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Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

Hiding Money In Divorce

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

It is illegal to hide money from a spouse when going through a divorce. It’s also immoral. But people do it all the time. They do it for lots of reasons, like lowering payments for child support and/or maintenance, but mainly, they do it because they just don’t want to share.

Should you suspect that your spouse is hiding money from you, be sure to get the proof. Below are five tips which can help you to determine if your spouse is hiding money, and to help you collect the documentation necessary to prove it.

1. A spouse may ask their employer to hold back income or commissions on earnings as a means of showing a lower annual income to the court at the time of a divorce. If you don’t already know how much money your spouse makes in a year, you should look at last year’s taxes. Then be on the alert for any signs that he or she is suddenly bringing home less money than before. Does your spouse normally receive bonus or incentive checks from their employers? It is possible that your spouse has requested only partial payment or has cashed these checks separately and placed the money into an account where it cannot be traced back to him or her.

2. Check to see if you spouse is suddenly short of cash, perhaps taking more ATM withdrawals than normal or taking them from places outside of their regular travel areas. Be sure to check your bank records regularly to determine if money has been removed from your accounts. Review all the mail that comes into the house. Be sure that all the financial statements for any accounts, bank accounts, 401ks, IRAs, CDs, stocks, whatever, are arriving, and be sure that no money has been removed from these accounts. Be sure that you know at all times how much money is your checking and savings accounts. Be on the look out for money that goes missing from your accounts, even if it’s a small amount, as your spouse could be taking money out a little at a time.

3. Check email accounts and web histories. See where they might be spending or placing money. Also, check for credit cards that you may not have been aware were in existence. Also, be sure you know how much debt you have on credit cards. This could be an issue if your spouse is taking cash advances from the cards or if they are making large purchases on the cards. You can get stuck with half the debt.

4. Get copies of the last three to five years of tax returns. If you can’t find your copies, call the IRS.

5. Check for other shenanigans. Like checking safe deposit boxes and making sure you have a record of the contents. Review all your insurance policies. Get copies of your credit report.

Finally, keep great records, but don’t confront your spouse with the info you find. Take it to your attorney.

Do I need to legally be divorced?

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

“The difference between divorce and legal separation is that a legal separation gives a husband time to hide his money.” Johnny Carson
“You never really know a man until you have divorced him.” Zsa Zsa Gabor
“If marriage means you fell in love, does divorce mean you climbed out?” Unknown

Do you need a legal divorce? Well, it all depends. Obviously, if you’ve never been legally married, there is no reason to divorce, as divorce is the dissolution of a marriage. Divorce laws vary, so you should always consult an attorney in order to determine how you need to go about obtaining a divorce in your state.

Not all marital separation situations require the parties to obtain a legal divorce. In some situations annulment is acceptable to dissolve the marriage. Also, if the parties don’t wish to remarry, a simple legal separation may be all that is necessary. If you do wish to remarry in the future, however, you should obtain a divorce. As the process can be complex, you should make sure that you don’t hold off on obtaining your divorce until you want to remarry as it may take a long time to be completed and you will not be able to remarry until the final papers are filed.

Obviously, divorce can be expensive, which is why some people would choose not to go through the ordeal. However, if you decide not to dissolve your marriage through legal channels, you may find that you have a mess on your hands later. Even when you go through a legal divorce, separation or annulment, things can be tricky. There are not always clear lines demarcating what belongs to whom and how those assets of a marriage should be appropriated. However, the courts will make that determination, and then you will have everything written in a property settlement agreement that must be upheld, as opposed to just making an agreement with an ex-spouse, which can later be broken at will. Although it can be difficult, it is much easier to separate the “stuff” in a relationship when the couple has been married, rather than just living together. This is because the law recognizes marriage, but does not recognize other types of relationships.

Legally divorcing a spouse may make you eligible for maintenance support payments, as well, and you may not be able to enforce that such payments are made to you without a formal divorce settlement. Furthermore, if there are children of the marriage, they may be entitled to child support payments, which may be more difficult to obtain without a finalized divorce.

The bottom line is there are many reasons why a legal divorce is desirable. You should always seek the advice of an attorney to determine if it is necessary in your case, how you should go about obtaining a divorce, what are the benefits to you of a divorce, the cost of the divorce and how long it will take until the divorce is finalized.

Winning the custody battle

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

In the past, custody battles used to be all about the parents. Divorce court attorneys often stood before a judge defending their client’s reputation, lifestyle and parenting skills in hopes of winning the custody battle. It was an all or nothing game.
Today, all or nothing just doesn’t exist. It’s not about the parents anymore. It’s about the children. Joint custody is now the most acceptable choice in divorce cases involving children. This is due, in part, to the fact that numerous studies have shown that it is in the best interests for children to have both parents involved in their lives, not just financially but emotionally as well. The bottom line is that the court’s main focus is your children.

While winning full custody of your children may be out of the realm of possibility, doing everything you can to gain joint custody is equally important. Though you may not be able to “win” the custody battle, you can definitely influence the court by your own actions. They will also take into account whether or not you are willing to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and keep them informed.

Divorce attorneys may be well equipped at arguing a custody case before the court, but they may lack the background needed to present the proper dynamics and underlying issues of the case itself. This is where you come in. Make sure your attorney is made aware of the ins and outs involving the custody case. Take action. Be as involved as you can possibly be in the court proceedings. Make sure that you go to all of your required court dates. Be aware of your rights as a parent.

Show some responsibility before being asked to do so. You can do this by paying child support even if it is not ordered into court yet. Give something every month, whether by check or money order so you have a record of the payments.

Expect to go through a court-ordered evaluation of your mental, physical, psychological and emotional well-being. The court may also interview your children, review medical and school records and perform a rigorous criminal background check.

Most importantly, avoid arguing with the other parent. It’s not healthy for your children or for you and, in the end, it only makes things worse. Communications before and during court proceedings should never be foul-mouthed, abrasive, accusatory, insulting or made up of false accusations. Be factual and civil. Keep track of every note, letter, e-mail, and phone conversation involving you and the other parent. The tone or attitude that you present in court can either make or break your case. Acting responsibly and maturely will weigh heavily in your favor.

Divorce courts are more aware than ever about what is best for the children. Though custody battles can be difficult, there’s no reason why they have to be messy and painful as well. Do your part. Be the adult. And hopefully, the other parent will follow in your footsteps.

Compiling evidence in a custody case

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

If you’re up against a custody case, or custody battle as it often becomes, it is essential to compile all of the evidence you can that will demonstrate that you are the more responsible parent. Speak with your attorney about the evidence and make sure that it will become part of the court’s documentation. The more evidence you have that shows irresponsibility on the other parent’s part and his or her lack of parenting abilities, the better chance you have of being awarded custody.

You can gather evidence by taking photographs of child neglect or physical abuse by the other parent. Photographic evidence can be very persuasive and back up your claims or accusations. Also, keep a log or journal. Date each page and make a detailed record of events regarding your child. Jot down any incidents of neglect that the child encounters at the hands of your ex. Don’t forget to record all the wonderful and positive stuff the two of you do together to show a different perspective. If the child offers information regarding how the other parent treats him or her, include that as well. Keep in mind that any information about food, bath time, clothes, school, etc. will reflect how the child is being cared for. Be sure to record times and dates of any visitation. Talk with your closest relatives or friends. Some of them may have a good perspective of the situation, and they may be willing to go to bat for you in the courtroom.

Written evidence should be kept in a safe place. School reports, doctor’s notes, or a counselor’s suggestions need to be placed there. Don’t destroy or shred them, especially if they pertain to your child’s health and well-being. Items like children’s clothes that show signs of abuse (such as blood stains, rips or tears) should also be preserved. Remember, the safety and well-being of the child is the most important thing. You don not want to overlook signs of abuse or neglect. Evidence that shows how irresponsible the other parent is at paying bills, holding down employment or a former juvenile delinquent is better left unsaid. Those things do not directly show abuse or neglect. Gather hard evidence that will support your claims and stand out in court. Evidence such as drug or alcohol abuse is always important, especially if it impacts the child in some shape or form. Domestic violence is also important evidence, as it shows the court that the child may be in serious danger.

Don’t lie or fabricate stories. Planting evidence if the other parent is a responsible individual will come back to haunt you. Not only will it reflect badly on you and your judgment, it is also considered a criminal offense. Be honest and upfront. Custody cases are solemn matters. You have the potential of not seeing your child if you do not take the matter seriously. Do everything you can to show how much you love and care for your children, and that you have their best interests at heart.

Keeping Things Going on the Home Front: Power of Attorney while you travel

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Planning on an extended vacation or long-term travel abroad? Chances are you will be leaving behind important personal, financial, and business affairs at home. Who’s hands will you put them in? The more property and profits you have at stake, the more necessary a power of attorney will be for you. You need a trusted agent to manage your affairs while you are gone; someone who will always have your best interest in mind, so that you can have peace of mind while you travel.

By simply obtaining a power of attorney document, you can then fill it out – hopefully with the guidance of a lawyer – and then get it notarized. Once you do this, your chosen representative will be given the power to handle your life at home while you’re away. But there is both general and special power of attorney: which is more appropriate when you’re traveling?

Well, before you determine what type of power of attorney is best, it’s advisable you get a good grasp of exactly what your agent will need to do and for how long. Be clear about this! Otherwise you risk turning over too much power and lending it to misuse or abuse.

It’s pretty common for a person to give their agent a general power of attorney when they travel. While this is a broad, almost omniscient power, it’s the most convenient for the traveler. Here are some of the powers that are usually granted:

·          Handling financial decisions: bank deposits, misc. transactions

·          Property and real estate: buying and selling

·          Making purchases

·          Dealing with insurance claims

·          Investing in the stock market

·          Filing taxes

·          Operating business endeavors

If you plan on going away for months to years on end, a general power of attorney might be ideal. But note: it leaves a lot of room for mishap and if special power of attorney is sufficient, you should always chose that instead, as it is more limited. With a special power of attorney, you may simply grant your agent the ability to sell your house or collect debts for you while you are unavailable.

If you have any questions or concerns about the power of attorney, there are plenty of lawyers and legal services eager to advise you, but for a fee. But for such an important decisions, it’s almost always worth it.

Essentially, a power of attorney comes in handy while you travel, but you must be careful as to how much power you give away. The more interests you have at home, the more important this decision making process will be. Your agent must be a trusted and capable person who you have absolute faith in. After all, who can enjoy their time out of the state or country if they’re constantly worried about the finances or property?

Remember your options for health care and durable power of attorney, as well, as these address financial and health concerns that may rise unexpectedly. Specifically, if you become disabled or incapacitated, you can have a representative take your place in all your affairs with durable power of attorney.

What about the kids? Tips for divorced parents

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

Children are too commonly the innocent casualties of divorces gone wrong. While it’s rarely an ideal situation for a kid when their parents split up, there are things you can do as a mother or father to lessen the blow. Here are some tips on parenting and divorce. While you can’t have complete control over the effects that a divorce will have on your daughter(s) or son(s), you can take steps to help them make sense of it and cope with it effectively.

1)      Keep up a united front

Children in broken homes struggle the most with the visible division between their parents. A married couple naturally presents a united front; even when they fight, they are forced to reconcile and parent their children in the same way. In other words, rules are rules. However, when a child must shuffle from dad’s house to mom’s house, the rules change. Try to maintain the same rules in each household if possible. The parental unity might actually be more important than the rules themselves! The younger the child, the less adept they are to handle contrasting views of how they should behave. For example, if mom always make the kids eat at the table for dinner and dad doesn’t care, the kids will consequently feel confused and lose some understanding of right or wrong. From an adult’s perspective, it’s not a big deal, but for a young mind, this can be a terribly disorienting time!

2)      Discipline is okay

When one parent has less custody than the other, which is typical for the father, the dynamics in that parent’s household are a little strange. The father may feel so deprived of time with their child and even guilty about it, that they shower their child with praise and toys and have little concern for rules and chores and homework. But this is not necessarily the best approach to parenting! It will really just send mixed signals to the child. Mothers, too, often have trouble disciplining their children as they don’t have the support system they once had. A parental support group comes in handy in these cases.

3)      “Deadbeat” dads aren’t necessarily uncaring

 It’s easy to villanize the father who moves miles away after a divorce, but the truth is it might be too emotionally painful to stay. Many fathers are so hurt that they can’t spend more time with their children, that they simply can’t handle it. If mothers understand this, ties can be strengthened and the “deadbeat” dad trend may just be tapered.

4)      Be sensitive to the changes

Your child didn’t ask for the dramatic lifestyle changes that come with divorce: a move, split custody, a typically lower standard of living, etc. Whenever you can lessen the impact of the changes, do it! Not everything is in your hands, but just as with #1, you can overcome some of the initial obstacles by cooperating with your former spouse to make the divorce as painless as possible.

5)      Remarriage is okay

Studies have shown that remarriage sometimes does the best job at healing the deep wounds of divorce – but only when it is approached with the right intentions. Otherwise it will just end in a another devastating divorce. Don’t remarry with the expectation that your new family situation will be perfect and you can right past wrongs. Instead, remarry with the expectation that you will willingly deal with problems and lulls as they come up. This is the best way to ensure you keep that knot tied for a long time.

Many children of divorce grow up to be successful, empowered adults, but it’s not uncommon for them to still struggle with emotional issues that aren’t necessarily visible from an outside perspective. The key is to help your kid use the experience of divorce to grow, instead of back tack. It is possible; it just takes guidance and effort to learn how to parent in such a unique environment

The Price of a Divorce

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

It seems cruel that amid all the emotional struggles a divorce brings with it, money has to be such a tremendous burden and source of added anxiety. Divorces have many costs, some more tangible than others. This is an article about the tangible toll that a failed marriage has and tips on what to expect and how to cope.

From the reallocation of property and debt to child support to taxes to retirement planning, there are a slew of financial issues that are intertwined with most divorces. Chances are you and your spouse share a lot of assets, from furniture to stocks to pets! You might even have a sentimental attachment to some of them. Unless the two of you agree on how to divide all the property up, you might have to brush off on your bartering skills. Some parting couples even opt to sell all the property at once and divide the profits.

While that comfortable sofa and antique dresser might be in demand, the debt you two shared certainly won’t be. A joint credit report deserves a good look as you and your lawyer(s) determine what’s fair. As you distribute the debt, try to cap off whatever debt you currently have. Divorce is expensive and you want to deflate the financial burden as much as you can today. Again, more bartering may be in order here. Take on more debt in exchange for more assets, or vice versa. If you have an open mind and cooperate, you’ll likely come to a fair divorce settlement. It’s not unusual for a divorcing couple to split the debt  right down the middle.

Surprisingly, you’re going to have some new tax issues to think about too. If you have dependents, which person will get that tax exemption from now on? Many other tax exemptions and deductibles that you probably took for granted as a married couple will need to be reevaluated after a divorce.

Not to mention, child support and alimony! These issues are highly variable and personable but they are going to be big ones if you and your former spouse have children together. 

Men sometimes have great financial difficulties affording child support, but statistics show it’s newly single mothers that have the most money problems. This is especially evident when a woman must suddenly afford childcare or is swept into a new work environment; kids typically must adjust to a lower standard of living, just like their parents, after a divorce.

An entire family structure gets disrupted during a divorce and that has not only an effect on the personal relationships, but on the overall economic situation of all involved. And these financial issues are deep and complex and have enduring effects.

The best advice for you, the soon-to-be-divorced, is to remind yourself the financial turmoil is only temporary and it can be dealt with the most adequately if you can keep your cool and think practically. While it’s tempting, dividing up property and debt is probably not a time for vengeance or proving a point. The divorce will go quicker and more amicably if you try to stay as calm and rational as possible!

How to find the best helping hand for your divorce: lawyers

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

The end of a marriage may be one of the most emotionally painful and financially difficult times in your life. It’s likely that you will find out just what inner reserves you have as you split with your significant other. So this is why it’s crucial that you have a lawyer on your side who you trust, someone who can not only help you sort through all the paperwork and legal issues, but can also help you keep your cool. But how do you find the right divorce lawyer? Here is some simple advice on matching yourself up with the best lawyer for your divorce.

Some couples who break up don’t ever hire a lawyer, but considering that the decisions made during a divorce are so important and consequential to perhaps the rest of your life, it’s probably a good idea get an expert in your corner. Unfortunately, now that you’ve filed for divorce or are considering filing for divorce, you probably now notice commercial after commercial for divorce lawyers in your area. It’s nice to know you have options, but how can you narrow those down?

Don’t sift through the pages of your phone book. And if possible, try to avoid going straight to the State Bar Association and asking for the name of a lawyer.

Instead, ask friends and coworkers for advice. Too often, marriages end in divorce and while that is a sad fact in America these days, it means that you can probably easily track down a skilled divorce lawyer through a close friend, family member or fellow employee who’s been through a similar ordeal.

It’s best to choose a divorce lawyer who has experience dealing with people just like you. A lot of different people get divorces – and those people have different jobs, incomes; some have children, some don’t, etc. So if your divorce lawyer is used to working with people in your specific situation, that is ideal. Remember that it’s just understanding documents and finalizing the split that your lawyer will help you with, but a slew of financial issues – like dividing property and debts and installing child support – will be handled by him or her as well.

If you’re still in the dark, your place of work might offer you legal services. If not, there are other professional lawyer referral services that are worth a try.

No matter who recommends a lawyer, make sure to go over their qualifications before moving forward. Go over the fees beforehand and make sure they’re reasonable. Comparison shop! But qualifications aren’t everything. It’s important that you an your divorce lawyer can communicate honestly and with ease. Divorces can be crushing experiences and it’s amazing what a difference it can make to have a level-headed, calm professional who has only your best interests in mind. 

If you can prepare yourself for what to expect in your divorce, it will be a lot easier to cope with in the long run – a lawyer is just the person to help prepare you, so don’t underestimate the power of having a professional advocate right beside you.