Monday, November 16, 2015

The Benefits of Couples' Therapy - Even if You Get Divorced

We first sought out a couples' therapist when our daughter, now 18, was an infant. We were unhappy, our marriage lacked intimacy and we were worried about our prospects. Of course, many parents of newborns are unhappy -- they're sleep-deprived, their futures are filled with inherent uncertainty and they have little time to think about anything other than diapers, feedings and more diapers.

But we knew something deeper was amiss. We were both graduate students at the time, so we went to counseling services at our university. Our first therapist was a nice guy, and he was clearly determined to keep us together. That is not so unusual or necessarily a bad thing. We didn't present with the kinds of problems indicating a need to separate right away. There was no physical or verbal abuse, for example. We didn't hate one another, and we were not yet ready to admit that we were not in love. But when we talked about what was bothering us, our therapist had the habit of reframing our problems as less serious than we perceived them. In so doing, he committed perhaps the cardinal sin for a therapist -- trying to talk us out of our feelings. For example, when we talked about not having any sexual attraction for one another, our therapist said, "lots of people become less interested in sex as they get older." We were in our early 30s and had been married for fewer than two years. We had not lost interest in sex. But we spent more time trying to explain ourselves and then questioning his agenda than we did dealing with the real problem, which was that weren't interested in each other.
Our therapist thought we had merely lost something that had once enlivened our relationship. He gave us "exercises" designed to help us connect physically and communicate better about our wants and needs. Of course, many couples who once had a vibrant sex life become less attracted to one another over time. Or, they put physical intimacy on the back burner because of the exhausting details of everyday life, work, and parenthood. But by the time we went to therapy, we knew we didn't click in that way and perhaps never really had.

As we finished our graduate work and prepared to move, we took a break from therapy. In our new home in Maine, our daughter then two, we were more focused on settling in to new jobs and a new community. However, as the adrenaline of starting anew wore off, we were forced again to face the deficits in our relationship.

Our new therapist came highly recommended. She was an exceptional person -- a versatile professional with a direct, unsentimental New England manner. She put us on notice in our first meeting, letting us know that it made no difference to her whether we stayed together.

She also instructed us to write the story of our own individual "love histories," to be typed up and delivered at the next appointment. Our therapist immediately grasped that neither of us could be fully honest with one another in the room - we were just too afraid of hurting each other's feelings. She knew we were comfortable expressing ourselves in writing and that this assignment would save us weeks of time with her. We plunged with gusto into our respective accounts, handed them in, and waited for the verdict. At the following appointment, she shared with us her highlighter-filled observations about the recurring themes in our stories. With what we came to know as her trademark incisiveness, she reduced our histories to simple, ruthless (and spot-on) conclusions about each of us: "Anne, you've never gone for what you truly wanted, and Jonathan, you've never known what you wanted."

Obvious though this seems to us now, the extent to which her observations explained our fundamental dilemma was astonishing. For one thing, our therapist was able to take all the guilt and shame out of the question of our marital struggles. There were reasons for our problems that had nothing to do with whether we were good, decent people. Confused? Yes. Somewhat cowardly or immature with regard to owning our true feelings? Admittedly. But bad people? No.

As our therapist saw it, her job was to help us figure out what was best for each of us, whatever that was. She assured us that we would remain committed parents regardless, and that our daughter would be OK. Initially, she did work under the assumption that we would want to stay together, because that's what she thought she heard from us. As in Chapel Hill, we were tasked with intimacy-building exercises between appointments. In retrospect, it's hard to imagine a more sure-fire way of draining intimacy from a relationship than repurposing it as "homework." Needless to say, these again went nowhere.

One day our therapist asked an important question: "Why would you want to be someone somebody settled for?"

We could have protested that we had not settled, we had truly been in love. But we had no answer or protest to make: we knew it was true. We were not happy and could not remember a time when we gave each other the kind of intimate connection one needs from a lifelong romantic partner. We clung to our marriage primarily out of fear of what divorce would mean for our precious daughter -- we didn't want to ruin her life by getting divorced.

But although our daughter was still young, we feared she would become ever more aware of the disconnect between what we were saying about love and what we were living out on a day-to-day basis.

It would be disingenuous to say that we divorced "for her" -- we didn't. But we knew that staying together would not have guaranteed her happiness either. And we resolved to do everything in our power to keep our marital failure from becoming a parenting failure.

Once we recognized that, ending the marriage was the clear choice for us. And though we have had our ups and downs since, one of the true gifts of the divorce has been the way our relationship has matured.

Our therapist challenged us to develop a new paradigm for dealing with one another. "You're going to be 'related' as long as you're raising your daughter," she said. "You have the chance to have a very good post-divorce relationship. The bomb that is at the center of all relationships -- the relationship's ending -- has been diffused. You don't have to be afraid of that anymore. You can be honest with one another, you can face disagreements without worrying that the other one will leave you. You have the chance to have a much deeper -- in some ways, a more intimate -- relationship now."

We both felt deep guilt about what this would mean for our daughter, but we both knew it was also the right decision. Our therapist didn't direct us to that decision. Instead, she showed us how owning our own feelings and our pasts, rather than blaming the other, would allow us to build stronger relationships with one another, and with others. Our daughter, on the cusp of college, has turned out OK. And we've managed to establish a healthy, supportive parenting partnership.

Couples therapy didn't keep us married. But it certainly "worked."

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Getting Divorced After 60

The number of people divorcing in later life has been increasing at a time when divorce rates overall have been falling. What's behind the phenomenon of the "silver splitters"?

"When I proposed to her, I almost straight away regretted having done that."

But the engagement was announced on the front page of his local paper and Peter felt he couldn't back out. "I was weak-willed at the time," he says.

Peter married in 1967. Thirty-six years later, at the age of 64, he did back out.

"I just bundled what I could into the car and went. I do remember her standing on the doorstep. And I did feel sorry - even guilty - then that I was hurting her, really."

It's the kind of private moment of pain that's part of a national trend.

Divorce among people aged 60 and over in England and Wales has risen since the 1990s, according to the Office of National Statistics - while among the rest of the population, it has fallen (with a slight rise in 2012).

In 2011, nearly 9,500 men in this age group divorced - an increase of almost three-quarters compared with 20 years earlier. The trend for women is similar. And it's not just because there are more older people now.

The catalyst for Peter was a relationship he started with his piano partner, Anne. Practising duets for the church choir, they fell in love.

"We are good friends, and that's something I didn't have with my first husband," says Anne, who ended her first marriage when she was in her 50s. "And we can laugh when things go wrong."

Research suggests a big driver of the increase in "silver splitters" is increasing life expectancy.

And people want more from their retirement, according to solicitor Karin Walker, of law firm KGW Family Law in Woking and the family law association, Resolution.

"People are looking very much at the latter third of their life and what they want to do with it," she says.

"Certainly clients I've had say they want to take up a pastime they've not done before - perhaps cycling or travelling. And very often their spouse isn't keen to participate in that, and that can cause friction and a parting of ways."

Age gaps can put marriages under strain in later life, according to Barbara Bloomfield, a counsellor for Relate in Bristol and the counselling supervisor at Relate Cymru.

"Let's say there's a 10-year age gap. Ten years is nothing, it's flattering, when you're 20 and 30. When you're 70 and 80 it's a totally different thing," she says.

"And I think often where there's an age gap the younger party can think: 'Oh my goodness, the rest of my life is going to be spent looking after him or her.'

Another factor is wealth. The baby boomers tend to have good pensions. Their property's worth a lot. They can more afford to divorce in retirement than people used to be able to.

"From the point of view of wives as well, where hitherto the wife really couldn't find herself in a position to leave home - those first 24 hours where she didn't know where to stay, didn't have any money to pay for a hotel - it all became rather daunting," says Walker, "whereas now women are much more financially independent and are much better able to take control of their lives."

David, not his real name, was 70 when his wife of the same age packed a bag and left.

"You go through phases - anger, you go through regret, you feel discarded as a husband, you feel you perhaps should have done a bit more and talked, but it takes two to talk and that didn't happen."

He believes the suicide of their son, a number of years earlier, and episodes of ill health may have taken their toll on the relationship.

"She'd been unhappy for years and I hadn't noticed, and therefore she wanted to have financial independence - a clean break, and go and live on her own."

Walker says divorcing in your 60s or 70s can create more discord in families than if it had happened earlier in the marriage. She thinks children can take it worse when they're adults.

"I worry about loneliness," says Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of Silver Line, the helpline for older people.
She suspects this is an issue causing more pain to older divorcees than may be apparent.

"When they're taking this big step, they may be losing more than they realise. They may also be losing contact with their children, because divorce often means people side with one parent or another.

"And in all this, I think there is certain amount of stigma. They feel ashamed that that sacred pledge they made those years ago they haven't fulfilled. They're not staying together 'til death us do part' and this may mean they're ashamed to ask for help. Let's discuss it, and say this is one of the things that happen when you get older."

Peter is happy with his new life with Anne, whom he married in 2011, when he was 72. But his divorce came at a cost. Relations with some of his family are now tricky.

"If somebody came to me now, before they'd left their wife, asking what they should do I think my answer would be see if you can make it work, in other words don't do what I did."


"Because of the hurt."

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bishops crack open door on divorce

But meeting fudges key issues of Catholic Church's approach to sex, love, marriage

VATICAN CITY • Catholic bishops have wrapped up a divisive synod by approving a compromise report reflecting a stalemate in the battle between the Church's conservative and liberal wings over its approach to sex, love and marriage.

The document, which Pope Francis is free to ignore or implement as he sees fit, fudges the key issue of whether divorced and remarried believers should be allowed to play a full role in the Church.

And it confirms the pullback from the more explicit opening to lesbian and gay believers supported by progressives when the review of teaching on the family was launched last year.

But it also leaves Pope Francis with room for manoeuvre should he wish to defy his conservative opponents and push on with his attempt to make the Church more relevant and more welcoming towards believers who find themselves in breach of its rules.

Pope Francis, who recognised in closing remarks that the three-week synod had exposed deep divisions in the Catholic family, now has to decide on which way to go, if and when he updates guidelines on Catholic teaching.

The text, approved last Saturday, advocates a "case-by-case" approach to the most controversial question, the handling of divorced and remarried believers, saying they need to play a greater role in the Church, but stopping short of explicitly ending the current ban on their receiving communion.
People in this situation need to be treated with discernment, allowed to play a greater role in the Church and not made to feel as if they have been excommunicated, the document states.

Underlining how controversial this section of the text was, the paragraphs related to divorced and remarried believers just scraped the required two-thirds of synod votes to gain approval.

The document includes only one brief article on the Church's approach to gay believers, framing the question in terms of how priests can help support families who have "persons with homosexual tendencies" in their midst.

It reiterates that the Church believes every person, regardless of their sexuality, is worthy of respect and a reception which takes care to "avoid every sign of unjust discrimination".

But it strongly reiterates the Church's opposition to gay marriage, saying: "There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and the family."

The emphasis contrasted sharply with first drafts last year which spoke of recognising the value of loving same-sex relationships, to the outrage of those opposed to any dilution of Church teaching that homosexuality amounts to a kind of disorder.

In closing remarks, Pope Francis said the synod had been about confronting "today's realities" without "burying our heads in the sand".

He said the divisions that had emerged reflected important cultural differences which the Church should embrace in the way it applies its teaching - an ambiguous comment that will concern conservatives.

"We have also seen that what seems normal for a bishop on one continent is considered strange and almost scandalous for a bishop from another," he said.

Pope Francis, 78, also appeared to take a new swipe at the conservatives who had accused him of rigging the synod's organisation to try to engineer progressive conclusions.

"The different opinions which were freely expressed - and at times, unfortunately, not in entirely well-meaning ways - certainly led to a rich and lively dialogue," he said.

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Creatively Channeling the Pain of Divorce

From The North Shore Weekend newspaperContrary to the stereotype of the strong silent type, Evanston resident John Frank has LOTS to say about divorce. His two-act play, which will be staged two weekends in November, is the tip of the iceberg.

“Men don’t talk about how they feel; they just kind of soldier on and people around them think, ‘oh, he’ll be fine.’ But there is, in fact, a lot of pain that men don’t talk about,” said Frank, who divorced after 16 years of marriage to his first wife. “For example, only seeing your kids every other weekend is a terrible way to live. I have no trouble talking about that.”

And so it was that he wrote Boys in the Basement, described as “a unique look at divorce from the perspective of men who have lost their families and everything they once held dear.” It is inspired by the network Frank developed over the years after his divorce.

“In the suburbs, a divorced man is kind of a non-person. I created a network of divorced men friends, as we were all sort of stuck in limbo,” he said.

Frank explained to me that the script tells the story of the tenants in an apartment building – efficiency apartments, that is, located close to several of the tenant’s children and therefore the tenants’ ex-wives – who meet nightly in the basement of their building to share stories over beers.

Among the tenants Frank described there is a player, who is twice divorced; a younger guy who is working up the courage to talk to women; an attorney (played by Frank) who is having an affair with his second ex-wife, though she has gone back to her first husband; a new tenant, who thinks he still has a chance to reconcile with his ex-wife; and the landlord, a still-married guy who flaunts to his tenants that he knows what it takes to be successful in marriage.

(There are a few women in the building, too, who cross paths with the gentlemen throughout the play.)

“It’s about the fine line between love and hate,” Frank said of his play, “how quickly love turns to hate, and how men deal with loss. In many ways divorce is like death, as it changes your dreams and your life so quickly.”

Frank purposefully recruited a female director, Mary Reynard, to counter the male perspective from which he wrote the script. But he is firm: the play will wake audience members up to the man’s mindset during and after a divorce.

“I want people to think about how the other person feels when they’re fighting and finding ways to separate themselves. I want people to think about how traumatic divorce can be and yet how people can go on, and whether there can still be true love.”

Frank believes in it – heck, he remarried in 2007 – but he admits that it’s hard.

“We’re still people and we still have feelings. Some will change and some will never change, but that’s just how life is.”
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

New Law Eases Path to Divorce for Many Couples

A new law will eliminate Maryland's one-year wait for some who want to divorce.
When spouses in Maryland agree to split up and amicably hammer out a separation agreement, state law still makes them wait a year to file for divorce.

That will change Thursday — at least for some couples — when a new law eliminates the waiting period for those without minor children who mutually consent to divorce and agree on a property split. Couples with children will still have to live apart for a year before they can file, even if they have resolved custody and support issues.

The change is the result of legislation sponsored by Sen. Robert A. Zirkin and passed in April by the General Assembly. Zirkin, a Baltimore County Democrat, said the measure will help thousands of Marylanders to move on with their lives.

Lindsay Parvis, a Montgomery County attorney who co-chairs the Maryland State Bar Association's section on family law, called the change "a huge development."

She said it will be a relief for many people to know they can move forward "rather than a law telling them they have to wait 12 months."

The current law starts the one-year clock on the day one spouse moves out of the common home. If the two later stay under the same roof for even a night, the clock resets to Day One.
Parvis said the law will get the courts out of the business of asking eligible couples about that aspect of their lives.

Del. Kathleen Dumais, a family lawyer and vice chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said clients come to her with settlement agreements and are shocked to learn they have to wait a year.
"They just look at me like I've lost my mind," said Dumais, a Montgomery County Democrat. "It just seems so crazy."

There are exceptions to the waiting period in current law for cases in which a spouse has committed adultery or been abusive. Lawyers point to cases where couples didn't want to raise adultery charges in an uncontested divorce, but did so to avoid the waiting period. In other cases, spouses accuse themselves of adultery to expedite a ruling.

Dumais, who helped steer the legislation through the House, said some delegates were concerned that Zirkin's original bill did not include enough protections against one spouse taking advantage of the other. She said the House committee added an amendment excluding parents of minor children from expedited divorce and another requiring that both spouses attend the court hearing in person.

Currently only one spouse has to attend the hearing on an uncontested divorce.

The House passed the bill 104-34, with most Republicans opposed. The Senate, which earlier passed the bill 40-7, accepted the House changes and Gov. Larry Hogan signed the bill.

Lawmakers acted after hearing stories such as that of Rachel London and William Atwell.

In joint written testimony, London and Atwell told senators that after deciding in June 2011 that they no longer wanted to be married, they quickly reached agreement on a property split and the support and custody of their 4-year-old son. But because neither could afford to leave their Anne Arundel County home immediately, they lived under the same roof in separate bedrooms until Atwell could move out in October of that year.

It wasn't until a year later they could file for divorce, which was granted in November 2012.
"Allowing us to file for absolute divorce when we were ready more than a year before would have decreased the stress, burden and uncertainty," they wrote.

Under the new law, a couple in their position still would not be eligible for a quick divorce because a child was involved. But Dumais said the legislation nonetheless represents meaningful change.
"What I find in family law is that baby steps are important," she said.

Zirkin, who said divorce law is a small part of his practice, said he hopes the legislation will encourage separating couples to reach agreements.

"It creates an incentive for people to work it out," he said. "Because the last thing you want in a divorce is people fighting over every last thing."

And if couples aren't fighting it out, that could save them on legal fees, Zirkin said.

"If this bill works the way it should ... it's a bad thing for divorce lawyers — which is a good thing," he said.

Sen. Michael Hough, a Frederick County Republican, said the amendments made the bill less objectionable, but he still is opposed.

"Right now there's a cooling-off period that's in the law," he said. "I just don't want to make it so you can get a next-day divorce, and that's where the law is headed."

The bill was one of several that passed this year removing obstacles to divorce. Another that becomes law this week shortens to six months, rather than a year, the time someone must live in Maryland to file for divorce here — an issue important for military families who move frequently.

Zirkin said such changes are part of a broader re-examination of Maryland's approach to divorce.
"We have a lot of remnants of very old common law and very old statutes," said Zirkin, who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. "This is not the end in terms of modernizing our law."
Other new laws

These are among new Maryland laws effective Thursday:
Rape kits: Requires police agencies to report backlogs of untested rape kits to state.
Mental health: Requires Baltimore and county police to create units by next Oct. 1 trained to deal with mentally ill people.
Police review: Expands mission and changes membership of Baltimore's civilian review board.
Public information: Creates new compliance board with authority to enforce public records law.
Speed limits: Allows state highway officials to set speed limits up to 70 mph.
Human trafficking: Allows someone charged with prostitution to use as a defense being a victim of human trafficking.

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Study looks at why women are more likely to initiate divorce

By Yanan Wang
Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, 9:00 p.m.
Expectations for a spouse are much higher than they used to be. 

For most of Western history, marriage had little equality. Wives bore the brunt of child care and housework, depended on their husbands for financial support and enjoyed little social autonomy while men openly had affairs. 

Fast-forward to the age of rom-coms, Valentine's Day and a $50 billion wedding industry. It's all based on finding, marrying and keeping “The One.” 

“Today, Americans want not only a spouse who is reliable and reasonable, but also someone who is their best friend, and a great lover, and someone who pays the bills ... but is also really fun,” said Stanford sociologist Michael Rosenfeld. 

According to research that Rosenfeld recently presented at the American Sociological Association's annual meeting, these heightened expectations can leave women feeling worse off in marriage than men. In a survey of 2,262 adults in heterosexual partnerships over the course of five years, Rosenfeld found that women initiate divorces 69 percent of the time. 

On the whole, they also reported less satisfaction with their marriages than men. 

Scientists have known for decades that wives are usually the ones asking for a divorce. But Rosenfeld's study also surveyed people in nonmarital romantic relationships, from casual flings to couples who had lived together for several years; in those relationships, women and men initiated breakups at equal rates. So, there's something about marriage that makes it harder on women.
“The expectation is that marriage has a whole bunch of benefits and positive characteristics for women that it didn't have in the past, but the truth is much trickier than that,” Rosenfeld said.
Though he stressed that most women surveyed were happy with their marriages, many of those who weren't cited controlling husbands and a loss of independence as causes of discontent. 

He also speculated that, although most men today espouse egalitarian values, many probably still harbor subconscious expectations of a wife's traditional role in the household. This could explain why, after all these years, women still shoulder twice as many domestic responsibilities as men. (In contrast, studies have shown that couples who equally divide their child-care duties have better sex lives.) 

Rosenfeld's survey checked in with the same individuals every year for five years. In cases in which someone was married the first year of the study and divorced in the last, his team was able to gather details in the breakup's immediate aftermath. 

One woman, who was 23 when the study began in 2009, initially reported a “good” (4 out of 5 points on the satisfaction scale) relationship with her husband-to-be: “He is very clever, fun, and sweet. I respect him and feel like we are equals on values, intellect and humor.” 

She noted, however, “It is not ‘excellent' because I wish that he was more romantic. He's very practical.” 

Four years later, the couple got divorced. In early 2015, she said, “I used to be a very happy, optimistic person, and it was like he was slowly starving my soul.” 

She realized that the relationship had become emotionally abusive and promptly filed for a divorce.
Rosenfeld said respondents' stories had echoes of “The Feminine Mystique,” Betty Friedan's feminist treatise about unhappiness among middle-class housewives. Instead, many of today's disgruntled wives have full-time jobs — and, hence, no practical need for husbands who don't make them happy.
So, while the institution of marriage hasn't completely shed its inequitable roots, women can afford to be a lot choosier. 

Yanan Wang is a staff writer for The Washington Post.

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Monday, September 14, 2015

How Your Spouse's Ashley Madison Account Can Impact Your Divorce

Now that hackers leaked the email addresses of 37 million users of Ashley Madison, the dating service for married people in search of an affair, New York City divorce lawyer Morghan Richardson’s “phone lit up like a Christmas tree,” she says.

“People are struggling to deal with how this information may impact their divorce and their life — if at all,” says Richardson.

Here is how catching a cheating spouse can affect your split:
  1. Power. “I often hear from the wronged spouse: ‘I knew he was cheating! Now that I have proof I can get the house, the kids, the …’” says Richardson. The reality is that most states have no-fault divorce laws. That means that a judge doesn’t care why you are splitting up. Their job is to make sure that the money is split fairly and custody and visitation are in the best interest of the kids. In cases of infidelity, the “wronged” spouse is so hurt and angry, they assume that a judge will take that into consideration. They won’t.  On the other hand, it is common that the cheating spouse will feel so guilty, or won’t want the divorce, or be afraid of losing face to friends and family that they concede to their husband or wife’s demands.  Guilt is a powerful negotiating tool in divorce.
ashley madison divorce

2.  Finances. Again, just because they were cheating doesn’t mean you get more than your share of money money. Divorce, technically, is not about reparations. However, document through credit card and bank statements how much money he spent on the site, and if he was successful, how much he spent having the affair (hotel rooms, gifts, dinners, etc.). This spending is called “marital waste,” which can be recaptured during the divorce proceedings. If he bought her a Cartier watch with marital money, he better be prepared to pony up at least half the cost.

3. Custody. “My husband listed a number of ‘unconventional’ sex preferences. How can I use this in my custody fight?” For the most part, what happens in the bedroom is not for the eyes of children — 0r the ears of the court. Your husband’s 50 Shades of Grey disclosure on his Ashley Madison profile is not likely to be equated with bad parenting. Of course, most custody fights are about character assassination and depending on the preferences listed, his BDSM admissions may help tilt the legal scales in your favor.

4. Settlement. “My wife is really angry. I was just curious when I signed up. I don’t want a divorce.” Again, judges don’t care, and courts have no interest in making couples stay married. Your wife can get a divorce if she wants, period. Second, don’t let your guilt or desire to “win her back” force you into a divorce settlement that is not in your favor. Giving her the sun and the moon now will lead to impossible to pay for deals that crush you. Finally, think about getting your own therapist to cope with the process, and your own guilt. You are far from alone in your infidelity (studies of American couples show 20 to 40 percent of straight married men will have an affair), though you may be finding yourself alone in trying to save this relationship.

5. Legal Fees. While infidelity doesn’t contribute to the legal process of divorce, the discovery of an affair nearly always skyrockets the emotional hurt. And when people are angry, they need to fight. And fighting in divorce means higher legal fees. If a husband wants to try to punish his unfaithful wife through a contentious divorce and driving up her legal fees, hopefully it won’t take him long to realize he’s punishing himself by racking up the same costly fees with his lawyer.

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Divorce Lawyers See Ashley Madison Fallout as Christmas in September

Lawyers think the leak of 37m names from the membership list of the Ashley Madison database, an online club aimed at unfaithful spouses, is going to create a boom in divorces this autumn - a 'Christmas in September', according to one practitioner.

Steve Mindel, a lawyer based in Los Angeles, said: 'We're all saying: 'It's going to be Christmas in September. Pretty soon all of this stuff is going to surface and there's going to be a lot of filings for divorce directly as a result of this.'

Facilitating adultery
Nigel Shepherd of UK law firm Mills & Reeve was asked for advice from an unhappy wife within hours of her husband's name being listed on the leaked database listing. He said: 'If someone finds out if their partner is set up on a site which exists wholly for facilitating adultery, it's hardly surprising they are taking advice about it.' Source: Daily Mail

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Women More Likely Than Men to Initiate Divorce: Study

Women are more likely than men to initiate divorce, but they are no more likely than men to initiate breakups in a dating relationship, according to a new US study.

"The breakups of non-marital heterosexual relationships in the US are quite gender neutral and fairly egalitarian," said study author Michael Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at Stanford University.

Rosenfeld analyzed data from a 2009-2015 survey on couples in US. He looked at 2,262 adults, ages 19 to 94, who had opposite sex partners in 2009. By 2015, 371 of these people had broken up or gotten divorced.

As part of his analysis, Rosenfeld found that women initiated 69 per cent of all divorces, compared to 31 per cent for men.

In contrast, there was not a statistically significant difference between the percentage of breakups initiated by unmarried women and men, regardless of whether they had been living with their partners.

Social scientists have previously argued that women initiate most divorces because they are more sensitive to relationship difficulties.

Rosenfeld argues that were this true, women would initiate the breakup of both marriages and non-marital relationships at equal rates.

"Women seem to have a predominant role in initiating divorces in the US as far back as there is data from a variety of sources, back to the 1940s," Rosenfeld said.

Perhaps women were more likely to initiate divorces because, as Rosenfeld found, married women reported lower levels of relationship quality than married men.

In contrast, women and men in non-marital relationships reported equal levels of relationship quality.

Rosenfeld said his results support the feminist assertion that some women experience heterosexual marriage as oppressive or uncomfortable.

"I think that marriage as an institution has been a little bit slow to catch up with expectations for gender equality," Rosenfeld said.

"Wives still take their husbands' surnames, and are sometimes pressured to do so. Husbands still expect their wives to do the bulk of the housework and the bulk of the childcare," Rosenfeld said.

"On the other hand, I think that non-marital relationships lack the historical baggage and expectations of marriage, which makes the non-marital relationships more flexible and therefore more adaptable to modern expectations, including women's expectations for more gender equality," he said.

The study will be presented at the 110th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Chicago.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Dating After Divorce is Not an Easy Task

WHEN mother of two Sarah suddenly found herself single at age 30, she came to the daunting realisation that meant getting back into the world of dating. 

The Ipswich woman said many people shared her fears of getting back into the dating game, though it wasn't an issue many spoke openly about. 

"My now ex-husband was my first boyfriend. We met when I was at university so to find myself back in the dating game at age 30, on the other side of a 10-year relationship with two young kids, was horrifying," she said.

"I hadn't had dating experience of any kind and had quite relished the fact I found the one first time around. 

"That wasn't to be though and I had to get back out there again. 

"A lot of my friends are still happily married or in relationships, so to even find someone to be my 'wing-woman' was difficult. 

"I've met women and men in my situation and we all agree it's so hard to find someone and go through this dating process." 

Two years after her separation, Sarah - whose name has been changed to protect her privacy - decided to bite the bullet and agreed to go on a blind date set up by a friend. 

"Turns out the guy wasn't great and after a few dates I did tell my friend she could never do that to me again, but it did get me back out into the dating scene," she said. 

Sarah said balancing work and motherhood made her take a different approach to dating than when she was younger. 

"I have a lot less tolerance. I know this time around who I am, want I want in life and what I won't stand for," she said. 

"I guess that might mean my standards are too high and that's okay because I think I settled too much on my first (relationship). 

"My children are also important to me, I am upfront about them when dating." 

Since her first date, Sarah has tried meeting people through friends, online and even through speed dating. 

"I am trying to be open to putting myself out of my comfort zone just to see what these avenues are like," she said. 

"As with anything in life, you could meet fabulous people but you could also meet some 'crazies'." 

Sarah offered her advice to others who are now finding themselves in a similar situation and assured those feeling nervous that they were not alone. 

"Oh gosh, it is scary (and) it is fraught with unknowns, but at the same time if you don't try it how will you know what it's like?" she said. 

"I know people who have had fabulous success at events or online and it's those success stories that are great motivators for others to try or to keep going with it. 

"But (I would like) to tell people there are plenty of us out there, you aren't alone. 

"Take comfort in the fact there are many people as frustrated as you are. 

"Dating is hard in general, not just as a single parent or divorce. 

"You have to persist with it, sometimes it works out, most times it doesn't, and then you have to start again with introducing yourself, going 'back to the drawing board' again and again. 

"But I think if you know who you are (and) what you want from relationships, you can't go wrong." 

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Mandate Counseling for Children in Divorces

Mandate counseling for children in divorces


Experts call for measure to help the children cope with trauma as their numbers rise

With the number of children caught in divorce cases rising, experts have called for counseling to be made compulsory for this vulnerable group, who often are the most affected when their parents split.

According to Family Justice Courts figures released to The Sunday Times, 4,728 children below the age of 21 were involved in divorce cases last year, up from 4,634 a decade ago. In those 10 years, more than 50,600 children saw their parents file for divorce. Seven in 10 were aged below 14.

More marriages are hitting the skids now. There were 5,471 non-Muslim divorces finalised in 2013, making it the second-highest annual figure on record.

The Family Justice Courts were set up last October with a special focus on shielding children, such as appointing child representatives from a panel of seasoned family lawyers to be the child's independent voice in court. But this does not happen in all cases.

From this year, it also became a must for divorcing parents of children aged below 14 to undergo the Parenting Pact program, which aims to help them understand the impact of divorce on children and learn about co-parenting.

And while the four divorce support specialist agencies appointed by the Government this year offer counseling services to children, these are optional.

Family lawyer Rajan Chettiar, who handles 1,000 divorces a year, said: "The law mandates parents attending parental workshops and counseling. But how about the children?"

Another family lawyer, Ms Mabel Tan, suggested that counseling be made mandatory for children aged below 16. And the help should be provided early - "from the moment their parents decide to go through divorce", said the senior partner at Joseph Tan Jude Benny LLP.

"They need someone who can understand what they are going through and provide advice."
Even a simple explanation of how divorce proceedings happen will help, she added.

Ms Cindy Loh, program head of Care Corner Centre for Co-Parenting, said this will make the children intentionally set aside time to pick up coping strategies of managing the stresses of being caught in between parents in conflict.

"If not, they will be occupied with other distractions and though some may feel that they already know all these, many are not aware of the fuller picture of how divorce may impact them," she said.
Ms Michelle Woodworth, a family lawyer with RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP, believes any counselling, for both parents and children, should continue even after the divorce is finalised. Currently, she said, "there is no formal follow-up".

Divorce leaves scars on all children, though its marks may show immediately or surface decades later, said counsellors and family lawyers. Local studies by the authorities in 2000 and 2001 even found that 54 per cent of male and 30 per cent of female juvenile offenders had divorced parents.
But more commonly, the impact is seen in the child's social, emotional and intellectual development.
"When left alone to struggle with the losses and changes, they may develop academic, social and emotional problems such as difficulties in developing relationships and forming families in future," said Ms Nooraini Razak, centre manager at PPIS As-Salaam Family Support Centre.

Some teenagers choose to act out their anguish. Said Reach Counselling head Chang-Goh Song Eng: "Teens may indulge in smoking or gang behaviours, miss school and become extremely defiant."
Others hide their pain. "They feel that they have been abandoned and left to face the world by themselves, and some may hide it from their friends or withdraw from their social circle, leading to depression or behavioural issues," said Ms Yassemin Md Said, senior counsellor at the Association of Muslim Professionals' Marriage Hub.

Experts said that counselling could help mitigate the traumatic effects of divorce on children, equipping them with the necessary skills to manage their feelings and develop resilience.

Despite the clear benefits of counselling, there are parents who do not buy into it - another reason for making it compulsory.

Said family lawyer Lee Terk Yang of Flint & Battery LLC: "We have clients whose kids clearly need professional help, but the parents just do not seem to see a need for it."

Ms Loh also said that most divorcing parents who do send their children for counselling stop the session when school holidays end as "they don't want their children to miss lessons".

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Waiting Longer to Get Married Could End in Divorce

A study from the Institute for Family Studies says they've found your late twenties is the best time to tie the knot, because earlier and later runs a higher risk of divorce.

Professor Nicholas Wolfinger reports that getting married in your teens or early twenties can cause issues because maturity, coping skills and social support are lacking.

The study states, "Someone who marries at 25 is over 50 percent less likely to get divorced than is someone who weds at age 20. Most youthful couples simply do not have the maturity, coping skills, and social support it takes to make a marriage work. In the face of routine marital problems, teens and young twenty-somethings lack the wherewithal necessary for happy resolutions."

However, if you wait too long, you are more likely to argue about money and having children.
Wolfinger said his research shows that prior to age 32 or so, each additional year of age at marriage reduces the odds of divorce by 11 percent. However, after that the odds of divorce increase by 5 percent per year.

The study also argues that the kinds of people who wait until their thirties to get married may be the kinds of people who aren't inclined toward doing well in their marriages.

These numbers are a big change. From their research they've found that recent data reveals that marrying in your thirty's will means a higher divorce rate.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Iran changes law to make divorce harder

Iran has changed a law to make divorce by mutual consent invalid unless couples have first undergone state-run counselling, the country's latest move to tackle a rise in broken marriages.

The measures, reported by media at the weekend, are contained in a new family law that a top official said would be implemented by Iran's judiciary.

"A decree of divorce by mutual consent, without counselling, is forbidden," Parnian Ghavam, head of the judiciary's social work and counselling office, was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

All Iranians filing for divorce would be obliged to go to a counsellor, she said. "From now on, without this it will not be possible to register divorces of mutual consent."

Iran's average divorce rate peaked at 21 per cent last year, with big cities showing far higher rates.

One in three marriages fails in Tehran. In its northern quarter, home to the more affluent Western-leaning metropolitan elite, the figure is more than 40 per cent. And most divorces are by mutual consent.

"The adviser's intention is to decrease the rate of divorce, in particular the rate of divorces of mutual consent," Ghavam was quoted as saying yesterday.

The official reasons for splitting up in Iran are a lack of affection, family interference, domestic violence and drug addiction.

The new law says the aim of counselling is "to consolidate the foundations of the family and prevent an increase in family conflicts and divorce and try to create peace and reconciliation."

After counselling a couple, the state-appointed adviser's role is to assess if either partner has behavioural or character disorders.

If so the counsellor can rule that the couple needs more sessions and it is his or her word that a judge must act on in deciding whether or not to approve a divorce.

The judiciary reportedly has until February next year to fully establish the marriage counselling service but it was now in force.

Reformist newspaper Shargh reported today that there were more than 30,000 divorces in Tehran alone last year, 90 percent of which were by mutual consent.

The enactment of the compulsory counselling measures coincides with broader concern in Iran about family breakdown and rising ages of those who get married.

Last month the government launched a matchmaking website in which clerics and professionals of good standing in their communities, such as doctors and teachers, will try to pair off young men and women.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

6 Ways Your Divorce Is Harder Than It Needs to Be

Divorce is generally unpleasant. Oh sure, we all have that friend who sails through it with a smile on their face and a spring in their step, never exhibiting an outward moment of hesitation as they move through the divorce with an almost unicorn-like dignity and grace. Then there are the other 99.999 percent of us. I have been in the ugly tear-stained trenches of it all as my little one was ripped from my arms screaming for his Mommy. I have made some stupid mistakes, more than once. Sometimes I wonder if all the difficulties I have been through are the reason I am effective in this line of work. I promise I will not ask you to do something I haven't done before, and I really understand how you feel when you sit down in my office overwhelmed and in pain. Real, excruciating, pain that feels as if you have been punched in the gut. Not sleeping. Not eating. Feeling as if you are in a daze and as if all this is happening "to you" without any input, without any control. Your spouse may get your house, your children and steal your financial security, but the process may be more difficult than necessary. I am aware that I am not always easy on my clients. It is my job to tell you what you sometimes do not want to hear. There is no reason to pay someone thousands of dollars to just agree it's not your fault, unless, of course, that someone is your therapist. There are many different ways to get through this time, some more effective and healthy than others. After 21 years of practicing law, I would like to say I have seen it all, but just about every week we see new forms of additional self-imposed misery. So here are a few tips and what to avoid doing to make this divorce process a little shorter, less traumatic and maybe a little less expensive too.

1. You want what she/he is having.
In divorce, as in life, if you spend the days lamenting over what is going on with your ex, or anyone else for that matter, this will not lead you to your happy place. There will always be someone richer, younger, thinner, smarter, more accomplished along the way. No good comes from worrying about the things others have, material or otherwise. Your ex has a new significant other, a new house, a new car. Your ex is traveling the world (and they never did this with you). Your ex is spending your child support payment on their nails or golf. They are now father or mother of the year, and they never even changed a diaper! You cannot control someone or their actions, but you can control your reactions.

You can choose instead to be happy they stepped up to the plate with the children like they never did before, or that they have a nice house or car for your children to enjoy. You can just be happy they are not your problem anymore. These worries are serious "time wasters" that take the focus away from our own lives and happiness. They also make really crappy conversation starters with a new friend or love interest. Bitter and jealous are simply not fun to be around. As a big believer in Karma, wish them well and then move on to more important issues like your own happiness. Make sure your own glass is half-full or even better overflowing with new love, new friends and a happy home, even if it is a town home.

2. You believe you are not accountable for the failure of your marriage.
You were the kindest, most loving, nurturing spouse that ever was there -- I believe you, I really do. Are you at fault? Yes, you married someone who did not believe in your fabulousness. Most of the time, if we are really honest with ourselves, (not always easy or pretty, I know) we might admit, albeit reluctantly, we knew the very thing about our soon to be ex that now leads us running to the divorce lawyer. Of course, there are exceptions to this observation but so very often the signs are right there, the pink elephant we chose to ignore. They were mean to other people, you had wildly different views of the world and life goals, they were financially irresponsible while you saved every penny, and the list goes on. You thought you could "fix them" or perhaps maybe just give up an essential piece of your soul and what matters, to make them happy. Then one day we wake up and realize the marriage is over, or perhaps they decided enough is enough, but we all play a part. When there is no singular fault and when we all accept our piece of where and how it all ends, we move on faster, we fight less, we spend less on lawyers and most importantly, we are less likely to make the same mistake again.

3. You can't forgive.
Well of course you can, but you just don't want to. I am NOT going to tell you that you have to forgive -- you don't. It is certainly your prerogative to hold on to that anger and hatred with all the passion and love once directed at your former beloved. You want to hold on to it tightly because it was a really awful horrible thing that was done to you. It is, after all, the reason you are in this mess in the first place, right? Someone else did this to you (see number two above). There are some things that are unforgivable after all, are there not? Someone slept with your best friend, beat you, left you or lied to you. So don't forgive, but be prepared to pull out your checkbook for your lawyer and the therapist for you and maybe your kids too.

Anger and hatred have a direct correlation to a longer, messier divorce and higher attorneys fees while we punish the wrongdoer. Maybe you can change the dynamic with a little change in perspective. People who hurt us are often broken themselves with complicated stories and reasons that may have little to do with us. Maybe we should feel sorry for them instead of angry? Maybe we should realize how sad it is they will never know how they were loved, or be capable of giving love the way it was intended. The truth is forgiveness is not a favor to others; it is a favor to you. It frees up a space inside you for significantly better things. Think about the words "angry" and "bitter" and think of an image. Do they make you happy, do they look light and beautiful? Sometimes I wonder about the moments of our life. Would our moments be different if a clock was running down the moments left in this life on our new Apple watch? Would we choose to waste them rehashing the harms done to us, or choose moving forward towards more moments of joy? There is huge power in not allowing someone to steal more minutes of your life with anger or regret. So go ahead and stay mad or take back your power, forgive and lower those attorney's fees, after all.

4. You believe you are entitled to the same life.
I often work against expectations so huge that Cinderella's fairy Godmother could not deliver them (and don't get me started on her; that girl has lead more people down the path to divorce, but I digress...). If you come to me or any lawyer believing you can have the same life you had before you divorced, you will be sadly disappointed and will spend unnecessary time and unnecessary fees. The math of divorce is simple division. Divide by two, your income and assets, and multiply by two, the amount of bills. Sounds great, right? I don't care if your lawyer wrote the book on divorce, the story always has the same ending, everyone will have less. Even in the biggest cases it applies. I call it "park the plane," everyone will tighten their belt or maybe just give up a house or two, but nobody gets to have it all. You simply can't believe, you might have to give up your custom decorated 10,000-square-foot apartment in Tribeca, and will pay any amount of money to avoid this travesty of justice. Your righteous indignation is blood in the water and the sharks are circling. Have a low-calorie alcoholic beverage and save those attorney's fees to put a down payment on a nice new penthouse on 5th Avenue.

Feelings of entitlement are costly and set us up to be disappointed in this life. You are both entitled to a life at the end of this mess but it will be a different life for you both. Maybe I am a cynic, (after all these years, who could blame me?) but there is no way to ensure your happiness other than to make sure no one else is responsible for it. Work hard, own your own destiny and be grateful for what you have, even if it is 50 percent less that you used to have; it is so much more than many others.

5. You surround yourself with "yes" men.
They might be your best friend from summer camp who you have known since you were 10, your parents, your sister, your brother, and all too often, your lawyer. Your "yes men" are the ones that support whatever you do no matter what. They nod in agreement whenever you call your ex a complete jerk, they agree you deserve to "get it all" for what the other party has done to you. They encourage you to fight for things you are not entitled to, they encourage you to use your children, hide your assets, fight for unreasonable positions and generally condone your bad behavior. They never see the other side, never hold you accountable for your actions, sometimes just because they love you unconditionally. Some of my dearest friends and family however, have been those who have held me accountable for my own piece of some fairly tragic "life detours" (people seem to really dislike the term mistake). Sometimes we need the people around us to tell us to get our shit together, to toughen up or lighten up. We say "no" to our children everyday because they need to know there are limits and expectations. No is not a bad thing. Be aware of those who agree with everything we do or say. Listen to those who show the real mirror to the not-so-pretty behavior. We all need to be reminded that this is not the end of the world, that no one is guaranteed a particular life unless we create it for ourselves and that who we are at the end of this crazy ride is what really matters.

6. You think too much about you.
There is nothing that makes people feel worse about themselves than being singularly focused on what is wrong with their day, their life, their kids, their job, their appearance. Perspective is the greatest gift we can allow ourselves to move toward being happy. I can focus today on my broken faucet, ice maker jamming up, piled up laundry, my daughters four cavities (no, that is not a typo, and yes, I brush her teeth). This which will now require us to fly back from vacation for the procedure because her Reactive Airway Disease makes sedation too risky now with her recent Bronchitis. In the alternative, I can focus on a friend who just lost her young husband with two young daughters and think about her. Today her pain is bigger than any pain I can imagine, her strength and courage fills my heart with awe that life is hard and people are so very resilient. These people and stories are a gift to remind us this too shall pass and there is more life to be lived. Look outside your pain and your struggles. Your house is not big enough or nice enough? You have a home. You have family that loves you but are driving you crazy? There is someone alone tonight. So try to focus on doing something that is not about you at all. Stop for a whole day and try not to complain about anything. Say out loud "someone has it worse, I should be grateful." You will be better prepared for this little bump in the road we call divorce.

I know divorce sucks, it is not supposed to end like this no matter how it ends. Someday you will be through it, hopefully sooner rather than later. Don't torture yourself or your spouse unnecessarily, you will make the lawyers rich, the judges annoyed and your children cranky. This divorce is a gift, a new life, different but better than ever, if you let it be. Get there as fast as you can, that clock is ticking.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

China's rising divorce rate sign of women's progress: experts

Press Trust of India
China's divorce rate has gone up since 2003 and over three million couples have split last year, a phenomenon experts believe symbolises the awakening of feminism and social progress for women in the world's most populous country.

According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs latest report, over 3.6 million couples got divorced in 2014 and the divorce rate is 2.7 per thousand, compared with 2.6 per thousand in the previous year.

"The rise of the divorce rate showed that more women began to defend their rights to equality, which marks social progress," said Peng Xiaohui, a professor of sexology with Central China Normal University.

Marriage has been a male-dominated social norm. Society progresses when women can be happy outside of marriage or do not feel discriminated against when they raise their children by themselves, Peng said.

The divorce rate in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is the highest at 4.61 per thousand, followed by Northeast China's Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, state-run The Mirror reported.

About 2.60 lakh couples among a million who got married in 2012 have divorced.

Most divorced couples are Uyghur people who have been influenced by their religious beliefs, which allow a husband to have multiple wives, Li Xiaoxia, a professor with the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences said.

The local culture in Xinjiang shows more tolerance and support to divorced women, and they can more easily get remarried, Li added.

The report also said that the divorce rate of Shaanxi Province is 0.18 per thousand, the lowest in the country.

"Previously, people regarded divorce as something humiliating. Now couples view marriage differently from their parents and they do not think that divorce is bad choice," a Jiangsu-based marriage registrar surnamed Wei said, adding that most apply for divorce due to personality clashes, interference from their parents and extramarital affairs.

China has a total population of nearly 1.4 billion.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Woman blames Facebook for divorce

Story by Mike Parker/WBBM

CHICAGO (WBBM) -- Some people get so obsessed with social media that it can cost them their marriage.

Divorce, as a result of Facebook or Twitter, is a growing problem.

Shari knows it well.  While married with two kids, she got hooked on Facebook.

"I was spending sometimes four or five hours a day when I should've been cooking dinner or reading to my kids or watching a movie with my husband or just talking to my husband," said Shari.

She acquired 5,000 Facebook friends and 1,000 followers over time.

Gradually, her husband found out she had been trading messages with her ex-boyfriends when the battles began.

The marriage ended, and it's not the only one.

A survey by CensusWide suggests one divorce in seven is the result of social media.

"That sounds very low to me, to be honest," said Christine Svenson, a divorce lawyer.  "The social media world seems to crop up in at least half of my divorce cases," she said.

Shari is working to tame her obsession.

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Divorce could hurt your retirement

divorce lib  
INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A divorce can negatively impact on your retirement income by as much as 13 percent.
London – The cost of divorce can wreck retirement many years after the break-up of a marriage, according to research.

People who have never been divorced can expect a retirement income 13 percent higher than a colleague who has been through a divorce.

It means an extra £2,100 a year – £17,800 rather than £15,700 – to anyone who has kept their marriage intact, or who has never married, according to the survey for the Prudential.

Apart from the costs of supporting a former partner who is bringing up their children, a divorced man or woman faces giving up a share of their pension when they retire through ‘pension-splitting’ arrangements.

Monday, June 1, 2015

New type of divorce sweeping the country

Story by Mary Quinn O’Connor/CBS12

 Karen Coleman has heard horror stories about the divorce process.

So when she filed, she knew exactly what she didn't want.

"I was dreading the process. I knew it had potential to be very adversarial,” says Coleman.

So, she reached out to attorney Kim Nutter, who heads a group called The South Palm Beach County Collaborative Law Group.

A collaborative divorce is exactly what she got.

“They are trying to guide you to a resolution as opposed to gearing you up for a fight.”

Typically there are three traditional ways to get a divorce: do it yourself, through a mediator or through litigation.

Kim Nutter says a collaborative divorce is a happy medium between mediation and litigation and it's sweeping the country.

“In a traditional divorce, people takes positions and they dig in their heels,” says Nutter.  “You choose a collaborative divorce if you want to maintain some type of relationship," adds Nutter.

There are key differences between a litigated divorce and a collaborative divorce.

A litigated divorce can cost hundreds of thousands, even millions.

But, a collaborative divorce typically stays in the tens of thousands of dollars.

A litigated divorce can take years; a collaborative, just a few months.

The biggest difference, however, is everything is done outside of the courtroom.

“There is a better way to do it, a way that still allows disclosure and will do less harm to a family,” says Nutter.

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