienced lawyers know that anger can impair their judgment. So they try to avoid personal feuds with the opposing lawyer. Still, some clients are pleased at first when their lawyers attack opposing counsel. Their pleasure usually lasts only until they realize the cost in fees and lost settlement opportunities caused by belligerence. If you feel your lawyer is not being aggressive enough, the two of you should talk about your concerns. Some cases require more aggressiveness then others. But if your desire for a more militant approach is motivated by anger, your best interests may not be served, and your fees will certainly be higher.

D. Dirty Tricks Do Not Help.

Your lawyer will be honest with opposing counsel and will expect you to do the same. Concealing information, lying, or in other ways being dishonest or trying to hide behind legal technicalities will almost always hurt your case. Lawyers and judges are angered by conduct which violates the rules requiring full and truthful information. Your case could suffer if you are less than candid. Another reason to do things right is your lawyer's duty to the judicial system. Lawyers have good reasons to obey all the rules that govern their profession. Breaking the rules means losing the respect of judges and other lawyers, and even risking the loss of a license to practice law.

E. Some Questions and Answers about the Relationship Between Opposing Counsel

1. Can lawyers be friends and still put their clients’ interests first? Yes. Matrimonial lawyers take their work very seriously. Even if the opposing lawyer is a friend of your lawyer, both lawyers can and will work zealously for their clients' best interest. Although it is sometimes hard for clients to understand, lawyers learn early in their career to take their client's side and argue positions with great conviction, even if they are arguing against a lawyer who is a close friend.

2. Why is the other lawyer being so nasty when my lawyer is being so nice? Lawyers are people, each with an individual style. Some think they gain an advantage by trying to intimidate the other side. Other lawyers are overly aggressive because they think their clients expect it.

Intimidation almost never works. Keeping calm and polite in the face of inappropriate behavior is usually the best way to a settlement or success at trial.

From The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyer's Client Handbook